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Minutes from the Ofsted Big Conversation

Ofsted Big Conversation: London Meeting

Tuesday 19th September 2.00pm @ Bain, 40  The Strand W1P 4LX

1.  Welcome and Introductions

2.  Minutes of the last meeting and any issues outstanding

3.  Gill Jones on changes and improvements Ofsted including Annual Communication Plan from previous minutes.

4.  Number of Inspections and Trends

5.  SEF

6.  Ofsted Fees / Invoicing

7.  30 hours

8.  Trustees Timeline


Gill Jones     Early Years Deputy Director

Pauline Nazarkardeh  London Regional Lead Inspector

Ofsted Update

GJ started the meeting with an acknowledgement of the good work the OBC has helped to improve relationships with Ofsted.  She also reminded us of her national responsibility and introduced Pauline as a London lead regulatory inspector. She confirmed the well researched shared view that 0-5 is the fundamental stage in the successful development of child’s future.

Systems Review

Systems Improvement Plan: A customer facing approach that is designed to help support what is right for child.

Phase 1: Updating previous systems which based on making the service more customer friendly as well as embedding a philosophy that Ofsted needs to ensure we get it right for children.  Everything will be stored in one central area and the new system will collate all inspection, incident reports and registration details relating to the individual nursery registration number. She noted that the current online registration OFSTED page is outdated and this will be replaced with a new interface, easier to navigate and operate. 

Phase 2: Improving the website so that it’s much more friendly and intuitive so that it talks to the customer. Its proving to be quite a big and complicated system given there are 80,000 registered providers.

Phase 3: All inspectors have move from the central Early Years Delivery Unit to the regions. This should be fully implemented by 2019 aligned to the completion of improved systems and website. By September 2019 all inspectors will be aligned to aregion. . They will then perform the routine inspection cycles for that area as well as the complaint/incident follow ups. These may not always result in an inspection and may be in the form of a phone call or meeting. 

GJ acknowledged that the above changes are a slow process and involve building a shared culture within OFSTED but the intention is that the changes should help make it better for the children. 

In the meantime lots of information is posted on

New Chair of Ofsted

New Chair of Ofsted recently appointed is Dr. Julius Weinberg who is an experienced doctor passionate about children’s health and wellbeing. 

Agenda Items

Ofsted Fees / Invoicing : GJ listened to the issues and said she has heard all about the complaints. She is hoping that newly improved systems and processes will fix the problems and will raise it with colleagues at Ofsted.


The Common Inspection Framework released in 2015 will remain in place until 2019. However, Ofsted is considering whether to keep the SEF. Wendy Radcliffe is leading a piece of research as to what the sector wants and whether it drives quality.  In the meantime, there is no change.

30 Hours

The question was whether Ofsted was collecting any evidence about how settings were introducing the 30 hours.  GJ clarifies it was a DfE policy and Ofsted will only regulate and inspect against what is laid out within the EYFS. 

Trustees Recruitment Timeline

This was discussed and GJ is aware there remains some specific issues.  Recommends that settings struggling with particular problems to email her directly so she can address the specific issues.

Action: Email GJ the details specifically.

Condition of Registration: GJ explained that this no longer exists as routine. She asked for details if this is still occurring.

Action: Email GJ details of where conditions of registration are creating an issue.

Website List of Inspectors

It was noted by colleagues that the lists of inspectors seem to be out of date or do not include some inspectors. GJ explained that it is not always possible to control lists of names that have previously been published on the internet.

Action: GJ to check out the list of inspectors as many of them are out of date.

Number of Inspections Completed

The group asked GJ for the national statistics for inspections. GJ reminded us that the current OFSTED cycle is a 4 year cycle, which began on 1st august 2017. She sent the link below explaining that the latest figures in the public domain were published in June 2017. The next will be published in November. They always appear on the link below and Section 4 will be of most interest so you will need to scroll down.

Local Authority Request

Some Local Authority representatives shared concerns that OFSTED were not listening to their advice about the best times to visit settings for inspection. The consequences were that some settings that were a cause for concern to achieve a GOOD by conducting the inspection during a period when they were not at full capacity.

Action: GJ will follow this up.

