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Do you worry about Ofsted reports when choosing nursery?

(16 Posts)
whosthey Sat 20-Sep-14 14:44:20

My daughter will become entitled to her free 15 hours nursery next year in April so I am beginning to think about which nursery to choose.

I have to explain that since becoming a Mum I have never felt so unsure of myself and insecure about my abilities as a Mum and so find myself worrying so much about things and just need some advice.

My options are a nursery two minutes walk from house with a Good Ofsted report and then another nursery about 15-20 mins walk up a big hill and across busy roads, with an Outstanding Ofsted report. The reason I mention the journey times etc is because I will have my 2 year old son to take with me on the journey to nursery. I don't drive and have no family to help. If he is anything like my daughter he will refuse to get in a pushchair as well so the walk to the second nursery might be difficult each day there and back. So just wanted to know really would you choose based on Ofsted report or take into consideration the journey each day as well.

I am not very good at articulating myself or my concerns...sorry.

hollie84 Sat 20-Sep-14 14:47:23

I wouldn't choose a nursery with a Requires Improvement report.

However, there is little difference between Good and Outstanding and most of it will be down to paperwork, so I would choose the one you like better or is more convenient.

wingcommandergallic Sat 20-Sep-14 14:48:22

You need to visit them and see how you feel. Ofsted reports are only part of the picture. The vast majority of nurseries are good with a smaller percentage classed as outstanding.

My DD went to a good nursery for a couple of years and I was totally happy with it.

Perhaps compare the differences between the two reports? The outstanding one might simply offer more enrichment activities or perhaps the one that is merely good has a minor criticism.

Oh, and you must take into account the journey. Have you tried it already?

sillymillyb Sat 20-Sep-14 14:49:53

You sound like a fab mum, it's so confusing isn't it?

I looked at ofsted reports but went to look round them and my preferred one was based on the welcome we got and that I could imagine my ds there.

I'd say go and have a look around, but there isn't much difference between good and outstanding so choosing because of location would be totally fine (so long as when you look around you like it!)

Good luck smile

mausmaus Sat 20-Sep-14 14:51:25

you need to visit and listen to your gut feeling. an outstanding one might or might not be the right one for your dc.

Pointlessfan Sat 20-Sep-14 14:54:23

As a teacher I don't have a lot of faith in Ofsted. When they visit schools they pop into lessons observing for only about 20 mins and the criteria they use sometimes change so a school or nursery that got outstanding 4 years ago might not now. Check the date of the last inspection as when our school got outstanding they didn't visit again for 6 years! I would worry if they raised concerns about safety or safeguarding though. Most important thing is to visit several and see for yourself.

whosthey Sat 20-Sep-14 15:21:10

Thank you everyone for your replies, it's much appreciated. My next move will be to arrange some visits as suggested and go from there.

It's all so nerve-wracking, my daughter has been with me constantly and never even stayed with anyone else for almost three years so this will be a big change. But I am aware everyone goes through this and I need to get a grip! She is definately ready now to get out there and have new experiences and learning etc.

Pico2 Sat 20-Sep-14 17:45:21

I wouldn't choose an unsatisfactory or requires improvement if possible, but I've never had to make that decision. DD has been to a good and an outstanding nursery. The outstanding nursery is definitely better, but I am not sure that is indicative of OFSTED seeing the same differences as I can see or just coincidence. The reasons that the outstanding nursery is better are:

1. Significantly higher than minimum staff ratios. Every child really is considered as an individual and I think that not being rushed off your feet must make life better for the staff.

2. Outstanding staff. Many nurseries are staffed by inexperienced and poor qualified staff. DD's good nursery had quite young staff, mostly working towards qualifications. They were good, but not great. DD's current nursery is staffed by people who are almost all qualified, a number to degree level. They are mostly a bit older and most of them are parents themselves. They really are great and make the nursery.

I am not sure that many nurseries exist like the outstanding one DD goes to as quality has to be balanced with fees and often profit.

Ionacat Sat 20-Sep-14 18:11:17

My DD's preschool is a 3 but hasn't been inspected for years - they are overdue an Ofsted. It is lovely and staffed entirely by people with qualifications and who have been parents. The criticisms last time were due to paperwork. DD loves it and it has a lovely feel and the staff just make it and she has a wonderful time doing all sorts of different activities. I took DD with me and the one I picked was the one where she ran off to play and the staff included her, you also just dropped in, no making appointments to visit which I really liked. I think the real difference is the staff and if you feel you and you and your DD like and trust them. It's a time to go with your gut instinct!

IncaAztec Sat 20-Sep-14 18:22:57

My DD has been to two nurseries/preschools. Both were rated good by ofsted. I can sort of see why neither got outstanding (none in local area got outstanding though). Both lacked a bit of dynamism in terms of learning and focused on care instead. However, DD was well cared for and enjoyed both. Have a look to see if there were any complaints made to Ofsted about each nursery. If there were, that will tell you a lot. If not, its personal choice am afraid.

