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Only good is good enough: New Ofsted inspections


Steve
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Ofsted have announced a 'toughening up' of Ofsted inspections for early years settings:

 

From 4 November 2013, a judgement of ‘requires improvement’ will replace the current ‘satisfactory’ judgement for all early years providers – as it has already for schools and colleges.

 

 

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I really don't understand this.

How can satisfactory be unsatisfactory?


If they want to raise standards why not just change inspection guidelines so you have to do more to achieve the existing grades?

This is far more about spin and image than it is about actually wanting to make improvements.

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As someone who works in a maintained nursery which is part of a primary school I find it all very confusing. Since Ofsted removed making an EYFS specific judgement, EYFS, ie nursery and reception, are graded with the rest of the school. Last time this meant 'requires improvement', even though I am sure EYFS didn't! We had made huge strides since the previous inspection, but a school inspection is far more concerned with KS1 and 2, so we could be all singing and dancing but if Y1-6 aren't that's it. In our inspection their main concern was phonics and whether we had enough literacy and numeracy outdoors. There was little interest in our records and assessment and our Learning Journeys. It's interesting to see reports for other settings in our area that talk about care and play but make no reference to phonics etc!

This means that when compared with other settings we are seen as less desirable for parents, when the grading doesn't reflect what we do. I feel there's still a long way to go before all EYFS settings are judged similarly.

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Couldn't agree more with all the above. It becomes more and more confusing and has got to the point where I think all we can do is our best for the children. I don't know what we should be doing to 'please' Ofsted any more. We lost all our Outstanding elements at our last inspection with one going from Outstanding to Satisfactory. One inspector comes along and focuses on Learning Journeys another on risk assessment, another on inclusion. All these things are important but it only takes one person's opinion gleaned from the snapshot they see to damage a setting's morale and reputation. I don't like to indulge in 'Ofsted moaning' but I'm flummoxed.

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Well, to my mind 'Satisfactory' was never a very good description anyway. Surely it means 'only just scraping all the minimum requirements' which to my mind means 'can do a hell of a lot better'?

And the criteria the different inspectors focus on, and the differences in grading based on this, is really a different kettle of fish. Without some prescriptive tick list and narrowing of standards you are always going to get variations based on individuals.

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I think the move from judging settings as satisfactory to requires improvement was pretty much a foregone conclusion. I do find this paragraph "interesting" though; particularly the second half and can't wait to hear the proposals - is there some kind of assumption here that practitioners from good/outstanding settings are going to provide consultancy type services and given the current economic woes in early years do the powers that be really think that practitioners are going to do this out of the goodness of their hearts!!!!


45. In the coming year, our inspection framework will focus even more on the quality of teaching and its impact on the learning and development of very young children. Inspectors will identify clearly what providers need to do to get to good while at the inspection and comment on this in reports. In addition, regional HMI will work with some providers and will also help to find ways of linking the weaker settings with those that are good or better, so that the weaker settings can learn from good practice.

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I agree suesj. We are a good nursery in a maintained setting......good at the moment!!!!! .......and that doesn't just happen accidentally. It takes constant hard work, daily grind and time-lots of it. If good settings are obliged to work with weaker settings- I don't mind but it will be at the expense of my own setting if we have to try and squeeze all that help in somehow, sometime. Leaves a burden on the remaining staff in the setting. Then we will get a notice to improve!!! Ha ha!

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Conspiracy Theory Alert!! Opinion my own - not necessarily that of the moderators.

 

I'm not sure if the news of the situation with childminders has filtered into the thinking of other Early Years providers, but More Great Childcare aims to move childminders from being individually inspected settings, to having them join 'Agencies' that are assessed communally. Supposed to improve outcomes!! There is no mention of who owns those agencies but Pacey (childminder and Early Years Professional association) recently lost the opportunity to support childminders in a pilot scheme.

 

I'm wondering if what you are describing doesn't lend nursery settings being assessed communally in a similar way? Lead settings (or agencies) managing the development of lesser performing settings.

 

My ever-growing cynicism envisions a situation where the powers-that-be construct a situation like the one brewing above - 'my setting is Good or Outstanding why should we help the struggling setting down the road who is our competition?' This creates the space for 'them' to say, 'well, if you won't work together then we'll make you join an agency to develop the whole of the region'.

 

As an Independent childminder I did not foresee a Conservative government threatening sole traders. I thought they'd be in support of self-starters (don't read that as me voting for them). My 'theory' is that small businesses aren't listed on the share market so become irrelevant and difficult for this government. (I am a bit cross, can you tell?). I think this government wants to make big business out of our little businesses so they can take a cut.

 

Stay aware.

 

Honey

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And the criteria the different inspectors focus on, and the differences in grading based on this, is really a different kettle of fish. Without some prescriptive tick list and narrowing of standards you are always going to get variations based on individuals.

The point I didn't make very well, was that because there appears to be little common ground between inspectors, what one deems to be outstanding another thinks is only satisfactory. It's not that the goal posts move, there don't seem to be any!

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I agree suesj. We are a good nursery in a maintained setting......good at the moment!!!!! .......and that doesn't just happen accidentally. It takes constant hard work, daily grind and time-lots of it. If good settings are obliged to work with weaker settings- I don't mind but it will be at the expense of my own setting if we have to try and squeeze all that help in somehow, sometime. Leaves a burden on the remaining staff in the setting. Then we will get a notice to improve!!! Ha ha!

It's so difficult to get a 'good' as part of a school inspection. As a consequence of our school 'requires improvement' grade we've been to visit other settings that were outstanding at their previous inspections ( before the end of 2012). One was a maintained nursery in its own right and the other part of an infant school. neither seemed to be 'outstanding' to us!

