Can you see the invisible child?

Let me take you back to many years ago when I was nearing the end of my training as an Ofsted inspector.

It’s a day I will never forget!

We arrived at the setting lovely and early (as inspectors often do). We were in the middle of the learning walk, and I spotted a child enter the room. He came in and made a beeline straight for the sandpit activity. His hands were playing in the sand, but his head and eyes were flitting from one activity to another, searching for something, looking patiently. I had been in this room twenty minutes, and not a single person had spoken to this little boy, not even a hello! I can hear you gasping as you read this but bear with me. I continued the inspection whilst keeping an eye on this little boy. I watched and observed. An hour and forty minutes passed, and still, not a word had been spoken to this little lad. No one had interacted with him at all. I approached the key worker and asked her if she could tell me what she knew about this little lad. I also wondered why she had not spoken or interacted with him? Her response when I questioned her broke my heart and still does to this day

She said, “I don’t know what you want me to say; he doesn’t speak English.”The inspection was scored as inadequate!

Who is an invisible child?

The clue is in the title. You have to look for your invisible child(ren), as they have a knack of blending into the background. They won’t necessarily be a child with EAL or SEN. An invisible child does not initially stand out for any reason.

Look out for the child who is

  • Perfectly happy and does not cause an issue
  • Is neither well behaved nor misbehaves
  • Quiet
  • Wondering and do not participate in an activity for very long
  • Flitting between different areas of the room
  • If they do engage, it is not for long
  • Who has no issues

They plod along but often get overlooked by staff and their attention

How can you spot an invisible child?

Try sitting in the room for 5 mins and just watching. View the room through the eyes of the child. Look for that child or children who display the traits above. Or you could try picking out the quieter children and tracking them as they navigate the room for five minutes.

Still can’t see them?

Try this, take a piece of paper and write down every child’s name in that room. I guarantee you will miss 1-3 children off the list. Go and watch the children you missed off that list. Ask your room leaders to do the exercise too and compare the results.

When does the invisible child stand out?

On inspection day! An inspector can spot an invisible child a mile off! The inspector will undoubtedly identify the invisible child(ren) on the learning walk. You may only have one invisible child in your setting, but that is too many. If the inspector identifies them as an invisible child, you have missed this child’s needs.

Inclusion isn’t just about the most obvious, such as significant SEN or EAL children. It’s about ensuring that every child feels like they belong and are seen.

At JigsawEYC, we work with you and your team to achieve the best outcomes for children. We are passionate about ensuring you are promoting excellent practice and that you are able to have an impact on children’s lives.

JigsawEYC understands the needs of all your staff, yourself, and the children. We aim to ignite and fuel the passion within you and your teams and for Early Years.

We deliver high-quality training and bespoke consultancy to all areas within early years, including childminders, pre-schools, and full daycare settings. We also provide quality improvement audits (qia’s), enabling you to be ready for your inspection and shine throughout the process. In addition, QIA’s are completed by an ex early years inspector with years of experience in managing outstanding settings.

To learn more about what we do and how we can help you visit