Ofsted's blog: Scoring high in Ofsted’s Annual Report - early years getting it right

5th December 2016 at 10:02

What makes the sector tick?

The early years sector has seen some good achievements and progress this year which are reflected in the Annual Report of Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector of Education, Children’s Services and Skills 2015/16, so it’s not surprising that there are many examples of what works for individual settings. Here’s a sample of case studies featured in the report.  

Hampshire – paying close attention

There will be many routes to success and one outstanding childminder in Hampshire has found what works for her. Thorough attention to detail is high on her list. This childminder:

  • checks on children’s progress thoroughly to help identify opportunities to challenge and extend children’s individual learning needs
  • has a comprehensive knowledge of the children’s stages of development, gained through observing them at play
  • pays extremely close attention to checking their learning, so she can address any gaps in their learning and development.

She also shares all the information she has about the children’s achievement with their parents, keeping them fully informed and involved in their children’s learning. And the children are kept highly stimulated and engaged through an extensive variety of activities.

Major changes in Croydon

Improvement has been high on the agenda at the Tunstall Nursery School in Croydon and they have made the journey from requires improvement to outstanding. So what does their outstanding provision look like?

Staff at the nursery school:

  • assess children’s progress comprehensively and record their findings accurately. This way the children’s progress can be plotted clearly
  • plan highly effectively for the next day’s activities at the end of each session
  • take the children’s interest in the activities as their starting points and then plan how to extend their learning.

Disadvantaged children are known to staff and are given high-quality support. This helps them to hold their own with other children and, more often than not, make stronger progress.

The activities provided are challenging and cover a wide range of knowledge and skills. As a result the children can make extremely rapid progress in gaining knowledge and learning social, language and number skills.

Ready, steady, go in Newark

In Newark there’s a partnership of schools that work with six pre-school providers. One of these, Chuter Ede School, was judged outstanding in 2013. Outcomes for vulnerable groups are historically strong there in terms of progress and attainment. But senior leaders acknowledged that even more could be done to raise outcomes at the end of the early years foundation stage and key stage 1. Inspectors found that the school had a clear vision of what transition should look like.

Parents are encouraged by the school to make several visits with their children before the start of term. A booklet called ‘My new school’ is shared with all children. And early years’ staff visit each home where they encourage parents to fill in a ‘hopes and aspirations’ booklet about their child.

The school arranges a formal meeting with parents to help them to support school readiness. This has resulted in ‘Ready, steady, go’, a document now adopted by the Newark partnership.

Key workers will visit children in their pre-school setting. They’ll meet with the pre-school staff to gather detailed information about children’s interests, learning and personal development.

In the first weeks of term the school gathers baseline information which they use to inform groups and identify any immediate interventions needed. This information is moderated with other schools and settings in the cluster.

In the term following transition, pre-school providers are invited to visit to see their alumni. This is an opportunity to discuss how things have gone and whether there are any adjustments they can make to support groups or individuals even more in future transitions.