Amanda Spielman has been Ofsted’s chief inspector since January 2017. She has been talking about what Ofsted are focusing on during inspection recently. In a recent speech she said that Ofsted want a period of stability and there won’t be any major changes to inspection for a while – all inspectors are now in-house and being trained by Ofsted and they are confident that inspection is improving as a result.
We’ve certainly been reading a lot more positive stories than negative on the Independent Childminders Facebook group recently which is good to know. I have said many times before that Ofsted are not the enemy that exists in people’s minds when the phone rings – the majority of inspectors are well-trained, professional and responsive to what we are doing and saying.
Ms Spielman repeated what it says in the inspection handbook - Ofsted inspectors should not say how to do things. How we comply with the requirements of the EYFS is up to us. Ofsted judge us on how well we are raising outcomes for children. The recent myth busting campaign started by Jill Jones, deputy director of early years, is testament to that and it’s important we follow it because it confirms that Ofsted do not prescribe what we must do.
Ofsted are more interested in why we choose activities and the effect the activities have on children’s development so they will ask us questions such as – why did you plan this activity? What are your learning intentions? What do you think that child learned? What are you going to do next?
Some of the focus areas for Ofsted during inspection at the moment include:
- We need to promote risky play but it must be carefully risk assessed. Ofsted are not suggesting we put children in danger but they do not want us to remove climbing frames because of some perception that they are unsafe. Risk depends on the circumstances and keeps changing – we need to keep assessing the risk and responding to it – we need to supervise children and remove or minimise risk through constant vigilance (Gill Jones at the OBC NW meeting).
This is an old – but still relevant – blog about risky play.
If there is a serious accident, the role of the Ofsted regulatory team is to assess whether the provider has taken enough precautions to minimise the risk to the child.
- All Ofsted inspectors are taking safeguarding refresher training.
The quick reference cards and linked DVD here will help you to ensure your safeguarding knowledge is robust ready for inspection.
- Language development, literacy and phonics are high on the agenda during inspections – Ms Spielman spoke about the importance of traditional nursery rhymes and quality interactions with children so we are constantly introducing new language.
During our inspection last year our inspector asked us how we use Letters and Sounds phase 1 with our pre-school children. We talked about the games we play and the ways we share ideas from Letters and Sounds phase 1 with parents so they can be used to promote home learning.
Letters and Sounds phase 1 is the starting point for phonics learning – the scaffolding on which all other phonics sits. Without this background knowledge, children will struggle to use phonics when they get to school.
More information about Letters and Sounds Phase 1.
- Ofsted will consider how well we prepare children for school – how we ‘encourage curiosity and reward inquisitiveness’. This blog will give you more information.
We know from Ofsted Big Conversation meetings (when providers meet with Ofsted and discuss sector concerns) that Ofsted look at how well we prepare children for school by focusing on the prime areas plus literacy and numeracy and we know from the Early Years Inspection handbook that they track children through the inspection to check we are preparing them effectively for school.
Gill Jones, deputy director of early years at Ofsted gave a presentation at a recent Ofsted Big Conversation North West open meeting about other areas which Ofsted are currently focusing on during inspection including:
- The key to teaching children is through playful interactions – Ofsted will evaluate the quality of our teaching – and they want to see happy children learning…
- Every second counts when a child starts in the provision – use starting points to plan for individual learning from day 1
- Boys development in the North West (and countrywide) typically falls behind girls – think about how well you support boys and girls to develop the skills and knowledge they need for school
- Ofsted will evaluate the progress children are making from their starting points – starting points come from parents before the child starts in the provision
- Be flexible and be prepared to change what you have planned to support a child’s interest or a change in the weather
- Ofsted will ask you about how you evaluate – what is going well? What isn’t going so well? What do you want to change? What is your action plan for the future?
- The Early years Foundation Stage (EYFS, 2017) is our statutory framework and the Early Years Inspection handbook is Ofsted’s interpretation of the EYFS. It is important to read both documents together when preparing self-evaluation, action planning and to be ready for inspection.
- Ofsted learn more from talking to staff and children than they do from looking at paperwork. The focus of inspection will be on how well staff understand children and on safeguarding. The only paperwork needed for Ofsted is detailed in the EYFS and inspectors should not expect extra…
Never in the history of inspection have we been given so much information about what Ofsted want to see us when they come out to inspect us. It is really important that we listen to these messages from Ofsted – read about the myth busting campaign – stop knee-jerk reactions to something someone has said – and focus on high quality provision. Gill Jones said that we should not be swayed by what other settings are doing or by what ‘an inspector’ said Ofsted want to see because every inspection is different. She reminded delegates that day-to-day practice is about what works for us and our children.
Myth busting videos here.
Please contact me if you have any questions.