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May 10, 2012

Ofsted inspections: Why isn't the playing field level?


In January 2012 Sir Michael Wilshaw, Ofsted's new chief inspector (and a former head teacher himself) proposed a move to no-notice inspections for schools.  Announcing the move, Sir Michael said no-notice inspections were a "logical progression" and that it was "important that parents had confidence in the system". The proposal was endorsed by Michael Gove (the Education Secretary) who said the move would "provide parents with a truer picture of schools' performance".

Cue large outcry from head teachers (who currently receive 48 hours notice that an Ofsted inspection of their school will take place) at their recent conference. Cue subsequent u-turn on no-notice inspections by Mr Gove who, according to a report in the Daily Telegraph last week, now believes that "teachers and heads had a right to know of an impending visit so they could present their school in the best possible light"!

So, it looks like schools will get to keep their 48 hour notice period.  In the early years sector, nurseries attached to schools and childminders also receive 48 hours notice that they will be inspected - whereas playgroups and private nurseries get.... no notice.

Advocates for unannounced inspections argue that they are preferable because they ensure that Ofsted (and therefore parents) are getting 'a true picture' of what is going on at a setting when they visit.

Meanwhile, opponents of 'no-notice' inspection say they are deeply offended by the proposition because it appears to send a message that 'we (Ofsted) don't trust you'.  In addition they argue that, in any event, 48 hours is simply not enough time for underperforming settings to materially address and fix shortcomings in their practice and they say that any attempt to 'paper over the cracks' can easily be spotted during the inspection process.

In our view, good settings have nothing to fear whenever the inspector calls - whereas bad ones have much to lose.  It's why one of our long-held credos at Polly's is that we will conduct ourselves as if 'every day is an Ofsted day'.  It's an important part of an overall approach which is focused on creating a culture of consistent, high performance at the nursery and it has helped us to achieve the highest possible rating at our last four - unannounced - Ofsted inspections.

However, as people who spend a great deal of our time helping young children to learn about fairness, the irony of an inspection system that iniquitously gives notice to some but not to others is not lost on us. Surely schools, nurseries, playgroups and childminders should all have 48 hours notice or we should all be subject to no-notice inspections.

Whether Ofsted decides to give notice or no notice of inspections we really don't mind.  But please, Mr Gove, can we have a level playing field?

 

 

 

Oct 19, 2016
Recently published analysis of Ofsted inspection results shows that our nurseries are two of only five early years settings in Gloucestershire to be awarded an 'outstanding' inspection judgement in each of their three most recent inspections...
Mar 10, 2016
Meal times in early years settings shouldn't simply be about 'feeding and watering' children. They should be considered as a time for learning and development. The best early years settings treat mealtimes as opportunities for adults to support children's quest for independence, as chances to cultivate children's ability to 'think' and 'do' and, of course, to learn how good it feels when we help each other.
Feb 6, 2015
The wheels on the (mini)bus will be going 'round and round' early tomorrow morning as a group of fourteeen members of the Polly's team head up to London to attend seminars at the Nursery World Show 2015...
Feb 5, 2015
This is a fabulous opportunity to join a friendly, supportive and successful nursery team and work towards a nationally recognised Level 2 or Level 3 childcare qualification.
Feb 18, 2014

It's half-term, so I took the day off work today and 'treated' my three children to... a day of sponsored litter picking in aid of CLIC.

Mar 4, 2013
There has been plenty of coverage in the media recently about proposals to allow nurseries and childminders in England to raise ratios but is this a good idea..?
Jan 24, 2013
Good morning!  We are happy to inform you that both nurseries are open from 8am this morning. We have cleared and salted the nursery parking areas, but with such very low temperatures, please exercise caution when you arrive/depart.  Unless we get any more snow today we anticipate a normal closing time of 6pm. Please arrive in good time to collect your children so that our nursery nurses can also leave on time. Thank you!
Jan 23, 2013
Good morning everyone.  We are happy to let you know that Polly's at Inchbrook will open at 8am today. Unfortunately, we had a lot of snow overnight at Brownshill and therefore Polly's at Brownshill will open at 10am.  This will give us time for staff to get in and for us to clear the snow from nursery paths and parking areas. It is currently snowing in both locations so we will need to monitor the situation and decide whether we need to close earlier today so that children and staff can get home safely.
Jan 22, 2013
Both nurseries are open from 8am today.  We've had a sprinkling of snow overnight, so please exercise caution on approach roads and parking areas.  Unless we have any further snow today we plan to remain open until 6pm.  If it does snow today, please contact the nursery or check back here for an update.
Jan 21, 2013
Both nurseries are open from 8am today and, unless the weather changes and more snow arrives, we will work to our normal closing time of 6pm.
Jan 18, 2013
Both nurseries are open but will close at 1pm today.
Jun 15, 2012

Thank you to everyone who entered our competition to win a pair of tickets to see Madness in concert at Westonbirt Arboretum later this month. We have just drawn the winning entry and can tell you that the lucky winner is...


May 10, 2012
Schools, nurseries attached to schools and childminders receive prior notice that Ofsted will be coming to inspect them.  Meanwhile, playgroups and private nurseries receive no notice of inspection.  In this blog we question whether an inspection approach that gives notice to some but not to others is fair...
Mar 21, 2012
High quality play and first-hand experiences lead children to the richest and most enjoyable discovery and learning and so these are what we want for our children.  However, a potential problem for us as early years practitioners is that few high quality play and first-hand experiences result in a tangible 'end product' (a painting etc) that parents can see and easily appreciate.
Feb 28, 2012

This is our first ever blog and we're using it to let you know what happened when Ofsted came to visit us recently!