Physical Development Assessment Criteria

Dr Lala Manners from Active Matters raised the issue of the physical development assessment targets. She argued that physical development is being poorly delivered, the EYFS statements are not challenging enough and the bar is set too low.  She asked the group how can we raise the expectations of children’s physical development and health and well being Here is her own summary of the discussion:

‘” Two issues emerged yesterday at the excellent London OBC meeting – nappies – and risky play – specifically the difficulties in managing children stubbornly remaining in nappies (should pull-ups be banned?!) long after this should have been sorted. We noted the NAHT survey results revealed many children are attending school in nappies – and parental anxiety over perceived risky play.

What links these two concerns?


On a physical level – infants and young children need the time and space to acquire the core strength that ensures ‘getting out of nappies’ is achieved within a reasonable time-span – lots of crawling – rolling – climbing. As they grow and develop – enjoying risky play requires reliably competent, confident, strong, agile and balanced bodies. Some children are not physically ready to toilet train as they lack the core strength and this is a result of inactivity. Too many children come from a sedentary experience

On an emotional level – both these themes are strongly linked to issues of self- esteem, self –confidence and self-determination. Taking some responsibility for their bodies is a critical component in the development of self-concept and independence………really getting to know their bodies – how they work – what they can do – making their own decisions -  are deciding factors in the formation of a positive self-image.

Currently -  the three frameworks that should support children’s overall health and well-being (EYFS/CIF/CMO-EY-PA guidelines) have widely different remits – and do not align in terms of assessment. Sitting in a sandpit and washing dollies hair may work on a developmental level – but in terms of supporting physical health – this just doesn’t afford children the level of physical activity that would effectively address the nappy issue – and happily embed risky play in daily practice.

We need to ensure that a culture of wellbeing prevails that includes a wide range of daily movement experiences – the two concerns cited here should never have become issues in the first place – time for action!’

This initiated a fuller conversation about risk, and what inspectors assessed as “risky play”. It provoked some useful discussions about the power of Ofsted to determine attitude and behaviour. A member commented that Ofsted had gone to one of a nursery within a group and said they needed a climbing frame.  That was cue to the whole group putting climbing frames in their gardens.  GJ got quite passionate at this stage, reiterating that inspectors should inspect and not advise or demand a change. They can observe and engage in a lively pedagogical conversation but not suggest a change.

Action: GJ to consider this as part of inspectors annual training programme in November.

OBC Presentation

Dr Julian Grenier (JG) joined to discuss why he wrote a book Successful Early years OFSTED Inspection” Use this link to get 25% discount !

JG opened his discussion by saying I did not train to teach small children to please Ofsted. He explained that he wrote a book on the Ofsted subject because he wanted explain why understand the Ofsted inspection process would help develop the confidence and knowledge of early years teachers. GJ very supportive of this approach, reaffirming that Ofsted is to support not to dictate an approach. JG then extended the conversation by posing the question

“Are you letting your children get their feet wet”

This followed on from the discussion led by Dr Lala Manners about how children can spend a day indoors hardly moving.  Lifted from cot to highchair and then into the car, arriving at nursery by car so their feet hardly touch the ground.  It’s the modern cotton wool society. GJ reminded us to access the Ofsted good practice video “Right from the Start.”  which was aimed at promoting risk taking opportunities within our settings and helping describe what real risk-taking looks like. There has been an increase in complaints notifications to OFSTED, this could relate to providers edging on the side of caution and notifying every incident. We need to recognize and discuss with staff and parents the clear difference between real immediate risk and perceived risks. Settings that are focused on perceived risks do not protect the child but make them more vulnerable in the real world and according to ROSPA giving children false confidence which is leading to more serious injuries as children don’t actually know how to fall.

We went on to talk about parents not understanding children’s physical development and helping children out of nappies by 2.5 but instead we focus on pull up the pants and child unfriendly clothes which are a hindrance to the making children independent and bad for the environment as landfill is full of nappies.

The conversation closed with a general view that we need to have thriving children and confident staff where we can show the public that we know why, what and how we are doing what we do in a way that is right for the children. 


Recent focus for inspections may include:

  • Childhood obesity 
  • Provision for physical development of children
  • School readiness and what this means
  • Well being and how we create this for children

Written Notes

June O'Sullivan

20th Sept 2017

Tagged in the following categories

Childcare, Early Years, Ofsted