Our sector is full of uncertainty and confusion at the moment; the main reason being the introduction to the Ofsted EIF in September.
There is currently so much speculation surrounding the new framework and many practitioners, particularly those in the home-based childcare sector feel overwhelmed and unsure what this means for their practice.
Ofsted have coined and introduced a number of new terms as part of the new framework and this alone has unsettled many practitioners and many are full of anxiety as September fast approaches. There has been an influx of ‘Cultural Capital’ posters and materials developed and being sold and displayed in settings and many practitioners desperately searching for clarification on what ‘Intent’ , ‘Implement’ and ‘Self-Regulation’ really mean for their practice and how we can accurately demonstrate to Ofsted that we are doing all of these ‘new’ things.
For anyone who has read the EIF guidance and materials, particularly the relevant home-based Childcare document, it can be overwhelming to see new words, terms and not have a clear understanding of their meaning, there is currently very little training or guidance available to providers to unpick these terms and make sense of what the EIF means for us all in practice, but here is what we have taken from the new information and guidance and how we believe our practice will be impacted as a result.
In November 2018, when the EIF was still in it’s proposal stages, Bridgit actually took part in a mock inspection as a result of the EIF being developed and here is what she had to say on the experience:
“I had very pleasant morning with Sheena from Ofsted. She conducted her inspection in the normal way, laptop open, but engaging with the me and the children. Our bird feeder activity didn’t go ahead as the children were too engrossed in the their play, and it was the normal hustle and bustle that we experience every morning!! She wasn’t able to share the outline of the new inspection framework and only really shared what we already know! When delivering her feedback though she made it quite clear that there is another drive to eliminate unnecessary paperwork as evidence of effective teaching and learning will be observed in during the inspection and based on the children’s achievements (summative assessments and summaries etc). For anyone due an inspection; know your children, their next steps, their interests, adapt the play and learning experiences to meet those interests, reflect on your own practice (doesn’t have to be in the form of the SEF) know where and how you want to improve the outcomes for children in your setting, and the service you provide to your families, be yourself, don’t change what you normally do, and be yourself.”
For us, Ofsted may have coined these new terms and phrases, but in essence, these are all things we have all been doing and part of our every day practice for some time now, but they have just been given a new name.
Once unpicked, when Ofsted refer to ‘intent’ and ‘implement’ it merely refers what you are hoping the children will learn and how you will incorporate this into the activities, experiences and opportunities you will provide based upon your knowledge of your children and their next steps – this is something that is part of every day practice and planning in whichever form you ‘plan’ for your children within your setting; as with anything during an inspection with Ofsted you just need to be able to demonstrate your knowledge and how you apply this in practice to support your children’s learning and development.
Cultural Capital has been interpreted and misconstrued in countless different ways since the term was introduced and across the internet there are umpteen blogs, articles and definitions. However, we have interpreted this term to mean ‘what we do/offer to enrich children’s experiences and support and develop their learning.’ Again, this is something that we all do as part of our every day practice.
For example, activities that allow discussion about objects and events, taking into account each other’s views and vocabulary whilst learning from a knowledgeable other, outings and visits to places in which children may not have visited before; a cafe, a post office, a museum to learn about new functions, jobs and processes, opportunities to listen to different genres of music and learn about the favourite songs and genres of our peers, thus broadening our knowledge and understanding of music and the different genres available whilst also introducing new vocabulary and language.
These experiences and learning about each other’s cultures, traditions and home values are nothing new in Early Years practice, instead just now being referred to by a new phrase and so as long as providers and practitioners can again demonstrate and show evidence of providing these experiences and opportunities for children in order to help them become ‘educated citizens’ then you do not need posters, resources or materials to ‘prove’ that you are ‘doing Cultural Capital’.
Similarly, the term ‘self-regulation’ is now widely used across the Early Years sector and Ofsted have mentioned that this is now something they are actively looking to witness; how providers support children with self-regulation.
Once again, self-regulation is not a ‘new’ concept; as practitioners on the front line supporting children in understanding, managing and expressing their own emotions, resolving conflicts; expressing needs, understanding the needs of others and understanding and regulating these feelings, self-regulation is something we are doing in our day-to-day practice; through our language, introducing vocabulary, supporting children in situations they find difficult and working together to find a resolution as well as supporting their developing relationships, understanding of others and providing them with language to label and express their feelings and needs effectively.
Whilst the lack of training and official guidance and support on the EIF is incredibly stressful and daunting for some providers, as a setting who has been ‘inspected’ using the new framework and has done extensive research into the changes and how home-based Childcare providers in particular will be affected, we urge practitioners and home-based childcare providers alike to have faith in their own knowledge, practice and the care they provide and when experiencing an inspection under the new framework to have the confidence to actively demonstrate and promote the hard work they do in all of the aforementioned areas; as long as you can prove to Ofsted that your children are safeguarded (and you know the steps to take if you have concerns about a child’s safety), that you know your children, their next steps and how they like to learn, that you are providing opportunities and experiences for them to learn and develop within your care and supporting them in becoming knowledgeable and educated citizens from within a nurturing and enabling environment, then in our opinion, you can’t go far wrong and as such any concerns, worries and anxieties surrounding the EIF should not hinder or impact your practice or inspection negatively.
We must hold onto the confidence that we know, care for and educate the children in our settings and regardless of new terms and phrases that we will continue to do so to the best of our ability, regardless of ever-changing legislation and bureaucracy.
If you want to learn more about the EIF and how this affects you as a home-based childcare provider, then follow the links below: