A colleague who cannot make it onto the webinar asked me the following question...
Question: What are Ofsted inspectors looking for when they do a learning walk?
Background: the revised Early Years Inspection handbook introduces the phrase 'learning walk'
EY inspection handbook:
Answer: every inspector carries out inspections slightly differently, but as a general rule they will want to look round the house and garden and talk to us about what we do and why.
For example the inspector will want to talk about how we deliver our curriculum – our teaching to support children’s learning. They will want to see children listening, concentrating, motivated, engaged and thinking throughout the inspection … and they will ask questions to find out what difference we are making to their long-term memory.
During a learning walk and when observing us during inspection, Ofsted inspectors will probably want to see:
- A well-considered, flexible daily routine that meets the needs of the children on the day.
- All 7 areas of learning in our teaching – note that planning does not need to be in writing if you can explain it to your inspector during the inspection.
- Knowledge and understanding of child development to support teaching – so you change your activities depending on the age and stage of the child.
- Observations which lead to individual planning – how you scaffold children’s learning, building on their starting points and leading to new learning.
- Children learning new things using all 7 areas of learning. Not, for example, a maths table set up but maths learning opportunities recognised and developed during play, music and movement, reading etc.
- A focus on extending children’s vocabularies through reading books and singing songs. You don’t need to spend the entire inspection reading books but you will need to talk about how book reading supports children’s learning and when, for example, you plan a reading session during the day.
- Quality, carefully thought-out resources that engage children across all 7 areas of learning. Resources should link to children’s current interests as well as teaching them something new.
- Children’s learning characteristics supported and developed – children should be engaged, motivated and thinking throughout the inspection. If behaviour dips, the inspector will watch how you support the child so they return to their play.
- Ongoing assessment to check children are learning what is being taught – Ofsted will not be looking for written assessment beyond the 2 year progress check which must be in writing for every child between the ages of 2 and 3 years (statutory – EYFS).
- Happy, engaged, confident and independent children who are playful and interact well with staff, each other and resources throughout the inspection.
Ofsted look closely at the environment during the learning walk to check it is appropriate for the children on the day. For example, younger children need different types of resources to older ones to support their learning … and the environment needs to be stimulating and to create challenge. This links closely to children’s behaviour because if children are bored their behaviour will dip.
Questions Ofsted might ask during the learning walk include:
- What curriculum do you use?
Think about, for example, daily routines, outings, new experiences, play, reading sessions, music and movement etc.
- Can children self-select resources?
Look at your toy storage – can children access what they want to use?
- How well do resources support children’s learning?
Think about your resources – are they appropriate for the children on the day? Do they build on children’s knowledge and skills? Do they help children prepare for school? Do they encourage children to develop their learning characteristics?
- Are children engaged and motivated?
Observe children during play and think about how you can better engage them.
- How do you raise children’s cultural capital?
Ask yourself: do you know what cultural capital each child brings to the setting (their starting points from home, family and community life)? How do you develop their cultural capital through the activities, outings and experiences you provide?
- How well do your inside and outside areas complement each other?
Ofsted want to see quality learning taking place outside as well as in the setting. You might find it useful to audit your outside learning area to check it complements the experiences you offer inside.
We will look at all these areas of provision – and more – during our series of webinars which are focused on preparing practitioners for the new Ofsted inspection framework which will be introduced from September 2019.
You can find the FREE Childcare.co.uk webinars here - https://www.childcare.co.uk/webinars.
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