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Inspection has always been part of our lives.
In the beginning, the local authority had the responsibility for inspection, and their role was as much
about raising standards as inspecting – carrots rather than sticks! The inspections were every year.
Even from the very beginning our inspectors/advisors have been complimentary, and we have never
ceased to improve our practice whilst holding firm to our central beliefs and Montessori ethos.
Ofsted was created as part of the overhaul of the whole education system in 1992, when more
testing of children in school was introduced along with the concept of ‘league tables’ of school
performance..definitely more sticks than carrots!
Our first inspection under Ofsted was in May 2002 and took place, as before under the Children Act
1989 and the Care Standards Act 2000. It makes very boring reading – just a list of the Care Standards
and ‘met’ underneath each one – a disappointment really when compared to the 2001 one from the
The 2003 Inspection was due in May, but came just before Christmas. The Inspector had a lovely day
and was able to see the dress rehearsal of our Nativity play. This Play has been evolving over the
years since its ‘debut’ performance back in 1984! She left very impressed writing “the provision is of
The Children Act 2004 which went ‘live’ from September 2005 brought many changes to our record-
keeping and to the inspection process. As part of the then Government’s thinking this inspection was
to be unannounced – a good thing obviously, but as you can imagine I’m sure that this was a period
of worry nevertheless. They also introduced four judgement outcomes – Outstanding, Good,
Satisfactory and Inadequate. At least we didn’t have too long to wait – 2 inspectors arrived on in
November 2005, and stayed for 2 days…. We had our ‘care’ inspected separately from our
‘education’, and we scored our first ‘Outstanding’ for our Nursery Education!
Our next Inspection was in November 2008, again unannounced when I was in London at a
conference! All thanks to the Team….everything went really well (just 1 day and 1 inspector this
time!) and a second ‘Outstanding’ was ours!
Re-registration as a Limited Company meant that the 2012 Inspection was as if we were a newly set
up nursery, and I was so nervous when the Inspector called me in for feedback! She began by saying
that she had never given an outstanding for a newly registered provision, and she paused….and I felt
my shoulders slump and a tear silently slip from my eye….but then she said she felt she had no
choice! I was overwhelmed! ‘Outstanding’ for the third time!
You will probably have noticed that Inspections, which were yearly in the 1990’s and early 2000’s are
becoming less frequent, and currently ‘Good’ or ‘Outstanding’ settings have to be inspected only
once in each ‘Inspection cycle’. Each ‘Inspection cycle’ is a period of 4 years, so theoretically a setting
could be inspected twice in a fortnight (at the end of one and the beginning of the next) or have a
span of nearly 8 years (the beginning of one and the end of the next)! Not so sure this system is the
Our last Inspection was in September 2018, nearly 6 years on….and all colleagues were saying Ofsted
were more stringent, looking to have only a certain percentage of settings as ‘Outstanding’, and
other rumours of a gloomy nature abounded! But on the day all was really lovely and we are now the
proud holders of four consecutive ‘Outstanding’ Ofsted judgements!