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8 Things Ofsted wants childminders to STOP doing – by guest blogger Jennifer Fishpool

Change is upon childminders again! The new EYFS Framework becomes statutory on the 1st of September 2021 and with inspections up and running again and now potentially only once every 6 years, there is more pressure than ever on getting it right on the day. But what about the long stretch of time that falls between inspections? With a six year gap it would now be entirely possible to look after a child from when he was a baby until when he starts school without any paperwork you create for him ever being seen by an inspector. So should childminders stop doing all paperwork?

There is a growing rumour that Ofsted have banned paperwork and some practitioners say that they are going to stop doing ANY except the statutory requirements. This represents a gross misunderstanding of the expectations on childminders. Before you throw the baby out with the bathwater let’s make sure we really understand what Ofsted is asking.

1. Stop ticking boxes on ‘trackers’ and highlighting copies of Development Matters

Trackers are the biggie which lots of people have been talking about. Ofsted have NEVER asked you to highlight copies of Development Matters or to spend hours colouring in boxes on individual trackers. Childminders should be focusing on providing a broad and balanced curriculum for children and one of the reasons Ofsted do NOT want you to use trackers in this way is because some settings were so focused on getting the children to achieve and exceed each one of the ‘statements’ that the children were getting a very narrow learning experience.

However, all that being said, don’t throw away all those trackers just yet! Many practitioners find them very useful and if that applies to you there is no need to stop using them as long as you consider their limitations. If you find yourself using them as a curriculum, a list of goals or next steps for children, or worrying if children miss steps or do not develop in the exact order written on the paperwork then STOP! This is not how trackers should be used. If you use a simple tracker which is quick and easy to use and helps you spot any gaps in learning or key points that may raise concerns, then great, this is a useful way to use this type of assessment.

2. Stop writing pages of meaningless observations

childminding paperworkIt is our job as childminders to constantly observe children to assess their development and needs. However, STOP making pointless observations that simply generate paperwork and don’t really add value for either the childminder or the child. If you know and the parents know that the child can use a spoon you don’t need a photo and accompanying write up to prove it. Think about what you really need to observe and whether writing it down will add value to what you already do. Let me be clear that you should not stop doing written observations altogether, as done properly and with clear purpose, they are extremely useful.

(If you are new to observing children and how to get the most benefit from it without it taking too much time look out for our ‘Don’t Panic! Beginners Guide to Observations,’ coming soon.)

3. Stop generating ‘data’ and ‘evidence’ in general

The new EYFS and Development Matters are intended to give you an opportunity to refresh your setting’s curriculum to ensure that it focusses on your children’s needs. You should stop spending time unnecessarily gathering evidence and you should certainly spend less time generating ‘data’. Data includes photographs that serve no proper purpose and next steps that are not followed up. Instead spend time creating a broad and balanced curriculum.

4. Stop assessing children unnecessarily

Stop doing any assessments that are not beneficial to the children you are looking after. Pages and pages of ‘next steps’ in learning journeys are not helpful. Especially if they are not acted upon. If you instead ‘know’ inside of you from your knowledge of Development Matters what comes next, you don’t need to write this out anymore. You are allowed to use your ‘professional knowledge’ of child development and the child.

5. Stop making learning journeys without asking yourself why you are making them?

Please notice that I did not say to stop making learning journeys. This is another hot topic of debate on forum discussions and many childminders are overreacting and throwing away their learning journeys. Ofsted does not want you to do this as long as you are making them for the right reasons.

So why make learning journeys?  Do not make learning journeys with photographs of observations and little circled areas of learning and development FOR the Ofsted inspector. They are not interested and may not even ask to see your learning journeys. These documents should only be generated for you and for the parents and only if you find that making them is helpful. Many families enjoy receiving them and you may secretly enjoy making them. However, many parents are perfectly happy with WhatsApp messages and you are allowed to use your ‘professional knowledge’ as long as you really do know where each child is at in his or her stage or development. Personally I think a balance is a good solution. I will still send my parents lots of photos as I love taking them and they love receiving them, but I will not be printing many out and will only include the occasional observation in a much shorter ‘learning story,’ to help me remember where each child is and to provide a lovely memento for the parents when the child eventually leaves my setting.

