There were a few questions that have been clarified by Ofsted. Simona and Ofsted have therefore updated the minutes. Thanks again, to Simona for the work she has put into this.
Minutes of Q&A Ofsted workshop with Liz Elsom (Ofsted Divisional Manager for Early Years and Childcare)
Good Morning and welcome from Simona and introducing Liz Elsom
LE: Welcome and explained her role in Ofsted and reason for being at the meeting following Simona’s invitation for a Q&A session for c/ms who had had no opportunity to attend conferences and get answers to questions. She stressed there is ‘no thing as a stupid question’, all topics acceptable and where not sure she would feedback via Simona. Willing to discuss deregulation but stressed she does not have the Minister’s ear!
LE: It will be tougher to register, training before Ofsted visit to be completed. Focus on first interview ‘will you be able to deliver EYFS from 1st day’? May be affected by safeguarding requirements, all settings need ‘designated lead’. First Aid training must be approved by LA previously not a requirement but guidance.
Question: is there a requirement to do safeguarding regularly?
Answer: Take note of LA advice as they have the lead role for child protection. Regularity is not prescribed by EYFS but would be a concern if someone had not done training for 6 years. EYFS= Lead practitioner must attend C/Protection course it does not specify how often. Best advice: do LA approved course but they may differ from La to LA
Q: LA say training should be level 1,2,3. Do c/ms need all levels?
A: consult your LA. EYFS does not say about level 1,2,3. CRB checks will continue on all members within c/ms’ homes
Q: I never had a CRB check
A: That is ok as you will have registered before this was required. Your certificate will be ‘proof’ that you are a suitable person. Ofsted has currently no intention to repeat CRBs. The new arrangements for vetting and barring will include an automatic updating system that individuals may agree to join. Ofsted’s current understanding is that those joining this system must have a new CRB check but the details including any subsidies are not yet known. Currently Ofsted receives information from the Home Office about those who have received a conviction since their CRB check but it relies on those convicted giving their occupation as being in childcare.
Q: how will this affect safeguarding if Ofsted does not know this information
A: A CRB check, like most checks, is only valid on the day they are done. Continuous updating will deal with some of the issues arising from the current process but the detail of how it will work in practice is still not known. The EYFS will need to change before Ofsted can use the updating system for those applying to register as it requires all those registering to submit an application for a CRB check to Ofsted. The updating system is likely to come in to place ‘sometimes in the new year’.
LE: EYFS specifies when assistants can be used. More children allowed with an assistant but she cannot be left in sole charge for more than 2 hrs, school runs ok providing the assistant has first aid but prevents assistants covering for c/m for example for training sessions lasting more than 2 hours. May be better for them to be registered in own right but number of children remains the same
Q: Choice of assistants up to c/ms, can I use my husband?
A: yes but let Ofsted know that he is now acting as an assistant
Q: do we still need to ask for a variation
A: You need to let Ofsted know each time you take on someone new so that Ofsted can check their suitability but Ofsted will not use the current variation process
Q: What about using my children, 18 and over and checked as part of my household
A: I will check wording and feedback via Simona as I do not have the document here. (The answer is yes you can use them but Ofsted needs to know they are acting in a different capacity, that is they are working with children instead of just living in the household)
Q: does that apply to students?
A: Students in a household need to be checked the same way as anyone else and must be checked by Ofsted before a childminder can leave them alone with children. Student CRB for university not enough
Q: does that apply for a nanny used as assistant
A: yes if nanny has been checked by Ofsted and there has been no break in service within last 6 months
Q: will they need First Aid for being left on their own
Topic: conditions of registration
LE: Ofsted dispensing with most conditions. EYFS 2012 sets what c/ms must do and you do not need Ofsted to tell you again (otherwise you could be prosecuted twice for breach of Ofsted conditions and EYFS requirements). Some c/ms will still have conditions where Ofsted wants to restrict something that is not in the EYFS requirements, typically those preventing c/ms from having children in a specific age group because of a medical condition/or having certain people in your home while c/minding
Numbers you can have: not very clear in EYFS but 3.39 gives you additional flexibility to the requirements that are particularly for childminders giving you flexibility to have more than three children under five in circumstances you decide are exceptional.
Q: had a condition about not using a balcony
A: cannot answer specific setting conditions. Generally a robust risk assessment would be enough
Q: my certificate says I may have 2 babies, is that still right?
A: Yes. You must go through why you think this is acceptable to continue and why this is an exception. It is your decision but if Ofsted judges you have not considered the needs of all the children in your care when coming to your decision it will take action, normally by a judgement of ‘inadequate’ at inspection. Receiving information suggesting childminders were looking after too many children would usually trigger an inspection.
