Whether you are choosing a nanny, child-minder, school or after-school club there is a role that Ofsted can play in your decision making process.
At each stage the inspection and reporting framework works differently.
Ofsted is responsible for the registration and inspection of all childcare providers. It operates two registers: the Early Years Register (EYR) and the Ofsted Childcare Register (OCR). Since September 2008, providers of childcare for children up to the age of five are required to register on the EYR, unless exempt, and providers for children between five and seven years are required to register on the compulsory part of the OCR unless exempt. This includes child-minders.
One of the major functions of Ofsted is to register and inspect settings to ensure that they comply with their statutory requirements as laid out in the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS). The prepare an inspection report that includes:
- a description of the provider
- the overall quality and standards of the provision including the quality of teaching and learning
- how well the provider meets the needs of the children to ensure they make the best possible progress
- the contribution of the provision to the child’s well-being
- how the leadership and management helps with understanding and implementing the requirement of the EYFS.
Inspectors give one of four grades:
- Grade 1 – Outstanding
- Grade 2 – Good
- Grade 3 – Requires Improvement
- Grade 4 – Inadequate
The report will also advise on any areas for improvements and what the provider must do to reach the next grade.
The grading system is applicable to schools as well as early years providers.
All schools in the UK must be inspected by an appropriate body. All state funded schools including free schools and academies come under the Ofsted umbrella as do a number of independent schools. There are independent schools however that are inspected by the Independent Schools Inspectorate (ISI). The ISI do not offer formal prescribed grades in the same way as Ofsted but they do provide comprehensive inspection reports.
The framework for an Ofsted school inspection is focused on the following areas:
- overall effectiveness
- pupil achievement
- quality of teaching
- behaviour and safety of pupils
- quality of school leadership and management.
The content of the inspection report will be made up from the inspection team’s observations, performance data including exam results and parent views.
Where a school is judged to be “outstanding” or “good” it will be inspected once every five years. Schools that “require improvement” will have regular monitoring visits until they reach the required standard. Schools that are judged to be “inadequate” are usually placed in “special measures” and from there a detailed plan involving serious changes for improvement will be made and closely monitored. Schools that don’t improve are at high risk of closure.
Although childcare provided in a child’s own home, such as nannies and babysitters, are exempt from registration and inspection there are a growing number of nannies who are Ofsted registered.
Nannies choosing to register with Ofsted must have a prescribed childcare qualification, up to date first aid training, an enhanced DBS check and liability insurance. They do not
however undergo inspections and reporting in the same manner as childcare providers outside your own home.
As with anything Ofsted reports can be viewed as subjective, they are after all based largely on human opinion formed over a one or two day inspection but when used with the other tools at your disposal such as league tables, other parents views and your own instincts they can be a valuable source of information to parents which can only give greater ability to make an informed choice.