When it comes to early years, it’s important that young children are able to develop physical skills and enjoy the benefits of a good story, and much else besides. But, first and foremost, they need to be in a safe environment; whether that’s a nursery, pre-school, forest school or childminder’s home.
In this respect, the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) lists the requirements that all early years providers must meet. We sometimes hear that providers think they need to put in place more steps to meet Ofsted’s requirements. The truth is, we do not set any additional requirements other than what the EYFS says.
For example, the EYFS sets out the types of accidents and injuries that you need to tell us about. It says you must tell us about any serious accidents or injuries that occur in your setting.
What you need to tell us about
In our early years compliance handbook we define what we consider ‘serious’ matters that you need to tell us about. Serious matters are things like broken bones, or when a child loses consciousness or which require admittance to hospital for more than 24 hours. These are, of course, mercifully rare events.
You do not need to tell us about minor injuries such as sprains, strains or falls, even if you take the child to your local accident and emergency department to have the injury checked out, unless it results in the child being admitted to hospital for more than 24 hours. We know that it is common for young children, when they are doing activities in a nursery or childminder’s home, to suffer minor accidents that cause bumps and bruises. That is a natural part of growing up and we do not need to know about these.
All early years providers have a qualified first-aider on site who will be perfectly able to deal with these things. We know that children need to take risks if they are going to learn well. As long as you have assessed the risks in line with the EYFS requirements, you don’t need to tell us about every trip, fall or tumble that happens in your setting.
We are often asked whether some of the policies required under the EYFS also cover inspectors. For example, if the nursery has a ‘no mobile phones’ policy, does this mean that the inspector needs to hand in their mobile phone when they arrive at a setting?
Of course, we want inspectors to be respectful of any policies you have in place but we would not normally expect an inspector to hand over their mobile phone. This is because we would not normally expect an inspector to use their phone during an inspection. But there may be occasions when they do need to use it, for example if they need advice on something that has happened during the inspection.
It is important to remember that inspectors are never left unsupervised with children. During the inspection you, or a member of staff, will always be present when they are looking round. You will not be criticised if you do not ask your inspector to hand over their phone when they arrive at your setting.
We know that there are a number of myths about inspection and that sometimes there are conflicting views from different professionals about what Ofsted requires or does not require. We have published a ‘myth-buster’ document to help you understand some of the facts about inspection.
All the guidance our inspectors use for inspections and other visits to your settings is published on our website, so you can see for yourself how they will carry out their work. Please use these documents – and the EYFS – if you are unsure about what the inspector will want to see or do during an inspection.
We do not want you to go to unnecessary steps just because an inspector is coming. Above all, we want to see your nursery or home as it is, every day. All we ask – and all the EYFS asks – is that you run your setting in a way that makes sure that children are safe and well cared-for, and supports children to learn well.
Please do give us your feedback about your inspection. If you think an inspector acted inappropriately then we have a complaints process that you can follow. It will not affect your inspection or judgement if you do make a complaint. You can also tell us your views about our work more generally by following us on Twitter @Ofstednews, or by asking a question on our Facebook page for childcare registration.