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10 frequently forgotten things childminders should include in your Ofsted Self Evaluation Form (SEF)

Writing your SEF is a horrible job and most childminders look forward to doing it like they look forward to visiting the dentist. But it has to be done. Especially if you are soon to be inspected, because your inspector uses your SEF to learn about you and your setting before they arrive. Whether you use the online Ofsted self-evaluation form, or your own method of self-evaluation, here are 10 things you should make sure your SEF includes:

 

  1. How you work with parents

It is really important to demonstrate how you work with parents. A nice way to approach this is with an example. In my SEF, for example, I describe the time I looked after a baby who wasn’t taking his bottle from me. I found out by talking to his mother that at home she normally gives it to him cold. So once I stopped heating it up, he took it from me. This would never have occurred to me if I hadn’t spoken to her! So it is a great example of how communication with the parents worked for the benefit of the child. Try to find an example of a situation that you have resolved by talking to the parents, and mention it in your SEF.

 

  1. How you use outdoor spaces

Make sure you mention your ‘access to outdoor space’ in your SEF. It is a legal requirement that children have time outdoors on a daily basis. So if you don’t have access to a good outdoor space at the moment, make sure that you list it as one of your priorities to improve.

 

  1. How you obtain and use children’ views

Telling Ofsted how you get parents’ views is normally quite easy. You talk to them, send home parent questionnaires and learning journeys etc. But what about the children’s views? How do you get the children’s views at your setting? And how do you then incorporate their views into your planning? Remember to mention how you do this at your setting in your SEF.

 

  1. How you encourage self-care

Use your SEF to give some specific examples of how you encourage the children to take some responsibility in matters of self-care and in managing their own health and safety. For example, in my SEF I give the example of walking to school. At the crossing I ask the children to tell me when and where to cross. “Is it safe yet?” I keep asking the children until the little green man appears. When you write your SEF include some examples from your setting of ways that you encourage children to look after themselves and to think about risks for themselves.

 

  1. How you promote British values in your setting

Don’t just write “I actively promote British values to help to prevent children being drawn into radicalisation and terrorism,” in your SEF model answers. I know that Ofsted and the government and everybody else wants to hear that you are “doing your bit” at your childminding setting but that statement on its own is fairly meaningless. Instead try and find some specific examples of how you promote inclusion and diversity at your setting and talk about those instead.

 

  1. How you work with other providers

An easy way to illustrate how you work with other providers (while also mentioning that you do your Progress Check at Age 2) is to illustrate how you work with health visitors in your area to do the new Integrated Review. How do you, parents and health visitors, work together (or plan to work together if you haven’t done one yet)?  What system do you have in place for information sharing? This is an easy example for your SEF.

 

  1. Your Continual Professional Development plan for yourself

Ofsted really wants to know that you take self-evaluation and self-improvement seriously. How do you plan for your improvement?  What courses have you taken and what are you planning to take? Think about formal courses but also about books you may want to read or just general improvements you would like to make to yourself that will improve the quality of the childcare you offer and write about this in some detail on your SEF.

 

  1. How you establish a new child’s starting points

When a new child starts in your setting you should normally carry out a starting points assessment to see where the child is at developmentally. This would help you to plan for him during his time in your care. Make sure you mention in your SEF how you do starting points assessments in your setting.

 

  1. How you ‘monitor progress’ and show that you are ‘closing gaps’ in achievement

After you have established a child’s starting point, Ofsted then wants to know that you are monitoring that child’s progress. How do you do that at your setting? How do you plan from what you observe?  Most importantly Ofsted really wants to know that you are making an effort to help children who are behind to catch up. Use some examples of ways you have done this with specific children from your setting in your SEF.

 

  1. How do you demonstrate that you have ‘high expectations’ of the children

Make sure you describe some of the structured activities you do with the children. Free play is important, but increasingly it is important to demonstrate to Ofsted some examples of activities you have planned for the children that help them to practice ‘concentrating’ on things, become confident positive learners, and are developing some of the other characteristics of effective learning that will help them in school and later in life. Give some specific examples on your SEF.

 

There is lots of include on your SEF, but the things I’ve mentioned here are especially important because they relate to things that Ofsted inspectors are hoping to see during your inspection.

 

Need some help writing your SEF?

My SEF model answers are a great way to help give you some direction for when you are sitting down to a blank screen to write your own SEF. You can use the model answers to get you started on your own. The first time you write your SEF is the hardest. If you write it in a Word document and then copy and paste the answers online, then it is easy to edit when you update it in the future.

