As a busy day nursery manager I have various administrative commitments throughout the day, plus my deputy may be on holiday. With no supply cover available I may be taking a group of children and not free to accompany the inspector and answer questions.
Inspectors are not always sympathetic to a problem day or the realities of running a day nursery.
I heard of one nursery that was given an action to ensure that all staff had full knowledge of the early learning goals. On the particular day in question two of the three members of staff were sick. The best available cover was a former staff member (NNEB) who had left in 1995 and someone who had just started an NVQ in childcare. Neither had heard of the early learning goals but they were able to provide safe and stimulating care and activities for the day. This was explained to the inspector but she added the recommendation nonetheless.
It would be far better that inspectors made frequent, unannounced spot checks during or after which advice could be given in preparation for the subsequent full-blown inspection. Maybe this is the function of early years advisors, but they are not the regulators of daycare and many appear to be as bewildered by Ofsted's latest 'in-thing' as the rest of us.
I have only had one combined inspection since Ofsted took over in September 2001. When they do inspect, they find niggling things. Parents looking at these reports are confused by these arbitrary actions and recommendations.
I was recently asked if I'd lost a child by one father who had read my Ofsted report and was concerned when he saw an action to produce a lost child policy. I cannot imagine any other business tolerating the needless paperwork that Ofsted demands.
It is time we took a stand against Ofsted. Parents must be told that we are not properly inspected. Ofsted must be made to book an appointment for inspections. Currently, their findings not only cause distress and annoyance at some of the ridiculous criticisms, but could also cause serious damage for our businesses.
Name and address supplied
* See Special Report, page 10