Tips for teachers: Preparing for an Ofsted inspection

Following the introduction of the new Education Inspection Framework (EIF) this blog provides useful tips for teachers on how to prepare for Ofsted inspections to ensure you are as ready as you can be.

Inspecting your own provision

The best way to start to prepare for an Ofsted inspection is by inspecting your own provision in advance of your Ofsted visit. Make judgements about your own setting/provision by using the same guidance that Ofsted inspectors use. These are easily accessible in documents such as the Early Years Inspection Handbook, the Education Inspection Framework and Inspecting safeguarding in early years, education and skills.

If you haven’t already done so, familiarise yourself with this guidance as soon as you can. Don’t wait until the inspectors arrive!

The guidance shows what evidence inspectors need to collect to support the judgements they have to make during a visit, which includes gathering evidence about the extent to which Early Years providers do the following:

  • meet learning and development requirements (if appropriate)
  • meet safeguarding and welfare requirements
  • develop and deliver their educational programmes (if appropriate)
  • identify children’s starting points and ensure that children make progress in their learning through effective planning, observation and assessment (as appropriate)work in partnership with parents, carers and others
  • offer an inclusive service
  • evaluate their service and strive for continuous improvement.

Whether you’re a childminder or you work in a nursery setting, you should be able to provide evidence about all of the above. Self-assessing your own provision is an important exercise because inspectors will check whether you know the strengths and weaknesses of your setting. Using the same guidance as inspectors makes the process of evaluating your setting easier and ensures it’s more aligned with the way inspectors make judgements. If you are aware of weaknesses, make sure you are in a position to either explain to inspectors what you intend to do about them or that you can produce evidence to show how you intend to reduce or remove those weaknesses.

Evidence versus emotion

When you inspect your provision, make sound and secure judgements driven by evidence - not emotion. Try to be objective and honest about what works well and what needs to be improved. You could also ask parents or children for their views or ideas. You may also find it useful to record your self-assessment findings, but there is no requirement to produce a self-assessment report.

If you’ve previously been through an inspection, you should also review the previous report and any actions or recommendations listed, making sure you have responded to all recommendations and actions, and that you can talk to inspectors about your progress in relation to these.

In short, Ofsted will want to see evidence that:

  1. you know and understand the strengths and weaknesses of your provision and the impact this has on children
  2. you have plans in place to deal with any identified weaknesses.

Do your research

You can learn about the inspection process by researching published inspection reports to see what judgements Ofsted has made about similar providers. You can search providers, including childminders, by name, type of provision/setting, local authority, report publication date, Ofsted judgement/rating and region. Reviewing published reports can also provide prompts to look at specific areas within your own provision/setting.

Documented evidence gathering

Inspectors will want to see records of children registered with your setting, evidence of staff qualifications and training, DBS records and where appropriate, evidence to show that recruitment of staff is a robust and safe process. Make sure that there are no gaps in these records. It might be useful to carry out an audit check to make sure your own training as well as staff training is up to date and that all records have been completed properly and accurately. Other documents and records that inspectors will check include:

  • records of accidents, exclusions, children taken off roll
  • incidents of poor behaviour (if applicable)
  • incidents of discriminatory behaviour including racist incidents
  • complaints policies and records
  • safeguarding/child protection policies – records of safeguarding incidents and referrals if applicable and details of children subject to social care/children’s services intervention/support/multi-agency plans
  • statutory policies relating to health and safety.

As a childminder, you are not expected to have the same level of documented policies as a nursery but you must be able to explain them in relation to the requirements in the early years foundation stage (EYFS).

Current inspection cycle

The current cycle for providers runs from 1 August 2016 to 31 July 2020. The Early Years Inspection Handbook for Ofsted Registered provision published in September 2019 states that providers on the Early Years Register will normally have their setting inspected at least once within this four year cycle. Newly registered providers will normally be inspected within 30 months of their registration date.

However, Ofsted may inspect a provider if concerns have been raised or if a risk assessment indicates that an inspection is needed. Any provision judged inadequate on inspection is re-inspected within six months. Pre-school, childminder and nursery provision judged as requiring improvement is usually re-inspected within 12 months.

Final thought…

You will get the most out of the inspection if you see it as a process that is done with you and not to you. And remember how the saying goes – ‘if you fail to prepare, you prepare to fail’!

Find out more about what the new EIF and what it means for teachers, in our recent Tips for teachers - what the new inspection framework means for you blog.