This article is the first of two that will provide the information you will need , as a childminder, to review and evaluate your EYFS provision. Having reviewed over fifty recent inspection reports, we can see that there is a definite pattern of focus. Of course, future inspections may have a change of focus, but the two articles from the Foundation Stage Forum will give you a base from where you can start to reflect on your provision.
I suggest that you start a self-evaluation exercise by reading through the inspectors' statements, reflecting on your setting and whether or not such judgements would be an accurate reflection of your provision.
The Ofsted reports begin with a brief description of the setting and a small section entitled Overall Effectiveness of the Early Years Provision, which summarises the main findings. The main sections of the report follow:
What Steps Need to be Taken to Improve Provision Further?
This section lists as bullet points, the recommendations that have been made for the setting to improve.
The Effectiveness of Leadership and Management of the Early Years Provision
The following topics were usually covered:
- Organisation and documentation
- Resources and the learning environment
- Health and safety, and risk assessment
- Partnerships with parents and others
- Inclusion and diversity
- Self-evaluation and professional development
The Quality and Standards of the Early Years Provision
The following topics were usually covered:
- The EYFS curriculum
- Observation, assessment, record keeping and planning
- Behaviour management
- Healthy lifetstyle choices, personal care, independence and emotional development
In this first article we will be looking at the inspectors' recommendations for improving the provision, and the effectiveness of leadership and management of the early years provision.
What steps need to be taken to improve provision further?
Recommendations and actions tended to be grouped according to the following categories:
- Observation, assessment and planning
- Inclusion and diversity
- Links with others
- Risk assessments, safeguarding, and health and safety
- Partnerships with parents
- The EYFS
Observation, assessment and planning
- improve the use of information gathered about children's learning to enhance their good progress towards the early learning goals with particular reference to identifying starting points, using next steps to inform the planning and showing progression
- develop the use of systematic observations and assessments of children's achievements, interests and learning styles to plan relevant and motivating play experiences for each child
- use observations and assessments to identify learning priorities and plan relevant and motivating learning experiences for each child
- make initial and periodic summary assessments to show how children are progressing and use these to plan next steps in conjunction with parents and any other involved childcare providers
- develop further the use of children's assessment records so that they can be used effectively to inform planning, identify next steps in children's learning and build on what they already know
- develop a monitoring system to ensure that children continue to make maximum progress in each area of learning
- plan and provide experiences which are appropriate to each child's stage of development as they progress towards the early learning goals; this refers to activities designed to promote understanding of equality, culture and beliefs, and disabilities
Inclusion and diversity
- continue to develop the educational programme for children's knowledge and understanding of the world by providing further opportunities for children to begin to know about their own cultures and beliefs and those of other people
- develop the range of toys and resources that enable young children to gain a positive view of diversity
Links with others
- develop further the links with all other settings providing for children in the Early Years Foundation Stage to ensure continuity and coherence to support outcomes for children
- develop systems to obtain a two-way flow of information with other early years providers to ensure consistency with children's learning and progression is achieved
- promote effective continuity and progression by sharing relevant information about children's learning and development with other providers of the Early Years Foundation Stage
- develop systems to build links with other agencies and providers offering the Early Years Foundation Stage to ensure all adults communicate and work together for the benefit of each child and continuity in their learning
- use self evaluation and quality improvement processes as the basis of ongoing internal review
- improve systems for self-evaluation to include children and parents to identify strengths and priorities for development that will improve the quality of provision
- develop further the systems of self-evaluation to ensure that future developments and improvements can be effectively tracked and monitored with regards to their impact on outcomes for children
- develop systems of self-evaluation to identify the setting's strengths and priorities for development that will improve the quality of provision for all children
Risk assessments, safeguarding, and health and safety
- update the record of risk assessments to include any assessments of risks for outings and trips
- review the use of risk assessments to ensure that they cover all aspects of the service provided to include regular outings undertaken by the children
- ensure that outings are planned using specific risks assessments which can be reviewed each time that outing is undertaken
- make a record of risk assessments for all areas of the home, clearly stating when it was carried out, by whom, date of review and any action taken following a review or incident
- update knowledge and understanding of child protection issues and procedures to ensure children's welfare is safeguarded
- ensure that all policies and procedures work effectively, in particular, provide a lost child procedure; ensure that the daily register is kept accurate as children arrive and depart; and ensure that accident and medication records are robustly maintained to protect all parties
- carry out regular evacuation drills with all aged children and record the details in a fire log book of any problems encountered and how they were resolved
Partnerships with parents
- develop the systems for regularly sharing information with parents and carers about children's assessment and their next steps
- seek further information from parents when children first attend in respect of their current stage of development and capabilities, to inform initial planning for individual progress
- request written parental permission at the start of a childminding arrangement, to seek any necessary emergency medical advice or treatment in the future
- increase knowledge of the Early Years Foundation Stage to ensure opportunities to fully extend children's learning and development are incorporated within the activities and play opportunities
The effectiveness of leadership and management of the early years provision
Organisation and documentation
- The childminder is well organised. She uses her excellent knowledge of child development and the early years foundation framework to ensure children are well cared for, safe and able to make very good developmental progress.
