It is important to choose a good quality childcare provider. Find out how their quality is measured below:
Ofsted registers and inspections
OfSTED is the official government agency which regulates and inspects early years providers and schools. Your early years childcare provider should be registered on one or more of the following OfSTED registers:
- The Early Years Register (EYR) – if caring for children from birth to 31 August following their fifth birthday
- The Compulsory part of the Childcare Register (CCR) – if caring for children from the end of the Early Years Foundation Stage to the end of a child’s seventh year.
Providers not required to register on either the EYR or the CCR can opt to become registered on the voluntary part of the Childcare Register (VCR). This includes providers who care for children aged over eight, or when children are cared for in their own home, for example by a nanny.
Registration on the VCR means that parents and carers can still apply for the Childcare Element of Working Tax Credit, Universal Credit and Tax Free Childcare to help them in meeting their childcare costs. This is on the same terms as if they were using a provider registered on the CCR or EYR.
OfSTED will inspect all providers that register on the EYR within 30 months of the date of their registration and then at least once in every four year period.
They will also inspect a structured sample of providers who are registered on the CCR and VCR. They will inspect all providers where a complaint has been made that relates to the conditions of registration. Inspections are carried out with little or no notice. As a result of the inspection they are given one of four gradings:
- Outstanding – the quality of teaching, learning and assessment is outstanding and safeguarding is effective
- Good – the quality of teaching, learning and assessment is good and safeguarding is effective
- Requires Improvement – where one or more aspects of the setting’s work require improvement, however safeguarding is effective
- Inadequate – the provider is not meeting one or more of the learning and development requirements and/or safeguarding and welfare requirements
Wherever possible, you should use an early years provider that has received a grading of at least “Good”. You can obtain a copy of the inspection report from the early years provider themselves or by visiting the OfSTED website.
What to do if you are concerned about an early years childcare provider
If at any time you have concerns about the quality of the learning or care that your child is receiving, or about whether or not your provider is meeting the terms of their registration, you can make a complaint to OfSTED by calling 0300 123 1231 or through us on 01724 297000.
The early years foundation stage
All providers registered on the early years register (caring for children from birth to 31 August following their fifth birthday) must also meet the requirements of the Early Years Foundation Stage Framework (EYFS).
The EYFS framework is designed to support early years providers, children and families in promoting the child’s development and learning through play. It helps them achieve as much as they can in their early lives.
Staff qualifications and training
Well trained staff and childminders who continually seek to develop their understanding and knowledge of childcare practice are key to providing high quality learning environment.
Ask the people who are working with your child about the qualifications they hold, and the training they have attended or are planning to attend in the future.
We run regular training courses for staff working in early years provision. Your staff member or childminder should be able to tell you about the courses they have attended and how these have helped them to think about their practice.
Quality improvement support tools
Steps to Quality
We run our own quality assurance scheme for early years providers called Steps to Quality.
Making sure you leave your child in a safe, secure and stimulating environment is paramount in every parent’s mind when choosing an early years provider. Parents, quite rightly, have high expectations of their early years providers. They expect the best care and education for their child. Our Steps to Quality scheme aims to ensure early years providers throughout North Lincolnshire are meeting that high standard.
Early Years providers work through three progressive steps to evidence and develop their practice and support OfSTED requirements. By reaching a step on the scheme, an early years provider is able to show parents that they are committed to providing quality education and care.
ITERS-R and ECERS-R
We also offer other tools to support the quality development of providers:
- ITERS-R is the Infant Toddler Environment Rating Scale focusing on the age range birth to 2.5 years of age
- ECERS-R is the Early Childhood Environment Rating Scale focusing on the age range 2.5 to 5 years
Both of these scales contain in-depth descriptors which can be used to assess the quality of the environment. In practical terms the process involves observation-based audits on aspects such as space and furnishings, personal care routines and activities which provide measurable ‘profiles’. A development plan is then drawn up and implemented over a period of a year and progress is tracked.
SSTEW is a programme of ‘Sustained Shared Thinking and Emotional Well Being’ which is a self-reflective tool is used to help providers develop staff practice.