Learning & Development at Inspection Q&A

Now we have had the opportunity to look at inspection reports and reflect on what inspectors are asking providers during the new-style inspections – and drawing on practitioner comments from the Independent Childminders Facebook group – we have put together another useful ‘question and answer’ blog for you.

This blog complements our first blog ‘Ofsted new inspection framework – questions and answers’.

These are some of the questions you might be asked by your inspector, from the ‘Quality of Education’ section of the revised Early Years Inspection handbook. You should read the handbook for more clarification –

What is your ethos for teaching children?

Teaching covers everything I do with the children and I focus very much on … for example … play based child-led learning, using my resources to support children’s learning and develop their interests.

Alongside this, I plan some routine activities during the day … such as … daily reading sessions, music and movement, small group activities etc.

I have a strong focus on reading and developing children’s vocabulary because I know how important these are for life-long learning. We love books here and read throughout the day.

Who is each child’s key person?

Every child in the setting has a named key person from day 1 – their names are shared with parents before the child starts and the child meets their key person during settling in. We know that the key person system is really important so children feel comfortable here and settle in quickly.

That child’s key person is…


Do you care for any children who receive additional funding?

Yes, I care for a child who receives early years pupil premium / disability access funding … no I don’t care for children who receive extra funding.

Note: your inspector will focus observations and tracking on these children and ask you how you have spent the money to raise outcomes for the child. They will want to see the child making rapid progress from their starting points.


What is your curriculum?

The curriculum is 7 areas of learning in the EYFS. I focus on the prime areas first because they are the most important for life-long learning but I don’t ignore the specific areas because they support children’s learning in the prime.


How do you find out about children’s home and family experiences?

I ask parents to complete an ‘all about me’ and ‘starting points’ form before their child starts in my care so I know as much about them as I can find out on day 1. Would you like to see a copy? I keep it in the child’s folder with their 2 year progress check and tracking.


How do you build on children’s home learning?

As soon as a child starts with me, I know what they have been learning at home so I can start planning for them. I build on home learning through everything I do with them – inside and outside play areas, outings and adventures, individual and group planned experiences.

Children make really good progress here from their starting points and that’s because I focus on developing them from their starting points and preparing them for the next step in their learning.


Key words for ‘cultural capital’ – awe and wonder; enhance experiences; develop opportunities; play and learning; teaching; rich outings curriculum (followed up with activities to develop learning); a broad, rich and well sequenced curriculum (children learn things in the right order); quality adult-child interactions; developing children’s interests.


Note: cultural capital is about building on children’s home and family life experiences and preparing them for life-long learning. If you link to interests, children are more likely to be engaged and motivated to learn – then they switch on their thinking skills (characteristics of learning).


Do you work with other settings?

Yes, I have really good links with the nursery that Child C attends. We share information about what we are doing so we can complement Child C’s learning. For example, at nursery Child C was learning about Easter so we did … mention some activities … here with her as well.


When do you start planning for a child’s learning?

I start planning for the individual child from day 1, using parents information taken from the ‘all about me’ and ‘starting points’ forms they have completed.  It is really important to start individual planning from day 1 – I do my own ‘baseline assessment’ as we go along but I don’t want to waste any time so knowing what the child can do and say is really important to me.


Note: if parent starting points do not appear accurate, think about how you can support the child while doing your own quick baseline. Children often do and say different things in different settings and you should not let their learning dip while you are getting to know them. Play alongside them – chat to them – enjoy their games – get to know them – ask open questions to challenge them – pop in a little bit of new learning as you go.


What document do you use to track children’s progress?

I use xxx but it is not a tick list – I use parent starting points and updated information from parents and other settings and my own knowledge of the child and child development alongside it to make sure I am always supporting their learning.


Note: Early Years Outcomes – Development Matters – ‘What to expect, when?’ are all valid tracking documents. However, they are not tick lists – they are guides to what a child might be doing / saying at different ages.


Where does your curriculum come from?

My curriculum comes from the children – what they know and can do already – their starting points. I observe constantly and work closely with parents and other settings – then I assess what they know and can do – then I plan for future learning.


Can you plan an activity for me to observe?

Yes, you can watch me during my normal daily routine which includes a mixture of free play and adult-guided activities. We will be, for example, reading … singing … playing with the sand … etc.


What is your intent for this activity?

I have planned this activity to support all the children with their … skills; I also want to focus on … with Child A and … with Child B.


Intent means – what are you teaching and why? Where does the child need to go next?


