Ofsted are carrying out a review of the Common Inspection Framework and the Early Years Inspection handbook throughout 2018-19. The Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) from the Department for Education (DfE) will still be the statutory framework with which early years providers have to comply – the Early Years Inspection handbook tells us what Ofsted are looking for during inspection and should be read alongside the EYFS.
Safeguarding and health and safety will not change. Ofsted will still look at how providers, for example, respond to allegations during questions about safeguarding and engage children in risky play – and the 4 inspection grades will stay as they are now.
The focus of the changes will be on the early years ‘curriculum’ – what DfE currently refer to in the EYFS as our ‘educational programmes’. The curriculum covers what we teach and the effectiveness of our teaching. Inspectors will also look at how well leaders and managers (childminders as well as group providers) develop their curriculum and teaching so it impacts in the best way on children’s learning.
Ofsted were keen to point out that the curriculum in the early years covers playing games, telling stories, singing songs and how well our resources are used. Ofsted state that the curriculum must not be narrowed to ‘teach to the test’ – it must cover the 7 areas of learning and early years providers must be able to show how we are supporting children towards the knowledge they need by the end of reception.
Ofsted referred to their previous reports including 'Are you ready? Good practice in school readiness', ‘Teaching and Play in the Early Years: a Balancing Act’ which talks about the importance of ‘planned purposeful play’ and the widely unpopular (apparently misunderstood) ‘Bold Beginnings’ which talks about meaningful learning opportunities and nurturing children’s early language.
The ‘word gap’ is prominent in inspection at the moment and Ofsted are keen to hear language used which develops children’s vocabularies - and state this can be taught through playful interactions – I found some good ideas to evaluate my practice in this article from the Early Intervention Foundation (EIF).
Ofsted commented that joint observations (observing practitioners with the manager and then discussing and evaluating the effectiveness of their teaching) and learning walks (used in schools) are powerful ways to inspect how well providers are assessing children’s learning, planning for future learning and evaluating the effectiveness of their provision. Inspectors will be looking at children as learners, evaluating children's attitudes to learning and whether they are being prepared well for and ready for the next stage of learning.
Ofsted reassured delegates that there will be less focus during inspection on data collection and paperwork - and inspectors will not comment on how providers assess learning. The word 'proportionality' was used a number of times in conversation later with Ofsted senior inspectors. They are looking instead at the effectiveness of the curriculum and they want us to see the changes as an ‘evolution not a revolution’.
**Disclaimer - it was a fast-moving presentation and this blog is based on my quick notes - I might have missed things.
**Photo - taken from Julian Grenier on Twitter - mine was the same slide but very blurry.