We just spent an interesting morning in London with many Ofsted Inspectors and Gill Jones, National Deputy Director of Early Education. We were part of a consultation about the new Common Inspection Framework – CIF as it will be known (but no connection cleaning solution they tell us!). Ofsted are developing an inspection handbook alongside registration and compliance handbooks – and we got a sneak preview.
So what did we find out?
Well they have taken the CIF from schools and higher education and ‘tweaked’ it to fit into the Early Years landscape. As you can probably guess, some things fit better than others, but overall we think they have done a reasonable job. Yes there are some new terms and measures, for example ‘prompt and regular attendance’, but alongside this there is very much a common sense view of what that means to an early years setting. Importantly it’s not about to become one large data collection exercise according to Gill Jones, but very much about improving the outcomes for children (particularly those who are at lower starting points).
The language of the CIF is quite ‘schoolified’ but we were expecting this bearing in mind the pressure to raise the game in Early Years. The CIF remains confidential outside of the seminar until its publication in June, but a few bits caught our eye – have we seen information about settings gathered not just from their own SEF and website but also from the internet in relation to safeguarding issues? (If you have been in the news recently they might just know about it!).
Overall though we feel the criteria laid out is a toughening up of the already difficult inspection process but may be taken with the bitter-sweet pill that we will (possibly – they say its not final yet) have a half-days notice. And yes if your inspection is on a Monday they call you Friday lunchtime! We already know they will be inspecting the four areas of Leadership & Management; Teaching, Learning & Assessment; Personal Development Behaviour & Welfare and Outcomes for children. The overall effectiveness of the setting is also judged as it has been before.
We are following up attendance to this seminar by attending the Regional Launch Event in June, so will be able to share further insights then as to what the new evaluation framework will require us to change in our early years practice. We will then be exceptionally well prepared to support practitioners in their learning and understanding of the requirements from September. Look out for our upcoming courses and events which will be running in July & August.
Will you be ready for your next inspection?
About the author: Tricia Wellings
Her passion for and knowledge of owning and running a nursery group and the issues within the sector that affect them is second to none. She continues to keep herself updated through regular meetings with PVI groups, Local Authorities, Ofsted Big Conversation and Conferences.
You can find our more about Tricia on her website www.triciawellings.co.uk