This month we want to congratulate and celebrate member Jackie Neagle and her team at Fidgety Fingers.
Based in Hastingwood near Harlow, Jackie is an outstanding childminder and provider of childcare on domestic premises. Last month she was subject to two inspections, one for each part of her business. Jackie and Fidgety Fingers were one of the first in the county to be inspected under the new Common Inspection Framework and achieved an Outstanding Ofsted grade for both inspections. Here we talk to Jackie about her wonderful achievement and just how she aced that inspection.
Congratulations on achieving outstanding in your Ofsted inspection! How did you feel when you heard the news?
The setting was originally rated as outstanding in October 2009 so it was important to us that we not only maintained our outstanding status but had improved on it too.
On the day of the inspection I was the only member of staff who had ever experienced Ofsted Inspections. None of the other three staff members had ever been through an Ofsted inspection before.
So as a team we were absolutely delighted when we were told that not only were we outstanding for both Childminding and Childcare on domestic premises (pre-school for 2-5 year olds), but we had been rated as outstanding in all key areas. We were especially pleased when we heard that Ofsted said our ‘teaching is inspirational’.
How did you prepare for your Ofsted inspection?
I am constantly reading and keeping up-to-date with the latest advice and training. I regularly look to PACEY’s Childcare Professional magazine as well as online content to gain guidance. I will also always share content with staff and make sure they’re all up-to-date with their training too. I attend all training by Essex County Council in order to keep up to date and abreast of all changes.
I’ve also found Ofsted to be really helpful; I ask them questions on the phone if I am unsure of anything. I am always prepared by reading through and checking the new inspection handbooks and the Statutory Frame work for Early Years, however, I didn’t really do anything differently in my preparation to what I’d done for previous inspections.
What happened during your inspection?
It was our second day back after the summer break. Monitoring from Ofsted seemed to have more of a “teaching” focus as well as “caring” and they asked me to choose a staff member to conduct a teaching activity.
The objective was to teach the children to share and take turns and we used messy play to demonstrate this. We demonstrated teaching older children independent tasks such as putting their coats on, doing up their shoes and encouraging them to pour their own drinks. I was also invited to do a written observation of the activity – jointly with the Ofsted inspector and it all matched perfectly.
What about British values?
The emphasis on British values is clear and all staff answered questions around this. To the direct question, “What do British values mean to you?” I replied to the inspector “I hope that you have seen the whole team demonstrating our commitment to British values throughout the day.”
What do you think the main difference with CIF is?
I found that during the inspection parents and staff were spoken to more and their opinions sought. More emphasis was put on teaching and learning which is something that we have always focussed on at Fidgety Fingers.
We self evaluate our setting on a regular basis but at the end of the summer term we asked parents to complete a questionnaire as usual but rate us as per the new Ofsted judgements. It meant when the inspectors used the terminology from the judgements with the parents they were familiar with the language and felt more prepared to answer the questions.
The inspector was here for a total of 5 hours so it was a lot longer than normal; this was because they conducted the two inspections in one day. However, after about half an hour we forgot they were here; they weren’t intrusive at all. It was no more difficult than any other inspection but there were more questions than usual.
They told me there and then that it had been a very positive inspection, and said that it would take approximately one week for the report to come through.
What are your top tips and recommendations?
- Keep familiar and up to date with all changes using the Ofsted handbook and new criteria
- Keep up-to-date with your training and all your staff’s training
- Be professional at all times and create positive relationships with all stakeholders
- Don’t do anything differently just because Ofsted are there.