It is often hard to find someone in the Early Years sector who doesn’t have a strong opinion about OFSTED. In that ‘marmite’ way, they are generally either loved (especially if you get an ‘OUTSTANDING’) or hated (if you get anything less!).
However, they do have a difficult role to fill; they are limited by budgets and ability, made up of a whole group of human beings, but expected to operate in a machine-like way, always making completely fair judgements. Can a judgement really ever be ‘completely fair’ when it is always going to come from an individual with their own influences?
I’m not here to defend OFSTED in anyway, having had very mixed experiences with different inspectors over the last 10 years. However, we have just taken part in 4 pilot inspections, as part of the need to inspect against the new EYFS framework, and overall the experience has been very positive. Inspectors have been thoughtful, interested and keen to ensure that providers understand what they are inspecting against. Feedback has been thorough and helpful. As usual, it is a time of change in the nursery sector and we are all busy dissecting the revisions to the EYFS to see what we need to do before September. However, we are feeling more positive about the changes to the inspection framework, having taken part in these pilot inspections. Time will tell, but we can all hope for a fairer and more transparent system, whilst hoping that the Minister for Education doesn’t decide to change the plans at a whim!