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Ofsted - Need From 'the Floor' Information


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When I hear the word Ofsted, I have an image of abject horror. I haven't been privy to an actual inspection even though I have been in Early Years for nearly 5 years, but everything I hear from anyone, it is all negative.

 

I know all the whys and wherefores, but I need to write about the impact the Ofsted inspections have on us - the people that have to present our beliefs, ideals and real interactions with the children within the restrictions set by the governing bodies.

 

Are we really worlds apart? If so, why? I have met two people recently that seem to be very ameniable, down to earth people, that were Ofsted Inspectors in a previous life. Is there anyone who can give me a perspective on the value of pre-Ofsted and how they feel things have improved/worsened for the children since Ofsted came into being, and how the regulations have impacted upon the adults?

 

This information will not only be useful for my assignment but will help me put things into perspective when I eventually have to face the dreaded Ofsted Inspector!

 

Julia

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Hi JCE Up until our inspection this week i would have said Ofsted inspections are the worst possible nightmare to go through especuially hearing some of things said on this site.

We waited a whole 2 months after getting out initial letter back in December last year.

It was awful waiting not knowing each day if they would turn up, and every day parents asking 'have they been yet'.

Yet as a supervisor watching my staff keeping on their toes at all times it proved to be benificial obviuosly for our nursery.

When finally this week our inspector turned up and she was lovely. She made us all feel at ease, was helpful, kind, funny and really although you still feel 'nervy' she made our inspection very easy.

I told her at feedback how lovely she had been and she replied 'well you dont get the best out of people if you dont make them feel at ease'.

I also was very concerned like others on the site what she would say about me being an old NNEB, but again she said she would look into it and get back to me but had heard nothing and it seemed extremely silly to her.

The only thing that would have made process a lot more bearable is, if we would have only been given say 24 or 48 hrs notice of the inspection as its been a very stressful few months just waitng and really taken its toll on myself and the staff (i watched them getting more stressed and ratty by the day).

I hope this helps and it seems not all regions are the same (maybe we were just lucky - i dont know).

And i have to end that i am glad its all over. :D

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Hi Julia

I agree with Hali that the lead up to the inspection is very stressful-no matter how good you are it is nerve wracking waiting for them to walk through the door. I also feel that 24/48 hours notice would be better-so that staff don't get stressed and also so that the inspectors see what groups are really like.

Having said that we had two inspectors and they were both very nice. Their critisisms were constructive and they gave us some ideas of how to improve what we are already doing. So all in all we had a positive experience.

Linda

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Hi Julia -

I think Linda and Hali have said it all really. The anticipation of an Ofsted inspection is always going to be difficult to overcome, but that is not really the inspectors fault - it's a natural aspect of our psychology that we get nervous about being examined - which is of course what an Ofsted inspection is.

 

But having said that, I've heard very few, if any, reports of officious or power mad inspectors turning up on the doorstep. By and large they tend to go out of their way to try to relax the management and staff. On our last inspection, the inspector said something like 'There's no point in me telling you not to be nervous because you will be, but I want you to try to relax as much as possible. If you see me writing furiously, don't worry - that is a good thing, because it shows that I'm finding lots of good compliance with ELG's etc.'

 

So the real people who turn up tend not to be the ogres of our imagination. There has to be an inspection process - the best thing to do is to try to persuade the people responsible for devising the inspection method produce as sensitive and productive a method as possible.

 

If that makes sense? :)

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Congratulations on your inspection Hali, it's great you can relax over Easter.

 

I can understand what you are all saying, its the waiting that seems to be the worst aspect of the inspection. Like you say Steve, inspection is a necessary evil and I suppose everyone just has to grin and bear it.

 

It appears that the Government's proposal of only giving the short period of notice will actually suit most people, I must agree, if I was in that position I would rather only have 2 days of stress and lack of sleep rather than 6 months. It would also ensure that best practice is maintained all of the time, rather than just the 6 months prior to inspection.

 

Thanks for that, I can use this information in my assignment.

 

Julia.

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Thank you JCE

 

Am relaxed already!!!!

 

Best practise i think we all would agree would be short notice of inspections and across the board regulations for all nursery providers on qualifications. Then maybe we will all be happy. :D

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Perhaps a little late in the day, but here's my two-pennorth, for what it's worth.

