We attended the seminar given by Patrick Leeson, Director of Education and Care at Ofsted, at Childcare Expo on 16 September 2011. For out of school clubs the key points of interest from his seminar were:
- 74% of settings on the Early Years and Childcare register were rated as good or outstanding. Settings which have planning for specific development goals for each child are more likely to be rated as good or outstanding.
- Settings which fail to support all areas of the learning goals are likely to be rated as less than good.
- Outstanding settings tend to have the following characteristics:
- They submit the optional self-evaluation form. Where reflective practice and self-evaluation is well-embedded it has a positive impact on outcomes for children
- There is particular focus on the progress of individual children.
- A good partnership exists with parents. The settings use innovative ways to engage with parents, such as communicating via email and text, or arranging meetings at different times to make it easier for parents to attend.
- Specific plans for the development of the children's speaking and listening.
This suggests that out of school clubs wanting to improve their Ofsted rating should be looking in particular at developing and demonstrating strong partnerships with parents, as well as looking for ways to demonstrate the use of reflective practice within their setting.
The revisions to EYFS which are currently out for consultation Patrick Leeson doesn't expect to take effect until September 2012 at the earliest. In the meantime Ofsted will be publishing and inviting feedback on their new inspection framework and expect this to be finalised and disseminated to inspectors in July 2012. He revealed that the new Ofsted inspection framework will focus very much on the culture of safeguarding and risk management within a setting. Ofsted will want to see evidence of the staff's understanding of these issues and will be much less concerned with checking a setting's paperwork than in recent years. This sounds like a very sensible approach.
Patrick Leeson also stated that from September 2012 Ofsted will be wanting to see a much stronger focus on the progress children are making within a setting, and on strong partnerships with parents. At face value the first of these objectives could give some problems to our sector where the focus is on 'play' rather than on achieving developmental goals. How do we demonstrate a child's progress in play?
He also said that from September 2012 they would be allowing more autonomy to providers to manage their own service alongside "robust registration arrangements and continued rigorous enforcement" for those who cannot or will not comply with requirements. However he did not give any examples of in what areas providers might have 'autonomy'.
At the end of the seminar we asked Mr Leeson about the problems that out of school clubs experienced by being inspected under the Early Years Framework. We emphasised the ridiculousness of the current situation in which the very youngest children in a setting, who have already had a full day at school, are theoretically expected to continue with their directed learning at an after school club, whilst their friends in other school years are entirely free to play or relax as they wish. Patrick Leeson acknowledged our concerns, said that it was a 'known issue' and was currently under review, and gave the impression that we could expect some new guidelines in the relatively near future.
We will keep you posted with any further developments from Ofsted.