When nursery settings receive a visit from Ofsted, it can often lead to panicked feelings about the impending inspection and a sense of unpreparedness. However, it’s important teams feel confident throughout.
Beth-ann Sher, product marketing manager of nursery management software organisation Connect Childcare, explains.
An Ofsted inspection is inevitable within the education sector, and yet there are still so many practitioners who endure sleepless nights at the thought of it.
The thing is, settings that are providing children with the best possible care, needn’t worry. Of course, an Ofsted rating has a huge weighting on an early years business, but to alleviate some of the stress, taking a step back and remembering why they’re in the job in the first place, can pay dividends in the long-run.
So, before exploring the elements of the ‘Learning Walk’, first let’s debunk a myth. Ofsted inspectors don’t ‘need to see’ documentation in a specific format. However, what is important is that record-keeping is managed effectively to help identify patterns in children’s attendance, accidents and what their mealtimes look like, so professionals can respond swiftly to any concerns.
Additionally, the team’s designated lead practitioner for safeguarding should be armed with evidence so they can keep on top of any issues, and discuss them with the team. Plus, it’s vital the setting keeps relevant policies and procedures up to date anyway, but especially because an inspector will likely ask them to explain how they’d handle different safeguarding scenarios.
Moving on to the Ofsted Learning Walk
Introduced as a new feature of the Education Inspection Framework (EIF), this requires an inspector to invite a senior member of staff to complete a Learning Walk. During this activity, they must be able to demonstrate how the setting’s curriculum supports every child’s development.
To be as prepared as possible for this, questions that come up are likely to include, ‘what skills do you want babies to develop in the baby room?’ and ‘what progression will there be in the toddler and preschool areas?’
And although Ofsted doesn’t have any preferred pedagogy, the EIF refers to the ‘intention’, ‘implementation’, and ‘impact’ of the curriculum, which Jo Caswell – an Ofsted inspector of more than 20 years – explains below.
For example, ‘what do you want children to learn?’ By demonstrating high expectations, that are age-appropriate, an inspector begins to build a bigger picture as to how the team can support a child’s development.
Covering the activities that are being provided and the learning environment created, the inspector wants to understand how the setting ‘teaches’ children every day.
Are the children making progress and meeting typical development milestones? If there are any gaps in learning that are closing too, these are all vital pieces of information to be discussed during the Learning Walk.
Don’t be afraid, be proud
And finally, Jo recommends that when an inspector is being shown around, practitioners should display how proud they are of their team and setting – so don’t shy away from speaking about important achievements.
Providing examples of where practices have been altered and improvements made are key too, and if any plans are already in place to address weaker points, they’re worth flagging rather than glossing over. After all, any professional worth their salt will always be striving to improve.
Overall, an inspection shouldn’t be feared. In fact, it’s an ideal opportunity to underline the hard work that’s gone into making the setting the best it can be, and provides the chance to highlight any exciting elements that are in the pipeline.
To ensure admin tasks are streamlined and regularly updated – without impacting on child development – discover what Connect Childcare’s nursery management software can do. Book a demo today.