MiaowTheCat Thu 02-Oct-14 07:52:59

Being honest - I didn't even look at the ofsted reports for DD1's preschool choices. However I'm an ex early years teacher myself, know of a lot of the local providers via reputation or seeing their staff out and about and based my judgement upon things like how organised they were replying to emails and requesting to come have a look around and how the staff were when we did that - went for one in the end where the woman in charge seemed very on my wavelength, the setup was battered and well-used but warm and welcoming (and the same kind of organised chaos I had when teaching) and how DD1 reacted when we went to look around (she had to be bribed to get her to leave as she was having so much fun!). Because of how the place is situated I've driven past in the car a fair few times and seen the staff in the outdoor area interacting with the kids on their level rather than staring into space looking bored as well which has confirmed my judgement it's the right place for her (I'm not a stalker - there's a fairly regular traffic queue for the lights where you can see what's going on in the outdoor area!).

Ofsted have been through our local area with an absolute vengeance recently and lots of places have been put into special measures or requires improvement - including many schools I know of on supply (where generally you see the most interesting boundary-pushing attempts at behaviour and school disorganisation at its worst when a staff member's rang in ill at 7am that morning) and there are some of them I wouldn't be worried at all about sending a kid of mine to because I know how caring the staff are and how the general vibe of the school works - and a couple of outstanding schools where the staff are so busy putting on a show to get good Ofsted ratings that the kids have been left by the wayside somewhat.

cate16 Thu 02-Oct-14 19:46:43

You need to visit, and go by your gut feeling and if they make you feel welcome or not.
Watch- do all the staff know all the children's names?
Do the staff talk to the children, and are the children confident enough to approach a staff members to ask questions/interact? This demonstrates that the children know they will get a positive response- you can tell a lot by simply watching the children that are already there.

Unless you read two reports written by the same Inspector, you can't really compare reports accurately.
An inspection only gives a 'snapshot' of the situation that day - and also remember some people (settings) can talk-the-talk for Ofsted.

Visit settings, but be wary of places that only give you a set time to visit. A good setting will always run over ratio and have staff available to talk to informally chat to prospective parents, and if you want a more in-depth discussion you can always book another visit.

TiggyD Fri 03-Oct-14 18:09:38

Ofsted tend not to call great nurseries poor, but they often call poor nurseries great. Only bother with good and outstanding nurseries, but bear in mind they might have been inspected by an incompetent idiot on a bad day, and that the nurseries might still be crap.

hooker29 Thu 16-Oct-14 21:17:35

...this is what annoys me about Ofsted 2 inspectors do things the same way,so, what one inspector may not even look at another may pick up on.Many nurseries/preschools/childminders get downgraded for paperwork issues (believe me, there's TONs of it), but the care of the children is exemplary.Inspectors only see the setting for a few hours and produce their report on that.
Visit both settings and go with your gut feeling-there's not much difference between a good and an outstanding grade.Look at how happy and settled the children are and how the staff interact with them.Try and talk to parents if you can. You'll know when you find the right place xx

Bordersmummy Thu 06-Nov-14 23:10:29

I have 2 children who have attended a total of 4 nurseries in the past 5 years. In my experience 'Outstanding' has a lot more to do with paperwork than quality of care. The best nursery my children went to, hands down, got 'Satisfactory' - twice - in the time we were using it. These days, that would be 'Requires Improvement'. They were a low key outfit operating on relatively low costs and in a low income neighbourhood. The care workers were local, older (i.e. nearly all had children/grandchildren of their own) and amazing with the kids. Very hands on and very creative. We moved house, so had to leave it. My youngest is now in an 'Outstanding' nursery, which - in my opinion - is nowhere near as good as the 'Satisfactory' nursery. It costs 20% more than other place we used. I walk past the baby room and don't see anything like the level of attention and care I used to see at previous nurseries. I am glad neither of mine were there as babies. The pre-school bit, where DD is, is fine. But nowhere near as good as the 'Good' (and free) pre-school (at the primary school) DS went to at the same age.

FWIW, the 'Outstanding' nursery has been Good, Requires Improvement and Outstanding within the 2 years that we have been living near it. That tells you everything you need to know about how reliable Ofsted rating can be in assessing a nursery.

You need to determine what is important to YOU in terms of the child care provision you want. You need to go and visit and assess against those criteria, ask lots of questions and get as much of a feel for the setting, its management and its staff as you possibly can. Then you need to make a decision. Ofsted is just one bit of 'evidence' to use in the process of considering nurseries.

NotCitrus Thu 06-Nov-14 23:51:45

IME, Outstanding means more attention to paperwork and appearance than anything else. The one local nursery and the school that I refused to send ds to were both Outstanding. The nursery my kids have used for over 5 years was Satisfactory (report said would be Excellent but were bad at paperwork, which was spot on!), then Good, then got RI for a report with loads of factual errors, and on appeal and 're-inspection it got Good again. It's a small friendly place with some amazing well-qualified staff and some not very qualified staff who have common sense and put effort in.
Ofsted can be useful in suggesting things to ask about, eg how issues have been addressed, but otherwise go with your gut and convenience.

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