- All regulatory documentation is in place and stored effectively to maintain confidentially. Children's health is well promoted through the effective procedures that the childminder adopts.
- The records, policies and procedures necessary to support the children's welfare and development are in place and implemented effectively.
- She makes her service very clear, using a welcome portfolio and a full set of policies and procedures which parents keep their own copies of. However, she has omitted the procedures to be followed in the event of a child going missing, and does not presently give copies of all policies to parents of older children.
- The registration and public liability insurance certificates are displayed and information about individual children is well-organised for easy reference and maintenance of confidentiality.
- All the required documentation, policies and procedures are in place to promote children's well-being. This is made accessible to parents and the childminder is aware of the importance of regularly reviewing and updating her paperwork to ensure it meets requirements.
- The childminder ensures relevant documentation is displayed for parents to see; for example, her certificate of registration, public liability insurance and first aid certificate.
- Documentation is comprehensive, clearly formatted and is effectively organised to support the efficient and safe management of the provision. There are sound policies and procedures in place that safeguard all children.
Resources and the learning environment
- Children have access to a range of good quality resources, which are appropriately stored to promote their independence and freedom of choice.
- Children have ample space to explore the homely and well managed environment.
- Toys and resources are stored at a low level to enable children to access them freely in order to initiate their own play and learning.
- Children learn about the wider world through regular discussions and have access to a good range of resources and books which depict race, culture and disability.
- The childminder uses the space available well to allow children to play with different activities. For example, older children can use the dining room table with toys that are not appropriate for the younger children whilst they are playing in the lounge.
- The resources are well organised and are displayed to encourage children to not only self-select for themselves but also give an understanding of how to sort and organise them to pack them away when they have finished playing with them.
- The range of resources are supplemented by those borrowed from the local children's centre, which encourage children to look at the world around them and the wider world.
- The childminder organises resources with full regard to each child's age and stage of development.
- The organisation of the learning environment and the good range of high-quality, stimulating resources are effectively deployed to allow children to choose with safety and independence.
- The main play area is decorated with a combination of children's photographs and posters promoting children's self-worth and positive contribution.
- Arrangements to safeguarding children are robust, the childminder makes use of safeguarding information such as Local Safeguarding Children Board guidance and training to ensure policies and procedures are effective.
- Suitability checks have been completed on persons who have access to the children which provides reassurance for parents.
- Sound procedures are in place to enable the childminder to identify any child at risk of harm or neglect, and ensure concerns are shared with appropriate child agencies.
- The childminder has a sound knowledge and understanding of child protection issues and has formulated effective procedures in support of this area of her work.
- The childminder has obtained details of who has parental responsibility and who is able to collect each child.
- She has a good understanding of child protection procedures and all adults in the home are vetted.
- The childminder only takes photos with parental consent and is vigilant and age-appropriate in teaching children how to play safely and take reasonable risks.
- Children are safeguarded as the childminder demonstrates a secure understanding of her responsibilities with regards to protecting the children in her care. She is fully aware of the possible signs of abuse and neglect and has kept her knowledge up-to-date through regular training.
- All members of the household hold full Criminal Records Bureau checks and the childminder has a good understanding of how to protect the children from non-vetted visitors to the home.
- She has a robust policy which she shares in writing with all parents and includes the procedures to follow should an allegation being made against herself or a member of the household.