Key words for ‘intent’ – planning a broad, flexible and balanced curriculum; a well sequenced curriculum (building on previous knowledge and skills); planning a challenging curriculum; sharing knowledge and skills; understanding typical development. What do you want the child/ren to learn?


Note: planning is not about paperwork – it is about having a plan for each child in your head.


How are you going to implement this activity?

I want to build on children’s experiences, so I have already set out … and I want to observe them during play so I can build on their previous skills and knowledge.  


Implementation means – what are you doing now … what are you going to do next? You observe children all the time as you play – you build on their observed learning.


Key words for ‘implementation’ – doing an activity; quality resources and equipment; promoting, for example, maths skills; the wider experiences you offer children.


Note: observation is not about paperwork – it is about watching and listening and using what you have seen and heard to support the child’s current and future learning.


During your planned activity – there is a big focus on reading and vocabulary. The number of words a child is exposed to is important – the quality of words is important too.


At the end of the activity – what was the impact of the activity?

Child A learned … Child B was distracted and did not engage so next time I am going to do it differently, using his favourite characters to motivate him to join in.


Key words for impact – changes to long-term learning; what the child has learned and remembered; knowing more; remembering more; doing more; meeting developmental milestones; what can the child do now that they couldn’t do previously?


What will you do next to develop children’s learning / knowledge?

I want to continue practicing this skill with Child A and I want to develop Child B’s interest in whatever.


**Note: inspectors are unlikely to want to look at your observation or planning file and it is not a requirement to have one. You do need to observe (all the time as you are playing), assess (all the time as you observe) and plan for the individual child’s learning, development and progress (all the time when you have assessed what they can and cannot yet do).


How do you monitor children’s progress?

I have a tracker for each child – I fill it in … for example, monthly or termly … and check to make sure they are making good progress. Would you like to see my trackers?

The statutory paperwork I do is the 2 year progress check – I have one in every child’s file – I do them at … months. Here let me get one to show you…


Note: most inspectors will not want to look at paperwork but they should not refuse to look if you want to show them something to, for example, illustrate a point you are making. Most inspectors will ask to see at least one copy of a 2 year progress check because that is a statutory document – not ‘for Ofsted’ but to comply with the requirements of the EYFS.


Gold Childcare.co.uk members can watch a webinar about the 2 year progress check on the Webinar Player.


What do you do if a child is at risk of falling behind?

If I have any concerns about progress, I speak to parents and review / change my planning.


How do you promote parent partnerships?

I work really hard with all my parents to support children’s learning here and at home. Some parents are less receptive than others but that doesn’t stop me trying to engage with them and I have a really good relationship with them all.

For example … last week we were learning about autumn and the children were really enjoying learning a new leaf counting song – they took the words home and one parent sent me a photo of their child collecting leaves to sing the song at home.

I share lots of information with them, let them know how their child is getting on and talk to them about their child’s day so they know what they’ve been doing here. I also share the statutory information like policies and procedures (safeguarding and complaints) and their child’s daily routines, menu etc with them.


Do you do group / cohort tracking?

Childminders – no, because it is not required for childminders. However, I do keep an eye on learning outcomes across the whole group of children and if I notice a dip in an area of learning for more than 1 child, I will … for example … do some training / check my knowledge is up to date … and plan activities to help develop their learning.


Group settings – yes, I do it very simply to make sure every group of children is making good progress.

**You can use the above example to illustrate your point.


How do you use training to support children’s learning?

I noticed that a few of the children were struggling with maths so I did a maths webinar training session and audited all my maths resources – books, songs, games etc. I made changes to how I present maths and now include it in everything I do with the children - inside, outside and on outings. I have also introduced little challenges to get the children thinking about different maths concepts. It’s working really well and children’s tracking shows they are making good progress.


Note: Childcare.co.uk gold members can access free webinar training on all the 7 areas of learning.


Note: ‘Quality of education’ links closely to the other inspection judgements –

  • Behaviour and attitudes – outcome

It’s about how children behave so they are not disturbing their own learning and other children’s learning – yes – but more about how you support them to behave well so they get back to their learning as quickly as possible.

  • Personal development – provision to support learning.
    The focus here is on PSED – personal, social and emotional development.
  • Leadership and management – vision and ethos

It is a limiting judgement – so best advice is to work through the grade indicators for outstanding and good and make sure you are doing everything required in everyday practice.


Note: during childminder pre-registration visits, Ofsted inspectors usually ask questions about activities for different age groups or activities for the prime and specific areas of learning. This does not tend to happen during routine inspections. You can find more information about childminder pre-registration visits.


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