Sustained Shared Thinking and Emotional Well-being (SSTEW)

A new set of quality improvement self-evaluation scales have been launched in March 2015 focusing on the Sustained Shared Thinking and Emotional Well-being (SSTEW) of children, emphasising the importance of quality adult/child interactions in promoting a child’s cognitive and personal development. 

They complement other environment rating scales including ITERS/ECERS and FCERRS which focus principally on the planning and organisation of learning spaces although also touching upon assessment and communication development.

SSTEW has evolved out of earlier scales and research such as the EPPSE (Effective Primary, Pre-School and Secondary Education) longitudinal study and has been developed similarly to the scales mentioned above. 

The SSTEW scale comprises five sub-scales that link to particular aspects of developments and have 14 subheadings, called items. These are:

    1 Building trust, confidence and independence
  • Item 1 Self-regulation and social development
  • Item 2 Encouraging choices and independent play
  • Item 3 Planning for small group and individual interactions/adult deployment
    2 Social and emotional well-being
  • Item 4 Supporting socio-emotional well-being
    3 Supporting and extending language and communication
  • Item 5 Encouraging children to talk with others
  • Item 6 Staff actively listen to children and encourage children to listen
  • Item 7 Staff support children’s language use
  • Item 8 Sensitive responsiveness
    4 Supporting learning and critical thinking
  • Item 9 Supporting curiosity and problem-solving
  • Item 10 Encouraging sustained shared thinking through storytelling, sharing books, signing and rhymes
  • Item 11 Encouraging sustained shared thinking in investigation and exploration
  • Item 12 Supporting concept development and higher-order thinking
    5 Assessing language and learning
  • Item 13 Using assessment to support and extend learning and critical thinking
  • Item 14 Assessing language development

Julia Hinns, Trio’s Managing Director, has been part of a discreet national team of experts working with 4Children over the past 15 months, piloting these scales with settings across the whole early years sector including with Registered Childminders, as part of the Study of Early Education and Development (SEED).

Trio believe these scales will support group settings to self-evaluate vital relationships needed to help children feel safe and thus be ready to learn effectively, whilst with Registered Childminders, a different approach may need to be considered to enable the process to be achievable when working in isolation. Following such an effective self-evaluation, action plans identifying training can really help children’s development.


Trio will be offering group settings and childminders the opportunity to explore these scales and learn to implement them in their settings across Wiltshire and Oxfordshire, but will consider other areas if enough expressions of interest arise.

If you'd like to be notified when details of our upcoming SSTEW training is published, please submit your contact details on the following form: