When I registered as a childminder in March 2012, Ofsted’s policy was to carry out its first inspection within seven months of registration. I was inspected on 11 September 2012 on what was my tenth!!! full day of childminding. Looking after one 10 month old baby, I found it impossible to give the inspector the very detailed evidence she required during a six hour very thorough inspection and was left with a grading of “satisfactory”, much to my dismay. However, the inspector was lovely and very positive about my setting. This is apparent when you read the inspection report itself. The inspector clearly liked what she saw and gave me some excellent feedback, which I acted upon. I am confident that the outcome of my next inspection will be far better.
I have always felt that this policy of carrying out a full inspection so soon after registration was flawed and I know several other childminders who have also suffered at its hands. The problem is that it can take a few months to find your first mindee!
Fast forward to now and Ofsted has decided if you are on the Early Years Register, you will now be inspected within the first 30 months of registration (not 7, as previously) and then at least once in every inspection cycle. The current Early Years inspection cycle finishes on 31 July 2016. This is great news for all new childminders and I predict higher gradings for those important first inspections as a result.
As for me, I sit and wait for the phone call from the Ofsted inspector, asking which days I work so that I can be inspected at the next available opportunity. I have already been inspected this cycle (1 September 2012 – 31 July 2016) – at the very start of it on 12 September 2012! So who knows when it will be. It could be tomorrow or not for another 2-3 years. One thing I do know is that I am ready this time and very well equipped to answer all those questions, with lots of evidence covering a variety of ages and children.