The inspection starts!
We arrived early, before the birds had even risen!!! This gave us time to ensure that the classroom was set up in a way that we were happy with and to also make sure that we had all the resources to hand. Our Inspection team had provided our Head with a detailed timetable of the day, so we knew that we would have an inspector in with us for most of the morning. However EYFS have a separate judgement on an OFSTED report, so we had expected to see inspectors throughout most of the process. Day 1 of the inspection coincided with Mark's PPA morning so Ruth was in during the morning.
The inspection team arrived at 8am and went straight into the Head's office where they were based for the duration. We met the inspection team (1 HMI and 2 inspectors) at 8.15 as they took a learning walk around the school. We continued to get ourselves ready for the children coming in at 8.45 - where the children came in to the same activities as they always did - we were determined to keep things the same so that inspectors would see how independent and resourceful our children are. They self registered and we moved into Continuous Provision (indoor and outdoor). We had 2 TAs inside overseeing the classrooms, as well as working with our 'vulnerable learners' on their letter sounds. The inspector arrived at 9.05 and immediately began to make notes. He walked around 1 of the classrooms (we are an open plan 'unit' consisting of 2 classrooms with no wall in between) and looked at the provision - displays, activities etc. Anita pounced straight away (we had said to each other that we were going to ensure that the inspection team saw every part of our provision - regardless if they asked or not!!)! She explained self-registration, how we then do the register and that we were moving into Continuous Provision. As Anita drew his attention to all of our planning Mark arrived in the classroom to also chip in! We talked through our planning process (very quickly, without taking a breath, because we knew that we only had a limited amount of time to prove ourselves!) and also our 'Wonder Walls', deconstructed role play, classroom layout and how children are at the heart of our provision. Anita invited the inspector to come outside to see the outdoor provision and to explain how everything had moved on since our last inspection and the reasons behind our enhancements.
Ruth and Anita stayed outside, observing and playing alongside the children, using the Objective Led Planning. After observing the provision outside, watching and making notes on how the adults were interacting with the children, the inspector asked Anita about 'vulnerable learners'. He went on to ask Anita if she had time to talk more about a particular Pupil Premium child so that he could track their progress across the year so far. Anita came back inside and sat at a table, talking about the particular child that she had highlighted outside. The inspector wanted to know the child's starting point, progress and what support we had put in place. He also asked for evidence to back up what we had been saying. Mark joined the table and the discussion expanded to include another PP child in his class. The Wonder Walls really proved their worth because we could lead the inspector to look at the individual spaces but also compare them with their peers. The children came back into the classroom to get changed for PE during the rest of the day. Anita's class went off to do PE with our school sports coach and Mark's class stayed with Ruth to do Core Learning Skills (PSHE), eat snack and do some music. The inspector went outside to see the children do some PE, returned to the Head's Office and then came back into the classroom to observe Ruth delivering Core Learning Skills - they were talking about feelings, using photos to identify feelings. The inspector left as that group moved to get their snack and we didn't see any inspectors for the rest of the morning. (They didn't come back to see phonics after break.) However one of the questions from the inspector was about the starting points of the current cohort and the progress made since. Unfortunately, because we had just moved to a new computerised assessment system, we weren't able to print off what we needed to straight away so Mark spent the rest of the morning wrestling data!
In the afternoon Mark's class went to PE with the sports coach and Anita did Core Learning Skills about feelings. The HMI inspector walked through the classroom, looked around the provision and eventually went outside to see the PE coach. She returned to observe Anita's session and left after 5 minutes. We were aware that the HMI visiting could mean that we were on the cusp of moving from one grading to another and this made us a little nervous! There was a timetabled meeting for the head of EYFS (Anita) and the inspector for after school, and we asked if Mark could attend too because we work together so closely.
To begin the meeting he asked us about our 'journey' since our last inspection. We talked for a VERY long time covering lots of subjects so that we felt confident that we had said everything we wanted to. This included how we had done lots of reading and research, visited other schools, professional development and of course we mentioned Ace Early Years! We then moved on to talk about the current cohort and the progress they had made. We used our data to support what we were saying - with Anita talking to the inspector and Mark using the laptop to interrogate the data in order to answer specific questions. The inspector had forms to fill in and wrote pages and pages of notes (letting us talk lots!) but also had a very clear idea of what evidence he wanted to gather and how it would be useful to see this (i.e. percentages!). During the meeting he asked questions about our previous cohort and because of our new data system we couldn't provide him with the data straight away. He was very understanding and asked if we could come back the next day with the breakdown of our data. Thank goodness we had paper copies of the key end-of-year data! We spent the evening calculating the progress made by specific groups (girls/boys/PP/summer born) across the year, including percentages that started below age-related expectations (ARE) and their progress to the end of year. We also calculated the percentage of children who were at ARE or above ARE and the progress that they had made. He basically wanted us to prove to him that we were making progress in all areas, were supporting vulnerable learners to make rapid progress and were pushing the more able too. It was 10 o'clock when we decided that we would call it a night and Anita would finish the data during her leadership PPA time the next day.
To be continued...