8th August 2023 Leadership & Management All Posts

Preparing for an Early Years Ofsted Inspection: Receiving the Call

Image of Julia Maynard, an early years Ofsted inspector and Childcare Director of Happy Orkids Ltd.

Part 1 of the insider interview with Julia Maynard, Childcare Director of Happy Orkids Ltd.

We recently sat down with Julia Maynard, Childcare Director of Happy Orkids Ltd. Julia has accumulated a wealth of experience in early education, and she is excited to share her knowledge with you in a five-part series that covers everything you need to know to prepare for an Ofsted inspection.

Ofsted inspections play a crucial role in evaluating the quality of childcare settings. However, they can be overwhelming and often dreaded by early years professionals. Early years educators should be well-prepared and knowledgeable to ensure a seamless and successful inspection process. It is important to understand that Ofsted inspectors are not looking to police or criticise your setting but to access the quality of learning and development opportunities available to the children in your care. There is no magic document and there isn’t a secret sheet the inspectors are following, they’re just following the Early Years Inspection Handbook and the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS).

Have you got the call?

This call can last any time between 20 minutes and 2 hours. During the call, the Ofsted inspector will typically ask questions about the setting, such as how many children attend, what ages they are, and what types of activities are offered. This conversation is not meant to catch you off guard but rather to establish a basic understanding of your childcare setting before the inspection begins. When you answer this call it is essential that you are calm and collected, as this is an element of the inspector’s evidence-collection process. 

Here are some tips to keep in mind:

  • Be honest and transparent during the initial call. It’s better to be upfront about any concerns or challenges the setting may be facing, as this will help the inspector to provide more targeted feedback during the inspection.
  • Take notes during the call. This can help the setting to remember any specific guidance or areas of focus that the inspector mentioned.
  • Use the initial call as an opportunity to ask questions. The inspector may be able to provide guidance on specific aspects of the setting that the educators are unsure about, or may be able to clarify any confusion around the inspection process itself.

By understanding the role of the initial call in the inspection process, you can be better prepared for the inspection itself and can use the guidance provided by the inspector to build your confidence so you can really shine a spotlight on your setting and the fantastic opportunities you offer to children, parents and staff.

Throughout the call, it’s crucial to remain composed, as this can reflect positively on your leadership and management style. Remember that the Ofsted inspection is an opportunity to showcase the great work that you and your team are doing, so approach it with a positive attitude and a willingness to learn and improve.

What information will the Ofsted inspector ask?

The call is an opportunity for you and the inspector to introduce yourselves and for the inspector to gather information about your setting, including factors such as:

  • Registration Status.
  • Setting opening and closing hours.
  • Age range,  number of children on roll and rooms they’re divided into.
  • Number of staff and child-to-staff ratio used in the setting.
  • Whether the setting provides any funded places and/or receives early years pupil premium funding.
  • Whether any additional support is being provided for children with special educational needs and/or disabilities (SEND).
  • Whether any additional support is being provided for children with English as an additional language (EAL).
  • Whether any children attending are subject to a child protection plan or child in need plan.
  • Any safeguarding concerns regarding both staff and children.
  • Arrangements to meet or talk by phone to parents where possible.

Having all the necessary information to hand not only helps the Ofsted inspector but also demonstrates your preparedness and attention to detail. 

Why the Ofsted call plays an important role on inspection day

The pre-inspection call is crucial because it gives the Ofsted inspector the chance to identify specific areas of focus, such as your support strategies for children or your communication methods with parents and guardians. On the day of inspection, the inspector will connect what they learnt on the call to what they observe during the learning walk.

What to do after you receive the call from Ofsted

Inform your staff of the inspection but try to continue as normal, as preparing for the inspection puts additional pressure on you and your staff to perform on the day. It is no doubt that your staff and practitioners will already be feeling the pressure of an Ofsted inspection and any additional ‘preparations’ may result in them feeling less confident in their abilities.

Remember, the purpose of the inspection is to ensure that children are receiving high-quality care and education. By remaining calm and prepared, you can show the inspector that you are committed to providing the best possible experience for the children in your care.

Your parent partnerships are crucial in helping to build a picture of each child in your care. After you receive the notice call from Ofsted it is important to notify the parents that an inspection will be happening. 

The inspector will want to meet and talk to some parents and find out their views during the inspection. This is part of their evidence-gathering to identify how practitioners work with parents and carers to support learning at home.

Keep your eyes peeled for part 2 of our ‘Preparing of an Ofsted Inspection’ series coming up in August. In part 2, Julia will discuss the importance of a learning walk and how you can prepare for this.

Ofsted Inspections: A Helpful Guide for Early Years Providers

In this guide, we discuss how to prepare for an Ofsted inspection, the 3 I’s, Ofsted’s key focuses in 2023 and more to help you carry out the day as normal to reduce additional pressure on you and your staff to perform.
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Content Marketing Executive at Connect Childcare