Improve your early years practice
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Since 2001, Ofsted has been responsible for inspecting and registering early years settings, like nurseries, childminders, and preschools. And, if you grew up in England, you may remember Ofsted turning up every so often to inspect your school. But even if you do remember the strangers in suits, carrying clipboards and watching your grownups, it still might not be 100% clear to you what Ofsted and their inspectors do. And if you didn’t go to school in England, you might even be wondering who on earth Ofsted are.
So let us explain…
Ofsted is short for the Office for Standards in Education. They are a governmental department that registers and inspects schools, children’s homes, apprenticeship providers and early years settings like:
Ofsted inspects against the Early Years Inspection Handbook for Ofsted-registered Provision to check that settings are meeting the statutory requirements of the Early Years Foundation Stage or EYFS. Essentially, it’s their legal responsibility to check your child’s nursery or preschool is meeting their legal responsibilities.
Early years settings are judged in five categories:
After an inspection, settings receive a written report and a grade of Outstanding, Good, Requires Improvement, or Inadequate.
Early years settings will usually receive a telephone call that Ofsted is coming to inspect them the following day, but not always. Depending on the type of inspection your child’s setting is having, the first you might know about the inspection taking place is a poster on the door when you drop off. However, if your child’s setting receives notice the day before their inspection, they must let you know that Ofsted are coming.
During the inspection process, one or two of Ofsted’s inspectors will observe what happens in your child’s setting throughout the day, as well as talking to the staff and the leadership team. They will usually also speak to some parents or carers and pick up or drop off.
You don’t need to do anything differently while your child’s setting is being inspected as inspectors will aim to minimise any disruption to the children. The inspector may ask your child how they feel about their setting or collect some personal information in the course of their inspection. Ofsted’s inspectors all undergo background checks (just as the other adults at your child’s setting do) and your child will never be alone with an inspector.
A few weeks after Ofsted has inspected your child’s setting, the report and final grade given can be found on Ofsted’s website.
At the start of the inspection of an early years setting, you may have an opportunity to talk to the inspector about your child’s education and care. The inspectors will be in looking to find out:
However, while Ofsted are responsible for checking that your child’s setting is doing everything they are legally supposed to, the inspector visiting your child’s setting can’t resolve individual disputes.
If you have a concern about your child’s education or care, Ofsted advises you go directly to the setting first, unless you fear children are at risk of harm. If you are concerned about a child being at risk of harm, Ofsted advises you to contact your local authority's children’s services department.
For your child’s educators and carers, the day Ofsted come to do an inspection is hugely important. An Ofsted grade can have a huge impact on a setting, both positive or negative, so while some settings can’t wait to show off all their hard work to inspectors, they may find the process stressful or nerve-wracking. Here are a few ways you can help them out:
Settings and their communities do not always agree with Ofsted’s judgements and can even feel the inspector wasn’t fair. Sadly, only the setting themselves can appeal the outcome of an Ofsted inspection, so if you feel your child’s setting was judged unfairly or incorrectly, the best thing you can do is let your child’s educators know you believe in them.
Here are some key things to remember when considering your child’s setting’s grade:
Please note: here at Famly we love sharing creative activities for you to try with the children at your setting, but you know them best. Take the time to consider adaptions you might need to make so these activities are accessible and developmentally appropriate for the children you work with. Just as you ordinarily would, conduct risk assessments for your children and your setting before undertaking new activities, and ensure you and your staff are following your own health and safety guidelines.