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Rebecca

Ofsted's Chief Inspector at the NW Business Summit

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Today, Amanda Spielman (Ofsted's Chief Inspector) spoke at the Nursery World Business Summit in London. FSF were there, listening to and learning from, what she had to say.

Here are some of the key points from The Chief Inspector's speech: 

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  • Ofsted have worked hard to develop their highly skilled workforce. Now that they are all 'in-house' and managed in regional groups there is more consistent, high quality training to ensure that inspectors are the best they can be
  • Ofsted understand that their inspection evidence gives a 'birds-eye view' of the sector and they are careful to use what they find out to identify trends and to target their work accordingly. 
  • Ofsted remain committed to not providing a 'How to ..." manual - they will not say how things should be done. Providers must adhere to the Statutory Framework, but how they do that is a matter for them, not Ofsted. The mythbusting campaign addresses this - for example there is no requirement that setting should 'Do rolling snack' nor should we think that Ofsted believe that children should pour their own drinks at snack time (if there are other opportunities for pouring during the day). Ofsted are continuing the Mythbusting Campaign and during the speech Ms Spielman and Gill Jones HMI (described as 'Early Years Supremo' by the Chief Inspector) thanked those influential groups in the sector who have been actively contacting Ofsted with questions and confusions.
  • Ofsted fully understand the impact of the judgements they give and therefore are fully focused on ensuring that judgements are accurate. They know that a poor judgement can impact financially on a setting and that in some cases a 'bad' Ofsted can cause a setting to close. Ms Spielman stressed however, that although they understand that the consequences might be bad for the setting, the children would always come first.
  • The CIF would not have any major changes before 2018, Ofsted is looking for an extended period of stability. Any interim changes would be to provide clarity or to reflect any changes in legislation.
  • Ofsted acknowledge the poor online system that providers battle with. Ms Spielman described it as "clunky and inpenetrable". It is being revamped and will be made clearer, simpler and faster. 
  • Ms Spielman clarified points she had made recently regarding managing children's risk in early years settings. She was clear that she was not suggesting that we put children in danger, but nor do we teach them to be risk averse. As responsible providers we should be mindful of the "what ifs ..." and we should never underestimate the trust that parents put in us when they allow us to care for and educate their children. We need to allow children to try things out, to be 'risky' but whilst ensuring that we have their welfare and safety at the heart of their practice. We should continue to take children on trips, we shouldn't worry about taking children to the park - but we should always be sure that we have identified and sensibly managed the potential risks.

It was extremely encouraging that following her presentation, in a room full of sector leaders, there were no niggly questions. The only comment made was to say that since the open and transparent discussions that movements such as The Ofsted Big Conversation pioneered the relationship between the sector and Ofsted were so much more positive than they had been previously. Colleagues sitting alongside me, representing some of our sector's largest groups, commented that this was very different to how it would have been 3 or 4 years ago. We all can remember the days when Ofsted were viewed as the 'enemy' and were unobtainable and beyond challenge - the message now is very much the opposite, and it has made an enormous difference. The Early Years experience for children has no doubt benefitted and that is the most important thing.

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