The first month of ‘no SEF from Ofsted’ has passed us by in a flurry of spring activities so I want you to be honest – have you updated your self-evaluation and action planning this month?
I imagine you have all done lots of updating documentation and continuous professional development when reviewing your paperwork for the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR, 2018) if nothing else - but have you documented the changes in your self-evaluation yet?
Ofsted withdrew their SEF from 1 April but this does not mean we can stop self-evaluating and planning for the future. The SEF was only ever optional anyway and while Ofsted said they have removed it to reduce the paperwork burden on providers, it has left many colleagues concerned about how to document the changes they are constantly making to drive their businesses forward in the future.
To be honest, I always thought the Ofsted SEF was useful - it provided a helpful framework for self-evaluation following the recently updated Early Years Inspection handbook which is why I will continue to use the same layout in my own self-evaluation. I have updated my popular e-book 18 ‘Self-evaluation’** to reflect Ofsted’s decision to remove their SEF but I haven’t made many changes because I think change is unnecessary.
**You can purchase e-book 18 from Sarah Neville | Knutsford Childminding.
When Ofsted come to inspect you they make for key judgements on the quality of your provision and ways of working using the inspection handbook as a guide –
Whether you decide to use the same layout as the Ofsted’s SEF or not, the things you need to think about in your self-evaluation and action planning are –
- What am I doing well?
- What are my weaknesses?
- What do I want to improve?
- How will I make the changes?
Self-evaluation is about reflecting – evaluating - action planning for the future…
Reflecting – as well as your own views, you need to make sure you are involving the team - in a group setting Ofsted want to see views of children, parents, staff and ‘others’ accurately reflected in your self-evaluation. Let’s think about how we can gather these views together –
Voice of the child –
- Listen to children
- Observe them during play
Voice of parents –
- Send out regular questionnaires
- Ask focused questions at collection times or during meetings
- Ask questions during supervision
- Record views during day-to-day discussions
Voice of ‘others’ –
- Consult with your local authority
- Ask colleagues the feedback.
Evaluating - let’s think about the word ‘evaluating’ for a moment. Self-evaluation is not a description of what you do - Ofsted do not want to see a list of all the amazing things you are doing because they can observe that during your inspection. Self-evaluation is literally an evaluation of how well you do things - then, when you recognise your weaknesses, you will add your thoughts about what you can do better.
Action planning - the setting and your ways of working is not static - it is always changing and evolving as you read a blog, watch a good practice video, involve yourself in an online professional discussion, read a book, take a training course or participate in a webinar etc and you need to reflect this in your action planning.
For example, Ofsted may ask you or your staff about the quality of your teaching and learning and this is something that all staff should be involved in thinking about during supervisions. Reflect on how well you record children’s progress and how you know that your particular approach to teaching and learning is working well for your current cohort of children… this is action planning in action.
Free webinars sponsored by Childcare.co.uk for all providers.
In conclusion, don’t let self-evaluation and action planning fall by the wayside simply because Ofsted have withdrawn their SEF. If you work best in note format, make brief notes about the changes you have made and why; if you prefer to write an essay, take one piece of A4 paper every month and use it to update how your continuous professional development has improved your service and ways of working.
My blog to help you decide what to do next is here.
This page from Childcare.co.uk contains all the links to useful documents you need when you are planning for your inspection, including comprehensive guidance for writing your self-evaluation and action planning in the future.
Chat soon, Sarah.