Ofsted Learning Walk Early Years

What to expect and how to prepare (An Ofsted Inspection Guide)



The Ofsted Learning Walk

A key part of your Ofsted inspection is your learning walk.

Getting this right is key in getting a positive outcome in your Ofsted inspection.

So, what should you be doing during your learning walk?  And how do you make sure your learning walk is impressive?

This is what we will discuss in this video.

But, first welcome to the channel.

Intro Vid

Welcome to the channel open a nursery with myself Curtly Ania, where I support you to open run and grow your own childcare business.

If this is your first time here don’t forget to subscribe, I post regular videos around the topic of childcare, from ‘what is county lines’ to ‘passing your Ofsted inspection visit – what to expect’.

So, if you enjoy and learn something from this, make sure to check out my other videos.

In this video we will be going over what an Ofsted learning walk is, its purpose and how nursery managers and early years educators can prepare and benefit from them.

Firstly, What is a Ofsted Learning Walk?

An Ofsted learning walk is a part of the inspection process carried out by Ofsted inspectors in early years settings, such as nurseries, childminders, and other childcare providers.

During the inspection, the Ofsted inspector will invite someone from the senior members of your staff team like the manager or deputy manager to complete a learning walk.

During the learning walk, the manager or deputy manager must be able to demonstrate how the setting’s curriculum supports every child’s development. The overall aim of the learning walk is for the inspector to gain insights into the quality of provision, teaching practices, and how well children are supported in their development.

The inspector will have an idea of what they will be looking for during the learning walk based on what they know about your setting and discussions they may have had with you during the initial phone call with you.

The initial phone call with you is where you to learn some of the key points they will be covering during the learning walk.

This learning walk is a key factor in your end grade that you get so it’s important that whoever does the learning walk with the inspector is confident in showing off your setting and practices.

The main reason behind an Ofsted learning walk is that it provides Ofsted with an idea of what it might be like being a child in your setting, they can see the opportunities available for each child, how staff and children engage, how well your nursery or other setting meets the requirements of the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS).

During the walk Ofsted will be looking at any strengths of your nursery or other early years provision, any areas for improvement, and whether you are delivering an inclusive, stimulating, and nurturing environment for all children.  

A Learning Walk can actually be good for your setting as it can:

  • Lead to better outcomes for the children in your care:
  • You get good feedback on your practice – you can learn areas you are good at which is great for morale and learn areas of improvement which can help improve your setting
  • It can also support Professional and personal development: the learning walk encourages continuous professional development for staff, enhancing teaching practices and raising overall standards across the setting.

So, what can you expect during the learning walk?

The learning walk will be focused on 5 main aspects.

Firstly, you will be undertaking some form of observation.  Inspectors will observe your setting and learn about activities you have set up and why as well as the appropriateness of these activities, they will observe how engaged children are and the relationship between children and staff.  They will also do a joint observation with yourselves to see whether you can identify good practice in y our staff and whether you are aware of any areas of improvement.

Secondly, they will be looking at your settings safeguarding and health and safety.  Inspectors will ensure that safeguarding practices are robust, and that staff are vigilant in identifying and responding to potential risks in relation to things like hygiene or potential hazards.

They will also look at your behaviour management.  Not only to see how staff promote positive behaviour but also how you as a team approach behaviour management and whether you all follow the same approach enabling consistency for your children.

During the learning walk they will also be looking at your learning environment.  They will be assessing the quality of the learning environment, the availability and accessibility of resources, the suitability of the learning environment to the needs of the children you have in and they will be assessing whether it supports children’s learning and development.

And the fifth key aspect they will be looking at is your staff’s teaching practices. Do staff implement  effectiveness of teaching strategies, do they differentiate their style to meet individual needs, and do staff effectively support children’s language and communication skills.

You and your staff also need to be able to answer why they are doing something not just what they are doing. So, are you and your staff aware of the three I’s in your activity. I’ve covered the three I’s in a previous video so do check it out if you need refreshing on this.

But just make sure you can answer why you’re doing this activity for the children you are doing it with.  Or why your environment is set up in a certain way and how does it benefit the children you currently have in.

During the learning walk don’t be shy.  This is your opportunity to show off everything that you have to offer.  They won’t truly know how amazing you are and all the hard work you do unless you show and tell them.  This is not the time to be humble.  If this is the first time a child has engaged in an activity because of your staff’s persistence and encouragement – let them know. 

If a staff member has just implemented something they just learnt on training tell them this too.

They won’t be able to see areas where your nursery or other setting has improved or where a child has developed unless you tell them.

So let all your knowledge and work shine through.

In preparation for your learning walk, it is important that you:

  • Familiarise yourself with the EYFS Statutory Framework
  • Revise the Early Years inspection handbook so that you know what the different criteria is for the different grading
  • Assess and reflect on your current practice – observe your nursery and look for what you are doing well and areas you could improve in prior to your inspection. I have some Self-evaluation sheets, peer on peer observation and room observation sheets that you can use to support you in this.  I will put a link to these in the description.
  • You should work alongside staff to make improvements too, which is why the peer on peer observations sheets are so useful. They can identify areas they and their colleagues can improve in a less intimidating way. Which will help to ensure teaching approaches are consistent and to create a positive learning environment.
  • And finally it’s important that you are actually willing to make improvements. Make sure that you are be proactive in implementing improvements.  This could be improvements based on feedback received from staff, parents, local authority or even from previous Ofsted inspections.

Overall, the learning walk remains a key part of Ofsted inspectors and provides a great opportunity for you to show off your setting.

As long as you and your staff prepare well it can put you in a good place to getting a good Ofsted grading.

Want more support with your Ofsted inspection?

Then, check out the video here where we go through how you can pass your Ofsted inspection.

Click it now and I will see you over there. God bless.

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