Ofsted inspections don’t need to be stressful- or dreaded. With enough pre-planning, and with a game plan for the day of, you will find that it can turn into a celebration of all your hard work! Our setting, Blossom Tree Montessori, received an Outstanding rating and now we want to help you do the same. Read on!
Getting that 24 hours' notice
You can expect to receive a telephone call at around midday on a working day before the start of the inspection. You will always get 24 hours’ notice unless Ofsted has received a concern about your nursery. In that case, this will trigger a surprise inspection.
After the call, you will be surprised how quickly the word spreads of the anticipated inspection in your setting. You want to have control over it as you do not want panic to ensue. After you hang up, try to resist the urge to frantically make a ‘to-do’ list. We’ve saved you the trouble. Here’s our one:
Blossom Tree’s Own Inspection Experience
You may be interested to know that the night before our own inspection, we threw a pizza party! It was more of a celebration of what we had accomplished together as a nursery. This excited and relaxed energy carried into the inspection the next day – which the inspector immediately picked up on.
Documents to have ready
It is no secret that your Ofsted nursery inspector will need to review certain important documentation during their visit. And you need to be ready. Fiddling around at the eleventh hour to find papers is the last thing you want on the day (and it is avoidable stress).
Sorting documents for the inspection can get a bit confusing and stressful. Our main piece of advice is to prepare these the day before the inspection. Here are the documents that need to be readied according to page 9 of The Early Years Inspection Handbook:
Blossom customers are able to find nursery, staff, and child files instantly. Documents can be uploaded to the system for cloud-based storage and quick, stress-free access. Plus you are able to generate formative reports (such as termly/half-termly reports) to make Ofsted inspections less stressful.
Inside the inspector's mind
Let’s get inside the mind of the inspector for a second. If you know what the inspector is looking for, you can ensure that your setting meets those requirements. It’s important to create an open and honest dialogue with your Ofsted nursery inspector. Remember, these are people who have been Ofsted Outstanding nursery teachers and leaders themselves. So there’s no “pulling a fast one” with them.
Make all events past and present shine
Your inspector only sees a snapshot of your setting on inspection day. They don’t know you had a potato planting session a couple months ago, or about that parent picnic…Therefore you need to show them. Photos are excellent tangible evidence that your inspector can collect all in support of improving your rating.
Master learning walks
It’s good to focus on things you are doing well (rather than what needs some work). If you wish, you can delegate some duties of the walk to other managers/ leaders in your setting. However, ensure that they are well prepared – with specific points to highlight. Overall, make it a celebration of your nursery’s achievements and what impact it has made.
At some point during your inspection, there will come a time for joint observations. This is when the inspector and manager (or assigned leader) will take part in observing activities together. According to the handbook, Joint Observations should enable the inspector to:
List of things not to do
Now that we’ve covered everything you should do on the day, what should you avoid? The two most important things not to on the day are:
We have heard horror stories of nurseries attempting new activities on inspection day and children piping up saying, “Why are we doing this? We’ve never done this before…”