Guide to the Education Inspection Framework (EIF)

From September 2019 Ofsted will change the way it inspects schools, colleges, further education institutions and early years settings in England when the common inspection framework (CIF) is replaced by the education inspection framework (EIF).

It is important to understand that the new inspection framework does represent a shift in focus. It will:

  • put the curriculum at the heart of the new framework
  • put more emphasis on the quality of education and care as a whole
  • reduce the focus on data, particularly internal progress data.

But don't worry, PACEY is here to help. We are producing a range of additional resources to support practitioners prepare for the inspection changes including our 'Early years inspection handbook: guide to key changes' which is available free to members and £1.99 for non-members in the shop. You can also watch a video about the pilot inspections below and see if your query is answered in our FAQs

What is changing – and what is not?

The most significant changes in the EIF concern the new judgement areas and grade descriptors.

The judgement areas under the EIF are:

  • Overall effectiveness
  • Quality of education
  • Behaviour and attitudes
  • Personal development
  • Leadership and management.

There are also a number of additional changes to the way that inspections are conducted. The most notable of these are:

  • Providers who only provide care for children at the beginning and end of the school day or in holiday periods will only be inspected for overall effectiveness and receive a single grade against that judgement. They will not receive a grade against the other four judgement areas. This is because these providers do not have to meet the EYFS learning and development requirements.
  • Providers should expect to be inspected at any time, even if there are no children present.
  • The list of things inspectors should consider how well staff do now includes:
    • read aloud and tell stories to children
    • encourage children to sing songs, nursery rhymes and musical games.
  • For childminders, the requirement to observe a specific planned activity and discuss its aims and learning intention with the inspector has been removed.
  • There is clarification that there does not need to be a breach of a statutory requirement for provision to be judged as requires improvement.

In terms of what is not changing, Ofsted has been clear that it will continue to:

What's an inspection like under the new framework?

We spoke to Vicky, a registered childminder who undertook a pilot inspection with Ofsted as part of the EIF testing process. Here are her words of wisdom about what to expect.

Frequently asked questions

When will the EIF start?

The EIF comes into force on 1 September 2019. Until then, the Common Inspection Framework will continue to be used.

What does the term "cultural capital" mean?

Ofsted defines cultural capital as “the essential knowledge that children need to prepare them for their future success". It is about giving children the best possible start to their early education.

Some children arrive at an early years settings with different experiences from others, in their learning and play. What a setting does, through its EYFS curriculum and interactions with practitioners, potentially makes all the difference for children. It is the role of the setting to help children experience the awe and wonder of the world in which they live, through the seven areas of learning.

What is cultural capital not?

  • a list of cultural activities to work through and tick off
  • purchasing resources ‘to do cultural capital with’
  • an add on or extension to what is already happening in the setting
  • expensive - you do not have to spend lots of money
  • a display or interest table on cultural capital

Chances are you're already building a child's cultural capital by doing your normal childcare activities in your setting. Reflect on how you can describe and demonstrate to someone else, e.g. an inspector, how what you're doing is enriching the child's experience. 

What is a learning walk?

A learning walk is an opportunity for the childminder / setting to explain how they organise their provision – including the rationale for their EYFS curriculum. It’s a discussion and observation. For childminders this may happen in the childminder’s lounge, for example. It really depends on how the childminder organises their setting.

What about British Values?

British values remain in the EYFS and are part of the Personal Development judgment. There's more information about British values elsewhere in this website.

Do inspectors expect to see written planning?

There is no need for written planning, but inspectors will expect practitioners to discuss what they are planning, what they expect children to learn and what they have learnt (Intent, Implementation and Impact).

Some settings find it helpful to document their planning as a record and to support practice.

Can I alter my ratios?

The EYFS 3.30 (page 23) says "Exceptionally, and where the quality of care and safety and security of children is maintained, changes to the ratios may be made." Settings do not need to seek approval from Ofsted in advance but you must be able to explain your rationale to the inspector when they visit.

Do I need to do a written self-evaluation form (SEF)?

There is no need or requirement to complete a written SEF. During the inspection, the inspector will have a discussion around what is working well and what needs to improve.

Some settings find it helpful to us their SEF as a record and to support practice. 

You can download an SEF from MyPACEY

Do childminders need to do a planned activity on the day of inspection?

No. The requirements to observe a specific planned activity and discuss its aims and objectives with the inspector has been removed.

What paperwork will the inspector expect to see?

The inspector will only expect to see paperwork as required by the EYFS. The EYFS 2.2 states "Paperwork should be limited to that which is absolutely necessary to promote children’s successful learning and development."

Will the inspector contact parents on the inspection day?

Wherever possible, the inspector must find out the view of parents, as this helps to give a rounded view of the setting's provision. The inspector may choose to contact parents by phone to request their view or may ask to chat with parents when they come to collect or drop off their children.

Where can I get the early years inspection handbook and any other relevant documentation?

How can I prepare for an inspection?

  • Prepare as a team
  • Take some time to read the Ofsted handbook/s and supporting documentation
  • Ensure that everyone feels confident to talk to the inspector about how you decide what children need to learn and the order in which to teach it (intent).
  • Be able to explain how you design educational programmes to maximise the likelihood that, overtime, children will remember and connect the small steps they have been taught (implementation).
  • Be able to explain how you evaluate the impact of the curriculum by checking what children know and can do (impact).
  • Ensure that any relevant documentation is up to date, ready and available.

What will the inspector expect to see in relation to Continuing Professional Development (CPD)?

The inspection handbook says  ‘Inspectors will gather evidence of the effectiveness of staff supervision, performance management, training and continuing professional development, and the impact of these on the children’s well-being, learning and development’.  (88 p20)

It is helpful to keep a CPD log evidencing -  what you have done, when you did it, why  you did it, what you learnt and the impact it has had on your work and children’s well-being, learning and development’

Remember CPD is not just about attending a training course, it can be visiting another setting, reading a relevant book, publication, or blog, attending a webinar, researching a relevant topic, taking part in discussions with peers  or taking part in on line learning.

Think about how you will explain to the inspector the impact the CPD has had for you.

Additional resources to support you

  • Early years inspection handbook: guide to key changes - if you are a PACEY member, you can download this for FREE in MyPACEY, non-members can purchase this in the shop.
  • What does Ofsted mean by cultural capital? - read our latest blog from Ofsted, to get a clear understanding of what this terminology means for you and your inspections.
  • On the 10 June 2019, Ofsted held a webinar for childminders on the 'Education Inspection Framework: Inspecting the substance of education'. You can view the webinar below. 

  • What does the new inspection framework mean for childminders? Read Ofsted's blog about what you really need to think about when being inspected this autumn. 

Want our in-depth practical guide to the changes?

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