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The new Education Inspection Framework (EIF) from Ofsted is just about to enter its 4th month and many settings have already had their first inspection under the new changes. Parenta assessor and setting owner, Fiona Spencer, runs one of those nurseries that has received a visit from an Ofsted inspector; she gives us a bird’s eye view and summary of her experience.

Inspection day – a summary of a few highlights

  • Questions were asked regarding the numbers on roll, in particular numbers of 2-, 3, and 4-year-olds.
  • Policies were available on request; and the inspector took a brief flick through them, taking in the titles only.
  • Safeguarding – there were 3 case studies to respond to and all information was to hand.
  • Checks and discussions around DBS and core training were had - certificates were viewed and the DBS number noted for each member of staff.
  • We had a good discussion about training, above and beyond the core early years training.
  • We discussed our staff CDP training and the inspector was very interested in the fact we promote self-study, learning and development within our setting. The inspector looked at our supervisory roles and how training should be researched and delivered by staff-to-staff as an extension to training courses.
  • Because Ofsted scrapped its self-evaluation form (SEF) in 2018 we didn’t have to prepare any specific paperwork for the inspection. Instead, the inspector asked questions on what we have done to improve since the last inspection and how we plan to move forward in the future.

The Learning Walk

During the learning walk, Ofsted inspectors will probably want to see a well-considered, flexible daily routine that meets the needs of the children on the day.

  • We started in the foyer and we demonstrated to the inspector what and why everything was there. For example, the relevance of our posters, Mr Bump forms, achievement box etc. We were questioned in some detail about Mr Bump forms (accident reporting) and also about our security and opening procedures.
  • We then went into the cloakroom and were questioned about the height of hooks for coats, and observed children washing hands. The self-registration board with names on was discussed too.
  • The inspector looked at the room overall, asking how we covered all areas of learning - which is what was to be expected during a learning walk and observation.
  • We discussed how we used the jigsaws in our setting and we explained about the relevance of developing fine motor skills, co-operative play and using different jigsaws for different development stages and talked about how we use examples of tadpole to frog for growth, decay and changes over time.
  • The children have a choice with some of the toys so we showed the inspector our Mega blocks - used for building, counting, and to encourage thinking and planning i.e. building bridges for cars.
  • We showed the inspector our toy cars and garages – used for next steps for positional language for a child who loves cars, and to encourage co-operative play, and counting.
  • Free role-play – we demonstrated how Build-a-Blox encourages imagination, building skills, planning, working together and language - and we had a member of staff there to support (the child had even drawn a plan of what he wanted to build on a chalk board!)
  • We showed our Tuff Spot on floor with flour, sticks and pine cones – all natural equipment - to encourage mark-making for those who didn’t like pencils and paper, showing how we encourage the development of gross and fine motor skills. We also had a discussion about literacy outside – water on wall, sticks in mud, chalk on the floor.
  • We have some paper on the floor near our ‘car mat’ which was questioned, and again we were able to explain its use - to encourage mark-making by continuing the roads on the mat on to the paper – the children love it!
  • We gave the children the chance to do a baking activity that they don’t necessarily do at home (tapping into cultural capital). This particular activity was looked at in detail with questions to the relevant member of staff.
  • Our additional ‘free role-play’ resources were questioned – and we were able to demonstrate that this gave the children independence, and to extend their play.
  • We also showed the inspector our maths table with bears – this helps the children with colour matching, counting, sizing and weighing.
  • In our outside area, we were again able to demonstrate that we understand what cultural capital is in the new EIF. Not all children get to experience outdoors, so we showed our monitored free-flow, talked about playing in the immediate area during session, the larger area with the whole group, and in particular, our walks around the nearby fields, in woods, taking a picnic and to the local park.

Top Tip!

Prior to Inspection - Did you know you that you can find previous inspections online that your Ofsted inspector has carried out? This is a great tool when looking for clues as to what that particular inspector focuses on.

Joint observation at snack time

During the joint observation, we were asked about our daily routine and talked about healthy snacks and self-help skills. We were questioned if our juice is sugar-free and had discussions about a child left waiting for quite some time at the table as they didn’t know what to do next. Suggestions were given to help with this confusion, we were asked what the children do with their dirty bowls and cups, and were able to demonstrate they take them to another table when they had finished. A useful suggestion was made to put a washing bowl in that areas so that the children could put their pots there (as some may do at home) and that we put a small food compost bin by the side to put leftover food in with recycling written on side – again, tapping into cultural capital.

Discussions about key worker/child relationships

We talked about age, start date, parents, family and culture. We needed to show that we had in depth knowledge of the child but the inspector was happy with what knowledge we showed, especially when we referred to notes on next steps. Language skills were discussed - what she liked to play with, how she learnt through the characteristics of effective learning. We talked about the partnership we have with parents and how we work together for the improvement of the child - in this case showing care and concern for others.

All in all, a very positive and encouraging experience of the new Ofsted Education Inspection Framework!

Test your knowledge!

Test your knowledge of the new Education Inspection Framework in our quiz here: bit.ly/2KWxM7w – just for fun!

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