A lot of colleagues are getting worried about the inspection changes when, in all honesty, very little has changed for childminders – we will still get the same amount of warning before inspections and we will still be inspected on safeguarding and how well we work with the children.
Inspectors will observe us with children – the same as they do now – and ask questions to make sure we know the children well. They will more than likely expect us to prepare an activity and then ask questions to make sure we can talk confidently about why we have prepared the activity, what it is teaching the children, what they got out of it and where we will take their learning next. These are things we do every day so shouldn't be a worry
There is advice about preparing an activity (plus a spare) for inspection here.
The inspection outcomes have changed – well the wording is different but the things Ofsted inspectors will be looking for are very similar. It is worth reading through this slide share from Ofsted.
Leadership and management – we are already graded on leadership and management – it’s about our paperwork and how well we manage our provisions. It also includes safeguarding which will be a written judgement rather than an actual grade. There is a new safeguarding guidance (document 150067) which is worth reading.
All the new inspection guidance documents are linked from here.
Ofsted want to see us providing children with a broad and balanced curriculum – we can evidence this by showing them our photo albums and children’s learning and development files as well as any training we have accessed to show that we are committed to improving.
Teaching, learning and assessment – the wording has been changed to reflect the new focus on outcomes for children. The Govt says that children are not making fast enough progress in their early years and they are not ready enough for school so we need to work harder and in closer partnership with parents to prepare them. Just the same as now – we must complete a 2 year progress check and if we note a child is falling behind at any point we must record it and speak to parents about getting some extra help for the child.
Ofsted have released new guidance ‘Teaching and play in the early years: a balancing act’ (document 150085) which talks in detail about how they will inspect us and is worth reading. They really are giving us as much information as they can about what they are going to be looking for during inspection – it’s up to us to read and watch and be confident in our practice.
Parent input will be important just as it is now – inspectors will look at how well we engage parents (and other settings / professionals), providing them with information about what their child is learning and how well they are getting on – and giving them ideas which promote children’s home learning. This is not the same as ‘homework’ and does not involve worksheets – it is simply suggesting things children might like to continue at home to support their learning.
Personal development, behaviour and welfare – this tells me that there will be a focus on PSED and physical development (healthy eating, keeping safe etc) so make sure you are recording children’s progress in this area of learning, working with parents to support learning at home and including activities that will support PSED in your planning. Inspectors will not comment on the type of planning you do – and you can do it in your head if you prefer because the EYFS does not require it to be written down – but if you think you might find it tricky explaining your planning to an inspector during a busy inspection you might find it useful to make notes.
We have also noted recently that there is a focus on raising achievement in maths and there are lots of comments in inspection reports about how well (or otherwise) providers use maths during their planned activity so this is something to be aware of and improve if necessary.
Inspectors will want to see children taking pride in their learning – you can show this by using the learning characteristics to record how they learn and how you help them to build on their individual learning characteristics. For example, if a child is struggling to concentrate you might play some games with them or add puppets to the storytelling box; if a child is destructive or has behaviour issues these will impact on learning so you would need to show how you are working with the child, parents and other agencies (if relevant) to support the child – because we know that poor behaviour impacts on learning.
Outcomes for children – we are already graded on this and nothing much has changed, apart from a few tweaks to the wording. there will be an emphasis on progress from starting points so make sure you have recorded children’s starting points, along with parents and are tracking their progress – Early Years Outcomes (EYO) is Ofsted’s tracker of choice, you don’t need to use anything else alongside it and double your workload – EYO is enough.
You will find more detailed guidance about the newly worded inspection outcomes in this free information guide from Childcare.co.uk.
What do we need to do?
- Tweak our self-evaluations / Ofsted SEFs when the new ones are released but only by moving some information around. I will write new guidance as soon as I have the wording from Ofsted.
- Comply with the Prevent duty – more advice here.
- Actively promote British values – more advice from Foundation Years here.
It is important to remember that Ofsted do not want to see a wall of flags or a few multicultural toys – British values should be already embedded in everything you do. I have written to our parents about British values – this is my blog.
- Update record forms – you might need to change some of your forms to include new bits of wording. We have done this for you in the free forms from Childcare.co.uk – simply log in with a free account to access them.
- Check your learning and development files – make sure you have clear starting points for every child and trackers to show how they are making progress. The tracking and next steps that link to them need to be clear and easy to follow – you don’t need complicated record sheets, just a clear progression from observations -> assessments linked to Early Years Outcomes -> individual planning which supports the child’s learning. Some of your ‘next steps’ will be longer term and some will be ‘in the moment’ such as when a child arrives clutching a new toy they want to share.
We want childminders to feel confident about how the new Common Inspection Framework and Early Years Inspection handbook (document 150068) will be used in inspections from September 1st.
If you have any questions or want further advice you should ask your colleagues on the Independent Childminders Facebook group or the Childminding Forum and we will help you.
It is really important that you take a few moments to read through the new inspection guidance documents and watch the Ofsted good practice films – they are telling us what they want to see!