Have had a total of five inspections in my career, most recently a combined in January. Have never had a nasty Inspector and have always found the process ultimately beneficial, in terms of reassurance we're 'getting it right'; helping staff to remember to be on the ball at all times (A possible plus factor for a longer notice period, poss 3-4 weeks tho', NOT 6 months!!!); and (am I sad) reminding you to check you really are still doing it right - it's easy to go stale!

Glad to see recent postings have been more positive than the original message might suggest. :D

At the end of the day, it's nice to curl up with a good report and pat yourself on the back !! xD

 

By the way, hi all. :o

 

Sue R

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Hi Sue,

 

I agree, it's interesting to see the positive replies to my orginial message. As I said, I have not been through an inspection myself and have only formed an opinion through the inference received from others. I should have known, there is always two sides to every story. Thanks all, this information will help me provide a balanced argument for and against Ofsted when I come to write my essay.

 

Julia

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  • 2 weeks later...

I'm half way through my essay and am writing about a primary school that has gone into special measures. As I am having to build up my view from what I read and what people say, I am begining to form an opinion that it is not Ofsted that is the problem, but the support systems that are supposed to be there to help settings and schools meet the criteria of Ofsted inspections. Is this what people are finding? All of the posts I have read here have been from people who have received favourable reports - who are the people that support you? In pre-school, day nurseries etc. do you just follow the standards guidelines? Am I right in thinking that people who do not meet the criteria are not necessarily failing but need guidance in the right direction? Can anyone Help????

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Hi

To be honest i feel that myself (supervisor )and chair got us to the standard we are today obviously with the other staff members behind us and assisting to do their jobs professionally.

Yes we followed all the standard guidelines and added much more as we are going for accereditation so added those guidelines as well.

This is what gave us a superb Ofsted report without any other outside help.

Im not saying we would not have had support backup from EYDCP if we had asked, they did come to give us a few Pre |Ofsted guidelines but nothing that we didnt already know.

I think again its depends on individaul authorities!!!!! :o

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Hi

I have been through a total of 4 OFSTED inspections over the years. three as a Deputy supervisor and one as Manager of a Private Day care Nursery chain. All of these times ultimate responsibility has not laid at my feet, but at the owners, and it is only now that I am myself an owner/manager that I understand the immense pressure felt prior to an inspection, because it is my lively hood, my reputation on the line, and I am relying on my staff to give a good professional/caring impression of our group.

 

They are due next week! and boy will I be glad. I have been quite relaxed over the term break, thinking it will go how it goes, but my resolve it crumbling and I'm beginging to get a little nervous :oxD

 

Cherry x

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Hi trea,

 

I agree with hali - you'll be fine! :(

 

Don't forget, the adrenaline etc is all a necessary evil, I always think it adds to the experience (always was a bit of a masochist!!!) so just go with the flow and enjoy :oxD

 

And just think, you'll be able to practise your quick reactions when you get those 'awkward' questions :(

 

 

Let me know, be rooting for you

 

Sue :D

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In Stockport we have teacher advisors through the LEA and development workers through the EYDCP. We had a very good OFSTED but that was down to myself and the brilliant team of staff I have. We could have gone to both sources for help, in fact our teacher advisor visits us quite often, but we used the standards guidance and the Foundation stage curriculum guidance as our basis. We have never seen our development worker, in fact I don't even know what she is called. She didn't contact us before our inspection to find out if we had any problems and has not been in touch since. I could have rung her I suppose but quite frankly I probably know more than she does about running a pre-school. As far as I am aware she has never worked in a playgroup or pre-school.

Linda

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I recieved a letter from our new development worker, She is going to come around to the pre schools in the area and advise us. It says in her letter that she has been a childminder for 30 years. she too hasn't had any experience in working or running a pre school. xD so i'm thinking...how can she help or advise us, and your right Linda we probably know more than they do!

 

But... I may be wrong as I havn't yet met her, and will have to eat my words if she proves me wrong! :D:o

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For Sue R ........... and everyone else!

 

You know these 'awkward' questions you just mentioned - well how awkward are they ???!!!!!!

 

Have Ofsted very shortly, just wating for the phone call to tell me which month they are coming - May/June or July. Have never had a combined inspection before and I don't know which is worse, not knowing what it'll be like or having some idea.

 

Either way if you could give me a clue it might prepare me !!