Q: what documentation would I need to prove how I had made the decision to have 2 under 1 year and 5 under 5?
A: Paperwork would help your case. Inspectors will look at how you are meeting needs. No clear cut answer it depends on circumstances, proof of how you discuss with parents and if they are happy with situation
Q: looking after 5 under 5 needs to consider the enabling environment
A: case of being able to deliver EYFS taking into account the space you have, the times children are with you and their ages. Generally the wider the age range the more difficult it will be to deliver. Group care must inform Ofsted of changes to in space eg: new room. C/ms need to tell Ofsted if the space used to care for children changes, for example if you have a playroom built.
Q: Can we include hallways and large kitchens previously not included?
A: Yes as long as the children play there
Q: do we need to inform Ofsted of the changes to our children’s ages
A: no. The issuing of new certificates removing conditions of registration will take some time to achieve because of the number of registered providers Ofsted has, the deadline is end March 2013. You can do self regulation ahead of receiving new certificate and if you wish to double check you may contact Ofsted if you wish. Overnight care no longer on certificate, c/ms must make decision
Q: what about c/ms previously prevented from doing overnight care
A: they would now be able to make own decision about this taking into account the other EYFS requirements including being in sight or hearing of the childminder.
Q: do children need own room
A: No, they need own bed and bedding and be within hearing
Q: will part of home not being used for care removed from certificate?
A: Yes but we do reserve the right to apply any conditions
Q: sofa bed, can I use for a 6 year old
A: if you think it appropriate yes. Focus is on how you assess risk. The Inspector is less likely to walk around the house and tell you what to change. Instead they will assess how well you have assessed the risks. Different approach used and c/ms responsible for considering what is a safe environment
Q: do we now need to write our risk assessment?
A: There will be new risk assessment guidance published soon. EYFS 2012 is more flexible and does not require reams of paper but requires a risk assessment policy. How you do this is down to you. Discussion will be about what you have done to minimise risk. Inspectors will ask about outings, think about worst case scenario and assess accordingly. Do not be tempted to say there are no risks in your home but look at what these are and how you have minimised or removed them.
LE: some changes to inspections, new cycle started 3 Sept 2012 and all inspections to be completed by 31 July 2016. We will inspect everyone at least once by then.. We have started this cycle with inspecting those providers with 2 previous ‘satisfactory’ grades, then one satisfactory. If outstanding last time you may not be inspected for 5 years. This does not mean that we will never inspect anyone who is outstanding or good early in the cycle, we will still inspect some especially if we have received a concern from LA or a parent. You are now much more likely to have an inspection instead of an investigation in these circumstances. This is a full inspection and report. It may or may not reference concerns, will depend on evidence eg: if a child left unsupervised setting not meeting requirements, that would be referenced because incident is not in dispute, otherwise it will be a judgement made on the day
Q: malicious complaints: if no evidence how will those making this kind of complaint be dealt with?
A: each piece of information will be taken and used with regard to what is known about you. Each concern will be looked at on the basis of ‘it this were true would a child come to harm’ and it may trigger an inspection. If it is anonymous it will be passed back to you and we will check at next inspection
Q: other companies do not allow complaints to remain anonymous, why do Ofsted allow this?
A: Differentiation between a complaint about children and one about, for example noise. If someone is nervous about giving their name, for example because they work in a setting and have concerns about the care of children there we want them to feel able to tell us that information. We treat information in 3 or 4 ways. Minor matters we will normally refer to the childminder; most information will trigger an inspection. Very serious concerns, for example child protection, will normally have an investigation stage before an inspection. If another body is investigating Ofsted will work with them and inspect after investigation
Q: Financial matters raise many complaints, should c/ms inform you. Why doesn’t Ofsted offer an automated response to concerns?
A: EYFS clear about what you need to tell us. If you think parents will complain about other aspects of your service following a financial dispute, it is always useful to let us know. Ofsted does not deal with issues of finance between provider and families It has not been our practice to offer an automated answer, Ofsted leaflet for parents has been redone to let parents know how we deal with any concerns.
Q: Are Ofsted going to change the way Satisfactory is defined
A: We continue to have four judgements: outstanding, good, satisfactory and inadequate. We did consider moving from satisfactory to ‘requires improvement’ in line with schools. Sir Michael Wilshaw wants to move away from satisfactory as a category because he believes all children deserve to be in provision that is at least good and wants to signal that satisfactory providers need to improve. We have considered further consultation on the grade but are now waiting for the outcome of the Childcare Commission and any changes to c/ms made by the Minister before making any decisions. Any major changes such as those discussed in the press about agencies require changes to the Childcare Act and will take about two years to put in place. Satisfactory means meeting the grade descriptors used by Ofsted but does not necessarily mean childminders meet all EYFS requirements. The judgements Ofsted uses in inspection are: leadership & management, Contribution to the provision of children’s wellbeing, meeting needs of children who attend, overall effectiveness using the wording Ofsted is required to report on from the Childcare Act. Ofsted’s intention is to make separate judgements about care, including children’s emotional attachment and the quality of practice in supporting children learning including how ready they are for school.
