Peer Support Report – An idea to share   2 comments

One day a couple of weeks ago I was having a coffee with my friend Carol when she asked me if I would do her a favour.

It turns out that Carol had had a very good idea – which I have now developed

Carol wanted me to write her a ‘report’ to say what I thought about her practice. This might seem odd to some but as I used to be Carol’s Network Coordinator – Carol has had lots of reports written by me in that role – so not really that odd an request.

On thinking about it I decided that actually most childminders have a close colleague (or several) who have visited their setting regularly, who they share things with, who they go on same outings with or to same toddler groups – and so who know a lot about each other.

Personally I think one of the problems being a sole practitioner is – well who does ‘report’ on your every day practice – as you don’t have a line manager or work place colleagues. It was for this very reason that I was so passionate about the NCMA ccf Networks because as the coordinator I visited the Network childminders every 6 – 8 weeks, we had an annual review, I even did unannounced visits.

So going back to Carol’s ideas – I have, as I say developed it and written a Peer Report For Carol – which Carol is delighted with – and more importantly happy to share via my blog for others to read.

We both hope that other childminders will use the idea to support each other and to formalise the peer support that they are providing for each other.

Many thanks to Carol for the idea and for agreeing to me publishing her report in full (and with her name)

Peer Report for Carol Messenger

Reason for the Peer Report                                                                                              All childminders find it difficult to provide evidence of their daily practice within and outside of the setting, due to that fact that they work alone and do not have a line manager or workplace colleagues that can ‘vouch’ for their practice or provide a mentoring role or support. The idea of a Peer Report is that other registered childminders often provide this support, and act as a sounding board / mentoring role for reflective practice.

Therefore writing a Peer Report will formalise the role that childminding colleagues provide, and provide evidence of practice between Ofsted inspections, which hopefully will be useful to inspectors, advisors, and parents – as well as supporting further reflective practice


Background on relationship with Carol                                                                    I have known Carol for many years, and in several different contexts;

As a childminder when I did emergency childminding cover for Carol’s eldest child, when Carol’s childminder was unable to childmind for a while.

As a childminding colleague, but not close friend at that time.

As her network coordinator when Carol was a member of Worcestershire’s NCMA ‘Children Come First Childminding Network,

And since 2010 as a friend and close childminding colleague.

My personal childminding experiences                                                                    I have been a registered childminder for many years; 1984 – 2004 and 2010 onwards, and I currently have an Outstanding grade. In the years between registrations I worked for NCMA and Worcestershire local authority as childminding development officer and childminding network coordinator. In addition I have taught childcare courses and been an assessor of quality assurance schemes.

Peer Observations – Overview                                                                                 Carol and I usually meet together with our childminding children once or twice a week, either at each other’s home setting, or for trips / outings ranging from a walk in our local area to a full day trip – one of the most frequent trips being to the arboretum where we both have season passes.

In addition we often meet up outside our childminding hours for discussion and training.

Practice within Carol’s setting                                                                                Whenever,  I visit Carol’s setting there are a wealth of resources – which are changed as needed to support the children’s stage of development and current interests. For example babies were recently provided with hair rollers that they could stack into each other, with containers for putting things in and out of, with bracelets that they could stack with, put in the containers – or wear on their arms (and legs), an older child with an interest in numbers was provided with a tape measure for measuring things, a child with an interest in refuse collection vehicles was able to watch a DVD on ‘bin men’ to extend his knowledge. These are just a few examples there are many more that could be mentioned because every day the environment provided by Carol is not just a random selection of toys and resources – each is carefully selected with the children in mind.

In addition to resources that she already has, Carol frequently buys additional resources to support the children’s interests – for example a doctor set for one child, a book on safety for a different child.

Carol also borrows resources from myself (and other colleagues) – recently she has borrowed a set of space toys and a story book to support a child’s interest in rockets, and a small low table to support a child with independent table activities such as puzzles and drawing without having to use the dining table,( or the much larger low table that Carol’s owns but that to have out would compromise the space available for the younger children) Before that a set of construction toys to support a baby because she had observed how the baby returned to this item over and over again when visiting my setting (not to construct with but to fill and empty the basket that contained them).