 

Thanks

 

Janice :o

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Janice,

 

Sorry if I've given you the heebies - all I meant was those things you just assumed were OK, then they ask you something.......but slightly 'on it's head'...know what i mean? :(

 

Best thing then is, think of your best experience, or ( :o try not to panic :D:D ), certainly be sure you know what they mean - and ASK if you're not sure - they're human, too! Then do your damnedest to show them you're the best. It's called flannel, sometimes... :)

 

Not sure this is helping. Come back to me if it's just gibberish. Does anyone know what I mean??? xD

 

Let me know,

 

Sue :D

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Hi Sue ...... yep I did understand what you meant!

 

All I can say that this is going to be a totally new experience for me!

 

JCE's thread is very interesting as the words Ofsted Inspections do conjure up totally irrational feelings of panic etc.etc.

 

I am also interested in the way the topic is now turning into one of support. My experience depends on whether the advice is coming from the EYDCP or the PLA development worker.

 

My Advisor from the EYDCP has been in post for nearly a year.She has worked in nurseries/pre-schools for many years and run them, she TOTALLY understands the pressures and is therefore a great support. The key to being an advisor is knowing what you are talking about !!! The reasons these forums are so successful is that we are all doing similar jobs, know the pressures, and therefore they provide support.

 

I think the PLA are finding it hard to keep up with a fast changing sector. They are in a strong position to campaign for their members, regarding pay, working hours, etc. etc. but they choose to promote what they feel is PC. If their membership in on the decline, then I feel they should ask themselves 'why?' - and question whether they are really offering what their members need- perhaps they need to change their direction. I have renewed the membership for another year but only because I think the Pre-school should be affiliated to some organisation - I have zero confidence that it was money well spent.

 

Well I think that's enough for this time of the morning!!!

 

I hope I have not offended anyone here but it's a bit like a 'red rag ........' for me!!

 

Byeeeeeeee

 

Janice

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I know how you feel about PLA Janice. Here in Stockport we had become so disillusioned with the service they were giving-especailly when we found out that only £4 of the sixty something we sent for membership fees per group were coming back to Stockport. Made us wonder what happened to the rest!! We formed our own group, Stockport pre-school Providers, just over 3 years ago. We charge £25 a year and have about 6 meetings with a newsletter each half term.

As SPP we are affiliated to Playgroup Network, a similar sort of body to PLA but everybody who "works" for them is a volunteer. SPP pays £100 a year to be a member and we get newsletters and briefing papers and all sorts of stuff. We get a copy for each of our members. The problem with Playgroup Network is that you can't be an individual member you have to be part of a larger group. If there are a few playgroups/pre-schools in your area perhaps you could come together and join them?

Linda

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That's very interesting - having benefited greatly from PLA years ago, I've always staunchly defended them, but over the past few years have found myself increasingly feeling they had 'lost the plot'. They seem now to be much more a training provider and less a support, which I think is sad.

 

I do think your response, Linda, was brilliant, and think it would be a good idea for local groups to follow your lead.

 

Where I am now, private day nursery, PLA was never really in the picture - I have even had to explain to the Director about the PLA and DPP!

 

Interested to hear other views!

 

Sue :D

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I have been a member of P.S.L.A. for 24 years..We had a developement worker who visited us occasionally but does no longer. The only reason I re-new my membership is to insure the group. I do not find The Contact magazine very usefull.Which company do non-members use to insure their groups?

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We use Morton Michel and have done for a number of years now. I think you will find that a great number of playgroups/pre-schools use them. If you want an address etc. I can let you have them. I think the PSLA make groups think that they cannot get insured unless they are members but this is not the case.

Linda

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i had a call from my OFSTED inspector today to tell me that unfortunately she can't make it this week after all! AAggghhh! so she will be coming next week. :o Can my nerves hold out! :( Or is this a ploy and she really is going to come this week! :( I'm getting paranoid now xD

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Hi trea!

 

I don't think she'd be quite that cruel!! :( (hope, anyway!)

 

Hope your nerves can take it, these last few days are the worst! it's always the point at which you start finding fault with everything, and having to restrain yourself from changing things!! :wacko: Don't! - change things, that is..... Janice, you take note, too! xD

 

Can you give me that website address you were telling me about - have spent the weekend wondering about your lady who is 'nuts about Marillion' :( It's a sad but ultimately fairly permanent affliction!!! :o:(

 

Catch you soon,

 

Sue :D

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