Recent inspection feedback - 04.2014

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Recent Ofsted inspection report feedback – what does it mean?

A thread on the Independent Childminders Facebook group caused a lot of childminders concern - it was a list written by a Local Authority advisor who had combed through recent Ofsted reports for action comments.

So... I thought it might be useful to unpick some of the Ofsted actions.

Children’s starting points ‘not detailed enough’
The recently revised Ofsted inspectors guidance ‘Evaluation Schedule for inspections* is clear that we must start ‘teaching’ children as quickly as possible when they start in the provision. This means that we need to do 2 things –
1. Make a series of initial observations for all areas of learning to tell us what the child knows already and to support our initial individual planning;
2. Ask for as much information as possible from parents about what the child already knows / does at home / places they visit with family / weekend outings etc.

We can then start our individual / next steps planning from a secure base of knowing the child and what makes them tick / interests them / how they learn etc.

Some useful links
Information about starting points here -
Information about individual / next steps planning here –

Monitoring and evaluation ‘is not rigorous enough’
Ofsted want to see clear evidence of the ongoing, sustained progress children are making in their learning. The only required progress check in the EYFS for childminders to complete is the 2 year check – to show that you are monitoring progress you need to do more than this! It is important to do either termly or maybe 6 monthly assessments of learning for every EYFS aged child, where you look at the Early Years Outcomes (EYO) and note how well the child is doing against all the outcomes.

EYO is not a tick list – you don’t have to say that the child can do every statement within their age range. What you are looking for is to show the overall progress the child makes in every area of learning, so that is there is a problem you can pick up on it quickly, speak to parents and put planning in place to support future learning.

Advice about how to use EYO to track progress here –

Action plans are ‘not always targeted to overcome identified weaknesses’
An important part of your self-evaluation is to plan for the future. You have to be able to show Ofsted that you are looking forward and making changes to your provision and ways of working that will benefit the children. A good action plan will show –
• What you intend doing next
• Who you have involved in your future planning eg parents, children, local support childminder etc
• The steps you will take eg attending training, reading books or e-books, professional discussions with colleagues etc
• The date by which you intend to have made the changes
• The impact of the changes (when they have been made) on outcomes for the children.

You can find more information about action plans here –
More information about training / CPD here –

Ways to engage parents in their child's learning ‘are not always highly successful’.
We all know that it can be a challenge to engage some parents – they dash in and out and they refuse to look at their child’s learning files because they are ‘too busy’. However, Ofsted see this as a failing on the part of the childminder – it is our job to involve parents in their child’s learning and we must do everything we can to involve them. If you do not show evidence of involving parents you will receive a lower inspection grade so keep careful notes of when parents have given you information and feedback about their child or your service, if possible in question 2 of your SEF.

You can find a SEF prompt list here –

Many childminders find verbal questions are successful – ask parents what the child is doing at home – favourite toys and games, book, songs, where they have been at the weekend etc – write it up and use it as a basis for some planning. Other childminders use written questionnaires… you need to find what works best for each family and keep the lines of communication open.

More information about working with parents here –
…and on the Independent Childminders Facebook group here –

Another similar inspection outcome was received by a childminder this week – the inspector said that the childminder was not successful at engaging parents to read the online software she uses to record children’s learning and development. For this reason, the inspector decided that the childminder was ‘not yet outstanding’.

If you use online software for the children, it must be accessed by all parents regularly and they must interact with what you are uploading. If they do not, then you need to find another way to include them.

I know that we cannot force parents to engage with us – but we have to find a way of sharing that each family is comfortable with and show evidence of this to Ofsted. If we can’t then we are not complying with the EYFS.

The childminder is not always using information from others ‘when planning for children's exceptional learning and readiness for school.’
The new inspection outcomes are very much focussed on supporting children so they are ready for school. You must work with the child, their parents and the other settings children attend – you must also approach the child’s future setting and speak to them to find out what they want you do be doing with the child to complement their learning when they are at school all day –

EYFS requirement 1.3 states that, when children start school, we need to discuss with parents and other practitioners the support we intend to offer (reading books, free play, chill out time etc) and complement children’s learning in other settings. I recommend you record what parents and other settings have said so you can show your commitment to partnership working. A lot of childminders have scrap books for older children but these are not a requirement and will rarely be inspected by Ofsted.
You need to try everything you can to work with other settings – again, as when working with parents, if you do not show evidence it is you who will be marked down at inspection. So, make notes about what the child is doing elsewhere (ask the key worker, look at wall displays, speak to parents, ask the child) and use the information in the child’s individual planning notes to show that you are supporting the child to prepare for school.

Change your planning when a child is preparing for school as well to ensure they have lots of opportunities to practice school readiness skills – independence, mark making -> writing, reading -> literacy, sitting for longer periods and concentrating etc.

