Ofsted’s new framework: What will it mean for LOtC in Early Years?

Date Posted: 14/07/2015

From September, the new common inspection framework will be rolled out across Early Years settings, maintained schools and academies, non-association independent schools and further education and skills providers.

The main changes include short inspections for maintained schools, academies and further education and skills providers that were judged good at their last full inspection and significant changes to Ofsted’s inspection workforce, as Ofsted will now contract directly with inspectors for maintained schools, academies, non-association independent schools and further education and skills inspections.

However, with more emphasis on personal development and the delivery of a broad and balanced curriculum, there are also some helpful developments for learning outside the classroom. As the inspection handbooks for each area are published we take a closer look at what the new framework will mean for LOtC.

In this feature we focus on Early Years. In future features we’ll consider the framework’s impacts on other educational remits. 

The common inspection framework summary

The common inspection framework (CIF) aligns inspection across all of the different education remits: registered early years settings, maintained schools and academies, non-association independent schools and further education and skills providers.

The CIF aims to provide consistency and comparability in Ofsted’s inspection of all education provision and inspectors will write the judgements in the same language and will mean the same things.

Inspectors will make judgements on the following areas for all remits…

  1. effectiveness of leadership and management
  2. quality of teaching, learning and assessment
  3. personal development, behaviour and welfare
  4. outcomes for children and learners.

However, the CIF does not mean ‘one size fits all’. A handbook for each remit applies the principles of the framework to the needs and expectations of different phases of education and training.

Early years

For Early Years, the way Ofsted inspects and the type of evidence that inspectors look for will not change significantly.

Inspections will still be carried out by inspectors with experience and expertise in Early Years. The judgement on outcomes for children is new for Early Years providers.

Inspectors will focus on children’s progress from their different starting points. Alongside the continuing focus on teaching (reported under the new teaching, learning and assessment judgement), this emphasis on progress will ensure that inspectors check that children are given the best possible start to their learning and development.

All Early Years provision, including in schools, will now be judged against the same evaluation criteria and reported on using the same language in the same way. This means that parents will find it easier to make comparisons between different providers.

According to the Early Years inspection handbook, the main evidence for judging quality of teaching should come from inspectors’ direct observations of the way in which children demonstrate the following key characteristics of effective learning…

  1. Playing and exploring
  2. Active learning
  3. Creating and thinking critical

Active Learning and LOtC

The continued emphasis on active learning will encourage Early Years settings to offer a range of imaginative learning opportunities both inside and outside. The grade descriptors for outstanding quality of teaching include the following descriptor,

“Practitioners use their expert knowledge of the areas of learning and deep understanding of how children learn to provide rich, varied and imaginative experiences that enthuse, engage and motivate children to learn.”

We believe this will be helpful in encouraging providers to offer a range of learning outside the classroom opportunities to support their teaching of the EYFS curriculum.

Personal development, behaviour and welfare and LOtC

The criteria for judgement on the personal development, behaviour and welfare of children, mentioned in the framework summary above, should also be helpful in ensuring that children have a broad experience base and are able to explore the world around them.

Inspectors will look for the following when making judgements on this area,

  1. Sense of achievement and commitment to learning through a positive culture that is evident across the whole setting
  2. Self-confidence, self-awareness and understanding of how to be a successful learner
  3. Enjoyment of learning and the development of their independence and ability to explore their surroundings and use their imagination
  4. Social and emotional preparation for their transition within the setting, into other early years settings, and into maintained nursery provision and/or Reception class
  5. Understanding of how to keep themselves safe from relevant risks, including when using the internet and social media
  6. Knowledge of how to keep themselves healthy, including through exercising and eating healthily
  7. Personal development, so that they are well prepared to respect others and contribute to wider society and life in Britain

All of the above outcomes have ties with LOtC, which should be a helpful development for practitioners moving forward.

To read the full Early Years inspection handbook visit the government website.


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