6. Stop doing unnecessarily detailed written planning you then don’t stick to

STOP doing any paperwork at all that has no use aside from the fact that you think Ofsted might want to look at it. For example horrifically detailed weekly plans that you don’t stick to. The new Development Matters makes it clear that it is up to childminders to use their professional judgment and knowledge to observe children and to plan for their next steps. Julian Grenier led on the revision of Development Matters for the Department for Education. He is clear that you should use Development Matters to help you use your knowledge of each child to facilitate holistic learning that helps children to make progress “without generating unnecessary paperwork.”

This video is a nice overview of the new EYFS and how it links to Development Matters with its goal to “improve outcomes for all children, especially disadvantaged children, and to reduce teacher and practitioner workload.”

7. Stop hitting the target and missing the point with the Early Learning Goals

The Department for Education does not want you to feel restrained by the Early Learning Goals and actually they are primarily there for reception teachers to assess their children against at the end of their time in the Foundation Stage.

The most important point is that a childminder should not write a curriculum plan around a learning goal because the ELGs are really narrow. For example, one of the ELGs under physical development is that children should be able to ‘move energetically, such as running, jumping, dancing, hopping, skipping and climbing’. A childminder could read that and decide that since jumping is obviously important that they would buy a trampoline, but not waste their time with ball skills since those are not specifically mentioned. That is pretty much what the Department of Education does not want you to do with the ELGs. Your physical development gross motor skills curriculum should not exclude spending time doing ball and other PE skills

8. Stop doing anything ‘for Ofsted’

They always say this, but nobody really believes them. With inspections now every 6 years, of course you are going to want to get the best grade you possibly can at your inspection because you will be stuck with whatever you get for a long time!  So, of course you should prepare carefully for your inspection as you always would by being mostly ready for inspection all the time, by being the best childminder you can be all the time, but by perhaps reading through a copy of our Ultimate Childminding Checklist before the big day to make sure you aren’t forgetting anything obvious.

In conclusion, childminders need to think about what is really beneficial to support our practice (and this will be different for each practitioner depending on their needs.) It is about finding a sensible balance, not stopping all paperwork.  If you only have one child you may be able to retain all the information you need on their development without writing anything down but how will you share that information with the parents? You may have more children but have a fantastic memory and still not have to write down much in order to be able to confidently tell an Ofsted Inspector the ‘story’ of each child, but will you be able to spot gaps in learning quickly I think that most of us will still find keeping some sort of records beneficial so don’t burn those learning journeys and trackers just yet!

References

Burchall, J. (2021, May). Ofsted early education update . Retrieved from http://www.theofstedbigconversation.co.uk: https://theofstedbigconversation.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2021/06/Ofsted-presentation-Ofsted-early-education-update-early-years-providers-Summer-2021.pdf

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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 Childminding Best Practice Club and best practice resources promoting diversity, safety 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.

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

What is new for childminders in the Sept 2021 EYFS Framework?

Lots of childminders have been asking for a guide to the new September 2021 EYFS Statutory Framework. I have done my best in this article to pull out what I think are the most important points for childminders.

The information in the Educational Programmes Section of the EYFS has been expanded

The biggest change to the new EYFS is the expanded descriptions of what is included in the educational programmes descriptions (ie the Learning and Development areas). I don’t really think this information is in any way ‘new’ or a surprise. But the expanded areas are written explicitly into the EYFS so you should use it as your guide when planning your curriculum. As a childminder it is up to you how you design the curriculum for your setting but you MUST make sure that you are addressing each key point of each learning area. Development Matters and Birth to 5 Matters are designed to help you to do this so make sure you read them when you design your curriculum.

Communication, Language and especially vocabulary have been identified as the most important learning areas

Communication and language are vital and the EYFS states that ‘the development of children’s spoken language underpins all seven areas of learning and development’. The other thing that is really stressed is ‘extending vocabulary’ across each of the seven areas of learning.

