About Us


100 Ofsted reports - Part 3: professional development and staff well-being

Expectations for the monitoring of staff practice, supervision, professional development and well-being

What does the Early years inspection handbook say about this aspect of leadership and management in early years settings?

'Inspectors will gather evidence of the effectiveness of staff supervision….how effectively leaders engage with staff and make sure they are aware of and manage any of the main pressures on them' (page 19).

'Inspectors should consider how effectively senior leaders use performance management…to provide a focus for professional development activities, particularly in relation to increasing children’s vocabulary and cultural capital' (page 19).

The ‘good’ descriptors for leadership and management (page 38) include:

'Leaders focus on improving practitioners’ knowledge of the areas of learning and understanding of how children learn to enhance the teaching of the curriculum and appropriate use of assessment. The practice and subject knowledge of practitioners build and improve over time. Leaders have effective systems in place for the supervision and support of staff.'

 'Leaders engage with their staff and are aware of the main pressures on them. They are realistic and constructive in the way they manage staff, including their workload.'

For a setting to be judged outstanding in leadership and management, the provider must meet all of the descriptors for good leadership and management securely and consistently. In addition, the following descriptors apply:

 'Leaders ensure that they and practitioners receive focused and highly effective professional development. Practitioners’ subject, pedagogical content and knowledge consistently builds and develops over time, and this consistently translates into improvements in the teaching of the curriculum.'

' Leaders ensure that highly effective and meaningful engagement takes place with staff at all levels and that any issues are identified. When issues are identified –in particular about workload –they are consistently dealt with appropriately and quickly.'

 'Staff consistently report high levels of support for well-being issues.'

Monitoring staff practice

In the same way that a teacher or practitioner must first understand what a child knows and can do before deciding what that child needs to learn next, a leader or manager needs to go through this same process with their staff. This begins with observing staff in their day to day interactions with children, parents, carers and colleagues. The leader needs to identify staff’s strengths and areas for improvement.

Ofsted reports have focused on this. Good settings are where:

The manager monitors staff practice and overall, helps them to identify their strengths and areas for improvement.

The manager carries out observations of staff practice effectively. She uses the findings to identify future training opportunities to further enhance the quality of teaching.

The manager supports staff well in their professional development. For example, she observes their practice and gives feedback on what they do well and advice on where they can improve their teaching further to enhance children’s learning.   

The manager makes sure that each member of staff’s practice is monitored and any issues are identified and planned for. This helps to make sure that staff’s teaching is consistently strong and that children develop the skills they need in readiness for school.

Managers have effective systems in place to monitor staff’s performance and assess their workload. They guide and support staff with suggestions and targets for staff’s self-improvement.

Leaders observe staff’s practice to ensure teaching has a positive impact on all children’s learning.

Leaders monitor and coach staff superbly. For example, they use highly effective supervision to set targets to continually develop staff practice.

The manager has introduced good systems to support staff’s professional development. For instance, she observes staff working with the children and gives feedback on their performance.

Inspectors have also praised the use of peer-to-peer support:

Leaders encourage a working environment where staff feel confident to give each other feedback on their practice.

Management regularly monitor staff’s practice and encourage staff to actively participate in reviewing each other’s practice well.

The manager observes staff teaching and oversees the peer observations completed by staff on one another’s teaching.

Leaders provide staff with regular professional development opportunities. They use different methods to help staff to strengthen their good-quality teaching practice, including video observations and peer-on-peer observations.


No matter how the leader records what has been observed, be it on paper or using an online system such as Tapestry, the next stage is to feedback to staff, identifying areas of strength and discussing ways of improving practice. Therefore, supervisions are established, regular events in good settings:

The manager supports staff, through effective supervision and regular staff meetings, to continually develop their teaching.

The manager carries out regular staff supervision sessions and provides staff with some coaching to improve their personal effectiveness.

Staff benefit from effective induction and regular supervision meetings to help them understand their role and how they may develop their practice.

Leaders and managers know their staff well. They offer them good support. For example, leaders allocate a mentor to all new members of staff. They have weekly meetings to discuss their progress.

Managers highlight professional development opportunities to strengthen staff knowledge further. Staff feel the regular supervision meetings help them to improve their teaching.

