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Chief Inspector instructs inspectors to focus on teaching and learning

In News EYFS on

Chief Inspector Michael Wilshaw has this week written to all early years inspectors, giving instructions on the focus of future inspections. He criticises current inspection reports, saying, 'Too many reports focus on describing the provision in early years settings rather than on how well children are learning and making progress. In other words, inspectors should focus on evaluating whether children are being adequately prepared for the start of their statutory schooling.' He makes suggestions for the type of things that two year olds can be taught:

  • learn new vocabulary and begin to use it in a meaningful way
  • recognise and sing nursery rhymes and familiar songs
  • enjoy listening to stories and looking at picture books
  • build small towers while counting play bricks
  • make shapes from modelling dough and begin to make marks on paper
  • climb stairs and begin to play with a ball
  • start to get dressed and undressed.

He expects inspectors to observe how well children learn and how effectively adults teach children to develop skills, knowledge and understanding. He explains that it may not be possible to observe everything on his suggested list, but inspectors should gather evidence on the following:

  • help children to learn
  • teach children to listen to instructions and be attentive
  • teach children to socialise
  • motivate children to try things for themselves
  • support children to manage their personal needs
  • challenge children to think and find out more
  • encourage children to speculate and test ideas through trial and error
  • provide good models of language
  • develop children’s ability to express their ideas and use their imagination
  • extend children’s vocabulary and teach them to use new words
  • teach children the early stages of mathematics and reading.

Finally, the Chief Inspector informs inspectors that they must evaluate and report on whether:

  • staff sufficiently focus on children’s learning
  • staff spend enough time engaging in purposeful dialogue with the children
  • children have sufficient time to practise and reinforce what is being taught
  • staff assess children’s skills, knowledge and abilities accurately and use this information to plan how to improve children’s progress
  • staff have sufficient expertise to teach children basic skills in the three prime areas of learning and in literacy and mathematics
  • the setting has a well organised, regular and effective professional development programme which is improving the quality of teaching.

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