Tuesday 25th February 2014 – Inspection Day!   2 comments

I have decided to write a blog about my inspection day – while it is fresh in my mind because I think it may be a while before I get my draft report, and therefore a while before I can put in a complaint about whatever it says in the report.

And I will be be complaining  – no matter what the QA system says my grade should be, because as some of you may already be aware, I am not very happy about how the inspector gathered the evidence to make her judgement. I have already written a blog about why I think the inspector did not follow the inspection guidelines.  If you have not already read it – you can do so by clicking HERE

Pre Inspection                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Actually the first bit of the inspection had taken place the day before, but had only lasted 30 mins because I had a doctors appointment – however the inspector was introduced to the children and saw the station that they had made out of duplo – she also witnessed the children getting ready to go out. She  took details of the children present, and was shown where evidence could be found Setting diary / children’s diaries/  staff communication book / photographic record from Sept 13 (and told all other years photographic evidence folders were in the cupboard under the laptop) – as a ‘heads up’ for the next day when she planned to return.

Inspection Day

I was up and working at 05:10 (as recorded in setting evidence diary) and as usual I set up the environment for the day. I did not do anything differently to normal as it is my belief that you should be judged on your everyday practice not some set up ‘show of perfectness’.

So in the lounge I;

Moved the large two sided mirror into place by the book box, and put the soft mat and cushions that I had made myself into place, together with the large plastic bucket of teddies . Not the best photo – as was taken later on inspection day – after the inspector had left – to show Mummy of the child, how she had taken herself off to ‘story corner’ for a nap, but hopefully you can see what a nice, inviting quite place it is, for looking at books and relaxing.


I also moved the coffee table so that by the mirror – this creates more space but also stops the mirror from being moved / pushed over. On the coffee table I put out some number based train puzzles, a large floor train puzzle and some 4 piece interlocking transport based puzzles (so puzzles covering a range of developmental stages) a basket with the topic story book (Going on a train ride) a word mat from that story and individual word / picture cards from the story / as on the word mat.

I put out the duplo Thomas trainset (they had been out the day before but in the conservatory) and had put them out again because of interest shown the day before, a long term interest in trains by one child, the link to numbers on the trains and the number mats (and the ideas / next steps for all children in number recognition / counting) plus of course the link to the topic (Transport) and the topic book

Photos taken on inspection day – just the normal evidence type ones that I take every day – although it should be noted the best photos are the ones with children in them (which I can’t use) – but still it gives an idea


Also in the lounge – put by the CD player was a sound game of environmental sounds – this was out on Monday but not used and was out again on inspection day, because one child has some difficulties with some speech sounds and wanted to try to establish if the child has any hearing difficulties, Initial thoughts were no – as child appears to hear ok on a day to day basis – but just wanted to confirm.

In the conservatory there is the continuous provision – blackboard and chalks / dressing up / dolls and doll care things / home area and associated resources/ baskets with resources to support visual effects and investigation – same for sound / plus a variety of other things that currently support development and interests. I also added that morning a basket of Fisher Price amazing animals as part of our equality work on similarities and differences.

In the middle room are the storage units with Maths and Literacy resources, puzzles and games,  shelves full of books, storage unit with various duplo sets and the self selection baskets with a wide range of heuristic and other things – such as wooden letters, magnetic polydron, brush collection, bracelet collection, finger puppets – and more.

In the kitchen I set up a painting activity – so a everyday mark marking experience – but it is noted that in the children’s diaries that they all enjoy painting – especially with the sponge dabbers – and that one child in particular had engaged with this activity last time available for an extended period of time.

Once set up, I went to collect a child from home (a service that have been providing for this child for 3 years) The child took off her own shoes, coat etc, self registered with her name card

My co minder (and eldest daughter) arrived at 7:50, with her own daughter and a minded child that she collects on her way to Penny’s Place. The children were supported to take off coats (as almost 2, and just 2 respectively) and they self registered

The children wanted to paint straight away – so they did

The last child arrived at 8:35 and joined in with the painting activity



As you can see some lovely paintings showing a wide range of mark marking skills – all as I would expect of the children taking part. The one in the middle is of particular interest as the child doing this picture has written the letters from another child’s name  – copied from the self registration cards. This child also wrote her own name on the back of her picture – independently and from memory.

At 8:50 we had a brief visitor – one of my friends who popped in to give me my birthday present (birthday the next day) discussion about birthday’s and how old Penny  will be from children – one asked if I had a 5 in my number – I explained that today I have a 5 and 4 in my number but tomorrow I would have two number 5’s in my number. Other discussion about birthday cake and party – and if the children would be coming to my party (they would)

However the inspector did not see any of this – only the evidence that painting had taken place – as was drying on the table when she arrived

As the inspector did not arrive until 9:50 . we were already 2 hours and 20 minutes into the day  or almost  25 % of the day completed. Opportunities to meet parents had been lost, as had settling the children in for the day and those first activities – which turned out to be significant as it was the only planned activity that took place that day – and the inspector did not see it.