Managers supervise staff and offer them feedback to help them strengthen their skills.

Leaders provide staff with effective supervision and ongoing support to help them to develop their practice.

Professional development

The prime reason for supporting staff development is of course to raise standards in the provision and to ensure that children make the best possible progress.  A focus on the continued development of staff practice is clear in the reports. Good settings are where:

Leaders maintain a strong focus on ensuring that staff expertise can support further improvements. For instance, they supervise staff performance regularly and provide a robust programme of training to develop subject knowledge.

Staff attend regular training to support their professional development. As a result, children benefit from improved experiences delivered by well-qualified and experienced staff.

Staff are supported and given time to access a wide range of professional development opportunities, such as professional reading, training and research. Staff are confident to implement their ideas to contribute to the nursery’s continued development.

Good use of training, coaching and supervision meetings to develop staff’s knowledge and experience helps to improve practice and outcomes for children.

Leaders give staff regular feedback on their performance through observation and supervision. They provide training for staff and measure the impact this has on practice and provision.

Staff have regular supervision sessions where they meet with management on a one-to-one basis to discuss training needs in order to raise the quality of teaching.

The provider and manager ensure staff have plenty of opportunities to develop their knowledge and practice.

Targets for professional development mean that staff’s knowledge and skills continuously improve.

They (manager and provider) support the staff well, overall, to develop their skills and knowledge of how young children learn and develop.

The leader has now identified staff strengths and areas for development and has discussed their findings. Training comes next: how do leaders ensure that staff receive the training they need to address their identified improvement targets? Good settings are where:

The manager regularly reviews staff training and, together with staff, looks to support any areas for further development.

Leaders and managers support the staff well. They encourage them to pursue their professional development, for example, through research and training.

The manager ensures that staff receive appropriate training and support to consistently enhance their teaching and skills.

Managers encourage staff to attend courses and to observe each other to share good practice.

Staff attend regular team meetings and have one-to-one support sessions with the manager. They are positive about the training opportunities available to them to help improve their knowledge and skills.

Staff benefit from highly focused performance management systems and excellent opportunities to develop their skills, knowledge and qualifications.

The manager ensures that staff receive ongoing training that is relevant to the needs of the particular children that attend.

Leaders ensure staff receive focused support and training that has the greatest impact on the outcomes for the children.


Children deserve the very best staff with the highest possible qualifications and professional development opportunities, clearly. But they also deserve staff who are not overloaded with work to the extent they are not able to give their best. Well-being is a major new feature of the recent Ofsted reports, where inspectors are investigating how staff well-being is supported in good settings:

During their supervision meetings, staff discuss many aspects of their job including their well-being.

Staff’s emotional well-being is supported. There is a comfortable staff room and they are provided with regular breaks. Staff report that they feel listened to and that their contributions are valued.

The provider supports staff well. For example, she gives them sufficient time away from working directly with the children to keep up to date with administrative duties, including developing their planning and key-children’s development records.

The health and well-being of the staff team is very important to them (leaders).

Managers take the happiness and well-being of staff members very seriously. As a result, they retain highly experienced staff who have been at the setting for a long time.

There have been numerous references to workload, too:

The manager and her deputy are proactive at supporting staff with their professional development and well-being. Staff report that their workload is managed well.

The manager reviews staff’s workloads and finds ways to ensure paperwork is effective but also kept to a minimum. Staff have time for administrative tasks during the working day and this is organised so there is no impact on staff’s abilities to teach or care for children.

Managers ensure that staff have time to manage their workload and keep children’s assessments up to date.

The manager carefully considers the well-being of herself and her staff to help achieve a clear work and home-life balance.

Management provides good levels of support to staff to ensure they keep up to date with their knowledge and skills and to ensure their well-being. Staff complete well-being questionnaires and have time away from the children to complete their observations and assessments, which allows them to be more focused when working directly with the children.

Managers encourage staff to use their time effectively to meet children’s learning needs and help them reduce the workload.

Managers seek the honest views of staff about their work-life balance, such as through questionnaires. They implement successful strategies to help staff to manage their workload effectively. This is illustrated by regular planning, preparation and assessment time for staff, and allocated in the nursery day for completing training.

