HOW TO USE THIS RESOURCE
The resource can be used flexibly. You can start by looking at an individual quality indicator (QI) in particular or by looking briefly through them all. By doing this, you may identify the ones most appropriate to explore in more detail. You might start with a QI which challenges you, or an aspect you feel more confident about. Although you do not need to use every QI, they do relate to one another so looking at more than one or two will give you a broader understanding of the impact you are having. See other suggestions for getting started in the Tools and Resources section.
For ease, each of the QIs follows the same format however you can choose at which point to begin.
- Gather – helps you identify the kind of evidence you should aim to collect to show the impact of your work.
- Analyse – sets out reflective questions to help you reflect on and question your evidence in depth. This will help you understand what is working well and what needs to be improved.
- Evaluate and Plan – includes an illustration of what very good practice might look like. This offers a national benchmark for you to evaluate your evidence against. It is intended to provide examples of evidence and practice, not to be fully comprehensive, nor be used as a checklist. Having identified what you need to improve you now need to plan how you will make it happen. Questions are provided to help you structure an action plan showing what you agree needs to be done and how you will work together with partners to deliver that improvement.
A few words about evidence
Asking two simple questions is the first step in evaluating how well something is working, and beginning a conversation about how to make things better. It’s a way of moving beyond “everything is ok”, to understand in greater detail what is actually working well and what perhaps isn’t delivering as anticipated.
This resource helps you to look at the quality of food in schools, allowing you to focus on particular aspects, ask yourself challenging questions, agree what needs to be improved and to work in partnership to deliver that improvement. It’s about creating a culture of self-evaluation in which everyone has a role to play in improvement and everyone is valued for their unique perspective and experience.
There is no absolute right or wrong type or source of evidence to use although there are essential pieces of evidence required to show compliance with the nutritional regulations of The HPN Act. The quality of the evidence gathered is more important than the quantity. To allow you to look at aspects of your work from all angles your evidence should take account of information and data, peoples view’s and direct observations of practice.
It is important to ensure the evidence you use is:
- Credible – for example have questions in a survey been well defined and consistently applied? Has appropriate data collection and analysis been carried out?
- Valid – for example does your evidence measure or test the question/topic as intended?
- Reliable – for example if carried out again would results be same/comparable?
- Relevant – for example has it been designed to suit the context and use?
The evidence gathered will help you evaluate what you are doing well, what needs to improve and will help you prioritise what to do next. Senior staff need to lead and manage the processes and methods for gathering, analysing, reporting and using evidence. Frontline staff are vital in collecting evidence and as a result they need to fully understand the purpose and importance of evidence. They need to be part of the process of planning, implementing and using evidence to evaluate practice and identify what needs improvement.