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Family Services "free Flow" And Ofsed


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After having a visit from Ofsted I was so pleased to finally get to the bottom of this "free flow" that family services are so keen on -

Our setting has a range of children age 11 mths to over 3's and we were advised to free flow all ages etc, after 6mths of extremely hard work free flowing in 2 rooms and outside we as staff were worn out! Parents were not happy to see their child basically doing what they want and lots of the boys just wanted to play running around outside. After so much upset and young children not settling as we would expect them , we basically split the ages in 2 rooms. The little uns are so much happier - and so are the parents they are more able to participate in a range of appropriate activities .Also being in a smaller space rather than such a choice they are getting so much more from our sessions. We have added structure for the older ones and focused more on the boys who were missing all the writing opportunities due to wanting to run all the time playing super hero's.


When Ofsted arrived I was told that we showed clearly we were looking at each individual childs needs- the little ones explored the outside area at different times to the older ones - safety reasons and so they feel more confident.


They also said it appears people have gone on a number of training courses about "free flow" and have really taken it out of terms - they don't want us to have the doors wide open all year round so children are freezing inside, I was advised also that if anyone comes into the setting and recommends changes to make it free flow I need to challenge them and ask where it actually says this in the eyfs . So basically it's going back to looking at the individuals and their interests. I just wanted to share this information as I now have happy children, happy parents and happy staff after a long 6 mths!

:o Di

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Hi there Di,


Having just spent quite a bit of money and a lot of effort making our setting 'free flow', I do have to sing its praises, although we only cater for slightly older children.


I guess the idea comes from the whole child initiated approach - if you really are genuinely following the children's interests, then if they have an interest in playing outside, that is what you should try to provide.


From what you've said, it sounds like you are taking a very sensible approach to meeting the needs of your children. In our setting, given the choice and good ish weather, the majority of ours like to be outdoors.


Your post made very interesting reading and I am currently trawling the EYFS to see where this whole 'free flow' thing has come from! It does say 'opportunities to be outdoors with freedom to explore and be physically active' which I suppose kind of counts. Also, a lot of the KUW goals would be hard to meet indoors, imho.


Really glad everyone in your setting is happy with your arrangements, that's the main thing after all!

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We don't provide free flow either - or exactly the same reasons as you describe. We simply can't leave doors open all the time as we'd be in a wind tunnel plus there's the danger of doors suddenly slamming.


I have looked in the EYFS and can't find it either

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the eyfs does not say 'free flow' what it does say is access to the outdoors


what we believe as do lots of settings is that ( for us) free flow is the best way forward


children choose whether they go out and how much time is spent in either area


key work is done in or out depending on the children

my boys (and the majority are) like outside and yes if they want to run around and be superheros

thats ok we will ask them how fast is their heart beating, what happens if they slow down who are they rescuing, what special equipment might a superhero need, do they want to make some special equipment


but every setting is different and you have to decide what works best for you

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Di, well done you for deciding to do what is best for your group as a whole! Whoever said that babies of 11 mths shold have freeflow didn't know what they were talking about! I certainly never allowed my babies freeflow at that age when at home, and cant imagine many people do, so why d it at a setting.

At least it sounds like you had an insoector who spoke sense, unlike some of us!



ooh I meant our inspectors, not that us on here didn't talk sense.

Because of course we always do-

Edited by lynned55
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