 

The Early Learning Goals have been rewritten – but MOST of their content remains the same

The level of development that children are expected to have reached by the end of their reception year in school is defined by the early learning goals. As most childminders are not responsible for assessing the learning and development of reception aged children, the goals have always remained mainly in the realm of school reception teachers. Despite the EYFS making it clear that ‘the ELGs should not be used as a curriculum’, it is still useful for childminders to have in mind what the ultimate aim of some of the activities we do with children is heading towards.

Some of the key changes are:

  • Communication and Language: provides more focus on extending vocabulary
  • PSED: self-regulation is included
  • Literacy: comprehension is included
  • Mathematics: a new focus on understanding patterns

 

The role of self-regulation is recognised by making it an early learning goal

Children at the end of reception year should be able to ‘show an understanding of their own feelings and those of others, and begin to regulate their behaviour accordingly.’ They should also be able to ‘control their immediate impulses when appropriate’ and ‘give focussed attention to what a teacher is saying’. These are all important parts of the characteristics of effective learning that you should have been teaching the children all along, but the fact that they have now been recognised in the ELGs shows the increased importance that is now being placed on the notion of self-regulation. It is truly vital that as childminders you are encouraging children to sit still and concentrate on tasks sometimes, especially on tasks that are not always of the child’s own choosing, so that they can practise a skill that is vital to their success in school.

Balance is the key. Your curriculum and how you teach it is up to you but as children grow older the focus should change from the prime to specific areas of learning and development

It is up to each childminder to plan their curriculum which is in a broad sense what you want the children to learn while they are with you from when they are babies until they start school. The new EYFS says ‘Practitioners need to decide what they want children to learn and the most effective way to teach it’. There are several key points here. Firstly, it is up to you to decide the right balance between adult led activities and free play time given to children. Secondly, as children grow older you should spend more time ‘teaching’ them and less time just letting them have free play. Lastly, the focus of your teaching should gradually move away from the ‘prime’ areas (language, PSE, physical development) and include more focus on the ‘specific’ areas (mathematics, literacy etc.)

 

Assessment remains important but physical evidence of this assessment is not

Before you throw away your learning journeys and the pages of next steps: STOP. The EYFS is still very clear that ‘ongoing assessment (also known as formative assessment) is an integral part of children’s learning and development. What has changed in the new EYFS is the emphasis on the ‘professional knowledge’ of the childminder. When doing the ‘assessment’ part of the planning – implementation – assessment process, ‘Practitioners should draw on their own knowledge of the child and their own expert professional judgment and should not be required to prove this through a collection of physical evidence’.

Ofsted is making it clear that they do not want to see data. They are not going to look at your learning journeys with random snapshot photos and hundreds of ‘next steps’ written out because that sort of data is often meaningless. You still need to assess children and be very aware of exactly where each child is in their learning and development. But you no longer need to feel you have to ‘prove’ the observation.

When you do assessments you should:

  • Focus on what is useful
  • Establish starting points
  • Use the checkpoints in Development Matters as checkpoints, not checklists
  • Involve the parents
  • Take the attitude of inclusion: every child can thrive

 

You must promote oral health

The new EYFS makes it clear that you ‘must promote the good health including oral health of the children you look after. This is an addition to what was previously there and is in response to the growing problem of tooth decay in young children, particularly children from disadvantaged backgrounds. The basic message you are hoping to teach to children is that too many sugary foods are bad for you, and that you should brush your teeth.

Planning activities to promote oral health into your curriculum does not have to be complicated. Suppose you look after a child from a home where you know the parents very rarely brush his teeth?  You can make an enormous difference to that child’s oral health if YOU brush his teeth after he eats lunch with you. You are teaching him a skill he needs that will hopefully become a good habit. Furthermore, you are ensuring that his teeth are, at the very least, being brushed once a day while you look after him. And if you really want to do your bit towards helping him even more you can gently encourage the parents to help him at home, perhaps with a take home reward chart he can use each time he brushes his teeth at home?

Specific activities and resources for promoting oral health are available in my Be Safe Be Healthy pack.

