A+ Education was formed in 2006 by Sandra Mathers and Faye Linskey. Early work focused on carrying out large-scale quality assessments for local authorities or research studies using the Environment Rating Scales, and training teams to use the ERS for measurement. Since 2006 we have conducted more than 800 observations, either as part of local authority audits or research studies.
We soon began a move towards using the ERS for self-evaluation and improvement, and training early years practitioners to own and use the tools themselves. Research evidence and our experience shows that using rating scales for assessment (doing it ‘to’ practitioners) – while effective for measuring quality – is not effective in encouraging quality improvement. No single measure can capture all aspects of quality, and high-stakes single time-point assessments tend to encourage practitioners to focus only on those indicators included in the measure.
We have now worked with more than 40 local authorities and Teaching Schools in the UK, providing professional development for 2000+ practitioners. Our overseas work has included Nepal, China and the Republic of Ireland. We have also provided professional development for groups visiting England on study tours.
In recent years we have become more directly involved in research work, notably via the Education Endowment Foundation-funded URLEY (Using Research tools to improve Language in the Early Years) study. A+ Education Ltd is collaborating with the University of Oxford and University College London to develop and deliver the URLEY programme as part of a large-scale randomised controlled trial which is testing impact on practice and child outcomes.
Our core values are:
- A commitment to evidence-based practice, and a learning and improvement culture
- Practitioner ownership and leadership of the quality improvement process
- Partnership working
- Honest communication and acting with integrity