Health and safety and risk assessment
- The premises are well maintained safe and secure. Well managed risk assessments are conducted regularly to identify potential hazards allowing the childminder to take steps to minimise any risks to children both indoors or outside.
- Children are taught to be safety conscious through discussions about safety and are shown how to adopt safe and responsible practices in play.
- There are good arrangements in place to promote children's good health and well-being and to prevent the spread of infection.
- The childminder holds a current first aid certificate and has good procedures in place for managing accidents and administering medication.
- Risk assessments for the home and outings are undertaken to minimise risks for children but the record does not include risks for outings which means there is potential for the assessments to fail to fully protect children.
- Children are encouraged to learn about personal safety and follow emergency evacuation routines. Safety is promoted as they review the displayed house rules and listen carefully when reminded to walk indoors telling the childminder that they may trip and fall if they run.
- Procedures for illness and medication are planned and meet all requirements helping to maintain children's wellbeing.
- The childminder keeps the house exits locked and uses safety equipment, such as listening devices and safety gates which are appropriate to the ages of the children in attendance.
- The emergency evacuation plan has been practised with the children and there is a nearby emergency back-up childminder.
- The childminder records significant accidents, but has not been robust enough about formal medication and accident records. As a result, some medication has been given with only verbal consent from parents, with written notes made only in the child's daily diary, rather than signed consents and acknowledgements in the medication and accident record book.
- Written risk assessments and daily checks are undertaken to ensure that the home and garden are safe for play and safety issues in the new home addressed. However, the risk assessment for outings is general and does not effectively support the safe conduct of each specific outing.
- Children develop their understanding of safety through regular discussions about road and fire safety. They regularly take part in the fire evacuation procedure which develops their understating of keeping safe.
- The childminder has practised fire evacuation procedures with some of the minded children. However, she has not yet carried these out with the very youngest children to ensure she is confident that these procedures are effective for non-mobile children. Furthermore, the childminder has not kept a record of drills as well as details of any problems encountered and how they were resolved.
- Most policies, procedures and necessary records are in place and used effectively to promote children's health, safety and welfare whilst at the setting. However, the childminder has not shared information with parents relating to the procedures she would follow should a child go missing.
- Appropriate procedures are in place for recording accidents and any medication administered to children. The childminder holds a first aid qualification which ensures that she is able to deal with minor injuries effectively.
- When taking children out the childminder ensures she has a first aid box, her mobile telephone and cards with contact details of parents should an emergency arise. When travelling in the car the children are in stage appropriate car seats.
Partnerships with parents and others
- The childminder has developed a good working relationship with parents and carers. She is flexible in meeting their needs and encourages parents to join in with activities with the children.
- Parents are kept informed about events in the setting and their child's progress through daily verbal discussions, information recorded in a daily diary and by sharing children's development folders.
- The views of parents are valued and their suggestions and ideas acted upon. A recent questionnaire gave rise to the introduction children's learning words in French and German as suggested by a parent.
- The childminder works extremely well with other settings children attend, sharing information on children's welfare and development to ensure a consistency of care and learning overall.
- The childminder is beginning to establish a relationship with other educational placements that children attend but this is insufficiently developed to ensure continuity and coherence with those placements with regard to supporting outcomes for children.
- Parents are provided with a range of policies and procedures and information in support of the service provided.
- Children's achievements are shared verbally on a daily basis and also through the use of pictorial activity learning journals that their children make which help to foster a partnership to learning.
- A daily diary and time spent talking to parents ensures that they are well informed of the progress their children are making, and that all necessary details of their routines and experiences are communicated each day.
- Daily verbal communication together with text messages ensures parents are well informed of their children's care and progress.
- Although the childminder does not currently care for any children attending different settings, she understands the importance of sharing information with other Early Years Foundation Stage providers to provide a continuity of care and consistent learning experience for children.
- Frequent review of contracts and in-depth daily communication enable families to take an active part in the setting.
- Good links with the playgroup that children attend are developing. Discussion, knowledge of the routine and permission to share the children's records are in place to ensure that information is regularly shared to promote children's achievements and continuity in their care.
- The childminder is committed to building good positive relationships with both parents and other provisions. She demonstrates a clear understanding of how these partnerships are effective in supporting children's learning and development.
- Partnership with parents are carers is extensive and worthwhile. Parents sign each of the policies and procedures ensuring they are fully aware each other's responsibilities.
