Following a tougher Ofsted inspection it is more important to be ready and prepared for an inspection at any time. It can be a very daunting and stressful time, but how can we overcome this? Ofsted Inspectors twice graded Daisykins nursery in Rugby Outstanding. Read how this was achieved..:
“Only a rating of good or outstanding is now acceptable, with satisfactory rating replaced by ‘Required improvement’”. – (The guardian Monday 4th November 2013.)
Everyone in the Childcare industry knows that an Ofsted inspection can cause some amount of anxiety amongst management and staff, especially if you are not prepared. Preparation is everything and since our last inspection, graded “Outstanding” in October 2009, we here at Daisykins have indeed made considerable improvements to keep up to date and consistent with Ofsted standards. According to the tougher inspection the “Outstanding” that we were given in 2009 would now only be equivalent to a rating of “Good”, unfortunately for Daisykins “Good” is just not good enough. We are now working harder than ever to keep Daisykins up to date with the Ofsted Framework and to keep anxieties about Ofsted inspections at bay.
On the day inspectors do not want to see a “song and dance” prepared especially for them, which is why it is important for all staffs practice to be consistent all year round, throughout the whole setting. The Daisykins team set aside a day each month to hold a ‘Practitioners Workshop’. It is a chance to work on team building exercises, voice concerns, discuss policies and procedures through practical exercises or even discuss training that is needed. Coincidently we held a ‘Practitioner Workshop’ on the Wednesday before our Ofsted inspection on the Friday. The management team Kelly Hibberd and Carly Butlin told the staff that the inspection could take place any day. The team was confident and although it is a daunting subject, they talked through any last minute anxieties or issues that could affect the inspection. It was clearly indicated by management that through working hard since their last inspection that there was no cause for concern, as we were well prepared, which showed through our rating of “Outstanding”.
Although the majority of the inspection is spent observing how the adults care for the children and how they impact their learning and development, it is not just the staffs practice that needs continual work and attention, it is also the paperwork. Kelly Hibberd manager recalls, “When the inspector came she literally gave me a list of documentation, which I had to present to her during the inspection.” This reinforces that everything must be easily accessible and UP-TO-DATE. The Daisykins team ensures that paperwork, such as risk assessments, learning journeys and planning are all up-to-date and in accordance with the Ofsted standards, this is done through observing, monitoring of daily practice and systems, which are carried out and reviewed by management. This small change in your setting could save you hours of updating, if you do it on the day, you will be less anxious about any surprise Ofsted visits. “Staff constantly observe what children know and can do, and skilfully encourage learning through everyday routines and planned experiences which is documented in their next step gallery in their Learning Journey. Highly effective systems are used, by staff, to accurately assess children’s progress and plan for the next steps in their learning.” (2013/14 Daisykins Ofsted report)
A section of the Ofsted inspection is now dedicated to peer on peer observation. This is now a new emphasis focussing on the managers leadership and management skills. The inspector observed Kelly observing the members of staff conducting activities in our Preschool. After which the inspector gave feedback and asked Kelly how she thought the observation went. She was particularly impressed with Kelly’s self evaluation and agreed with the outcome of her observations.
For early years a huge focus of the Ofsted inspection is on the children receiving two year funding and children with English as an additional language. Kelly recalls the Ofsted inspector asking about the development of a specific child with English as an additional language. The inspector was interested in what we do to accommodate and support their development. As we were prepared and up-to-date with all the children’s paperwork, we were able to show the child’s progress through their learning journey, tracking sheets and an open discussion with the child’s key person. You need to be up-to-date with all your children’s paperwork, as it demonstrates to the inspectors that you have developed a professional relationship with your key child, which then allows you to provide the high quality care and education the individual child deserves.
“Inspectors will expect providers to reflect upon their practice and have plans to improve their early years provision” (section 46 Ofsted framework) The criteria for Outstanding expects all providers to continue to achieve high standards of education. Practitioners are to have very high expectations of themselves and engage children by providing a wide range of experiences, using their skilful knowledge of the seven areas of learning and the Characteristics of Learning.
“Since the nursery’s last inspection there have been lots of improvements. For example, technology has been embraced and is used extremely well to publicise the provision and enhance two-way communication with parents. The internet and social media is creatively used to provide parents with an abundance of information about the range of experiences planned and provided for their children. Furthermore, parents are invited to comment on the content and do so, on a regular basis. Parental views are welcomed and routinely used to help shape the provision and target improvements.” (2013/14 Daisykins Ofsted report)
Staffs educational improvement and development has always been a high priority at Daisykins, any opportunity to broaden a Practitioners education will be taken. We aim to have every Practitioner working at a level 3 or training at a level 3. Furthermore, Ofsted communicated early on in the year that they wished early years practitioners to be better qualified. Subsequently, our room heads are either at a degree level or working towards a degree level in childcare, which we fully support. We believe that this then makes all room heads excellent role models for our level 2 and 3 Practitioners, as their practice will be at the highest level. Staff observations and appraisals are carried out regularly and reviewed by management and room heads. If there are any concerns they are dealt with immediately, this is so we maintain a high standard of childcare and there is no lacking in consistency throughout all rooms.
At Daisykins we understand and appreciate how difficult it can be meeting all the ‘Outstanding’ criteria that is set out by Ofsted. However, through hard work, preparation and consistency you too can achieve and continue to be ‘Outstanding’.