1. Eliminate unnecessary paperwork – Ofsted are looking at practice not paperwork. You do need the statutory paperwork – attendance registers, staff documents, safeguarding and complaints policies, 2 year progress checks etc… but not the unnecessary ‘stuff’ that you do ‘just in case’ or ‘for Ofsted’.
2. Track children’s progress from the starting points parents give you before their child starts in the setting – do your own observations, assessments and individual planning from day 1 so you are not wasting a second of their time in the setting. Review how much record keeping you are doing though – there is no requirement to write reams of observations and 'next steps' activities or group planning - as long as you are sharing verbally with parents and can talk about the child's learning (what they know), development (how they are getting on), learning characteristics (how they learn) and progress from starting points, Ofsted will be happy.
3. Be confident in your teaching and know what children are learning. If activities go wrong during your inspection, as they often do, be ready to talk about how you could have done it better and what you will do differently next time. Footnote 16 in the revised inspection handbook provides the definition of teaching – it’s what we are already doing with the children every day.
4. Reflect on your practice – regularly – thinking about what are you doing well and what you want to improve. You do not need to reflect in writing – just be ready to discuss your self-evaluation and action planning – your vision for the future – with your inspector and if you have done some professional development, think about the impact on your practice and outcomes for children.
5. Know the new Ofsted inspection buzzwords – you already do it – you don’t need to buy a curriculum or a cultural capital poster to prove you do it… just be confident in your practice and ready to show your inspector how amazing you are during your learning walk (or learning sit if a walk doesn’t work for you and the children) and throughout your inspection.
6. Don’t make changes for your inspection – the children will trip you up! Where possible, outings notwithstanding, stick to your normal daily routine that the children know. Get out toys, games, books and activities you know they enjoy – this will help them relax into their daily routine despite a visitor asking you lots of questions in the background.
7. Reading and vocabulary are inspection focus areas – for your observed activity you might want to read a book or sing some songs and rhymes but don’t spend your entire inspection doing it – you need to showcase your amazing practice in other ways too.
8. Work with parents to support children’s behaviour – they need to be engaged in their learning and, if behaviour is poor, you need to get them back on track quickly so they are not disturbing their own learning and the learning of the other children in the setting. Think about key person and attachment theories, how you actively promote British values of respect and tolerance – and how you support children’s self-regulation, emotions, friendships, conflicts, understanding of the needs of others etc.
9. Know your children inside out and backwards – Ofsted will look at tracking if you put it in front of them but they won’t ask to see it – so make sure you have a ‘story in your head about every child’ and be ready to share it with the inspector when asked. The only statutory paperwork for recording learning and development is the Progress Check at 2 and your inspector is likely to ask to see evidence of one of those for the children currently in your setting.
10. Safeguarding has always been and will always be an inspection focus – it is also a limiting judgement which means if you mess up safeguarding, your inspection will not end well. Read the Early Years Inspection handbook ‘leadership and management’ section and be ready to talk about how you keep children safe and healthy, risk management, risky play, staff management and wellbeing etc.
You can read a FREE question and answer about the new inspection framework here -
I have added my ' Pre-school Curriculum' to my e-books for sale page - e-book 35 - here -
If you have any questions, please ask – you can email me, message me on Facebook or ask on the Independent Childminders Facebook group where I am an admin.
I am always happy to help, deliver training or pop round for a visit if you are local.
Chat soon, Sarah