How are parents involved in Ofsted inspections?
Ofsted reports are often the first things parents will look at or ask about prior to or during their first visit to a new setting. For many parents, this is a deciding factor in their choice of a childcare setting. Although they’re interested in reading and learning about Ofsted reports most parents don’t understand the role they can play in an Ofsted inspection. Leaving the question of whether this is something we should make them aware of as we discuss the report and findings in our initial meetings and interactions or if is this something we throw at them once we’ve received ‘the call’.
Whether they are aware of it or not, parents are a key factor in an Ofsted inspection, and regardless of what type of setting you are in, parent feedback will always be sought and their opinions and experiences taken into account for the overall judgement.
Although the children’s views and experiences are crucial in building an overall picture and understanding of how a setting runs daily, its over-arching ethos, quality of care and interactions. The parents’ viewpoints and experiences are also of utmost importance.
If a setting claims to be a ‘home from home’ experience and prides itself on its parent partnerships and communication, the parents and their viewpoints are the only accurate measure and confirmation of this claim.
For the most part, Ofsted will try and speak to a handful of parents, selected at random, during drop-off or pick-up and ask them a number of questions about various aspects of the setting and record their feedback and responses to build upon their overall inspection report.
On some occasions, inspectors may also ask to access and read any parent testimonials or feedback forms that settings collect over various periods and may read reviews or other correspondence that provide information on how parents feel about the setting, its policies, procedures and day-to-day running.
Parent feedback during an Ofsted inspection is imperative, without it, a holistic picture of the setting would not be able to be formulated. It is good practice to not just spring this input and interaction upon parents pending an Ofsted inspection, but instead to form good relationships with them from the outset, making them feel like their feedback and opinions are valid and critical to the good operation and running of the setting, not just when an inspection is due.
If parents are welcomed and feel like an integral part of the setting from the outset, the partnership will be strong and will have a positive effect on the child’s overall learning experience and enjoyment of the setting. Parents will feel more relaxed and be in a position to provide honest, accurate feedback and insight when approached during an inspection, than they would be if they were selected at random by an inspector. If parents are approached with very little warning or understanding of what is being asked of them, this could blur the feedback they provide and jeopardise the partnership with parents that so many settings pride themselves on.