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Abandoned Ofsted Inspection


Guest Wolfie
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Guest Wolfie

Well I've had a new experience this week, persuading Ofsted inspectors to abandon their inspection of our Centre!

 

On Monday, our Head of Centre had a phonecall from Tribal (contracted by Ofsted to carry out inspections) to say that two inspectors would be carrying out a Section 5 inspection of our Centre today. I pointed out that a Section 5 is a SCHOOL inspection and that we needed to question whether it should take place - we are an early years setting and should have a no-notice inspection.

 

To cut a very long story short, the lead inspector insisted that they were right and that the inspection would go ahead. So we submitted the requested paperwork - our CHILDREN'S CENTRE SEF and other documents...and also didn't submit other requested documents that we didn't have because we're NOT a school..... - and yesterday received a pre-inspection briefing which made our hearts sink because the inspector clearly did not have a clue about how Children's Centres work and the range of services we offer and only wanted to concentrate on collecting numerical data about the attainment of 3 and 4 year olds in the nursery. THe briefing showed a vague awareness that there were some little people in the Centre under the age of three but it was obvious that the inspectors had no interest in what we were doing with them or with parents and carers! Again we emailed with our concerns and again were told that the insepction would go ahead in its planned format.

 

I spent HOURS on the Ofsted website last night, reading every single document of guidance for inspectors, and went to bed knowing that we were going to be inspected under the wrong framework and wouldn't be allowed to "shine" in the way that we could under the appropriate framework.

 

So, the two inspectors arrived at 8am and we had planned a full programme for them so that they spent time in each of the three rooms and in one of the groups for parents and children together, talked to parents, some of whom have children with additional needs and are receiving the Early Support package, talked to our partners in Health and Social Services and also obviosuly had time to study documentation. But no - we were told to cancel all the parents, they wouldn't have much time to spend in groups or rooms, they just wanted to study data, .etc.etc. The senior management team, of which I am one, were called in for a meeting and we each had to outline our role. They listened to and questioned me in some depth - I am the QTS on the team - but as we went round the table and each of my colleagues spoke about their respective roles I could see them thinking that what they were listening to wasn't relevant to their remit and they almost visibly switched off!! How rude!

 

At this point Wolfie saw red! I asked WHY we were being inspected as a school and that the school framework didn't reflect what we offered and provided to families and was told "although you provide CARE for the under 3s, you only provide EDUCATION for the 3s and 4s and the inspection is to look at the quality of that". Apparently at that stage I pulled a face never seen before by the rest of the team and which stopped the lead inspector in her tracks! I don't recall it at all, I must have gone into auto-pilot! So, although we all know that the care and education of young children is seamless and cannot be separated, Ofsted inspectors have yet to be informed of this! AAAGGGHHHH!

 

I came out of the meeting despondent and dejected, sure that by the end of the day that we would be a school in special measures....EVEN THOUGH WE ARE NOT A SCHOOL!! But, lo and behold, ten minutes later our Head of Centre danced into the office and announced that the inspectors had abandoned their inspection because...wait for it....we are not a school! HOO - BLOOMING-RAY!

 

I didn't think I was going to rant in this post but I obviously have - sorry! I just wanted to share the experience to see if anyone has gone through anything similar?? Apparently there is a new inspection framework for Children's Centres being developed and due to be rolled out next year -anyone know anymore about this?

 

Top tip - don't hesitate to question Ofsted if you have a conviction that any aspect of an inspection is being carried out inappropriately. We ARE the experts, we know what we are doing and why we are doing it - and we also know what kind of setting we are!!

 

Rant over. :o

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What AN ABSOLUTE WASTE OF TIME!!!!!!

 

I trust you'll be putting in a formal complaint! What idiots!

How DARE they say that the 'small people' don't have any education, how insulting - did you wave the EYFS at them?

