It has been a month since Ofsted published the education inspection framework, which will take effect in September. I think it’s fair to say that it has been well received by those we inspect. Less focus on internal data and test and exam results on the one hand, and more discussion about the curriculum on the other. What’s not to like!
And that positive reception certainly applies to early years associations and those who have devoted their working lives to young children. Recently I took part in a webinar hosted by my colleagues, Wendy Ratcliff HMI, and Julie-Ann Morris who lead for Ofsted on our policy for inspection and regulation. I was delighted that we were joined by more than 500 childminders. They all wanted to know more about how the education inspection framework will affect them.
During the webinar we explained that the new framework represents a shift, not a full-scale revolution, in the way that we inspect. So, there will be a new focus on the substance of education: the curriculum. We want to find out about how you help children learn and develop. All our inspectors have a thorough background in the early years sector and will spend time talking to you and walking with you as you show them around your premises. This will be an opportunity for you to talk about what you teach children and what you want them to learn, know and do as a result of that teaching.
In our webinar, we also took questions on what Ofsted will expect from childminders during inspection. When childminders ask me how they should prepare for an inspection, it's sometimes easier to answer in the negative. As we made clear in the webinar, we do not want you to do anything special or different for inspection. You don’t need to keep lots of paperwork – the Early Years Foundation Stage does not require this and nor do we. And we will not be asking for internal progress reports or similar data. We just want to get to the heart of what it is like to be a child in your home. That's why we want to talk to you about what you do and how that helps children to learn and develop. As long as you can talk to the inspector about what you do and why, you have nothing to fear.
You can find out more about what will happen during your inspection by reading the inspection handbook. This explains how the inspector will carry out their work and the sorts of things they will take into account in reaching their judgements. You don’t need to do anything else ahead of the inspection. So please don’t feel obliged to pay for a course to help you prepare for our visit, or indeed do anything that is not specifically for the children you look after. In short, don't add to your workload because of us.
Between now and September, my advice to childminders is to focus on why you came into this line of work in the first place: helping children to learn and develop through activities that prepare them with the knowledge and skills to be ready for what comes next. That may be to help improve their physical skills outdoors, or by reading engaging stories and singing melodious nursery rhymes. Inspectors will want to find out how well you know your children and how you decide what they need to learn. Don’t focus on what Ofsted might or might not want when we come knocking on your door this autumn.
Check out PACEY's spotlight for further support on the Education Inspection Framework including a FREE download for members.