You can find a copy of the evaluation schedule here - Ofsted document 120086 (Oct 2013).
What is a joint observation?
During the joint observation, you and the inspector will watch a group of children playing. It will usually be carried out during a planned activity - so you need something they enjoy doing up your sleeve ready to pull out during the inspection. You will then discuss, after the observation, what you both saw and, using the Early Years Outcomes, you will see if you agree about the areas of learning you have observed and the children’s levels of learning and development.
So, to prepare for this joint observation, you need to –
· Get to know the Early Years Outcomes really well for the ages of children you might have in your provision at the time of your inspection
· Get to know each child’s abilities, strengths and weaknesses really well so you can discuss them confidently
· Understand how to use the learning characteristics in your planning so you can talk about how you tailor children’s activities to how they learn
· Write regular observations so you are used to doing them – assess them by linking them to Early Years Outcomes – plan next steps / individual activities for the EYFS children in your provision. It will not be scary if you do it regularly
· Maybe ask a childminder colleague to visit and carry out some joint inspections together so you have practiced what might happen during your inspection
· Ask your childminding coordinator (development officer) to help you by doing a joint observation with you.
Joint observations provide you with an excellent opportunity to show that you are amazing at your job! You can speak confidently about each child and explain to the inspector how you are supporting their learning through the activities you plan for them. You will have the opportunity to talk about how you work with parents, support learning at home, use the children’s learning characteristics in your planning – and much more!
If you have staff…
If you work with assistants or a co-childminder, the inspector is likely to ask you to do a joint observation watching your colleague working with the children. You should be doing this sort of observation as routine, so you will already have practiced observing and feeding back comments in a useful, non-judgemental way.
If you do not currently carry out observations of your staff, then you need to consider how you will incorporate them into your daily / weekly routines. Nursery managers set aside regular observation times to carry out staff observations and hold feedback sessions to support staff development – as a manager of a childminding provision you should be doing the same. Ask your staff members to observe you as well – this will help everyone to think carefully about what language they use during feedback and how they can phrase their comments positively to support progression.
You might find it helpful to observe specific areas of provision eg tell your assistant that today you will be observing care routines… or inform your co-childminder that over the coming week you both need to choose a time to observe each other during a planned activity.
The inspector might ask you to feed back to your staff member during the inspection – this will give you an opportunity to show off your management skills as you inspire your staff member to improve their practice. However, if your staff are not used to you doing this, they might be offended or feel criticised – regular observations will help overcome this concern. During feedback, focus on strengths – what went well – and then on things to work on in the future. Ask your staff member ‘what do you think went well?’ – you might find that many younger staff struggle with this as most college learning seems to focus on what they can improve!
The joint observation involving the inspector will be a further opportunity to show that you are brilliant at your job! During feedback, you will be able to discuss how your regular observations of your colleague(s) have led to raised outcomes for all the children and promoted better working practices in your provision. You will also be able to demonstrate that your leadership and management skills are constantly evolving as you show the inspector previous observations you have carried out and s/he sees a progression of your skills.
This is a very interesting article from the Foundation Stage Forum
You can find out more information about working with an assistant in e-book 48 'Assistants' from Knutsford Childminding
If there are any other areas of provision you would like me to research for you, please email me and let me know. Thank you.