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The sooner they sort all this out the better. Good for you Wolfie to bring it to their attention. For example a local CC has a maintained nursery and was inspected under Section Five. It is staffed with 2 QTS and a Level 4, a Level 3 and some level 1's and 2's depending on numbers and who is in or out. The inspectors had a brief look around the other services but concentrated on the Nursery and all the usual attainment, etc. They came from the school arm of OFSTED. The rest of the Centre, including the maintained nursery as well, have been inspected under the care standards with a no notice inspection. I had read that a new inspection regime was being developed to deal with the changes in the Early Years sector. It is a case of inspection regimes not keeping up with the changes. Every centre seems to operate differently, and some of these are attached to schools and also have some of, or all the services such as wrap around, day-care, family learning, childminder's groups, training and resource centres, medical and social services provision, counselling and goodness knows what else besides.

I think that there should be a level playing field for all EYFS providers instead of one for maintained and another for PVI, but goodness knows how that would work where schools have their own nurseries. Inspectors will be looking for progression and continuity. Perhaps ensuring that there is one regime for all EYFS settings would support those teachers in school settings who can sometimes find it difficult to work in the way they should, because of the pressure from other parts of the school and with some a lack of understanding of child development. I can understand why a care inspection is no notice, but otherwise why no notice? After all they should be supporting good practice not policing it. If the paperwork isn't done, the children's records are not in place, and artificial activities are available, a good inspector, of which there are very many, would spot that when they walked through the door.

They certainly need to sit down and do some joined up thinking. Let's hope this experience of yours will be a catalyst for change.

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The nursery class I work in is based in a Children' Centre as it is attached to the school. The CC was inspected under the school inspection, the inspector had no real knowledge of the EYFS, she barely spent any time observing the practice (less than 30 mins), asked the staff no questions, as would be done in a proper EYFS inspection and hardly knew anything of the planning and observation process. All she was worried about were the attainment figures! Having experienced 'real' early years inspections in a day care setting, I can now see the difference between school and daycare EYFS inspections and feel it is unfair. The CC did receive an outstanding, but I can't see how an inspector can make such a judgement without spending much time on the 'shop floor' talking to the staff who work there. :o

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I think it must depend on who you get, as I have always been lucky enough to be inspected by an EY's inspector who knew exactly what they were looking for and at. Last time it was an HMI who was paying particular attention to the EY's curriculum and training another inspector.

School inspections are based on the SMT 'proving' the SEF, and showing how they are addressing needs, rather than looking closely at individual teaching. They are very data based and the data tells it's own story. This will be tested against similar schools, groups of pupils, ethnicity etc. etc. A lot of data will be from the LA as well. As far as individual teaching goes they will be looking at the SLT's teaching observations, not relying purely on their own observations, other than testing whether the SLT's judgements are accurate reflections of what is happening. They will only sample a small amount of teaching and will decide what to observe from the SEF. If what they see confirms what is in the SEF then fine, if not then alarm bells ring and they will look more closely then. They will be very concerned if a rosy picture is painted when that is not so. It is about being sure that the SLT and Governors have a realistic view of the school and can plan for school improvement. SLT are those responsible for the quality within a school and their job is to do the groundwork not OFSTED. This is a big change from the past when a large team came in for up to 4 days and spent most of their time in the classrooms. Remember school OFSTED inspectors are usually very experienced and can tell a lot in a small time. Woe betide a school that is not up to scratch! I know when we are proud of ourselves we want to show them everything we love, but they come from a different perspective.

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Well done Wolfie for standing your ground! I'd love to have seen 'the face'!

If you hadn't been so consistent and assertive it could have been a whole different story. So well done for looking after yourself, your staff, your setting and the children for standing up for what you believe!

 

JacquieL, that was a really good, clear and non-emotive explanation of how school OFSTEDs work - it was really helpful to read, so thank you! It gave sensible reasons for why they are so data driven and not so interested in the things we love that we want to show them. I still don't like it, but a rational view was good to read!

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As far as I know and please don't quote me, it's been a long day...

the new pilot inspections for children's centres started in April. You can volunteer for one, which means you will get some notice and the outcomes won't go to the website. In the meantime cc inspections will continue as normal too, as usual without prior notice. A number of CCs in most disadvantaged areas likely to be chosen for an inspection under new guidelines - as part of he pilot without the volunteering bit. I think this info might be on the website part of me is quite tempted to volunteer, but other member of management team not sure as cc SEF is complete, business plan is nearly done. We don't have an ofsted sef, still trying to find out about this.

