It was a Tuesday morning, and I was walking back from dropping my own children to school ready for a morning of safeguarding training, when I got a phone call from my setting to say that Ofsted had arrived to do our inspection.
We were well overdue our inspection as we should have been done within a year of myself taking over and us moving premises back in January 2019. We are an early years provision with wrap around and all on one registration.
Ofsted completed an unannounced inspection as we have recently had a child fall and break their arm while in the setting. Although the accident was just an accident, where the child fell there was some concerns raised in our own follow up. All of the circumstances around the accident I had been honest and open with Ofsted about. I’d also told them about the changes we had made as a result of the accident, the reflections we have actioned and how we planned to move forward.
We actually had the main inspector from Ofsted and a trainee inspector too – we got 2 for the price of 1!!
Once I arrived at the setting, they had already spoken to a number of parents from the early years provision who were waiting to enter the setting. I introduced myself and they explained the reason for the visit and how the day would work. I felt at ease with them and we planned the days inspection. They requested to track two children for the duration of the inspection; one child who received Early Years Pupil Premium and one that is a funded two year old.
They requested that we did a joint observation and we did this on a Mother’s Day activity that was happening, and we then reflected on the practioners delivery of the activity, looking at what was good and what could have been better. They noted that they wanted more independence with mark making of the children’s name.
They watched children go about their play; we are a free play free flow environment with the garden open all day. They spoke to nearly all staff. We have one unqualified member of staff in our preschool and they asked why she hadn’t done her training, whether she had been offered training, will she consider doing it in the future? They asked all staff about signs of different types of abuse, where they would go to if they were concerned about a child, whether they knew about the whistleblowing policy? They focused on whether the staff feel confident in their knowledge and where they would find the information if they were not sure. They asked staff about Prevent, FGM and any known wider safeguarding training they had done such as county lines.
After lunch they spoke to keyworkers about the children they had been tracking. We key work in what seems to be quite a unique way as we team key work, so we have two bigger groups and one is a preschool group and the other is the younger group. These are known to us as butterflies and caterpillars. Each group has 3 staff allocated so there is always one of the staff in. Ofsted really liked this as the children has really strong emotional connections to the staff and always have some one familiar to speak with. The staff like this as they bounce ideas off each other they can support each other they make group decisions, and all have different relationships with parents as parents make stronger bonds just like the children. Parents also spoke fondly about this system. We also do this in afterschool club with the foundation stage children we collect.
Our main communication method with parents is via Class dojo and this is across early years and wrap around. We post weekly observations of the early years children and then fortnightly of other children in wrap around. Its quick and simple to use and gets lots of parent interaction.
When speaking to the key workers Ofsted asked about next steps for the early years children and what extra we do for the additional funding we receive (EYPP). Ofsted were interested in the general knowledge of all children and if they were on track or we’d identified any big gaps in learning across the group. They asked about our ‘Children’s Interests’ board and how we use this in planning for the children’s development.
Ofsted spoke to the deputy safeguarding lead about record keeping, who they would go to for a allegation against a staff member ie Lado and Ofsted. They spoke to the SENCo and asked about any children that were being monitored, any children that have additional paperwork in place.
Then finally I had my interview. We talked about the incident with the broken arm and what I/we have reflected on and how we have changed things. We discussed the change in risk assessment and what else we could have done.
We talked about safer recruitment, our processes of recruitment (Application form, interviews, DBS checks, references check) and when staff would start within the process. When we would check their right to work in the UK and do their qualification checks and ID checks. They asked me what I would do if I wasn’t happy with a member of staff at the end of probation or before.
We talked about self-evaluation and reflection; what did I feel we do well and not so well, what are our aims moving forward.
We then did our school runs for wrap around club, she asked a little about how we do 3 school runs (2 walking and 1 driving). She watched our process of getting ready for them and talked to staff about them.
One of the concerns raised during the accident that triggered the inspection was about supervision levels in the garden. The inspector understandably wanted to see how this worked when the children all return from school. She was really clear that she felt we may have too many children for the space, however she was surprised by how it wasn’t manic at all and the children all came in and were settled in their play quickly.
She then gave me feedback which I can’t release the grading or recommendations until the report is finalised, however I had the draft report on the Saturday following the inspection, so we are waiting for the final report now.
In 22 years of being in the sector this was the most positive experience of Ofsted I have had and whilst that’s not saying others haven’t been positive but this team of inspectors were really lovely and pleasant and made everyone feel at ease with their questioning and none of the staff came away feeling worried they hadn’t done enough.
Paperwork they asked to see was:
- Risk assessments (only because of changes we had made due to the incident),
- Safeguarding policy,
- Staff files (only the oldest and the newest)
- Supervision forms,
- Paperwork around the incident,
- Staff training logs and DBS Numbers and proof I check them on the update service, and what I had done with those that where not on the update service.