Top tips on conducting a mock Ofsted Inspection
It is good practice to carry out Ofsted mock inspections as often as you can. This will help prepare practitioners and highlight any issues to work on before the real inspection. Conducting mock Ofsted inspections are easy to do especially when following the Early Years Handbook. This document gives clear information of what the Ofsted inspection will request to see, and it also tells you more about on the day of the inspection. Some settings invite other people in to do mock inspections as this is a fresh pair of eyes.
First of all observe practice within rooms, look at the quality of teaching and learning. Are children engaged, are practitioners down at their levels interacting, asking opening ended question? Watching practitioners practice can help identify areas of weakness that can be addressed during a supervision.
When in rooms observing use this time to ask safeguarding questions such as what to do if they have a concern etc. Also, ask to see children’s learning journeys and ask questions about children’s starting points and what is being done to help move children on in their learning.
Ask the following questions about the planning
- How does it work?
- How are children’s interests incorporated?
- How do you include parents voice?
As Ofsted are very keen to see how children are tracked from on entry, look at all sources of development documents, does it show where children started and where they are now? It is important to have evidence to show that if a child is behind in an area what is being done to help support the child. Documenting conversations with SENCO’s, parents and other professionals is crucial as this shows that help is being sourced.
When moving around the setting, look out for;
- Real pictures of children playing in that area
- Links to the EYFS on photos
- Staff knowledge of the characteristics of effective learning- is there reference to these on displays
- Key words displayed in different languages, e.g., bathroom, garden, ( As young children can’t read add a photo to the key word)
- Positive images
- How the setting actively promotes British Values
- Do observations reflect the Leuven scales for emotional well-being and involvement?
After finishing observing in the room and talking to practitioners begin looking at office documentation. Take a look at a recent employees recruitment file. Are there documents such as references, evidence of identifying checks, a DBS number,a childcare disqualification form, induction booklet, etc. Ask what happens after an employee is employed, does the setting have a system they follow such as a four weekly review? This review can be the responsibility of the room head/senior practitioner. It is an opportunity for the practitioner to get a better understanding of what is expected of them.
Don’t forget to look at policies and procedures and ensure these have been updated to reflect current changes especially the safeguarding policy. Ofsted will want to see reference to the British Values and the Prevent Duty; some settings have this within their safeguarding policy others have a separate policy. It is therefore a good idea to check this and knowledge of this during your mock inspections.
Take a look at the settings SEF and development plan; these are both important. A development plan is an overall collection of evidence to show the progression of your setting.
For settings without a development plan, it is recommended to collate evidence of what you have improved on and also talk about things you need to improve on. Ofsted is very keen to see how settings are continuously looking at ways to improve.