Ofsted inspectors will use inspection to observe –
· Children’s listening and communication skills
· How well children are prepared for learning
· Children’s relationships with others
· How positive behaviour is promoted in the setting
· How providers deal with challenging or negative behaviour.
The Ofsted annual report (2016) notes that when behaviour is observed as ‘requires improvement’, it is often linked to a lack of stimulating activities or low levels of challenge in the activities available to the children. It will be important, therefore, to talk positively about the planning you use – note that Ofsted have said inspectors will not judge the type of planning you choose – they are looking at its impact on outcomes for children.
As reported in Nursery World magazine (link above), Ofsted state that ‘young children’s ability to communicate is closely linked with their behaviour and Ofsted note that ‘children whose communication, language and listening skills are under-developed often have restricted ways of communicating their needs and wants, which can lead to them displaying behaviour perceived as negative or immature.’
The Early Years Inspection handbook (2015) gives further information about the inspection outcomes for outstanding, good, requires improvement and inadequate linked to how well providers support children’s personal development, behaviour and welfare (from page 41).
Providers who best support children’s behaviour…
- Offer a range of stimulating activities to ensure children are motivated and engaged
- Manage behaviour consistently throughout the setting with input from parents and other settings children attend (where appropriate)
- Have high expectations for every child
- Use each child’s interests to teach them new things in a ‘highly stimulating environment’
- Help children to form ‘secure emotional attachments
- Take children on outings and teach them about their family and community, to offer ‘a wide range of experiences that promote understanding of people, families and communities beyond their own’
- Carefully plan the inside and outside spaces to promote learning, giving them ‘independence to explore their world’
- Teach children how to express their feelings
- Offer opportunities for children to learn about similarities and differences
- Enhance continuous provision (the toys and games that are always available) to ensure children are motivated, engaged and using their thinking skills - consistently promoting the characteristics of effective learning
- Prepare children for transitions to other settings and the move to school.
To gain an outstanding grade during Ofsted inspection, children must ‘demonstrate exceptionally positive behaviour and high levels of self-control, cooperation and respect for others that are appropriate for their age. They do not distract others or become distracted themselves.’
To support colleagues with this new Ofsted inspection focus, I am writing a new series of Information Guides for Childcare.co.uk focussing on children’s behaviour in the early years – the first one is already on the website.
I also have an e-book (number 4) on my Knutsford Childminding website with more insights into how we can support children's behaviour in early years settings, with a focus on childminding provisions.
If you need any support with a child's behaviour , you can use the Childminding Forum and Independent Childminders Facebook group to seek advice - admin will post questions for you if you wish to remain anonymous.