Key messages for practitioners

Our philosophy for the Environment Rating Scales:

  • positive and inclusive use
  • reflective use
  • objective and rigorous use
  • as one tool in a toolkit
  • supporting the work and aims of practitioners

Some important messages:

  • Informing not judging: the ECERS and other scales are most powerful when used in a reflective way. They provide information to guide decision-making rather than a quality ‘blueprint’. They should always be used alongside other tools – and, of course, the EYFS.
  • Inclusive use: the scales are positive tools, ideal for use by whole-staff teams to support self-evaluation or alongside a trained external observer or ‘critical friend’. ECERS is not an inspection tool.
  • The scores will reflect your practice – but also your constraints: the scales reflect the ‘ideal situation’ and every setting will have some high scores and some low. The environment is defined in its broadest sense to include the staff and their practice but also the quality of the environments they work in. Some scores may therefore reflect the constraints of your building (e.g. space) rather than your practice – and this is quite normal. The aim is to raise overall quality by working on areas which can be developed while recognising that others might be harder to address.
  • Consistent use: these systematic tools are accessible and easy to understand, but using them consistently and accurately takes time, training and practice. We want to encourage all practitioners to use these valuable tools for self-evaluation - but it is important to recognise that you are ‘practising’ and using them in a developmental way.