25th April 2024 All Posts

Understanding the Purpose and Process of an Ofsted Learning Walk

Every Ofsted inspection and every childcare provider is unique, which means your Ofsted learning walk won’t look like the learning walk that the Ofsted inspector carried out with another nursery or childcare provider. Among the various aspects of inspection, the Ofsted learning walk stands out as a significant element. It’s not just a walk around the premises; it’s an opportunity to demonstrate your commitment to early years education and the quality of provision, teaching practices, and how well children are supported in their development in your childcare setting.

Where does the Ofsted learning walk take place?

Typically, the learning walk will take place in the rooms where you provide education and care for children, allowing inspectors to gain firsthand insight into the daily routines in your childcare setting. The Ofsted learning walk is an opportunity for you to explain your approach to curriculum planning and implementation, providing valuable context to the inspector about how you structure learning experiences for the children attending your setting.

What is the purpose of an Ofsted learning walk?

At its core, the Ofsted learning walk serves as a window into the opportunities available for children within your childcare setting. It’s a chance to showcase not just what children are doing, but what you aspire for them to achieve during their time with you. Inspectors are keen to understand your vision for child development, whether it is how you prepare children for a smooth transition from the baby room to the toddler room or how you help get them ready for their next educational milestone beyond your setting.

This insightful activity isn’t just about ticking boxes; it’s an evaluation of how well your early years provision aligns with the requirements outlined in the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) framework. By observing the learning walk, inspectors can gauge the effectiveness of your practices in meeting these standards. They’re on the lookout for strengths to commend, areas for improvement to address, and most importantly, whether your setting offers an inclusive, stimulating, and nurturing environment for all children under your care.

The things inspectors want to find out about in the Ofsted learning walk

During the Ofsted learning walk, inspectors are particularly interested in uncovering what you envision for children’s learning within the prime areas of the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS). They seek insights into the knowledge and concepts you think are essential for children’s development and how you facilitate their progression step by step. Contrary to common misconceptions, the learning walk is not a tour of the childcare setting. Rather, it’s an opportunity to share your educational goals and showcase evidence of children’s learning in action. Through observations of staff-child interactions and the learning environment, inspectors gain valuable insights into the effectiveness of your approaches.

It’s important to understand that preparing for an Ofsted learning walk involves more than just childcare arrangements; it requires a deep understanding of your curriculum objectives and a commitment to providing evidence of their implementation. To shed light on this aspect of childcare inspection, we previously worked with early years expert, Julia Maynard, Childcare Director of Happy Orkids Ltd. In this insider interview, she shares invaluable insights and practical tips on navigating the intricacies of an Ofsted learning walk, ensuring that your childcare provision shines in the eyes of inspectors.

Did you know that Ofsted has an official YouTube Channel dedicated to addressing common questions about early years provision inspections? This collection of short videos offers answers straight from an Ofsted Early Years Regulatory Inspector. Watch these informative snippets to gain a clearer understanding of inspection activities and Ofsted’s role, providing valuable insights into what to anticipate during the inspection process. 

For those who want to find out more about the Ofsted learning walk, we’ve embedded the insightful “What should I expect from the Learning Walk” video below. In this segment, Ofsted’s Early Years Regulatory Inspector and Early Education Quality and Practice Lead, Sam Sleeman-Boss, addresses a frequently asked question: ‘What should I expect from the learning walk?’ Sam illuminates the purpose behind the learning walk and highlights how they can look different across childcare settings.

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About the Author

Content Marketing Executive at Connect Childcare