On arrival, we welcomed the inspector back and explain that 4 children present but that one child who had been here on Monday did not attend on Tuesdays.

The inspector explained that she wanted to spend some time talking to me – as my co minder was acting as my assistant that day – but that she would still be carrying out individual inspections on both of us. This discussion took place in the kitchen.

The inspector asked me lots of questions about the children and about the records I keep – but she did not look at any of them. After a while we moved into the middle room and the inspector sat on the sofa with her laptop.

My co minder prepared the snack (Hot cross bun and apple / water to drink), I supported the children with hand washing upstairs – the inspector did not go upstairs. One child did not want to wash her hands upstairs (the almost 2 year old) and just wanted to watch the other children – I did not insist that she washed her hands – but when we came back downstairs, I used a baby wipe to clean her hands (not ideal but better than nothing). As the inspector did not go upstairs, she did not see the picture / word poster about hand washing, or see the children wash their hands or use the individual face cloth sized hand towels – which they put in the washing basket after use. She also did not hear me remind one child who wanted to use the toilet to flush afterwards – or observe the fact that this child was given privacy to use the toilet – or that other child said about germs on hands and why wash hands.

The inspector did observe my co minder serve snack and then came back into the middle room where I was sorting some resources back into their box.

After snack time, I was still answering the inspectors questions – about if I belonged to any childminding groups and if I shared information with other childminders (clearly the inspector had not researched me at all – as my setting website has a link to my blog)

Meanwhile my co minder was supporting the children in the conservatory in their free play – one child dressed up in a vet’s outfit – she thought it was a doctors outfit, so my co minder showed her the picture and words on the outfit and explained that vets are animal doctors. She suggested the children found some toy animals from by story corner so they could be vets. Every child had a vets bag of some sort and dressing up things if they wanted them. To extend this child initiated play (and play that we have not seen before) I went into the garage and got out the box of out of date bandages and plasters. Because my co minder and the children were sat on the floor in the conservatory – there was not really room for me to be in the conservatory without limiting the space available (it is a small conservatory – and usually the children would be using all the rooms – but not today as they all wanted to be vets) So I stayed in the middle room with the inspector – and answered more questions. I could not hear what my co minder and the children were talking about – and I wonder if the inspector could. However I did ask my co minder later, and she said they had been talking about making the animals better and putting on plasters and bandages using appropriate words through out. Certainly I could see lots of evidence of bandaged teddies – and I had also observed two of the children – at different times put bandage packaging into the recycle bin – and I had praised them for doing so.

Then one of the children asked to go outside – this is always an option although the doors are shut in cold / wet weather, they are not locked. I asked the child what she needed to do – she replied – take off my dressing up things and put on my suit and wellies – so she did – as did the 3 year old – the younger children were supported to put their outdoor stuff on. Then I went outside with all 4 children – the inspector decided to use that time to talk to my co minder in the kitchen. I have checked with my co minder and the inspector sat at the table with her laptop and at no time did she looking into the garden through the kitchen window.

Even before I got outside though – the children came running to tell me that the piggy was squeaking – he wanted his food  – and so I took the Guinea pig some food out and we fed him (had the inspector of asked the children about piggie – they would have had a lot to tell her about how the other piggie had died and that he was in a big hole in the garden – they could have also told the inspector what piggie likes to eat)

Once piggie was fed – at the children’s request I got the musical saucepans out of the shed and hung them up – the children had a brief play with them – but then wanted to play in the sand. I carefully took the lid off  – part way to start with as was stopped from completing the task by mixed squeals of delight and shock! There was a huge spider web in the sand pit – and the spider was still there! So of course we all had to look, and talk about it and what it is was doing in the sand pit. One child was wary of the spider so we spent some time getting the spider (and his friends) out of the sand pit. Then I finished taking off the lid – lots more questions – Why was the sand wet when the lid had been on? Why were some of the things in the sand pit dry and some wet?  Could they get in the sand pit? Could they dig? Where was the other spades? Would I help fill buckets? Would I help tip buckets up to make castles? and so on












I do of course have a lot more photos of this activity – but the children’s faces are visible

The children then moved on to climbing on the climbing frame and running / hopping and jumping on the stepping stones – I was of course observing their physical development – as well as joining in with the hopping and jumping.

Then the 4 year old – completely randomly started to tell the story of the Big Bad Wolf (as in Red Riding Hood) so Grandma (me) what big ears you have got and I took on an active role – but my observation of the 2 younger children told me that they were not too happy with this story – so suddenly I turned into the ‘Tickle Troll’ – ‘Grandma Tickle Troll’ said the 4 year old – and off we went with the game, with me of course trying to catch the children when they came too close to me – to tickle them – much laughter from everyone.

