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Read Between The Lines

My first guest blog for 2014 is Dr. Jo Verrill, who is the Director at Ceeda. Dr. Jo started out life in academic research before founding an independent research agency in 1999; Jo has a passion for delivering research that makes a real difference for early years businesses. Ceeda specialises in customer and employee research for early years childcare providers, working with large national groups and small owner managed businesses across the country.

I passionately promote self-evaluation and reflective practice and, within this blog, Jo explains how carrying out parent and staff surveys can help you to continuously develop your provision.

 Jo writes:

 “Putting families at the heart of your provision

Staff build relationships with families on a day to day basis as a fundamental part of high quality care. Whether it’s feeding back on the day or sharing information about children’s progress and development at home and in the setting, staff working at the grass roots rightly feel they know families well.

 So why do we need more structured consultation?

Robust survey research gives a bird’s eye view of your provision; helping you to evaluate families’ experience of your service as a whole. When done well, it can help you spot opportunities, improve service quality, increase occupancy and boost staff morale.

With an increased emphasis on management in the new Ofsted inspection framework, it is increasingly important to have robust self-evaluation in place, supported by a strong evidence base.

Here are some tips that may help in planning your future surveys.

Making sure research adds value

If research is going to be useful it has to be timely, reliable and informative.

Planning is key – consider when how and whom you need to consult with and plan for this activity throughout the year.

When? Our memories of events and feelings deteriorate over time, it’s key to capture feedback as soon as possible. Think about the critical points in families’ journeys through your setting and time consultation around this. Making an initial enquiry and visit, booking and settling in, moving rooms, leaving – these are all key times when feedback can give you significant insight into how well things are working.


Image copyright to Ceeda©

How? There is so much ‘noise’ in our lives today; your request for feedback has to make it through all the other demands for our time and attention. Make it easy – on-line survey tools are fast and effective, backed up with paper for those who can’t /prefer not to engage on-line. Be persistent and ALWAYS send reminders.

Why? Plan how you are going to analyse and use the feedback you collect BEFORE you start your campaign; why are you asking these questions and how will you use the answers to inform your practice? How will feedback be used in self-evaluation and planning? Who will take responsibility for this and manage the process to make sure it is carried out effectively?


Image copyright to Ceeda©

Engage staff in the research process to build ownership and creative a positive and open culture. Include staff in planning the survey and be clear about how results will be used to review and reflect on practice in a positive and supportive way. It’s a great development opportunity for a member of staff to lead and feedback on survey results.


Image copyright to Ceeda©

 Informing practice. Establishing a consistent approach will help you to look at trends over time and see if the improvement actions you have taken in the past have had the intended effect. Stick with a set of core questions that stay the same, then add to this depending on your current priorities.

 Look for opportunities to anonymously benchmark the results of your research with other settings – helping to evaluate your strengths, opportunities, and weaknesses in the local market.

 Feedback your research findings to parents and highlight any actions you have taken as a result – this will reaffirm the value of taking part and build goodwill for future campaigns!

Use to support inspection – a strong approach to consultation is evidence in itself of rigorous management processes, and the evidence base you collect will drive quality and improvement.

Quality feedback from a user from an outstanding nursery.”

“Using the CEEDA questionnaires for both staff and parents has been a fantastic tool in enabling us to monitor and check internally that all is going well. The response rate has been excellent. The system is easy to use and fully supported. It has been invaluable for the management team in supporting and building on our existing quality assurance systems.”

Linda Baston-Pitt, Director at The Old School House 

Dr. Jo is kindly currently offering a FREE nursery survey for staff.

Please contact Dr. Jo for more information on this amazing offer!

Telephone:    0845 6800631

Email:            jov@ceeda.co.uk

Follow Dr. Jo in conversation on Twitter: @ceeda_uk 

Follow the conversation on:

Twitter: @IamLauraHenry

Facebook: @LauraHenryConsultancy

Instagram: @LauraHenryConsultancy




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