Sample letter to other setting to help promote working in partnership -

Teaching is sometimes ‘not of a consistently high standard’.
We are all teachers – every time we engage or excite a child, show them something new, explain something, read a book join them in artwork, chat to them about a game they are playing, ask them a question, listen to them chatter about home, take them to the toilet, show them how to wash their hands, let them print their own photos, sit with them and play a game on the laptop etc you are teaching them!

Teaching is a scary word and it puts a lot of childminders off – but it doesn’t need to be… however, teaching should be part of your everyday activities and a lot of inspectors will expect you to plan at least 2 activities a day that are adult led and have clear learning outcomes for all the children involved. You don’t necessarily need to write them down in great detail but the children should be used to taking part or it is likely to go horribly wrong during your inspection if you try something new.

Every child needs an individual learning plan – observations assessed using Early Years Outcomes (the tracker of choice for Ofsted) and then individual planning written to follow on from observations and assessments. Observations can come from your time with the child, their home and family lives or other settings they attend and do not need to be overly long or complicated – say what you see and say what you hear and think about what the observation tells you about the child, their likes, dislikes, interests and ways of learning.

If you plan any group activities, write them up to show that you are complying with the requirement to prepare children for school by planning more adult led activities as they move towards school starting age. Again, you do not need to use complicated forms – just make a note of what you are doing with the children and how the various activities support children’s learning in the prime and specific areas. Then, do an observation to focus on one area of learning for each child and use it to evaluate what the child learned and where their learning might go next.

I am writing an Information Guide for gold members about how we can comply with the new requirement to teach children… it will be ready soon.

The evaluation of some activities is not always precise and accurate enough to promote high expectations when planning challenge for children
A childminder colleague was recently told that the word ‘challenge’ was too strong for a child’s observation! So, from the view that we cannot win for trying, let’s unpick this post-inspection action…

When you have planned an activity with a child, it’s a good idea to evaluate who things have gone. Again, as for planning, this does not necessarily mean making lots of complicated notes and spending your free time up to your ears in a rainforest of paperwork. It means thinking about how the activity went and considering how you might improve things next time… it also means doing this type of evaluation regularly so you can explain what you do and how you do it confidently to an Ofsted inspector.

If you regularly evaluate you will always be thinking about what the children learned and how you can enhance their learning next session. This will, as Ofsted say, ‘promote high expectations’ and ensure every child’s learning prepares them for school.

Ensure all children have independent access to fresh drinking water at all times
Some childminders still do not make sure babies and children can independently reach their cups of water – if a child has to ask you to get their water for them or cannot refill their cup when they are thirsty, you are not complying with the EYFS (requirement 3.45).

Promote independence for example, at snack and meal times
Some Ofsted inspectors expect to see children involved in choosing, preparing, serving and clearing their snack. They want to see young children spreading butter on toast, cutting up bananas and grapes, putting cups and plates on the table, choosing what they want to eat, stacking the dishwasher etc… think about how you can teach children to do these things independently so their self-help skills shine through during your inspection.

If children bring a packed lunch, teach them to open it themselves and encourage independence so that when they are ready to take a packed lunch to school they can manage the parcels of food, tubs of yoghurt etc by themselves. After eating, let them put their lunch box on their shelf before washing their hands… they can also put recycling in the bin and wash out yoghurt pots. They can also help themselves from a water dispenser on the table and use open cups which promote fine motor skills.

Records of any occasions where physical intervention is used when managing children’s behaviour are not maintained
This is statutory – EYFS requirement 3.51 ‘Providers, including childminders, must keep a record of any occasion where physical intervention is used, and parents and/or carers must be informed on the same day, or as soon as reasonably practicable.’
You should have a ‘physical intervention’ form in your file and fill it in any time you have to intervene to stop a child hurting themselves.

A recent example from my files –
A childminder was crossing the road with a 6 year old (and younger children). The 6 year old dashed ahead and the childminder grabbed his hood to stop him. The child later told a teacher that his childminder had tried to strangle him on the way to school and cried that his throat was hurting.

School followed their safeguarding procedures and rang the Local Safeguarding Children Board who rang Ofsted and the childminder was immediately investigated – the childminder had contacted me when she got home from the school run and we worked through it together.

By the time Ofsted knocked on her door to do an unannounced check she had completed a physical intervention form, asked a colleague who was there at the time to sign as a witness, already rung parents and informed them and written a risk assessment to consider how better to manage the child when crossing roads.

The childminder was told that she had followed the correct procedure and no fault was found. It could easily have been a very different outcome…

Action points relating to working with staff – assistants
You will find more information on the Independent Childminders blog here - http://independentchildminders.weebl...ssistants.html.

Note - some of the links will take you to the Independent Childminders Facebook group files section. The IC Facebook group is a sister group to the Childminding Forum.

Chat soon, Sarah x
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