Ofsted Early Years Curriculum and Pedagogy
At the beginning of the month, we exhibited at the Childcare and Education Expo London. We had so much fun meeting new people, talking to our customers, discovering fellow early years suppliers and catching up with some leading sector experts in the early years sector. This also created the perfect opportunity for us to build on our knowledge of what is happening in the sector by attending some of the fantastic workshops and seminars.
The expo programme was jam-packed with childcare experts speaking on a range of topics from shifting the perception of early education, positive behaviour, communication and language, play, Ofsted and much more!
The Ofsted Early Years Curriculum and Pedagogy session was delivered by Wendy Ratcliffe HMI, and we’ve summed up some of the key points and takeaways from the day…
Throughout the seminar Wendy discussed:
- The ‘best start in life’ research review
- Some of the features of a high-quality early years curriculum and pedagogy
- Why ‘do nothing’ is the answer Ofsted gives to the frequently asked question ‘what do I need to do to prepare for my inspection?’
The ‘best start in life’ research review
As mentioned in our Ofsted guide, Ofsted will continue to focus on communication and language in 2023. The first years of life are vital in giving every child the best start, with speech, language and communication skills. They shape a child’s ability to learn, develop friendships and their future life chances.
Every child regardless of circumstance should be able to develop and thrive. It is important that disadvantaged children are given the opportunity to progress by listening, talking and learning new words through play, stories, poems and rhymes in order to learn new concepts from the world around them.
The ‘Best start in life part 1: setting the scene’ highlights the value of play and teaching and the importance of developing children’s communication skills. The research suggests that ‘practitioners need to think carefully about what content to prioritise’ to make sure they ‘catch up’ after the implications of the pandemic.
Wendy explained that it is important to have a curriculum that has focus on communication and language as it underpins all seven areas of learning and development- according to the EYFS.
Ofsted Inspections- Free Download
Some of the features of a high-quality early years curriculum and pedagogy
The curriculum is not the same as teaching, experiences or elaborate experiences, it is based on proactive thinking. The curriculum outlines how and what you decide the children in your care need to learn. It prioritises communication and offers plenty of opportunities for disadvantaged children, or those who speak English as an additional language, to learn and practise speaking and listening.
The curriculum should identify how to support children with gaps in their knowledge to get the additional teaching they need so that they can access the same curriculum as their peers. Practitioners consider children’s interests when choosing activities. They also expand children’s interests so they make progress in all areas of learning.
A curriculum for communication and language may consider:
- Back-and-forth conversations
- Introducing new vocabulary
- Exposure to books
- A rich range of new words
During an inspection, the Ofsted instructor wants to see what it is like to be a child that attends your setting and how you aim to build vocabulary and language structures by using high-quality interactions and communication, modelling language and the language-rich environment.
Language is not about labelling items in the room but the quality and quantity of interactions and building important relationships.
Why ‘do nothing’ is the answer Ofsted gives to the frequently asked question ‘what do I need to do to prepare for my inspection?’
For some settings, inspections can cause a period of frantic preparation and panic, where practitioners feel the need to revise safeguarding policies, practise the answers to questions, and plan a ‘special’ day of activities to impress an inspector. But, this shouldn’t be the case.
Instead, it’s important that practitioners approach the expectations set out by the Ofsted Education Inspection Framework (EIF) as a benchmark for good practice — utilising the guidance as a support system to aid their planning, and a path to everyday excellence for the children in their care. This approach will already be standard practice in the early years settings who strive for excellence every day.
Rather than dreading an inspection, it should instead be a chance to really showcase and celebrate what a setting is doing well. It should also be viewed as an opportunity to explain how and why practitioners do what they do, and precisely how this helps to lay the crucial foundations for learning in the early years. The EIF places great emphasis on the effectiveness of a setting’s curriculum. What do you teach children, and why? Leaders must fully understand this and be able to articulate it well. What does the cohort of children in your setting need right now? Has the content of the curriculum been learnt?