How to avoid A&R stress
The Sector > Quality > Professional development > How to stop your team from stressing about Assessment & Rating in Early Education

How to stop your team from stressing about Assessment & Rating in Early Education

by Sarah Moore. Leadership Coach and Training Facilitator.

September 15, 2023

In the lead-up to an assessment and rating process, early childhood services often find themselves navigating a complex and sometimes stressful journey. The prospect of meeting regulatory standards, addressing quality improvements, and ensuring a cohesive team effort can be overwhelming. It’s a time when stress levels can soar, and the pressure to perform is palpable. However, amidst these challenges lies a powerful tool for alleviating stress and fostering a sense of direction: the in-service roadmap.


An in-service roadmap, when collaboratively created with your team, serves as a powerful communication and planning tool through this tumultuous period.


It acts as a visual, goal-oriented plan that outlines the steps, milestones, and responsibilities involved in the assessment and rating process. By providing a clear path forward, the roadmap helps your team navigate uncertainties with confidence and certainty. It becomes a collective source of motivation and direction, instilling a shared purpose and a sense of unity among team members.


Roadmaps activate and guide the networking between the ‘emotional hippocampus,’ the neocortex, and the prefrontal cortex – enabling healthy engagement, and storing of healthy patterns that can be retrieved for healthy use when partnering and co-creation.


Without roadmaps, our brain picks and chooses from memories and can be disjointed, seeing, and experiencing reality through threats and fears, which can lead to us shutting down, revealing less, expecting more and assuming the worst.


When we map out roadmaps with staff – conflict dissolves!


Roadmaps provide a visual representation of where we have come from, where we are now and where we are heading. Therefore, creating more certainty. Helping us to move from individual thinking to group think. Bringing the ‘I’ into the ‘we’ and creating joint experiences. We can process complex issues much faster when it comes to visual communication.


This helps to reduce cortisol (stress hormone), helps staff to feel better, taking uncertainty out of the air, and helping teams see how they fit in now and into the future, what is expected of them, and how they can contribute.


Roadmaps offer a structured approach that goes beyond mere planning. They help set clear goals, outline actionable steps, can be used as a communication tool and provide a visual representation of progress.


9 steps to creating your in-service roadmap


Step 1: Clarifying goals and objectives


Begin by clearly defining your purpose and objectives for the assessment and rating process. What empowering language and narrative do you want to create and communicate to your team? Remember your certainty, clarity, and vision fuels their confidence. Words create worlds, so choose your words carefully!


Step 2: Identifying key stakeholders


Engage key team members and stakeholders early, using partnering language . Open communication sets the tone for collaboration and builds trust.


Step 3: Assessing current practices


Evaluate current practices collaboratively, seeking input from your team. Let your team lead these conversations, as you are wanting to gain their perspective and reality. This engagement is crucial to understanding your teams narrative, beliefs and support needs.


Step 4: Defining milestones and timelines


As a team, break the assessment and rating preparation into a journey with key milestones and defined realistic timelines, e.g. months, weeks, terms. Creating a shared understanding of the process and tasks is a trust-building strategy.


Step 5: Engaging your team


Involve your team in the roadmap creation, every step of the way! So they can see themselves as part of the important journey, and can feel that their insights and contribution are valued and appreciated. This creates a sense of ownership and buy-in.


Step 6: Developing action plans


Craft actionable plans as a team, assigning roles and resources. Co-creation ensures shared responsibility and commitment. Remember to identify what could get in the way of achieving these action steps and the strategies you will put in place as a response.


Step 7: Establishing communication channels


Set up effective channels for ongoing communication. Transparency is key to nurturing trust through consistent updates. Remember that consistency is key here, repeating the same message in different ways builds confidence and understanding. Create a working FAQ document that the team create and has ongoing access to.


Step 8: Monitoring progress and adaptation


Regularly track progress against milestones. If unexpected changes arise, transparently adapt the roadmap together. Remember the importance of celebrating the team’s success, resilience and adaptability along the way. Celebrations help your team feel valued and appreciated and help to strengthen feelings of connection and bonding. e.g. we are all in this together!


Step 9: Addressing challenges and concerns


Create safe spaces for conversations around practical and emotional challenges, whilst acknowledging we all respond to uncertainty in different ways. When we have open and honest conversations together we normalise and validate our team’s concerns or anxiety around the assessment and rating process.




Roadmaps are living documents, adaptable as things shift and change. They’re working documents owned by the entire team, embedding roles and responsibilities.


They help to make the invisible, visible.


Regular review and adaptation are vital. Place the roadmap in a central location for daily reference, ensuring everyone is aligned and engaged.


Bring your creativity and a playful approach to the creation of your roadmap designing it in a way that reflects your service philosophy and unique perspective.


Remember there is no right or wrong way of creating your in-service roadmap.


Most importantly have fun!


For tailored support leading up to the assessment and rating process get in touch or join in the upcoming courses listed here.

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