Self Evaluations Form Model Answers screen shot

The horror of staring at the blank screen

 

About Kay Woods and Kids To Go

Kay Woods Kids To GoKay Woods has been writing and selling childminding resources through her company Kids To Go since 2008. Her products include the Ultimate Childminding Checklist, the Learning Journey Plus for planning, observation and assessment and best practice resources promoting diversity and childminding in the great outdoors (Forest Childcare). She is the author of the Start Learning book set published by Tarquin and she writes the free quarterly Childminding Best Practice Newsletter.

Lots of places offer help to childminders. I provide solutions.

www.kidstogo.co.uk

How much ‘stuff’ does Ofsted want to see on childminders’ walls?

What Ofsted call your ‘childcare setting’ is probably what you call your family home. And deciding how much ‘work stuff’ to put up on the walls of your home can be tricky. Some childminders seem happy to turn their houses into mini nurseries. Others feel very strongly that they don’t want to feel they are still at work when they sit down to watch TV on an evening. First, let’s find out which type of childminder are you?

Which statement best describes you?

A: This is my family home. At the end of the day, every day, I tidy all the plastic away. I hate educational posters on my wall – I am not a nursery – and I don’t want my living room walls covered in art work drawn by other people’s kids!

B: I like to strike a balance. I don’t mind having some posters up in the playroom, but never in the living room and I certainly don’t want hand washing signs in my bathroom. This is my family home first.

C: I frequently run out of wall space for all of the kids art projects that I want to put up. I get ideas for displays by peering into school classrooms! My house looks like a little nursery and I don’t mind a bit.

 diversity awareness poster

Type A Childminders: I am NOT a nursery – this is my home!

There is no need to compromise your principles regarding your home, but especially when Ofsted are on their way, then it may be worth putting up a few posters. Ofsted likes to see welcome posters, for example, and samples of the children’s art work. It’s also nice for the children to see some of their artwork on display and a few well-chosen educational posters can benefit their learning.

However, you and your family do not want to still see this stuff once the children go home. And Ofsted doesn’t mind what your house looks like when the children aren’t around either. So the solution is a simple one: if you’re a Type A Childminder, everything you put up, needs to be removable at the end of the day.

my front hall during childminding hoursWhen you work as a childminder there are a few things that you are supposed to have on display at all times: your registration certificate, paediatric first aid certificate, and the Parent’s Poster showing the phone number for Ofsted etc. If you put these things onto a bulletin board, then you can take it all down each night and your front hallway doesn’t have to look like you are running a B&B.

my front hallway after childminded children have gone hoomeHang posters on strings that can be easily lifted down when the children leave, or put photographs into hanging plastic wallet displays that can be removed. Aim to spend no more than 5 minutes preparing your walls for the children in the morning, and have the whole house back to adult space 5 minutes after the last one leaves at the end of the day!

Even if you don’t put up anything else, here are a few key posters to consider:

 

Type B Childminders: I don’t mind having some stuff up on my walls, I just can’t bear seeing it EVERYWHERE!

Many childminders are also parents or grandparents, and so the crossover between work and home is more blurred. You might as well keep some posters up because you’d have them up already for your own children. And you might as well put artwork up, because your house is already covered in paintings your own children have done.

framed important childminding documentsMany childminders start with a bulletin board that quickly becomes tatty and overcrowded as more and more certificates and notices are added to it. One solution is to frame some of the important documents like your registration certificate and parents poster and first aid certificate. This stops those documents from getting tatty and leaves your bulletin board free for notices that may change. You can also laminate important documents which makes notice boards look tidier.

Remember, that ultimately, this is your house and your choice and don’t be ‘bullied’ into putting up more stuff than you want. Parents have chosen you because you are a childminder, and they chose a home, not a nursery.

photo wallet on back of door

If the space is used by everyone, then at the end of the day it’s nice to be able to wheel the toys away and lift down the photos on the back of door display

Type C Childminders: I have run out of wall space and love new ideas!

