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Any redress for excellent independent pre-school given 'Satisfactory' OFSTED 'cos don't 'form fill'

(7 Posts)
CookieM0nster Wed 21-Sep-11 16:57:25

My daughter's preschool is excellent. All the parents I know who send their children there agree. It is not government funded, it's independent, so does not have to adhere to the same criteria as those that are.

In a nutshell they consciously object to the amount time spent 'form filling' and making sure they 'tick boxes' and prefer to spend this time with the children and talk to the parents as and when problems arise. This went against them in their recent OFSTED report which saw them drop from 'Good' to 'Satisfactory'.

(Ironically the Government is currently putting plans in place to dramatically reduce this method of overly tracking & targeting preschool children, but it is too late for this latest OFSTED report which all local parents will be looking at when making their choice of which p/s to send their child to.)

My question is - can I and the other parents do anything to redress the balance or challenge OFSTED's report publicly? We are all worried it will affect their ability to bring in new children and survive in this economic climate. They really do run a fantastic preschool with hugely supportive staff, creating a warm & loving environment for our children. I would like to help give something back to them too, but don't know if there is anything I can do.

Any advice would be much appreciated!

wingandprayer Wed 21-Sep-11 17:02:45

Admin and form filling is only part of OFSTED review. If the school has been downgraded it will be for a more significant reason than that. Have you seen the full written report? In which areas is the school only satisfactory?

BranchingOut Wed 21-Sep-11 17:10:22

Sorry, but I don't think that there is anything you can do.

I am a teacher and ex school-manager and agree that the amount of work involved in running a school or early years setting is huge. Extraordinary.

However much of it is important and the fact of the matter is that the settings receiving 'outstanding' will be doing both - being available for the parents and children, yet also making sure that the setting is run in the best possible way.

It is all well and good dismissing much of what is required by Ofsted as 'form filling' - yet what do they think is not important? What can be left out?

Risk assessments - so that trips are properly and safely planned.
Planning - so that the activities provided for the children maximise their potential.
Assessment - so that practitioners have information at their fingertips about your child and can use that information to inform future learning.
Policies - so that members of staff are clear on how the setting should be run and a new member of staff can quickly get up to speed.
Safety inspections and audits - so that the setting is, obviously, safe.

I have often seen MNers on here complaining about poor standards in daycare provision in other countries and part of the reason why standards are good here is that what is demanded is so rigorous.

wingandprayer Wed 21-Sep-11 18:32:08

Plus a private school is a business funded by parents. I would be extremely cconcerned about a school receiving so much money if it cannot fulfil it's regulatory requirements, no matter how tedious they think they are. Fulfilling OFSTED requirements and getting a good grading would be their biggest marketing tool and ensure their future security so they should have made additional effort to ensure that part of their assessment was up to scratch.

madwomanintheattic Wed 21-Sep-11 18:58:05

if they were previously graded 'good', what aspects were they marked down in this time to reduce the overall grading? in what areas have standards dropped? obv they were managing to 'form-fill' before?

get the whole report and compare to the last one.

i'm not a form-filler and the dcs have used various independent nurseries, but i would be a little sceptical that the drop is as easily explained as lack of form-filling ethos, tbh. what are they doing differently now?

it's good that you are happy with the setting though. word of mouth often has much more impact than ofsted for these settings. just make sure you tell everyone how fantastic it is.

HoneyPablo Wed 21-Sep-11 19:19:56

It is not government funded, it's independent, so does not have to adhere to the same criteria as those that are.

Yes it does.

'Form-filling' is not the only thing that the inspector grades.
This from the Ofsted website-
To reach an overall judgement, inspectors will ask themselves 'What is it like for a child here?'
link to Ofsted

CookieM0nster Wed 21-Sep-11 21:56:55

Thanks for all your replies. Apologies, my summary may have sounded a bit blasé with the 'form filling' description.

wingandprayer - I have seen the report, I actually think the detailed written assessment is very favourable, with a few obvious niggles about the paper work not being up to scratch, (eg. Risk Assessment with no date on), but also not planning enough longer term goals for the children with regards to learning/writing etc. They are 3 on most things, but 2 on the few that focus on the children feeling safe & that they can contribute.

It's private/independent, but not in the posh sense of the word! They aren't receiving lots of money, it's a village hall, fees are £3 an hour cheaper than the nearest local government funded p/s, and they accept Early Years Vouchers, so we can pay from my DP's pre tax salary. It's not that they think it's tedious, they genuinely believe kids of that age should be nurtured, have fun & play and not be tracked. It's more a labour of love!

BranchingOut - yes all very good points thanks, I think they are slightly shooting themselves in the foot. The form filling they object to is apparently the continual written assessment of the children, not the everyday paperwork expected when running a business. Either way I understand your point. I used to have to do all this sort of stuff in my professional life too.

madwomanintheattic - great idea - just done that - they are structured quite differently, so it's not easy to compare exactly, but my take on it is; they haven't been updating the paperwork satisfactorily, the children are free to choose what they do, but not as free as they could be 'cos some of the play is structured, they don't have regular access to technology or enough sharing with the children's other careers to overlap learning, (although happy the parents are well informed.) Very interesting.

Thank you very much for all you time and insights into this, it's been really helpful. It does seem like there isn't much that I can do other than positive word of mouth.

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