Non-prescription medication does not need a doctor’s note

GPs have been finding that providers were requiring parents to get prescriptions for non-prescription medications. The new EYFS makes it clear that providers only need to have a prescription for prescription medication. So a child does not have to have a prescription for the Calpol for you to give it to him. Nothing else has really changed. You still need to get permission in writing for every medication (including Calpol) and you can only give prescription medicines that have been prescribed by a doctor, dentist, nurse or pharmacist.

In practice all childminders should have both a long term medication permission form (for Calpol etc) and a short term medication form (for antibiotics), a written record each time a medicine is administered to a child, and a way to ensure that the parent is informed ‘on the same day or as soon as reasonably practicable’. While the EYFS does not specifically state that a parent must sign your ‘medicines administered book’, I think this is a good, tidy, more traceable method than relying on a Whatsapp message.

Are you putting infants down to sleep properly and safely according to the EYFS guidelines? 

The new EYFS includes a link to the NHS guidance on reducing the risk of sudden infant death syndrome. What this means for childminders is that how you put a baby down to sleep while they are in your care is no longer at the discretion of parents – so please make sure you are familiar with the details in this link – there’s more than just putting babies on their backs.

Cyber Security for Early Years – are you doing everything you should be?

This page is full of practical information that childminders can use to check that you are doing everything you can to keep you, your setting and your data safe from cyber attacks. The site reminds you that “For Early Years practitioners, cyber security also plays a role in safeguarding the children in your care.” The link to this page was included as a footnote in the new EYFS.

Are you supervising children while they are eating?

To me, this has always been absolutely obvious: of course you must supervise children while they are eating – what if they start choking?  However, maybe not everyone was getting this, so this requirement has now been spelled out in the new EYFS. You MUST supervise children while they are eating so that rapid action can be taken if needed to save them! So does this mean that you have to literally keep them in your gaze at all times – what if you have to pop back into the kitchen to grab some ketchup. Please rest assured that ‘supervised’ is clearly defined by the EYFS. “Children must usually be within sight and hearing of staff but always within sight or hearing”.

Recommended menus and food preparation advice for early years

This series of example menus and associated guidance has been developed to support early years settings (such as nurseries and childminders) to offer food and drink in line with current government dietary recommendations for infants and children aged 6 months to 4 years. It also includes food safety, managing food allergies and reading food labels. This guide was included as a footnote in the new EYFS.

You should not vape or use e-cigarettes around children (or smoke)

The new EYFS makes it clear that as well as providers not allowing smoking in or on the premises when children are present that staff should not ‘vape or use e-cigarettes when children are around’ either. This addition is in line with Public Health England’s advice on use of e-cigarettes in the workplace.

Those are the key new points of new release of the Sept 2021 EYFS. You need to read the cited documents and make sure that you are following the new guidelines before they become statutory in September. 

Good luck!

Do you want to improve your understanding of the Characteristics of Effective Learning?

Promoting the Characteristics of Effective Learning PosterFor help putting the Characteristics of Effective Learning into practice including tools, activity ideas, certificates you can give to children, poster and display ideas, CPD worksheets for your setting, examples for your SEF and a setting checklist for the COEL, check out my new Characteristics of Effective Learning Pack for childminders.

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

What is new for childminders in the Sept 2019 Inspection Framework?

Lots of childminders have been asking for a guide to the September 2019 Inspection Framework. I have done my best in this article to wade through the new Ofsted jargon and pull out what I think are the most important points for childminders.

 

The Common Inspection Framework has been replaced with the Education Inspection Framework (EIF)

From Sept 2019, the Common Inspection Framework will be replaced by a new document called the Education Inspection Framework (EIF). This document needs to be read in conjunction with the updated version of the Early Years Inspection Handbook.

 

Be familiar with the new judgement areas

 

One key change to the structure of the Inspection Handbook document is the judgement areas. What was previously two separate areas ‘Teaching, learning and assessment’ and ‘outcomes’ is now combined into one new category: ‘quality of education’. What was previously ‘personal development, behaviour and welfare’ is now split into ‘behaviour and attitudes’ and ‘personal development’. Leadership and management remains the same.

 

Know what ‘curriculum’ you offer

The word ‘curriculum’ is central to the new Framework, so you need to be familiar with the term. In the Early Years your ‘curriculum’ in an ‘education’ sense is defined by the EYFS Statutory Framework – it is the seven areas of learning and development.