Then a child fell over – no sign of injury but her hand was dirty – so I needed to wash it to ensure there was not an injury underneath – and due to the ages of the younger children – we all came in. I washed the child’s hand (all fine) and wrote about the incident in her diary (just in case some hidden injury)

While in the kitchen I noticed my co minder was quite red in the face and engaged in a discussion with the inspector about safeguarding. I listened – and the inspector asked me what I thought – I agreed with my co minder – and said the information given was correct following Worcestershire’s guidelines (as on our training and given out at a full day safeguarding conference in Nov 13, that I had attended). The inspector disagreed and said this was not what they were told on their training. I was horrified that the inspector might think that we were either not knowledgeable about safeguarding or that we do not take it seriously.

I admit that at this point I did get on my soap box and explain in detail how seriously I take safeguarding and my personal experience with safeguarding referrals.(There is a follow up to this at the end of this blog)

By now it was lunch time, so my co minder made lunch,(sandwiches, fruit, crisps – followed by banana and custard) while I answered more questions. My co minder then needed to go up stairs – and told me she was doing so – so while answering questions from the inspector – I was also listening to the children in the kitchen chatting – which is why I responded immediately when there was some chair movement.

After lunch the inspector wanted to see a planned activity and suggested we did the listening game – as we had already explained our ethos several times we did not even ask the children to take part in the listening game because we prefer the children to want to do an activity and therefore to enjoy it and gain the most benefit from it – this is particularly important for the child whose hearing we planned to assess through this activity. (There is a follow up to this at the end of this blog)

By now the inspector is trying to bring the inspection to a close – we had had one verbal comment about the grade she was looking at during the inspection. We now were told we both had the same grade

Through out the inspection I had provided verbal evidence and at times brought written evidence to the inspector – and in the closing part of the inspection, I had printed off the safeguarding policy – as she wanted to see it (but she did not read it) , I brought her evidence of communication with another setting and said where other evidence was, I took the current newsletter off the wall and gave it to her, and the previous weeks newsletter out of the folder – both were glanced at.

I struggled at the time (and I am still struggling now) with what evidence was used to reach the judgement and therefore grade. The inspector did not make it clear how she reached her judgement – nor really what the areas for improvement were.

She did put forward suggested recommendations – which I strongly disagreed with – but would have accepted if the inspector had been able say why these recommendations would improve outcomes for the children. There was also an assumption that I would not implement some of the recommendations in due course – as were about future practice.

So the inspector left – I was in shock – as I really did not know why I was graded as I was – considering  the inspectors lack of looking at documentation or even focussed observations – and all the other things mentioned in my previous blog about my inspection.

I was so upset and frustrated that I did not sleep, and could not really celebrate my birthday the following day – although of course I put on a brave face for the lunch time party that my co minder had arranged, for the children’s benefit.

I consider  myself to be a very proactive and reflective practitioner, I am passionate about what I do, and spend just about every minute of every day (even when not childminding) doing childminding related activities, sharing good practice, updating documentation, attending training and so on. Therefore I am really upset  – not that my grade is lower than before the inspection, if the inspector can justify it – then I accept that grade and will do everything needed to improve my practice.  However  because I have no idea why that judgement was made, and therefore no idea just what it is that I am supposed to be doing to improve my practice and the outcomes for the children – I can not rest.

I feel that everything I stand for, my ethos and professionalism has been questioned and found lacking (and if it is lacking fair enough) but to not know and to not be able to implement the needed changes with immediate effect – is to me unacceptable and unprofessional.

I can only hope the my draft report is sent sooner rather than later – so that I can stop a) giving myself a hard time, and b) implement the changes that are deemed necessary – although I will not implement any chance that is recommended that is not justified with research and evidence, as to how will  improve outcomes for children.


a) On Wednesday, I started my own process of follow up from my inspection – with regard to the safeguarding situation / disagreement between myself and the inspector. I have emailed and spoken to my Local Authority – who have assured me that I gave the gave the correct information. However to ensure that they are giving the correct information, they are following it up with Worcestershire’s Early Help Hub and Worcestershire’s Access Centre / the Safeguarding Board. I have been promised that I will be informed of the outcome of this.

This is typical of me – the reflective practitioner in action – if something needs doing or checking – I do it straight away

b) Re the listening game – we did not play it on Wednesday because we spent the day at the farm – as we do every Wednesday – enjoying outside activities. We did not do it on Thursday, as we spent the day at the Bright Stars Childminding Group ‘Winter Messy Play day’ – as we take part in these messy play days about once a term.  However on Friday – which was spent in the setting – the children asked to play the listening game – and enjoyed it so much – they played it three times. I also provided another listening game (in response to their interest) – which they played twice.

And the child that I wanted to assess  – no hearing difficulties identified.

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