Quality childcare

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In the finding childcare section, we set out the steps that will help you find the right early years provider for you and your child.

In this section, you will find out more about the importance of choosing a childcare provider that is considered to be ‘good quality’ and how their quality can be measured.

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. (See our Paying for Childcare page or more information).

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.

In deciding which grading to award the provider, the inspector will consider:

  • Overall effectiveness
  • Effectiveness of leadership and management
  • Quality of teaching, learning and assessment
  • Personal development, behaviour and welfare
  • Outcomes for children

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.

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 296629.

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.

The Early Years Foundation Stage is based on four themes which are supported by the following principles:

  • ‘Unique child’ – where ‘every child is a unique child who is constantly learning and who can be resilient, capable, confident and self-assured’.
  • ‘Positive relationships’ –  where ‘children learn to be strong and independent through positive relationships’.
  • ‘Enabling environments’ – where ‘children learn and develop well in enabling environments in which their experiences respond to their individual needs. And there is a strong partnership between practitioners and parents and/or carers’.
  • ‘Learning and development’ – where ‘children develop and learn in different ways and at different rates’.

EYFS 2017

The EYFS ensures that early years providers offer a range of activities tailored to each individual child’s needs and abilities. Your child will be supported in an environment which enables them to learn through their play. They will be supported by adults who know how to make children feel safe and secure, and understand how to engage them in their thinking.  At the point of transition to school, early years providers ensure your child feels confident and ready for the next step in their learning.

Your chosen early years provider will work closely with you to ensure they understand your child and can support them while they are in their care. The staff working with your child will pick up on his/her interests and abilities and will build on them through play. They will be interested to hear about what has sparked your child’s imagination at home so they can build on this at the provision.

They will always be happy to discuss your child’s progress with you and will always make time to speak to you when you pick-up or drop-off your child.

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.

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.

Steps to Quality is a unique scheme where providers can measure their service against agreed quality standards.

Taking time to reflect on their own practice, means that staff are able to consider how they care and support children so they can grow, develop and learn through play.

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.


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.

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01724 296629

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