Last week, when the weather was still warm and summer made a brief appearance, we piled onto Zoom to engage with Ofsted as part of their termly Consultative Forum. While there are many things I hate about video calls, this meeting works reasonably well because it is well planned and lots of people can attend.
The meeting focused on the changes to the EYFS and the implication for inspections. The thing about senior Ofsted inspectors is they speak kindly and sensibly about the issues we all worry about. However, this does not always filter down to the reality on the ground. I think some of that is because of inspectors’ inexperience and lack of confidence in making certain judgements.
This is now a live issue for us because whenever there is a change, we observe certain behavioural changes amongst inspectors. They become more risk averse, the number of Outstanding judgements appear to be reduced and inspectors seem more fixated on particular issues rather than a more rounded assessment.
I raised these issues at the meeting (someone had to) and the Seniors Inspectors immediately rejected them as part of the Ofsted myths. I’m not sure we were all convinced by the strength of their convictions.
However, apart from reminding us to access the updated Compliance Handbook and the Inspection Handbook (which is nice and clear) and also a document you should read back to front and front to back for good measure, they gave a few good pointers which you might helpful.
In addressing these, consider how you understand / support / provide evidence of the following issues:
* The stuff you have done to support disadvantaged children during the pandemic.
* Your multigenerational activities and ways you engage and build relationships with your community.
* How you understand and challenge / address /wider stereotypical issues in this modern world where children are growing up in very diverse and changing communities.
* The wellbeing of staff – especially in light of the increased levels of mental ill health among the general population.
As part of the wider Early Years learning community, we must continually reflect on the purpose of early childhood education and care. Our job is to help children enjoy their childhood and enrich their lives with a holistic education that builds their social, emotional, physical and cognitive skills as well as their knowledge and understanding.
With this in mind, I’m inviting you to join us on Zoom.
This is a chance to share experiences on the matters listed above. It will also be a good place to find out more about our resilient return from COVID-19 and report on the findings of new research carried out by LEYF, including the recent sector/parental survey about chefs in the Early Years. This explored whether specific training can help chefs become better advocates for healthy food in the light of rising child obesity.
We will post more details shortly as we line up the Ofsted colleagues and our panel presenters. In the meantime, share this invitation widely, bring your friend and make it an opportunity to have an Early Years conversation over a cocktail.
Tickets to the London OBC, 21st September 6pm-7:30pm can be booked here.
Remember we are always stronger together.