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.