Research on quality in early childhood has consistently shown that staff are the cornerstone of excellence, and that staff training makes a difference to services provided to children and families. There is also a growing awareness of the importance of adopting a planned approach to career development and that this begins with self-assessment, and can be enhanced through the use of guided reflection with a mentor. The Early Childhood Consortium Victoria (ECCV) at The University of Melbourne, has developed a self-assessment manual (SAM) designed as a tool for early childhood practitioners to explore their work in a strategic way. It serves the dual purposes of assisting practitioners to address issues of service quality, as well as promoting individual professional development through reflective practice. SAM has now been piloted in a number of early childhood settings in Australia and this paper presents a formative evaluation of this work and discusses its potential for professional development planning.