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Ofsted inspections in the early years: 15 key questions you may be asked

9 min of reading
29 July 2022
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What to find on this article:

You put an exceptional amount of time and effort into making your nursery setting the best it can be. External Ofsted judgements that influence reputation and parental choice understandably can heighten feelings of stress and worry.

This needn’t be the case! Ensure you and your team are confident and prepared in advance to allow the visit to give you opportunities to showcase what you do for your children and families day in, day out.

There are a number of metaphorical ducks you will need to get into rows to be prepared before and on the day of your inspection. Check out our article on everything you need to know when preparing your staff, parents and children prior to a visit from Ofsted. How many times have you thought of vital points to include after an interview or important conversation has passed? This ‘brain-fog’ is one of the main areas of concern often mentioned by early years practitioners, when it comes to inspections.

We have created 15 of the top Ofsted questions you and your team may be asked during your inspection to help you prepare for those brain fog moments. In creating these EYFS Ofsted questions, we consulted additional industry experts, The Early Years Inspection Handbook, the 2021 EYFS Framework, and spoke to nurseries who have celebrated successful Ofsted inspections in 2022.

These questions are not designed to be exhaustive or to allow for prescriptive answers. Remember that the best inspection conversations are those detailing how your learning is tailored to the needs of your children and families, and therefore there can’t be a carbon copy answer format. From this article, you and your team will gain access to potential question topics and styles for inspections, which we hope will remove the panic when answering and give you the confidence to show how you shine.

Before anything else, preparation is the key to success

Alexander Graham Bell

What is Ofsted’s role?

Since the introduction of school inspections in 1992, Ofsted has been charged with the responsibility to monitor the quality of teaching and learning in all educational settings across England. The EYFS Framework is the statutory document that all maintained and non-maintained schools, as well as nurseries and childminders either from the local authority or privately owned, must follow. This is because the framework:

Sets the standards that all early years providers must meet to ensure that children learn and develop well

Ensures children are kept healthy and safe

Ensures that children have the knowledge and skills they need to start school

Settings will be inspected within a 6-year timescale, and if a setting is newly established the inspection will be within 30 months of their registration date. To ensure rapid improvement to the provision, any group setting will be re-visited within 6 months if deemed to be inadequate, with a childminder or preschool nursery having a 1 month revisit time if inadequate. Read more about the Ofsted judgements and what this looks like in a nursery setting here.

What will happen on the inspection day?

The usual working day before the inspection will take place, during which your setting will be contacted by midday via a phone call. The Ofsted representative will speak to the manager of the setting and if they are unavailable, they will ask to speak to the next available senior member of the team. During the phone call, Ofsted will confirm logistical and organisational details, as well as timetables for the following day. They will also expect to collect additional documents and information to assist with their visit.

You can expect the inspector/s to be in the setting for between 4-6 hours on the visit days. Spending their time observing children and staff, undertaking joint learning walks, meeting with parents, viewing relevant policies and information, as well as discussing in-depth questions will be their mission for the day. More information on what to do before and on the inspection day can be found here.

What questions will Ofsted ask me and my team?

These non-exhaustive questions have been sectioned into Curriculum (Quality of Education); Behaviour and Attitudes; Personal Development; Leadership and Management; and Safeguarding. To give you some ideas, we have included a few easy examples of demonstrating evidence.

Curriculum

Following the 3 I’s for quality of education, these questions are sectioned into Intent, Implementation and Impact.

Intent

1) What do you intend your children to know because of your EYFS curriculum?

2) How do you make sure your curriculum meets the needs of all children?

Implementation

3) How do you ensure your staff has quality subject knowledge to deliver activities?

4) How are Literacy and Language promoted through your setting?

Impact

5) How do you monitor progress across your setting?

Get in touch with the Blossom team to discuss our award-winning nursery software.

6) How is independence increased across your setting?

Behaviour and Attitudes

7) What are your expectations of behaviour in your setting?

8) How is self-regulation promoted throughout the nursery?

9) How effective are the home-nursery links for attendance and behaviour?

Personal Development

10) How do you teach children to respect and celebrate people and their differences?

11) How does your level of support for your children change throughout the year?

Leadership and Management

12) How is your provision organised?

13) What are the main stresses of your team and how do you support them?

Safeguarding

14) What safeguarding procedures are in place?

15) What is your visitor procedure?

Your children attend your setting for a nurturing, supportive and engaging start to their educational careers. Try using the tools mentioned above to showcase all you do to make this happen, and give your children the best start.

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