- Parents can access their children's learning journeys at any time and each month they are invited to stay for longer to discuss their individual child, their achievements and to discuss their next steps. They are given good quality information about the early learning goals and the progress their children are making.
- The childminder builds close working relationships with parents and others who care for children. For example, she is working closely with one mother to ease their child's transition to full-time nursery by attending a stay and play session there prior to moving.
- Parents are invited to contribute their views of her practice; there are many examples of parents' appreciation of the care she offers their children.
- Complementary written comments were viewed and parents express their satisfaction by commending the childminder on the individual care that is provided and the range of activities that are available for children. There are also positive written comments from the minded children.
- The childminder realises the value of working with other services and there is much documentary evidence to show how she takes an holistic approach to consider the care offered by the wider community. She is an active member of a local childminders' group and helps organise activities at a local toddler group.
- Photographs of children involved in activities are put on CD's and memory sticks for parents to share what children have been doing during the day.
Inclusion and diversity
- The childminder actively promotes equality of opportunity, children are seen as unique individuals, she uses information provided by parents and her ongoing observations to ensure that children's individual needs are met well.
- The childminder offers an inclusive service to children in her care and ensures that she works with parents to understand each child as an individual. She is aware of children's individual learning styles and uses this when organising the day, thereby, ensuring that each child achieves.
- Children explore the local community and have some opportunities to develop an interest in the wider world. However, they have few opportunities to fully explore cultural awareness and the diversity of the wider world around them.
- The childminder generally promotes inclusion as she makes sure the activities, toys and resources on offer suitably meet the needs of those attending. However, there are few toys, resources and images that help children to gain a positive view of diversity.
- The childminder takes detailed information about any special dietary restrictions and works closely with parents to ensure children's individual dietary needs are met.
- She has a high regard for equality and diversity and helps children learn to recognise and value the differences they observe in others.
- She has a good knowledge and experience of caring for children with specific needs and ensuring their full inclusion in her provision, for example, incorporating physiotherapy exercises into games and songs which all children enjoy.
Self-evaluation and professional development
- The childminder is well qualified and experienced, and she is proactive in updating her knowledge and understanding of childcare issues through training, accessing information such as publications produced by the department for children, schools and families and information on the Internet.
- The childminder has completed an in-depth self-evaluation identifying her strengths and areas for improvement; these include developing further opportunities for children to learn about diversity and to continue to develop the outside play area to provide more challenge for children as their developing needs change as they grow.
- She is a member of the National Childminding Association and the local childminding support group and has completed a quality assurance award.
- The childminder shows an awareness of development and seeks informal feedback from parents to ensure that her care is having a positive effect on outcomes for children.
- She has attended all required training and is open to continued learning in the future.
- Self evaluation processes have been considered but do not yet form the basis of internal review to focus strengths or areas for development.
- The childminder shows a strong commitment to sustaining and improving the quality of the provision that she provides. She has begun to reflect upon her service which has allowed her to clearly pinpoint her priorities for her future development to ensure the continued outcomes for children.
- The childminder is able and enthusiastic to continuously improve, and works hard to meet the needs of each child while they are present.
- The childminder has a sufficient understanding of her strengths and weaknesses and is using the Ofsted self-evaluation tool to help her identify priorities for improving her childminding srervice. She is hoping to undertake further training, including safeguarding.
- The use of self-evaluation is developing. The childminder uses the Ofsted document to evaluate the strengths of her setting and is able to identify some of her priorities for future improvement. However, this needs to be further developed to include views from parents and children.
- Even though this is her first inspection since registration, the childminder demonstrates a sound commitment towards maintaining continuous improvement and through discussion and feedback from her Early Years advisor, is aware of the strengths and some areas for development of her provision.
- The childminder constantly evaluates her own practice; she has sent questionnaires to the parents and has had the local childminder network coordinator in to support and develop her practise.
- She attends courses to keep her skills and knowledge up to date and has a clear vision as to the direction she wishes her practice to develop.
- She has recently become a mentor for new childminders and is committed to ongoing professional development. She has recently completed a level 3 qualification in childcare.
- He links with his co-childminder and contributes towards on-going discussions to evaluate the success of the day. However, systems to effectively reflect and identify all areas for improvement are not yet fully established.