At the beginning of July we brought you an update of all things Ofsted related, and over the last few days, further updates have been released. In this update, we will be bringing you the most important aspects of those updates and discussing what that means for you in practice as an early years leader.
The updates we will refer to can be found here:
So lets kick off with Education plans from September 2020.
Updated 12th Aug 2020 with details of early years interim visits along with an added link to the new early years operational note, this guidance is effective from 1st Sept 2020. So what are the interim visits? Over the Autumn term, there will be a phased return to inspections, with full inspections returning in Jan 2020. The visits in the interim phase will be led by demand, so settings that are Inadequate or RI will take priority along with those where there are concerns in terms of the safeguarding and welfare requirements. These visits will not be inspections as we know and love them, and there won’t be an inspection grade issued.
The previous disapplications issued to support providers through the Covid-19 period ends on 25th September 2020, meaning providers must meet the learning and development requirements in full from then. In our experience, all the settings we work with have continued to meet these requirements throughout the pandemic, so this shouldn’t be a problem to the majority. Whilst the disapplications were put in place to make early years life a little easier, we’ve not met one setting manager who thought reducing the emphasis on learning and development might be a good move for their children and families!
Visits will be notified to enable inspectors to be aware of any infection control arrangements in place in your setting and to discuss the context of the visit. This will be as its always been, before 12:30 pm on the day prior to the visit. Inspectors must also complete a COVID-19 general risk assessment before carrying out any on-site visits, as mentioned in the document, ‘Deferring Ofsted inspections’. This was also updated 12th Aug 2020 to include ‘what the policy applies to and information around Covid-19 and deferrals.’
Whilst the visits will be shorter and only focussed on the Safeguarding and Welfare requirements, it’s an ideal time for a bit of a practice. We are advising our members to use any interim inspections as a practice run for a further inspection the following year where grades will be issued. So use the time to get your team together and prepare yourself as if it were a full and proper inspection. By doing this you will be able to identify any potential gaps or areas for further development. It’s an ideal opportunity so why not use it to your advantage.
During these interim visits, the inspector must follow Government guidelines in terms of Covid-19 arrangements. We might then say that visits into the rooms and the initial nursery tour is unjustified, potentially increasing the risk of the spread of infection. Perhaps the visits will be purely office based? The document states ‘Inspectors will use their professional judgement to decide the best method to gather sufficient, valid and reliable evidence to support the outcome of the visit decision.’ This is certainly something that can be achieved from an office-based inspection if only the safeguarding and welfare requirements are being inspected. Moreover, this will limit the contact with other individuals as required by government guidance.
It is your setting and as always you should ensure your policies are followed. From the moment the inspector arrives, they will be wanting to see how you are maintaining hygiene standards, and this goes for them too. Ensure the follow your protocols for hand washing, physical contact and social distancing. This is something to think about now and prepare for. During an inspection, how will you ensure that these processes are followed? Could the inspection be carried out in a sperate room, rather than the office where staff may be coming in and out on lunch breaks for example? When the inspector arrives, where do you want bags to be safely stored and where will they wash hands? Your inspector should be following the same protocols and everyone else.
The main questions that the inspector must consider during inspection:
1. What has the provider done to tackle the actions set and how has it improved the care of children?
2. Is it apparent that the provider has let other aspects slip and is there now cause for concern in different areas and subsequent breaches to the statutory requirements?
Outcome summaries will be published rather than a full report at the end of an interim visit. This will explain the action you have taken to meet the safeguarding and welfare actions set at the last inspection and will be published on the Ofsted website for 5 years.
The published outcome summary will include:
· the date of the last inspection
· the inspection judgement
· reference to the safeguarding and welfare actions that were raised at the last inspection
· whether the actions raised at the last inspection have been met
· any further action we are taking in response to any non-compliance
· the next steps
Throughout these documents, one factor is clear; the focus until the new year is the safeguarding and welfare requirements, in particular First Aid certification, DBS checks and registration compliance. This will include how the provider is following the most up-to-date guidance from Public Health England, so make sure you know this guidance and how you apply it in your setting.
Read through the guidance and make sure you understand your role. Think about how you are going to implement any actions and how to disseminate this information through your staff teams.
If you need any further advice, do not hesitate to contact us, we are always happy to help.