 

 

BTW well done you for fighting your corner x

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Guest Wolfie
As far as I know and please don't quote me, it's been a long day...

the new pilot inspections for children's centres started in April. You can volunteer for one, which means you will get some notice and the outcomes won't go to the website. In the meantime cc inspections will continue as normal too, as usual without prior notice. A number of CCs in most disadvantaged areas likely to be chosen for an inspection under new guidelines - as part of he pilot without the volunteering bit. I think this info might be on the website part of me is quite tempted to volunteer, but other member of management team not sure as cc SEF is complete, business plan is nearly done. We don't have an ofsted sef, still trying to find out about this.

 

 

BTW well done you for fighting your corner x

 

Thank you for that information longway round. This is something that I think we might now be extremely interested in! Yesterday we were saying how we would love to be part of the working party who develop the framework for inspecting CCs and this might be the next best thing!

 

Have you any more information or do you know who it would be best to contact? We ARE a Phase 1 Centre.

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Guest Wolfie
I certainly hope that those working in CC's are part of the working party. Some sort of common framework for EY's settings and CC's needs developing properly asap.

 

An update - thanks to that information from longwayround we have now "expressed our interest" in being part of the pilot round of inspections of CCs. I spoke to a very nice lady at Ofsted who asked us to submit all our details for consideration to be included in the autumn round of inspections. Watch this space! :o

 

By the way, I'm still furiously chuntering about what happened yesterday! It would make a good essay question wouldn't it...

 

"Although you provide care for the under 3s, you also provide education for 3-4 year olds." (OFSTED Inspector, 2009). Discuss.

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Hi Wolfie sorry i didn't get bak to you earlier.

I really want to volunteer .... :o (yeah I know I need to get out more)! Will you please keep me updated either on here or PM me. ? Thanks. Good luck x

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Guest Mrs Tiggy Winkle

We have beein pondering in our CC about whether to 'volunteer' too. Part of me think yeah lets just do it and get it out of the way... the thing is it just seems like it's such a lottery as to what inspection team you get and just the thought of it makes me go cold lol

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Totally agree about the lottery thing. We are due anyway , so my thinking is go for it, it's just that we have 3 members of staff on various longterm sick and 2 on mat leave. But I still think I'd rather have ome control of the situation, still trying to convince the others!!!!!!!!

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Guest Mrs Tiggy Winkle

Oh and Wolfie - forgot to say - apart from thinking I would LOVE to have seen that face!! Surely you are due a written apology and FULL explanation from ofsted - they should be graded as unsatisfactory and be given a notice to improve!!

 

Good for you for standing your ground!

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  • 4 weeks later...

Sometimes the wheels move slowly, so slowly they get stuck..... As for being inspected, I don't think I would want to volunteer. The SEF put together by Together 4 Children is very comprehensive, very data orientated, wants a lot of quantitative and qualitative data to support certain areas. I did attend a meeting by someone from the DCSF who said that they had only pinned down three/four areas at the moment and the pilot schemes would bring up more. I think it will be incredibly difficult to inspect - how are they going to inspect the impact of the professionals who work with CAF children. We have a number of centres, they are all different, run different services with different makeup - it would take them all day to visit them so potentially they can only look at data - but everyone keeps banging on about case studies and qualitative data. I don't know about any other centres but we still have difficulties getting starting points for our statistical data - its very hard so how can we possibly determine how we are achieving.

I am glad you were able to stand your ground and obviously got the right outcome - it does make you wonder sometimes.

Nikki

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I have just updated the enjoy and achieve part of the Together for Children SEF. Have good data for that, but it is difficult to get some data for other outcomes. Having looked at the matrix on T4C website- I would be overjoyed with 'satisfactory'. All very interesting, have heard a lot of conflicting advice from various sources. Hmmmmmmmmmmmmmm. Just got to be pragmatic about the whole process I think...

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