Inspections are an important way of validating the good quality of care you provide to children at your setting - both to parents and other professionals. Don’t shy away from the great impression you can make when the inspector comes knocking.
1) Don't panic
Stay calm and show that you are confident in your abilities. Also, do not try to change the way you do things on the day of the inspection as this will be obvious. As a childcare professional, you should regularly evaluate and review your practice as a matter of course; therefore you should not need to make any special preparations for the inspection itself.
2) Plan ahead
It is worth taking some time before the inspection happens to consider how you will demonstrate to the following:
- Your self evaluation processes
- Your understanding of the requirements of EYFS
- How your early years provision meets the needs of the children in your care
- How you work closely with parents and other professionals
- Any additional training you have undertaken
3) Organise your paperwork
Make sure all the documents you need to show the inspector are easy to find. You will make a much better impression if all the paperwork you have is organised and presentable, and the inspector will appreciate you not wasting his/her time trying to find a long lost piece of paper down the back of the sofa!
4) Make use of software
If you use management software as part of your service for your data management and invoicing requirements, you can also highlight this to the inspector to show how professional your provision is. You can talk about how efficiently management software makes storing each child’s key medical information and how easily you can track important information like allergies.
5) Good presentation
All the areas of your home including your activity areas, outdoor spaces and reception room will give the inspector an overall impression of the sort of service you run, so do not overlook anything. If you have any notice boards for parents, make sure that they are up to date to show that you are engaging with parents on a regular basis.
6) Be confident in your terminology
This may seem like a minor issue, but you should not underestimate the impact of the words you use during the inspection. You may give the wrong impression about your level of knowledge and attention to detail if you misuse terminology, such as “key worker” instead of “key person”. Be sure to incorporate key phrases in your planning documents too.
7) Occupy your children
If your own children are present during the inspection, organise some activities that they can complete without much supervision. This will give the inspector the chance to speak with you and ask questions without too many interruptions, but do bear in mind that your inspector is likely to use their observations of your interaction with them when they write up their report.
8) Let parents know
The inspector will want to speak with parents about what they think of your service. To prepare parents in advance, it may be handy to put up a sign on your notice board inviting them to ask you further questions beforehand and also encourage them to share their views with the inspector when the day comes.
9) Keep to ratios
You should keep to your normal routine and activities as much as possible on inspection day. You will need to stay mindful that whilst answering the door or throughout the day, the inspection may throw out your adult-to-child ratios in a particular room. If this happens, you should be confident to communicate this with the inspector.
10) Show parent engagement
One of the things that the inspector will be looking for is evidence of positive engagement with parents and other carers. You should be prepared to show how you keep parents updated with their child’s learning and development. This may be the difference between achieving a “good” or “outstanding” grade.
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