 

Have an idea of HOW you offer the EYFS curriculum in your setting and why you do what you do

You should be able to explain to an inspector broadly HOW you teach the children the seven Areas of Learning in your setting. Most childminders use a combination of adult-led learning (structured activities) and free play. You will also need to show that whatever type of curriculum you offer promotes the Characteristics of Effective Learning (COEL) which are important for turning children into good lifelong learners in school. You should be able to explain to an Ofsted inspector your choices in terms of what types of activities you do in your setting and why.

“Learn, Know and Do” is Ofsted’s new phrase. You must be able to explain to the Ofsted inspector what you hope that the children should be able to learn, know and do as a result of the EYFS curriculum you offer.

 

Be familiar with the idea of: “Intent – Implementation – Impact” and how this relates to the ‘quality of education’ you offer

Across all seven areas of learning and development, when you plan anything for the children, you should have a purpose, your ‘intent’ for what the children should learn from what you are planning. You then ‘implement’ the activity by doing it. After you have finished the activity you should be able to evaluate the ‘impact’ that the activity had on the children’s learning and development.

An easy example might be getting out a jigsaw puzzle. Your ‘intent’ in planning a jigsaw activity is to promote early maths skills. Doing the jigsaw is how you are ‘implementing’ the idea of ‘promoting maths skills’. After you have finished doing the jigsaw you should ask yourself what ‘impact’ the activity had on the children. In other words, you should be able to identify what the children learned from the jigsaw activity and how you would build on the jigsaw with further maths activities.

A more complex example might be a child you have established as being poor at sharing toys. Your ‘intent’ is to find ways to help the child to become better at sharing. To ‘implement’ this, you decide to plan a series of craft activities over the next six months that will specifically require the child to share craft items in a safe, supervised setting where you can intervene when the child forgets to share. After six months it would be important to ask yourself what ‘impact’ these craft activities have had on the child’s learning in this area and see if what you have been doing has worked, or if you need to come up with a new plan.

This is really nothing different to what you have been doing already with the observation – assessment – planning cycle. But you need to be familiar with the new terms: ‘Intent – Implementation – Impact’ because the Ofsted inspector will use them at your inspection.

Let me also stress that you do not need to write any of this down if you don’t want to. As long as you are able to explain this to an Ofsted inspector and demonstrate how you are involving parents in your plans and making it clear what they should be doing at home to help their child, you don’t need to write it down if you don’t want to.

In summary, for every activity you plan:

  • Decide what the children you look after need to learn and develop (intent)
  • Deliver this so that the children make progress in the seven areas of learning (implementation)
  • Ask yourself how you will know if what you planned to deliver was successful? What can the children do now or know that they couldn’t before as a result of what you planned? (impact)

 

Think how you will tell your Ofsted inspector about how you teach children without showing them piles of ‘data’

Do not be surprised if your inspector no longer wants to look at your learning journeys or planning documents. They have been clear that they do not want to see a paperwork mountain. But if you are doing a ‘dinosaurs’ theme with the children when your inspector visits, for example, you should be able to explain out loud your ‘Intent’ of doing dinosaurs as a theme. In other words, what Areas of Learning and which COEL are you hoping to promote through studying this theme? She may also ask you how you are ‘Implementing’ your theme? You might be using dinosaur books, colouring pages, planning a day trip to the science centre, making a craft activity, and playing a dino-bones counting game. You should also be able to explain how you will measure what ‘impact’ the activities had on the children once you are finished.

I think that many childminders will find a quick written sketch of what you are planning and why will help you to stay focussed and be honest with yourself about what worked and what didn’t. Notes in the form of a written plan can help you to keep track of what you did so you can see what worked and what you’d want to change next time. But the key point Ofsted has stressed is that you should only do written planning if it is helpful to YOU. Your inspector will probably not look at it.

 

Plan your “Learning Walk” – your opportunity to show off what you do

When your inspector arrives in your setting, this is your opportunity to ‘wow’ them by taking them on a ‘learning walk’ (new Ofsted word) around your playroom and show them what you do. A learning walk relates specifically to education, so they don’t want a tour of your house, they want a tour of what you teach.

