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Continuous professional development (CPD) is vital for most careers, and early years is no exception. We know that many early years providers take CPD very seriously. But why is it so important, and what are Ofsted inspectors looking at when they visit settings in England for inspection?
First and foremost, CPD is good for children! Regular CPD helps all practitioners to build on their learning, skills and experience. It can help them reflect on their strengths - identifying gaps and ways of overcoming them, or simply refreshing their knowledge and practice.
CPD helps to build confidence, improve practice, and ultimately contributes to children getting the best possible care and education.
What kind of CPD should you be doing?
Ofsted inspects in line with the requirements of the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS). There are, of course, some qualification requirements set out in the EYFS – for example for nurseries, managers must have a level 3 qualification and at least half of staff must have a level 2.
But when it comes to CPD, the EYFS doesn’t set out exactly what practitioners need to do, although it does make clear that professionals need to undertake learning and development:
‘Providers must support staff to undertake appropriate training and professional development opportunities to ensure they offer quality learning and development experiences for children that continually improves.’
At Ofsted, we don’t have a checklist of courses, or expect you to do any specific kind of CPD. The most important thing is that any development opportunities are appropriate and beneficial to you and, of course, to the children you care for. There are a whole host of resources online – though it’s worth making sure what you’re using is from a reputable source. If you haven’t already, take a look at our Facebook page for childminders.
Our Education Inspection Framework (EIF) says that inspectors will discuss how providers evaluate their setting and practice, and how they use this to inform professional development. So, we want to know how you reflect on your practice, and how you identify areas for development.
In the best places, CPD isn’t just an add-on or just a printed certificate. It’s a golden thread running through everything they do – a continual emphasis on what they know and building that knowledge over time.
There are developments in sector knowledge happening all the time – whether it’s research into early reading or the value of vocabulary in conversation with children. Building on knowledge by keeping up to date with new thinking isn’t just good for children – it’s another reason why working in the early years is so interesting and fulfilling!
What happens during inspections?
When we inspect, we always talk to nursery staff and childminders about CPD. We want to hear about the development you’ve decided to do and why, and the impact it’s had on children’s learning.
We sometimes come across providers who think it isn’t possible to be ‘outstanding’ while working on areas of practice. But that really isn’t the case. Our inspectors will be looking at how well weaknesses are being identified, and whether appropriate action is being to address them. The very best settings have a good grasp of the issues, and are actively dealing with them.
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Resources from PACEY
PACEY members can download our new Certification of Reflection and access our updated Continuous Professional Development support resource in MyPACEY.