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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!
Do you want to improve your understanding of the Characteristics of Effective Learning?
For 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 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.
The first and most important thing to say about “Cultural Capital” – the new Ofsted buzz word that has appeared in the September 2019 Inspection Handbook – is DON’T PANIC.
- You do not need to attend a training course on cultural capital.
- Ofsted does not want to see a poster up in your setting labelled cultural capital.
- You do not have to start taking childminded children to the opera.
Most of you will find that the only change you need to make to what you are already doing is to learn the new buzz word so that if you hear it during your inspection you keep calm and carry on!
Cultural capital is defined in the new framework as ‘the essential knowledge that children need to be educated citizens’ and what is necessary to ‘prepare them for future success’.
Some children arrive at your setting with different experiences than others. The experiences they arrive with are their ‘cultural capital’. All children have SOME cultural capital when they arrive with you at your setting. But for some, this cultural capital is not enough to narrow the gap and get them ready for school. The curriculum you plan for that unique child can make all the difference to his or her future.
Your job as a childminder is to find ways to establish what a child’s ‘weaknesses’ are, and then plan your curriculum to help the child in the area that he is missing or behind.
A key example is talking. Some children arrive at your setting speaking really well with great vocabularies because they are exposed to lots of words and their parents read loads of books to them at home. Research has shown time and again that this gives them a massive advantage in school and in life. Other children come from much less fortunate backgrounds where they are not read to so much at home and know far fewer words. If you identify talking and vocabulary for example, as a child’s weakness, then your job as his childminder is to find ways to enhance it. In other words, you should make sure to plan a curriculum where you read a lot more and talk a lot more to children whose parents do not read to them at home.
The same rule applies right across the areas of learning and development and would also apply to the characteristics of effective learning.
Another example Ofsted gave during its webinar was a child who knows everything about dinosaurs, but nothing about plants. In this case, you could enhance his learning by teaching him about plants.
A characteristic of effective learning example might be a child who is never given any choices at home and who appears to passively take everything he is given. You can enhance his learning and prepare him for school by encouraging him to make choices while he is with you.
None of this is anything you are probably not already doing!
It just has a new name and is now in the Inspection Handbook to draw your attention to the sheer importance of doing the utterly obvious!
Here is what you need to do to ‘do’ cultural capital:
- Do starting points observations on all new children across all the learning and development areas and the COEL. This will show you the child’s strengths and areas of weaknesses.
- Ask yourself what you would do to improve the child’s area of weakness.
- Make a plan for each individual child. What can you develop? What can you encourage?
- Follow through on your plans.
- After you’ve been doing your plans for a while, check that your plans are having an effect. Has the child started to catch up? Have you broadened his cultural capital from when he started with you?
All children arrive in your setting with a different background and different skills.
Ofsted’s new buzz word is just another way of asking childminders to help to reduce disadvantage when you see it.
Remember that what you do for that child can potentially make all the difference.
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About Kay Woods and Kids To Go
Kay 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, 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.