Suppose you have been studying dinosaurs (as in the example above) and you want your inspector to know this. One way would be to put up a display on your wall of your dinosaur theme activities – showing the children engaged in different activities that promote the different areas of learning. Another way would be to set up a “dig for dinosaur bones” invitation to play in your play tray and this would be a perfect activity for the children to be doing when your inspector arrives. She will see your display, your themed activity and later on you will sit down and read a Harry and the Dinosaurs book. Remember that you should be able to explain the learning goals of the activities you have planned within the theme, but you do not have to write this down if you prefer not to.  

 

Be familiar with the term ‘cultural capital’

All children come to your setting with different skills to each other. You need to be aware of a child’s strengths and weaknesses and plan activities to help address the weaknesses. How you plan your curriculum to enhance the opportunities you give to children especially the most disadvantaged is very important. I have written more about what cultural capital means to childminders in this article.

 

Be prepared for your inspector to want to question you while you do an activity at your inspection

This is not new but often takes people by surprise who have prepared folders of paperwork for their inspection that isn’t then needed. Your inspector may want to observe your children with you and discuss their learning, progress and behaviour as part of the activities the children are engaged in. She will then ASK you what the child learned and furthermore how you intend to build on the activity so that the child makes progress. She is more likely to do this than to ask to see your learning journeys. If you have assistants, you should be prepared for her to question them at the same level to prove you are training your staff properly.

Making learning journeys remains an important way to practice formally observing children and planning next steps for them. In my opinion it is also a nice way to share that information with parents. So please don’t throw your learning journeys into the bin!

 

If you want to show that you are offering good ‘quality of education’ you need to check that the curriculum you plan:

  • Is ambitious and sufficiently challenging
  • Includes everybody you childmind for including children with SEND
  • Increases the Cultural Capital of the children
  • Prepares children for being lifelong learners in school
  • Covers all seven areas of learning and development
  • Includes assessment of where the children are relative to the development milestones in Development Matters
  • Has a big focus on reading

 

‘Behaviour and attitudes’ and ‘personal development’ are things that help children’s life chances

The key points about these two judgement sections is that not much has really changed in terms of what Ofsted hopes to see you doing from what you did previously. They’ve split the sections up but haven’t really changed the content much.

You still need to be able to explain to the inspector how you help the children you look after to succeed in life and become good citizens of the future. Whereas the ‘quality of education’ focusses mainly on the learning and development areas of the EYFS, these two judgements focus more on the COEL plus welfare requirements of the EYFS like promoting healthy eating, physical exercise and self-care with a new emphasis on potty training. Make sure you are planning activities that actively promote the COEL and that you can recognise what these are when children display them.

The COEL really are more important than ever.

 

Be prepared for the inspector to actually want to speak to your parents at your inspection

Lastly I want to call your attention to a new section under how the inspector intends to ‘gather evidence’ at your inspection from talking to parents themselves. So do not be surprised if your inspector actually plans her visit around speaking to your parents!

Those are the key new points of new Education Inspection Framework and Early Years Inspection Handbook. You need to read these documents and make sure that you are following the new guidelines, especially if you are being inspected any time soon. From September onwards anything in this article is fair game!

Good luck!

Do you want to improve your understanding of the Characteristics of Effective Learning?

Promoting the Characteristics of Effective Learning PosterFor help putting the Characteristics of Effective Learning into practice including tools, activity ideas, certificates you can give to children, poster and display ideas, CPD worksheets for your setting, examples for your SEF and a setting checklist for the COEL, check out my new Characteristics of Effective Learning Pack for childminders.

 

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

10 frequently forgotten things childminders should include in your Self Evaluation

All childminders need to self-evaluate your settings before your inspection. Here are 10 things you should make sure your self-evaluation 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 a self-evaluation of your setting?

This guide takes you step by step through a guided self-evaluation of your setting. It includes ‘model answers’ for each question so that you can see the sorts of things you should be considering when you reflect on your setting. This guide will help you to prepare for your inspection and will make sure you don’t miss anything. 

 

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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