If you run out of wall space, try using the backs of doors for displays. I like to make seasonal displays and the backs of doors are great for giant trees where you can glue down all those Autumn leaves you collect.

our home display for childmindersThink about displays that include every child in your setting. If you can find a way to get everybody to contribute to the project then it is everybody’s display. For example, with the tree project, you can draw a tree outline, the older children can paint it or colour it in, and the little children can glue on the leaves. Try to make sure that parents SEE your best displays by putting them in places where parents will see all the wonderful things you do with the children. Displays make a great impression on visiting parents (as well as Ofsted inspectors).

talking display for childmindersOne type of display I especially enjoy making are ‘talking displays’. I combine photographs with examples of the children’s developing speech. This display from our trip to the zoo combines photographs with artwork and little quotes from the children about things they remembered from our outing.

I think a laminator is a great investment for a childminder who likes making displays. You will feel more satisfied with the finished results if you laminate stuff you are intending to keep up for a while.

 

Thoughts before your inspection

Whatever type of childminder you are, before your inspection, really think about your childminding space both from a child’s point of view and from the inspector’s point of view. Is it tidy? Is it clean and safe? Will the children learn things here? Can the children reach the toys? Are the toy boxes labelled so they can find them?  Is the children’s art work on display?  Does the setting feel welcoming? Are there plenty of photographs up celebrating achievements and the sorts of activities you do?  If not, then you may want to invest a few new posters and resources that will give that ‘outstanding’ impression to the Ofsted inspector.

welcome poster in many languages

Do you want some printable posters for your childminding setting?

My Posters Pack is a collection of printable posters for your childminding setting including educational posters (ABC charts, days of the week), bulletin board signs and notices, things Ofsted likes to see (welcome posters in many languages, diversity poster, house rules, ‘who is here today’, areas of learning and development poster, characteristics of effective learning poster) plus toy box labels and display ideas for all types of childminders. I have posters for large spaces and tiny spaces and it’s all available as part of my Posters Pack. You can customise the posters for your own setting before you print them.

You can also see inside other childminders’ houses so you can get ideas of how to use small and large spaces effectively. The prize piece from the pack is a totally unique ABC chart (printable in 3 different sizes) designed by 26 childminders from across the UK.

 

Childminding Best Practice Newsletter

Sign up for the free quarterly Childminding Best Practice Newsletter using the orange sign up box on my website and I will send you best practice ideas, childminding news, EYFS tips, outstanding ideas, stories from other childminders, arts and crafts project templates, new products, and links.

http://www.kidstogo.co.uk/childminders/childminding.html

 

About Kay Woods and Kids To Go

Kay Woods Kids To GoKay Woods has been writing and selling childminding resources through her company Kids To Go since 2008. Her products include the Ultimate Childminding Checklist, the Learning Journey Plus for planning, observation and assessment and best practice resources promoting diversity and childminding in the great outdoors (Forest Childcare). She is the author of the Start Learning book set published by Tarquin and she writes the free quarterly Childminding Best Practice Newsletter.

Lots of places offer help to childminders. I provide solutions.

www.kidstogo.co.uk

How NOT to be a victim of a bad Ofsted Inspection: 10 Ways to Take Control

One of the saddest types of emails I get are from childminders who feel they were the ‘victims’ of a bad Ofsted inspection. “It wasn’t fair that she didn’t…” people will say. Or “she just didn’t understand that…” Horrible, unfair Ofsted inspections (like bad job interviews) do happen and when they do are you are well within your right to make a complaint. But don’t set yourself up to be a victim. With a bit of planning you can “manage” your Ofsted inspector and take control of your inspection so it goes the way you want it to.

 

Tip 1: Modesty has no place on your Self-Evaluation Form

If you want the Ofsted inspector to think your setting is outstanding then don’t rate any sections of your practice ‘good’ or ‘requires improvement’ and hope that she will ‘read between the lines’ or realise that you want outstanding really but are being modest. People (including Ofsted inspectors) are very impressionable. Your answers to the Self Evaluation Form tell her what to expect before she arrives. If you tell your inspector that she can expect to see an outstanding setting, then she will come looking for excellence. Tell her you ‘require improvement’ and she will arrive looking for flaws.

 

Tip 2: Control those vital first impressions

Those first few moments when your Ofsted inspector arrives are crucial because she is using that time to form instantaneous impressions about you, your setting and your children. So think carefully about how you will manage those first few minutes. As she walks through your front door which way will you lead her? Will you invite her to sit at your dining table or on the couch? Will you offer her a cup of tea? If she says yes, will you really leave her alone with the children while you make her one? What if she says no to the tea? Yikes! Remember that you are actually in control of this time. Like any guest she must be polite and respectful of your home, will follow where you lead her, and respond to your social prompts. It is your house so you have the advantage here. Use it!