Leaders support staff’s professional development very well and ensure staff’s workload is manageable and does not have a negative impact on their well-being.

Managers support staff well. They listen to their views and opinions and ensure that time with the children takes priority over paperwork.

Leaders provide staff with non-contact time to complete assessments to reduce workload.

What happens when performance management is not good enough?

Some extracts from reports where inspectors have identified weaknesses:

Their (staff) teaching targets are not specifically tailored to making sure the quality of education is of the highest quality, for example to improve the minor weaknesses in the implementation and impact of whole-group teaching activities.

The manager does not use the supervision system in place to its full extent, to help her precisely identify ways to raise the quality of teaching to an outstanding level.

Performance management arrangements are in place. However, these are not yet fully embedded or focused enough to enable all staff to reflect and build on their teaching practice.

The manager has systems in place to monitor and support practitioners. However, it is not yet focused sharply enough on helping to enhance the quality of teaching to the highest levels.

Managers regularly monitor and evaluate the quality of the provision and support staff well. However, they have not retained a high quality of teaching since the previous inspection.

The monitoring of staff practice is not fully effective in sustaining the quality of teaching to a consistently outstanding level.

The manager has not fully reviewed the effectiveness of the recently introduced programme of supervision meetings and monitoring of staff practice. Opportunities to share skills and knowledge between the staff are not fully in place to help raise practice even further.

Evaluations do not focus sufficiently on how teaching can be improved, in order to help the manager identify precisely where she needs to provide support and raise teaching to outstanding.

The ambitious manager makes good use of appraisals to provide staff with regular feedback on their performance.  However, the arrangements for the ongoing supervision of staff are not strong enough to clearly identify how individual staff members can raise the quality of their teaching practice to the highest level.

The manager focuses clearly on staff’s professional development and supports them well. However, observations of staff do not help her to identify the weaknesses in their interactions with children.


From monitoring and supervision of staff, and supporting professional development, through to training to raise the quality of teaching, here are some of the most common types of recommendations in this aspect of the inspection framework:

Make better use of peer observations to provide the manager with more in-depth evaluations of practice aimed at improving the quality of teaching to an outstanding level.

Embed monitoring systems for staff performance to ensure staff can reflect and strengthen the already good quality of teaching and secure the very best outcomes for children.

Build on the good systems for staff supervision and support, to further develop their skills to help enrich the practice and raise the teaching to an even higher level.

Build on and evaluate the effectiveness of the new programme of supervision and monitoring, and encourage staff to share their skills and knowledge to help raise the quality of practice even further.

Develop further support and guidance for new and less qualified staff to raise the quality of teaching and interactions to the highest level, in particular to ensure consistency in supporting children's communication and language and management of their behaviours.

Strengthen the supervision of staff to precisely identify their professional development needs and raise the quality of teaching to an outstanding level.

Focus on supporting new staff in their professional development to raise the quality of teaching to a consistently high standard.

Establish a focused programme of training to support continuous professional development for all adults working with children to raise the quality of the provision to the highest level.

Seek professional development opportunities to enhance her own skills and knowledge, including to keep up to date with any changes in the sector.

Help staff to strengthen their understanding about the progression of children's learning and apply this consistently when deciding what to teach children next.

Strengthen partnerships with staff in other early years settings to develop even more effective ways to share information and extend opportunities for staff and children to learn from others in the local area.

Provide more opportunities for staff's professional development to extend the quality of teaching to the highest level.

Develop further practitioners' skills and confidence so that they can take every opportunity to extend children's learning as they engage with them in their play.

Support all staff members to make the most of opportunities for continued professional development to improve the quality of teaching even further.

Strengthen staff's understanding of the developmental stages children go through to develop skills, such as early writing, to plan more effectively for their learning.



Helen Edwards
Helen was a primary school teacher before setting up and running her own nursery for ten years. She worked as a Foundation Stage advisor for East Sussex local authority before achieving EYPS with the first cohort of candidates at the University of Brighton. She was an EYPS assessor for two providers in the South East, a reflective practice tutor at the University of Brighton and an Ofsted inspector. She is a Director of the Foundation Stage Forum and a member of the Tapestry Education Group.

User Feedback

Recommended Comments

There are no comments to display.