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It's the same old thing - inconsistency in inspections :(

 

I'm sure the Ofsted-trained inspectors amongst the membership will be able to address this issue, GlamC.

 

However, I am very interested in the timetable given to settings to improve when they have received an 'unsatisfactory' inspection outcome before ultimately having their registration terminated. It may be controversial to say this, but I feel moved to say it anyway. I'm sure I can't be the only person who is aware of groups who continue to receive support from various sources in order to improve the quality of their provision, yet very little seems to change. Sometimes these hit the headlines because a child is injured and successive poor Ofsted judgements are revealed. Others just drift on for ages without any hope of improvement ever being seen.

 

All this is anecdotal of course, but I'm sure I saw some figures somewhere that pointed to the fact that very few groups were closed down after a persistent failure to improve.

 

Of course the criteria against which the 'unsatisfactory' judgements are made will still remain an issue.

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Re EYFS classes in a school - they are not really separate institutions are they, so the school judgement is on the overall provision of the school not each phase in it. Generally the report will make clear the strengths and would say if EYFS was a strength of the school.

 

Re inspections. There is a very specific framework which is the basis of the inspection. Inspectors have to complete a very precise record of the inspection and everything that is discussed. This is QAd by ofsted to ensure the recorded evidence matches the grade given. It cannot be just opinion but has to have clear factual evidence to back up the judgement. Inspectors will see some things that might be the tipping point between one grade and another so if seeing good assessment practice would secure good they will ask a lot about it for example.

 

Personally I think only good or better should be what we want for our children. Schools have had requires improvement for a while now so it just makes us all have the same aspirations doesn't it?

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Yeh I think that puts it in a better light Catma - I must say it is very easy to be negative about Ofsted and sometimes my opinions have been influenced by feedback from other managers - my personal experiences have been positive and I've had lovely experienced inspectors :)

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our first ofsted we got good. last inspection 3 years ago we got outstanding. That was a real achievement for me as we had only been running for 5 years.

 

I am really worried we will not get it again. We do all the right things and tick the right boxes so dont know what else I can do.

 

staying there is harder than getting there it seems

 

Buttercup

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Personally I think only good or better should be what we want for our children. Schools have had requires improvement for a while now so it just makes us all have the same aspirations doesn't it?

 

I agree with you Catma - 'requires improvement' makes more sense than 'satisfactory'. Funny isn't it - I think a lot of us read 'satisfactory' as 'unsatisfactory' really, me included!

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Funny isn't it - I think a lot of us read 'satisfactory' as 'unsatisfactory' really, me included!

 

I certainly did when I got 'satisfactory' at my six month inspection following registration. I had the inspection from hell: every time the inspector came near me I went to pieces. It was as though I was speaking a language she couldn't understand, and even though she gave some really good feedback and said that she could see I had lots of plans in place to improve, I was devastated.

 

For me, satisfactory was very unsatisfactory indeed, but at least I felt the inspector's judgements were sound and she raised all the issues I had already identified as needing improvement.

 

As ever, catma hits the nail on the head.

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Oh Maz, exactly the same thing happened to me. We moved premises to a much, much better site. This of course generated an inspection and it didn't go well at all. To be honest, I'm still not over it (and it was a while ago now). Until yesterday, I didn't really understand how we could have lost all our outstanding elements and got some (un)satisfactory and at the time of feedback I was too traumatised and exhausted to ask the right questions. But Catma, your post showed me how it works and why inspectors appear to be looking for completely different things. So thank you! I wonder why the inspection process is such a mystery to us...

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I always recommend to my schools that they get all the inspection docs from the ofsted website and read them thoroughly as it's all there. Inspectors must use these so there should be nothing "hidden" in the process!

Also as the frameworks change it does change expectations on us... We've had schools drop from their previous grade because the focus is now on having completely outstanding teaching to get outstanding where previously you could have some good mixed in. This is what is happening for the Early Years inspection framework as it is aligned with other education providers.

Cx

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I always recommend to my schools that they get all the inspection docs from the ofsted website and read them thoroughly as it's all there. Inspectors must use these so there should be nothing "hidden" in the process!

Also as the frameworks change it does change expectations on us... We've had schools drop from their previous grade because the focus is now on having completely outstanding teaching to get outstanding where previously you could have some good mixed in. This is what is happening for the Early Years inspection framework as it is aligned with other education providers.

Cx

Can you point me in the right direction for all the relevant and current ofsted documents that I need to read that you mentioned? I am in a nursery in a school. Many thanks in advance.
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I always recommend to my schools that they get all the inspection docs from the ofsted website and read them thoroughly as it's all there. Inspectors must use these so there should be nothing "hidden" in the process!

Also as the frameworks change it does change expectations on us... We've had schools drop from their previous grade because the focus is now on having completely outstanding teaching to get outstanding where previously you could have some good mixed in. This is what is happening for the Early Years inspection framework as it is aligned with other education providers.

Cx

My HT does exactly this (in fact I bumped into him at school last week printing out the latest version). He then uses staff meeting time to make sure we're all clear on the framework. In fact I've started doing the same thing so it's easier to follow him!

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http://www.ofsted.gov.uk/early-years-and-childcare/for-early-years-and-childcare-providers/inspecting-early-years-and-child-4

 

 

Hi, I had my Ofsted visit in October the Inspector was lovely. She explained that she'd recently had to attend training on how to inspect under the new regulations and this training was about ensuring inspections were fair to all. She had to follow a very specific framework, ask questions that she couldn't re word and record evidence based answers. I've hopefully attached a link above to an ofsted page which at the bottom in the further information box has all the relevant documents that take you through the inspection process for an Early years setting.

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