 

Problem Child in the Shed

Tip 3: Don’t let the problem child mess this up for you

You can’t (unfortunately) lock him in the shed when you see her car pull up for your inspection, so the best thing to do about Problem Child is to make sure the inspector is aware right from the start that Alexander has ADHD/ has dad in jail/ is completely new to your setting etc. Call it to her attention so you can show how you are planning to ‘narrow his attainment gap’ to help him to catch up with the other children as soon as possible.

 

Tip 4: Make sure you know what your local safeguarding procedures are.

You KNOW how important safeguarding is. If you don’t know what to do if you suspect that a child in your setting has been abused then you are throwing her ammunition she will definitely use against you. She won’t care how great your setting appears or anything else you’ve been doing if you appear in any way ignorant about safeguarding.

 

Tip 5: Clean and Tidy Your House

Does your push chair look like a biscuit barrel and your high chair look like a science experiment in growing mould? Does your fridge look like an E-coli outbreak just waiting to happen? These sorts of things make a really bad impression and are well within your control to get cleaned prior to your inspection.

post it notes stuck to your arm

Tip 6: Don’t wait to be asked about the great things you do

Don’t spend your inspection thinking, ‘I wish she’d ask me about this,’ or ‘why is she all focused on THIS thing, when I’ve been doing lots of THAT thing really well?’ If she doesn’t ask about something you are proud of, just bring it up. Under no circumstances should you allow her to leave until you have told her everything you wanted to! Plan how you will remind yourself about important things to tell her during the inspection even if it means sticking post it notes on your arms.

 

Tip 7: Prepare three structured activities

During your inspection your inspector will want to see you doing some structured activities with the children. Prepare three so you have more than you will probably need – under scrutiny of the inspector, you don’t want to seem stuck for ideas. While you are doing these activities she will be watching you like a hawk and making judgements on everything you do from how you talk to the children, to what they are learning, to how well the children behave to you and each other. To avoid becoming a victim of ‘bad luck’ plan the activities you will do carefully and well. And read the Inspection Handbook points 66 and 72 which spell out exactly what the inspector is hoping to see from you.

 

Tip 8: Train the children

The earlier you start training the children to behave well for your inspection, the better it will go. If you want them to sit still for your structured activities, and eat a healthy snack, and put their own shoes on with the Ofsted Inspector watching then you need to train them how to do these things well in advance of your inspection.

 

Tip 9: Focus your attention on the children, not the inspector

She is most interested in how you interact with them. She won’t really care if you don’t offer her a chair. She will care if you forget to shut the safety gate because you are talking to her about your ratios, or forget to wash the children’s hands before snack time because you are offering her a cup of tea. (Probably best to just forget the cup of tea).

 

Tip 10. Appear to know EVERYTHING about the children in your care

There is no excuse for you not to know each child’s development inside and out. You know that she is going to expect you to know this stuff, so make sure you do. You need to know those learning and development areas by heart so read Development Matters. Don’t know the Characteristics of Effective Learning? That’s like handing her a loaded gun. Get your starting points observations, planning and learning journeys up to date so that you can prove that you know where each child you look after is in terms of his or her development, what you can expect them to do next, and most importantly how you are planning to help Problem Child to catch up with the nice, easy ones you look after.

 

Don’t become a victim of a bad Ofsted inspection! With careful planning you can take control of your day of judgement and help to manage your inspector so that she sees what you want her to see and gives you the grade you deserve. For more tips and pointers including a Count Down to Your Ofsted Inspection Checklist, get your Ultimate Childminding Checklist for only £10 from my website today.

 

Childminding Best Practice Newsletter

Sign up for the free quarterly Childminding Best Practice Newsletter using the orange sign up box on my website and I will send you best practice ideas, childminding news, EYFS tips, outstanding ideas, stories from other childminders, arts and crafts project templates, new products, and links.

http://www.kidstogo.co.uk/childminders/childminding.html

About Kay Woods and Kids To Go

Kay Woods Kids To GoKay Woods has been writing and selling childminding resources through her company Kids To Go since 2008. Her products include the Ultimate Childminding Checklist, the Learning Journey Plus for planning, observation and assessment and best practice resources promoting diversity and childminding in the great outdoors (Forest Childcare). She is the author of the Start Learning book set published by Tarquin and she writes the free quarterly Childminding Best Practice Newsletter.

Lots of places offer help to childminders. I provide solutions.

www.kidstogo.co.uk

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