Surviving an Ofsted inspection

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By Michael Freeston, Director of Quality Improvement at the Pre-school Learning Alliance.

The new Common Inspection Framework has been in place since September 2015. So how the is the Early Years sector responding to the new framework? Michael Freeston presents his findings from the first six months, along with some handy hints for acing an inspection in your setting.


How has the Early Years sector responded to the new framework?

Ofsted introduced the Common Inspection Framework (CIF) across all areas of its educational remit (Early Years, schools, further and adult skills) in September 2015. Initial findings in October of that year found that Early Years providers had responded well to the new regime with 81% of settings achieving good or outstanding grades (89% for childminders). This positive start has continued with the first three months of published data showing 87% of non-domestic providers have achieved a good or outstanding grade (84% for child minders).

This compares very favourably to the sector’s experience when the last revision to the inspection framework was implemented in September 2012. At that time good and outstanding judgements fell sharply from 81% (HMCI annual report 11-12) to 67% between September and December 2012.

Are there any issues to smooth out?

Close reading of inspection reports highlights some interesting issues which will no doubt develop further as the CIF beds down. Most striking is the length of the reports. The main findings section now takes no more than one side of the report which, with four sections to cover (effectiveness of leadership and management, quality of teaching learning and assessment, personal development behaviour and welfare and children’s outcomes) sets a real challenge for the authors and editors.

Ofsted require inspectors to ensure the dialogue with managers and staff during the visit is comprehensive. This is to ensure, in the words of Gill Jones (Ofsted Deputy Director of Early Education), that they ‘paint the picture’ they see of the provision. Certainly reports I have had from many setting managers suggest that they welcome the more open and discursive format of inspections with inspectors really engaging in dialogue about practitioners’ support for the children’s learning and development.


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