And of course Carol lends resources to help colleagues, and I have personally borrowed several items to use in my setting.

And when a resource is a bit too expensive for individual purchase – Carol and I buy it together and share – as we did with a light box.

Practice outside Carol’s setting                                                                                         The overriding thing about any outing away from the setting – is that Carol is always prepared for any eventuality. She ensures she has everything each child will need – and things for the unexpected.

The second most obvious thing is Carol’s attention to safety of the children, her practice is superb – holding hands; having child on side away from road; using walking reins; ensure the children stop, look and listen before crossing the road; reminding children about water safety; playground equipment safety; not eating berries or putting things in their mouths.

However Carol also encourages the children to learn about risk taking, and supervises and supports the children to do so, for example; a toddler to climb the steps on the slide and to sit down before sliding down,; an older child to use the ‘fireman’s pole’ on the climbing frame – using verbal directions and encouragement. And in both cases for the first few times standing very close to provide constant close supervision.

On every outing Carol uses opportunities to extend the children’s knowledge by making suggestions, by asking ’I wonder why….?’ ‘I wonder what …?’, and similar open questions. If a child asks her questions she takes the time to answer those questions – but also to help the child find out more for themselves through use of the open questions and suggestions about things the child could do / try. On one occasion the ‘mystery’ of what the little box with a hole in it half way up the tree was, resulted in discussion and speculation from one child. The child thought it was a post box – so Carol supported him to think through how the postman put the letters in the box and who the post box might be for. The child came up with some lovely ideas – ladder for the postman as an example.

Quality food is another of Carol’s strengths – I know she does home cooked meals, but I have not seen these – what I have seen though on numerous occasions is the healthy fruit snacks, and the balanced, attractive picnic lunches

Training and Reflective Practice                                                                                    Carol undertakes regular training and has certificates for these courses – however she also attends conferences and engages in professional debate with others – and these do not have a certificate. A prime example is the Early Childhood Action conference that Carol and I attended together, we were joined by childminding colleagues from other areas of the country, and shared our thoughts with them. However the majority of discussion, reflection and forming of personal views happen the day after the conference when Carol and I debated about all the information from the conference – for hours.

Another example of reflective practice is when Carol and I meet in the evenings to share a meal, but also for mutual support and bouncing around of ideas. Things discussed might include activity ideas, places to visit, child development, schema’s, supporting parents – and in complete confidence without saying names of those concerned – mutual support for behaviour issues, eating issues or concerns about development.

In addition Carol is always researching new idea on the internet / through childminding forums and reflecting in private on her practice and the needs of the children in her care. She makes notes to refer to as she implements ideas and then reflects at a later date to assess if worked or not (or if needs further adaptation).

It is this reflective practice and use of peer support, that helps ensure that Carol continues to be an ‘outstanding’ childminder as judged in the last two inspections from Ofsted.

I consider myself to be very lucky to have Carol as my colleague and my friend because peer to peer support works both ways, and Carol provides as much peer support for  me as I do for her.

Penny Webb – Registered Childminder

14th December 2012

Posted December 14, 2012 by psw260259 in Random Things!

2 responses to “Peer Support Report – An idea to share

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  1. Thank you Penny & Carol, for this very interesting read…This sounds like myself and a friend as we meet up quite a few times through the week and go on big outtings together. She is thinking of leaving childminding behind her and looking into nursery so something like this may even help her in that role.

    • Thank you Aly

      Carol and I hope that other childminders will find the idea useful. All childminders can (and do) provide peer support, and all could if they want to write a Peer Report – because every childminder understands about childminding and so will be able to record about the practice of their colleague – even if they do not have my previous experiences of writing reports (as indeed I hadn’t when I first became a network coordinator).

      Of course inspectors etc will not rely on the information to make their judgments but a Peer Report will add to the evidence that is available for those judgments to be made. In particular a Peer Report will provide evidence of partnership working and reflective practice.

      The other main benefit in my opinion, is raising self confidence as many childminders overlook the things that they are good at and concentrate on the things they do less well – and by highlighting the positive aspects this could help with completion of a SEF or other self reflection document.

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