Best Practice: 7 Ofsted Inspection Tips
An Ofsted Inspection is often one of the most important, and stressful, parts of working in childcare. We have put together some tips and suggestions to make them a little bit easier. We produced this with our friends over at Energy Kidz, who have been helping us share free documents and other best practice advice. This advice is followed by Ofsted outstanding childcare providers such as Energy Kidz, but it should be helpful for those of you operating in Scotland and Northern Ireland, where Ofsted is not the inspectorate.
1. First Impressions Count
They say that you can tell a lot about something, whether it’s a film or a book, by the opening 30 seconds. The same is true for an Ofsted inspection. First impressions are key for a good inspection, if you get these right then the rest of the inspection should be easier. Make sure you demonstrate that your site is secure, ask the inspectors to sign in and provide ID. Don’t panic or get worried when someone says that they’re from Ofsted, make sure that they are and make them feel welcome. A smile and eye contact often go a long way.
2. Tidy, Tidy, Tidy
One of the biggest things to keep an inspector happy is to keep your site tidy. Childcare is an inherently rather messy practice, but maintaining some solid cleaning discipline during normal operations can make this part rather easy. On inspection day, spending some extra time with your team to tidy away toys, mop and brush the floors and do any other tidying you can will help a lot.
3. Include Everyone
Something that is very important for inspections is to provide for all of your children. This doesn’t just include things like safeguarding, something you will, of course, be providing to each child. But being able to demonstrate to Ofsted inspectors that you have a broad range of activities for all children to participate in will show how no child is left behind. This could include offering a reading group as well as a sports activity, and perhaps a Lego building area, as a broad example.
An Ofsted Inspection is not just about how tidy you are or how nice you are to the inspectors (although that is very important). They’re also about the nitty-gritty detail of paperwork and how things are running behind the scenes. Again, it pays to keep yourself disciplined and maintain good organisation of paperwork. Be able to find documents when asked, and show that the process of locating documents is rational and easy. This goes a long way to show that while inspectors may not need to read every piece of paperwork that you have, if they need to find anything in particular, they will be able to do so.
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5. Self Evaluation
Pobody’s Nerfect and that’s okay. It’s always a good idea to have a plan on how you want to improve your setting, whether it be a change in processes, a re-organisation of your rooms or whatever needs to happen. To do these things right you need to have a plan in place to figure out:
– What the desired effect of a change is going to be
– How to measure the desired effect
– Who needs to be informed of the changes
– How you’re going to check that the changes have been implemented
– How to evaluate if they have had the desired effect
This is important for your inspections because if you are unfortunate enough to get a result that you weren’t pleased with, then improving your setting for the next one should be the top priority. Not only that but on the follow-up inspections, being able to demonstrate how issues in the last inspection were addressed and being able to prove that the desired effect has been achieved is invaluable.
6. Show Off
You work hard and provide high-quality care to high energy children. That’s not an easy task by any measure and very often you will have things to show off. This is great for inspections, show pictures of activities you do with the children, show them things the children have made, show off anything and everything that makes your setting great. Remember, from the inspectors perspective, there is a chance that things could look good on inspection day but not so good on normal days. So prove to them that’s not the case, prove how great you are year-round and don’t be shy about it!
7. Be Enthusiastic
Inspections can be stressful and scary, but it’s important to remember that it is just an ofsted inspection. If you treat it as the biggest and most difficult thing you’re going to face, then the stress will cause more problems than it will solve. Instead, think of it as though some parents are coming to visit. Have a bit of enthusiasm about the whole affair; smile, shake hands, relax. Remember that inspections are not just about concrete facts and detail, they’re also about the people that run the club or school. You could have all of the correct safeguarding techniques in place but without a high level of personal enthusiasm and care, they won’t keep children safe.
If you have followed all of these tips, hopefully, that will make your Ofsted inspection that little bit easier. There is something else that you can do to help with inspections, and that is join magicbooking. Magicbooking, as you may know, is an online booking, communication and payments system that can automate admin tasks and reduce stress. Magicbooking users often report that their Ofsted inspections (or other regulatory inspections) are made much easier thanks to magicbooking. This is because documents, safeguarding information, consents and more are paperlessly stored and easily retrievable. That’s not all the system can do, to see more, book a free, no obligation demo using the tool below.