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5 Key Things Ofsted Are Looking For…

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Are you a registered childminder? Do you own or manage a nursery, preschool, school or early years setting? Have you had to sign up to the Early Years Register in order to provide a service for children and young people? If the answer is yes, keep reading.

This blog will tell you the 5 key areas you should concentrate on in order to achieve the best possible Ofsted inspection results.

Your Ofsted rating matters!

A good rating can help attract more customers – and a bad rating can make it hard to bring in more children, or worse, lead to you having to close! 

In fact, your Ofsted rating is one of the first things a parent/carer will look at when selecting an early years provider. The higher your rating, the more confidence people will have in the standard of care and education you provide because of your Ofsted ‘tick of approval’.

But do not be fearful of your Ofsted inspection.

They’re not deliberately trying to catch you out. They’re just checking your setting provides the right standard of care for the little people entrusted to you. 

As nurseries and after-school club owners ourselves, we know first-hand the stress that is often associated with an Ofsted inspection. However, having the correct practices, policies  and procedures in place will help things go smoothly.

Preparation is the key to your success…

The 5 Key Things To Prepare

1: Communication & Language

Following the pandemic, there has been a significant rise in children being referred by providers for external speech and language support. Ofsted recognised this, and promoting effective communication is high on their list of priorities right now.

The ability to communicate effectively is a fundamental building block of a child’s development. As early years providers, it is our role to encourage, support and provide provisions for children to develop their communication and language skills at all levels and at every potential opportunity.

To do this, you need to create a language-rich environment. Four effective ways to do this are…

5 Key Things Ofsted
  • Reading Aloud – This is one of the most natural ways for a child to learn new vocabulary and ways of speaking.
  • Role Play – This allows children to practice using words appropriately in authentic situations.
  • Word Walls – Displaying pictures and/or words gives children constant access to the language they are learning.
  • Modelling – Staff need to use verbal and non-verbal language appropriately in order for children to copy and learn correctly.

2: Safeguarding

There probably is not one of you reading this who has not been shocked, saddened and angered when safeguarding goes horribly wrong and hits the headlines.

The safety and well-being of children are the responsibility of everyone you working with children. For safeguarding to be done well, it needs to be embedded within the daily practice of your whole team. Identifying a safeguarding lead and promoting open, honest and confidential communication with them will encourage people to speak up.

As well as mandatory safeguarding training and updates, providing regular in-house refreshers will keep people thinking about it and provide an opportunity for a Q&A session to clarify any uncertainty. Safeguarding posters in staff areas such as the break room or kitchen, and even the back of staff toilet doors, act as constant reminders.

3: Staff Support

When your staff feel motivated and engaged, they will be more likely to work to the best of their ability and provide better support to the children they care for. The 2 categories Ofsted look at are…

Well-being Support

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Do not be fooled into thinking your staff will only have great things to say about your setting. How they feel is exactly what they will tell your Ofsted Inspector. If this worries you, you need to do something about it – and quickly!

Everyone enjoys feeling appreciated, and your staff are no different. Just a verbal acknowledgement of a job well done can be enough to raise morale. Enabling staff progression through additional training is also a fantastic way to make them feel valued.

Open communication is important. Having an open-door policy in place where employees feel welcome to come and talk through any issues with you ensures they never feel overwhelmed. If that will not work for your schedule, have a set hour each day for them to do this.

Continued Professional Development

Ofsted will look at the development and progression opportunities available to your team, and that can make all the difference to your final inspection judgement.

Ensuring your training records are always kept up to date will not only ensure that all staff have correct and in-date training, but also allow the inspector, should they ask, to see with ease that all training requirements are being met. They do not want to sift through hundreds of individual certificates. Better still have the staff talk about the training they took part in….

Whilst webinars are the convenient and often cheaper training choice, ‌your staff will gain a lot more from face-to-face training and Ofsted knows it. This is because it encourages greater concentration and participation for your team to gain the knowledge needed to be outstanding.

4: Role of The Key Person

The role of the key person is being looked at more closely than ever before, and links back to your team having the skills and knowledge they need to perform their job to the best of their ability.

Ofsted will look at how well your key people understand the intent and impact of activities, how this is recorded and monitored, and how children’s learning can be enhanced in all areas of play and education.

A great key person has empathy, patience and genuine concern for the development and well-being of the children they’re responsible for. They should know everything about them to be able to offer tailored advice and support for all levels of development. Whilst making their assigned children feel safe and cared for.

5: Parent Partnerships

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A good relationship between your early years setting and parents/carers is essential for success. When a child enters your care and parents walk away, they are entrusting them to you to keep them safe and enrich their development. The only way they know what their child has achieved, done or been exposed to is through what they are told.

To reach an outstanding level you need to show Ofsted that you are committed to communicating and involving parents in their child’s learning experience. To achieve this you can implement electronic journals and/or a verbal hand over at pick up.

The language your staff use is important. Parents want to know that their child is developing more than what they had to eat at snack time. Instead of saying ‘Jennie played with the building blocks’ say ‘Jennie practised her co-ordination, spatial awareness and fine motor skills while enjoying building towers out of blocks’.

Everything Has To Be Working In Cohesion On The Day To Get The Best Results

Preparation is key for achieving a high Ofsted rating.

Practice will make it perfect.

If you are interested in having an Ofsted Experience Day to make sure you and your team are fully prepared for the real thing, call us on 0845 139 2070. You can also email, or fill in the form on our contact page and we’ll get back to you as soon as possible.

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