The Bristol Standard

The Bristol Standard is a self-evaluation framework which helps Early Years settings, Childminders and Play settings to develop and improve the quality and effectiveness of their provision through an annual cycle of reflection.

The Bristol Standard has been:

  • Designed to support the process of continuous quality improvement which is a journey, not a destination.
  • Organised into ten dimensions so that settings can evaluate one area at a time in a manageable way.

Bristol Standard: What you will receive

Early Years settings who wish to start on the Bristol Standard journey will receive:

  • An initial training session.
  • Two support visits from a mentor during the first year.
  • A Bristol Standard folder and leaflets for parents
  • A certificate of validation upon completion.

The training session and support visits help you work on the standard's dimensions over a year. A folder is then submitted for validation and settings receive a certificate.

Childminders can attend monthy dimension meetings and will receive help from their support worker.


Involvement in the Bristol Standard demonstrates commitment to reflective practice, self-evaluation and continuous quality improvement.

The philosophy of the Bristol Standard is that we can all:

'improve on our previous best’

Bristol Standard paperwork

This is the paperwork you'll need to make a submission:

Bristol Standard e-submissions

It's now possible to complete submissions electronically on the paperwork provided here.

The advantage is that evidence can be imported directly into the document removing the need for a large amount of paperwork. Help files and mentor support will be available.

E-submissions can also be uploaded directly to a secure website called Alfresco when they are ready to be shared with a mentor or submitted for validation.

This is the paperwork you’ll need to make an e-submission:

Guidance: Bristol Standard and e-submission:

Guidance for Bristol Standard e-submission (pdf, 1.2MB) (opens new window)

This document will give you guidance on completing your Bristol Standard and how to upload your e-submission for validation.

Birth to five:

Full E-submission  V0118 (word doc, 298k) (opens new window)

First interim e-submission V0118 (word doc, 140k) (opens new window)

Second interim e-submission V0118 (word doc, 130k) (opens new window)

Play provision:

Full play e-submission  V0118 (word doc, 298k) (opens new window)

First interim play e-submission V0118 (word doc, 140k) (opens new window)

Second interim play e-submission V0118 (word doc, 130k) (opens new window)

Joint birth to five and play provision:

Full joint birth to five and play E-submission  V0118 (word doc, 299k) (opens new window)

First interim joint birth to five and play e-submission V0118 (word doc, 140k) (opens new window)

Second interim joint birth to five and play e-submission V0118 (word doc, 130k) (opens new window)

Bristol Standard Family

Six local authorities have bought the Bristol Standard and are part of the group known as the Bristol Standard Family which is headed by the Bristol Standard Development Group. These authorities are committed to the process of the Bristol Standard as a quality improvement tool. Lead officers meet regularly as a group to ensure consistency in training, support and validation. They are:

  • Bath and North East Somerset
  • Gloucestershire
  • Plymouth
  • Slough
  • South Gloucestershire
  • Wiltshire

The validation days rotate around the local authorities with validators travelling to different venues over the year. The range of validators ensures a fair and transparent validation process with no-one validating a submission from their own local authority. Quality Control officers oversee the validation process to ensure there is consistency of judgements.

Bristol Standard for individual settings

The Bristol Standard can also be undertaken by settings that are outside the Bristol Standard Family. There is a package available which includes mentor visits and support through telephone and email. 

Bristol Standard for play provision

This is aimed specifically at Play settings and those working with children over the age of five.

It has been adapted from the Bristol Standard for Early Years by experienced Playworkers to create a reflective cycle which is accessible and relevant to the Play sector.

It is a document you can use to reflect on your practice and improve the quality of the play opportunities you are offering the children in your care.

The Bristol Standard gives you a framework for improving on your previous best whilst acknowledging what you already do well. The Bristol Standard for Play Provision 3rd edition was launched in November 2014

There are several reasons why Play settings should consider engaging with the Bristol Standard process:

  • It has been written by Playworkers who understand the needs of people in the sector.
  • It supports settings to achieve the requirements set out by the Early Years Foundation Stage for Play settings.
  • It supports settings to engage the whole staff team in reflective discussions.
  • It celebrates success and helps to identify areas for development.
  • The children can be involved in the process .

The Bristol Standard Development Group has linked with BAND who will provide mentor support for the Play sector.

Contact for play provision

If you would like any more information or if you have any questions regarding the Bristol Standard for Play Provision please contact Paul Dielhenn at BAND on 0117 954 2128 who will arrange for a Play mentor to visit you.

Playwork settings can attend the BAND quarterly group support meetings as well as receive individual support from a mentor.

Contact information

Nicky Bale, Early Years Consultant

Bristol Education Centre

Sheridan Road

Bristol, BS7 0PU

Opening Hours


Tel: 0117 903 1270