Data Management

Data can be an enormously powerful tool – not for its own sake but because it allows us to identify what is working, what is not working, and how much progress we have made towards improving our environment for children.
Environment Rating Scales software

The Environment Rating Scales provide a systematic and rigorous means of evaluating the quality of early years environments, identifying strengths and areas for development. The most important aspect of using the scales are the descriptive statements, which support practitioners in understanding what they already do well and which elements of practice are not yet secure. However, the fact that each item can also be scored on a scale of 1 to 7 allows practitioners, and those supporting them, to track improvement over time.
We have developed our own software to support Environment Rating Scales data analysis, reporting and evidencing of change. For settings, this allows the results of an audit to be presented visually (e.g. via graphs and charts) as well as numerically, and supports detailed analysis and reporting of observation data (e.g. to summarise all evidence relating to ‘communication and language’ or ‘inclusion’). Where multiple observations have been completed, it also enables analysis of improvements over time across different areas of provision. The software provides an invaluable resource for supporting quality improvement and evidencing change for the Ofsted SEF and other self-evaluation formats.
For local authorities and other organisations responsible for groups of settings (e.g. chains), the software allows analysis of trends at the group level, for example to identify common strengths and areas for development to the inform the planning of training and support.

  • For settings:

    • Observation score-sheets stored as pdfs for easy access to notes
    • Visual graphs and profiles
    • Numerical score summaries
    • Selective reporting function (e.g. all items scoring above 5)
    • Comparison of observations completed at different time-points to track improvement in quality

    For groups of settings:

    • Summary graphs and profiles
    • Analysis of common strengths
    • Analysis of common areas requiring improvement (e.g. to plan training and/or support)
    • Analysis of results by type of setting (e.g. in a geographic area, by Ofsted grade, settings with and without a graduate)
    • Analysis of changes in quality over time (e.g. to track the impact of a training or support programme)

  • screenshot-01

    • This extract from a setting’s ITERS profile shows progress on the language and communication items over one year, across three separate observations. On a scale of 1 to 7:

    • the quality of support for helping children understand language (item 12) has improved, moving from a score of 3 to a score of 4

    • the quality of support for helping children use language (item 13) has not changed

    • the quality of support for children to use and enjoy books (item 14) has improved from a score of 1 to a score of 6

  • screenshot-02

    • This bar chart shows one setting’s summary data for the ‘personal care routines’ items of the ECERS-R. The highest scoring item was ‘greeting and departing’ with a score of 7. The lowest scoring items were meals/snacks and safety practices, both scoring a 1. From this page, the detail for each of these items can be accessed to identify exactly how these scores were reached. If we ‘drilled down’ to the observation score-sheet, we would see for example, that the score of 1 for safety was reached because the following quality indicator was ticked ‘yes’:

    • “Several hazards etc etc – look up full text

  • screenshot-03

    • This screenshot shows the summary data for an audit of more than 150 settings on the ECERS-R. For each item of the ECERS-R, it shows the number of settings which scored a 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 or 7. For example:

    • on item 9 ‘greeting and departing’ a large number of settings achieved the maximum score of 7, indicating that this is a common strength;

    • on item 10 ‘meals/snacks’ a large number of settings achieved the lowest score of 1, indicating that there may be an issue which needs addressing.

    Further layers of data can be accessed from this screen. For example, if we wished to have more information about what led so many settings to achieve a low score on item 10, we could ‘drill down’ to the indicator level to discover whether there were issues with hygiene, with nutrition or with the quality of staff-child interactions. We could also bring up a list of which settings achieved this low score, to enable them to be targeted for support.