We go behind the scenes of Joint Observations

It’s been a crazy few months here at JigsawEYC, and we have been out and about doing Quality Inspection Audits (QIA’S). Already wondering why we call them QIA’S rather than mock inspections or what the difference is between the two, then that’s in our other blog What’s the difference between the real Ofsted inspection and a ‘mock inspection’ – Jigsaw Early Years Consultancy

I am on a mission to take the fear out of Ofsted inspections. It got me thinking about why we feel so anxious about an Ofsted Inspection?

Is it because we?

  • Don’t like being judged
  • Have had a negative experience
  • Hear the media portrays Ofsted in a fearful light

I believe it is because we care! We work in a caring profession; we pour our hearts and souls into our settings and little people. It takes days, weeks, months and years of hard work and someone who doesn’t even know you comes in and judges your setting in what feels like a nanosecond! But do you know what? That’s their job. The only way to get more comfortable with something is to become more familiar. That’s why we do QIA’s.

What should you expect to get from a QIA?

As much as you want. It is your QIA. Ask us anything, use and abuse us. It’s your time to get our advice and experience and trial any aspect of the inspection. It is a fresh pair of eyes on your setting. What I will guarantee is a Joint Observation as part of the audit. A Joint Observation is one element of the early year’s inspection and forms part of the Ofsted Inspection and Regulation Framework.

What is a joint observation?

Some people love the Joint Observation element as they feel it’s a part of the inspection where they have a voice. However, most of the settings we visit dread them. Some don’t fully understand the process, and for some, they are not doing observations as regularly as they should. A manager or senior team member conducts the observation alongside the inspector. They will be looking at the quality of the teaching and learning taking place and understand how the manager or senior team member evaluates the situation.

On the day of inspection

The inspector will discuss an outline of the day with you. In addition, you will be able to suggest an area or part of your routine that you would like to use for the Joint Observation aspect.

If the activity has gone well, suggest ways it could be extended next time.

If it hasn’t gone well, identify what has not gone well and how it could be improved next time. Have the confidence to determine and specify why it’s not right.

Never work with Children or Animals!

Children are unpredictable souls, and when an observation starts sliding off track, it usually gathers momentum. Joint observations generally go off track when a setting has tried to over-prepare or practice an observation. Children change their minds and what is in flavour one minute is out the next for example, Billy’s favourite colour is green, and he loves cars, well he did last week. But he watched Fireman Sam at the weekend and now loves Red and Fire Engines. Suddenly what you had spent hours practicing goes pear-shaped and quickly. When this happens, don’t be afraid to ask the inspector to pause the activity and agree on a time to restart. At the same time, you adjust to the new information. Then, invite the child into the process and ask them how we can make this better. Is your new favourite colour red? Shall we go and find some fire engines to do the activity.

Joint Observations are a real learning opportunity. Here are our top three tips for getting Joint Observations right

  1. Don’t over plan!
  2. Listen to the children. Go with their flow
  3. If it’s going wrong, acknowledge the situation.

You can find out more about joint observations in our book. Are you ready for inspection? https://www.jigsawearlyyearsconsultancy.com/product/are-you-ready-for-your-inspection-revised-edition-book/

Evaluating your setting is paramount in finding out your strengths as a team and as a setting and recognising what elements need to improve.

As practitioners, in Early Years, you need to constantly reflect on achieving your targets and working towards your ultimate goal.

Our Quality Improvement Audit will give you all the tools and independent auditor feedback you need to focus on making your setting the best it can be!

For more information or to book a QIA please email us at admin@jigsaweyc.com