Nursery Management

Ofsted’s EIF – What Nurseries Need to Know

  • Ofsted’s EIF – What Nurseries Need to Know

Changes to the way early years settings are inspected came into effect from September 2019, but how do they affect you? Julia Maria Gouldsboro identifies the key points…

1 | Areas of judgement

Early years inspectors are now required to make a judgement on a setting’s ‘Overall effectiveness’ and four new key judgements:

  • Quality of education
  • Behaviour and attitudes
  • Personal development
  • Leadership and management.

The new framework states that “[p]rovision should only be judged ‘outstanding’ in a particular area if it is performing exceptionally, and this exceptional performance is consistent and secure”.

It is also important to point out that there does not need to be a breach of a statutory requirement for provision to be judged as ‘requires improvement’.

2 | Overall effectiveness

As well as taking into account the four key judgements when assessing overall effectiveness, inspectors will consider the effectiveness of the arrangements for safeguarding children.


  • Ensure everyone is aware of the safeguarding policies and procedures.
  • Evaluate your practice honestly.
  • Have evidence to demonstrate how your team meet the needs of all the children who attend, particularly those with SEND.

3 | Quality of education

Inspectors want to see a learning environment that is using the EYFS effectively, and success demands:

Why is this learning taking place? Does it provide opportunities with the child’s interests, ability and needs at the forefront?

How is the learning presented? It may be through child-initiated, adult-led, authentic play where children explore and are engaged in their learning. The list of things inspectors should consider how well staff do now includes:

  • reading aloud and telling stories to children
  • encouraging children to sing songs and nursery rhymes, and play musical games.

What learning has been achieved? The new framework happily puts less emphasis on data and more on how learning has been achieved through a stimulating curriculum.

Settings should make the learning visible to demonstrate achievement and be able to say and show how children have enjoyed, explored, remembered and been successful in their learning.

This judgement also asks practitioners to promote ‘cultural capital’, defined as preparing children with the essential knowledge they need for what comes next.

Inspectors will reflect on how well practitioners know the children in their care and the experiences children arrive with to decide what they need to learn and develop to prepare them for their future success. It’s about giving all children the best possible start to their education.


  • Know your children well and be confident talking about what it is they should know and do.
  • Be aware of the age of the children in your setting and their needs.
  • Consider the vocabulary that children have and how you can provide opportunities to extend their language and communication.
  • Read the evaluation schedule; it has a list of examples of the meaning of Intent, Implementation and Impact that’s useful for practitioners (pp33-35).

4 | Behaviour and attitudes

I’m so happy to see the characteristics of effective learning (CoEL) highlighted in the schedule.

Enabling children to explore and play, be active in their learning and think critically, as outlined in the CoEL, helps them to negotiate, problem solve, self-regulate and become resilient, which has a positive impact on their learning and development, building up their emotional intelligence.

Children need time and opportunities to explore the language of feelings, helping them to appropriately develop their emotional literacy.


  • Make the characteristics of effective teaching and learning your main focus.
  • Reflect on how you support children to develop emotional intelligence. Demonstrate it as a priority if children are not positive in their behaviour and attitude.

5 | Personal development

Enabling children to be increasingly independent in managing their personal needs demonstrates success in personal development.

Providers also need to show how they prepare children for life in modern Britain by developing their understanding of fundamental British values, in an age-appropriate way, which includes routinely challenging stereotypical behaviours and respecting differences.

Inspectors want to see how settings help children to reflect on their differences and understand what makes them unique. This relates to British values and how settings can foster a sense of belonging (for more on this click here)


  • Encourage independence from a young age.
  • Demonstrate how you foster and nurture a sense of belonging.

6 | Leadership and management

Inspectors will evaluate evidence from a range of different inspection activities. They will reflect on how staff wellbeing is cared for and how leaders support them in managing their workload as well as their vision and ethos of the setting.

Leaders need to provide high quality, inclusive care and education to all. Quality care needs a quality workforce and settings that can show how staff continue to keep up to date with their knowledge of early years will be able to show successful improvements in the teaching of the curriculum.


  • Reflect on and actively implement ways to put staff wellbeing high on the agenda.
  • Maintain a high quality workforce that feels valued and respected.

And don’t forget…

  • Providers should expect to be inspected at any time, even if there are no children present.
  • For childminders, the requirement to observe a specific planned activity and discuss its aims and learning intention with the inspector has been removed.
  • Be aware of the changes to before and after school care and holiday provision. Providers who only provide care for children at the beginning and end of the school day or in holiday periods will only be inspected for overall effectiveness and receive a single grade against that judgement (because these providers do not have to meet the EYFS learning and development requirements).

Julia Maria Gouldsboro is an early years lecturer and education consultant.