Q: Should Development Mattersbe used as a statutory requirement
A: Using DM to discuss where a child is in their development and what c/ms will do next. DM is a guidance but it is a tool for delivering on educational programmes. Inspectors are being asked to be more precise about where a c/m is not meeting requirements in relation to children’s learning and to use DM as a guide in doing this.
Q: Do c/ms need to label everything or will that trigger an action or report
A: Not required but introducing children to print and its meaning is very important. C/ms need to be confident in what they are doing
Q: Reports are being read and shared on blogs and social media and then making judgements
A: Ofsted cannot comment on individual inspections. We accept that different inspectors have different writing styles and this will not change but all inspectors write to published guidance. If c/ms feel that the report does not reflect the guidance or has overlooked aspects of their practice then they may complain. It is always difficult to comment on individual inspections or to compare reports because the judgement relates to what is seen on the day and relates to that particular setting
Q: we have 24 hrs windows to allow c/ms to check report and object
A: These are Ofsted wide policies. The 24-hour window is for a factual accuracy check. Childminders have an additional 30 days after the inspection to make a complaint.
LE: Online SEF went live a month ago, not compulsory. Don’t need to do anything at all to prepare for inspection just be in when the inspector calls. If you are likely to be nervous then the best preparation is to think about what the inspector might do and want to see and have it to hand. If you are confident to talk about your planning, assessment and the way you evaluate your provision there is no need to write anything down. Generally the bigger the setting the more you need to write down. 2 year old summary must be written down. Learning journeys are good idea, you need to articulate where children are and what you are intending to do with them next.
Q: What if you only have a child for only 2/3 months before their 2 year old progress check and it is not been written by anyone else, do you need to complete the summary
A: Yes you must if the child has not had a summary from elsewhere. The child does not need to be with you long for you to know there are issues that need addressing. 2 year old check goes to parents but you need permission to share with anyone else. C/ms should be asked to contribute to any assessment of a child who is assessed elsewhere. All this is primarily to do with what is best for the child
Q: How do we prove we work with schools and other settings if they will not co-operate with c/ms
A: Write what you do and complement what the child has done in other settings. If settings don’t share that info then there is nothing to be done. Ofsted can only advocate working together but cannot make it happen
Q: Will there be more notice for inspections
A: Lots of debate around this but no change to present arrangements, usually 5 days notice. Would like ‘no notice’ system but this would be unworkable for childminders.
Q: Is there a specific time that the inspection should take
A: Allocated time is around 3 hrs. If inspected at start of cycle it may take longer as inspectors are getting to grips with changes. If childminders usually go out on the day of the inspection, the inspector will go with them but also need to see the home. Childminding is a home-based occupation we would question if a c/m was out all day everyday
Q: is it necessary to have a formal meeting with parents to share info. Is 20 minutes enough
A: Do not have to have a formal meeting, just offer parents ways of communicating with us and sharing info. Hard to put a time around this. Some parents need more time, maybe need to gauge whether parents find it is enough time for them
Q: What are the top 10 complaints Ofsted receives
A: Don’t really have a top ten list but generally Staff deployment for group care, over minding for c/ms. Usually from public or other c/ms that see too many children, unregistered providers. For unregistered childminding it is very difficult to take action as Ofsted has to prove not only that children attend for more than two hours but also that payment takes place. This is very difficult unless parents are willing to admit to payments. It is easier to prove when registration has been cancelled as a person is then disqualified from providing childcare.
Q: What will unregulated childcare look like in 5 years time
A: It is difficult to say. My personal view is that c/minding will continue in some form. I. think therewill be an ‘agency’ style system given what the Minister has already said in Nursery World and elsewhere. There is nothing to suggest this will be compulsory. It is a way to offer customised training and support to c/ms. It would need legislation in order to set model up. The agency approach works well in fostering. If it goes ahead there will be opportunities for you to express your views through consultation. More information in next few months
Q: Are Ofsted worried that new legislation may see c/ms leaving the profession
A: Clearly the Government needs enough childcare to deliver things like the two-year-old offer and these things will influence any decisions made. New minister has many difficult decisions to make
At one point during the Q&A Liz Elsom said there are 96,000 providers in total and 60,000 are registered c/ms
On 19 November 2012 Ofsted published ‘Requirements for Risk assessment’ A childcare factsheet no.120334