Ofsted is the Office for Standards in Education, Children’s Services and Skills. It reports directly to Parliament and is independent and impartial. Ofsted inspects and regulates services which care for children and young people from 0-18 years of age. All nurseries have to be registered and approved by Ofsted before they can begin to look after children.
Even though Ofsted inspects only once in every four year cycle, having a well-respected Ofsted rating is part of how we demonstrate our commitment to high standards. The nursery’s Ofsted reports are available online at www.ofsted.gov.uk, as is the report for every child-minder, school, nursery, pre-school and playgroup in the country.
At the moment Ofsted has 4 inspection ratings (1) outstanding (2) good (3) requires improvement (4) inadequate. Whilst the ratings have largely remained the same, the categories by which each setting is judged have changed along with successive amendments to the Early Years Foundation Stage.
Since we opened in 2004 we have been inspected three times by Ofsted and we have provided a brief history of those inspections below.
Ofsted Inspection 2005 – 2006
This was our first inspection a year after we opened in 2004. There were four categories and we were very pleased with the inspection findings, which gave us a great foundation from which to build our reputation.
|Area of Practice||Ofsted rating|
|Outcomes for Children||Outstanding|
|Health and Safety||Good|
|Leadership and Management||Good|
Ofsted Inspection 2008 – 2009
This was our second inspection following a major change to the Early Years Foundation Stage. The number of categories by which the nursery was assessed increased to 17, and we were very proud to be rated outstanding in all areas.
|Area of Practice||Ofsted Rating|
|Overall Quality of Provision||Outstanding|
|Outcomes – children achieve and enjoy||Outstanding|
|Outcomes – children feel safe||Outstanding|
|Outcomes – children adopt healthy lifestyles||Outstanding|
|Outcomes – children make a positive contribution||Outstanding|
|Outcomes – skills for the future||Outstanding|
|Outcomes for children in the Early Years Foundation Stage||Outstanding|
|Leadership and management – ambition and driving improvement||Outstanding|
|Leadership and management – deploys resources||Outstanding|
|Leadership and management – promotes equality and diversity||Outstanding|
|Leadership and management – effectiveness of safeguarding||Outstanding|
|Leadership and management – effectiveness of self-evaluation||Outstanding|
|Leadership and management – effectiveness of partnerships||Outstanding|
|Leadership and management – engagement with parents and carers||Outstanding|
|Effectiveness of leadership and management Early Years Foundation Stage||Outstanding|
|Overall effectiveness – maintaining continuous improvement||Outstanding|
|Overall effectiveness – meets children’s needs Early Years Foundation Stage||Outstanding|
Ofsted Inspection 2012 – 2013 (Latest)
Once again the format for the inspection changed and the Early Years Foundation Stage requirements were reduced to three from the previous seventeen. Whilst we were very pleased to once again achieve an excellent report, especially in outcomes for children, we were nonetheless disappointed to have narrowly missed being outstanding in all areas.
|Area of Practice||Ofsted rating|
|Outcomes for Children||Outstanding|
|Health and Safety||Good|
|Leadership and Management||Good|
Full Ofsted Report for 2012 – 2013
The Wishing Tree Children’s Nursery was registered in May 2004. It operates from nine playrooms, spread over three floors in a converted house in the Withdean area of Brighton and Hove in Sussex. The first and second floors are accessible via stairs. Children have access to an enclosed outside area. The nursery is registered on the Early Years Register and the compulsory and voluntary parts of the Childcare Register.
The nursery is open each weekday from 8am to 6pm for 51 weeks of the year. There are currently 180 children on roll aged from three months to five years. The nursery gets funding for the provision of free early education to children aged two, three and four years. The nursery employs 44 staff and eight non-childcare ancillary staff. 25 staff work full-time and 27 staff work part-time. The majority of staff hold appropriate early years qualifications at level 2 and above. Two members of staff are in training.
Meeting the needs of all the children who attend (Outcomes)
Children enjoy an extremely purposeful range of experiences in a highly stimulating learning environment. The staff team confidently plan activities that are consistently based on children’s developmental needs and current interests.
Consequently children engage extremely well and enthusiastically take ownership over their own learning. For example, a small group of children work well together as they decide to fill a wheelbarrow with sand and water. They chat and problem solve how to lift it up without it falling over after it does so initially, tipping water everywhere, much to their delight.
Toddlers experiment using different resources to paint and print with on large pieces of paper on the floor. This builds on children’s experiences of body painting at home. Initial hesitation about getting paint on their bodies is soon overtaken by their eagerness to dab paint on their feet and the arms of staff working with them. Staff’s initial fears about doing such creative activities lessen as they see how much children enjoy these experiences. They carefully introduce new vocabulary while the children paint, with words such as ‘slippery’ to develop young children’s early language.
Babies sit and explore different musical instruments to express themselves, working out what happens if they bang them on the floor or shake them.hey greatly benefit from play with a wide range of sensory resources, such as flour, pasta and natural materials including shells and wood. The children move with confidence around their base rooms and the garden, making their own decisions about what to do and play with from the extensive range of resources. Story times are popular and children listen attentively as staff read to them, snuggling up together as they do so. Staff skilfully use books as a valuable resource to teach children other skills, such as simple addition and subtraction, as they count objects on the page.
The older children greatly benefit from opportunities to move freely between the indoors and outside environments. They use materials imaginatively, such as sand and twigs to create make-believe birthday cakes with candles and show very good language skills as they talk about raking and digging. Staff give children valuable time to persevere, concentrate and pursue their own learning without excessive intervention. This results in children who are extremely eager to learn through play. For example, children concentrate hard as they practise their early writing skills using a white board, while babies develop their physical agility as they learn how to stand and walk unaided. Staff demonstrate a comprehensive understanding of their role as a key person and of the learning & development requirements of the Early Years Foundation Stage. They provide extremely good levels of teaching to stimulate and challenge children to think critically and make at least good progress from their starting points.
Staff make excellent use of technology to record their observations and take photographs of children busily playing. They closely monitor children’s progress, including with the required progress check for children aged between two and three years. They identify achievable next steps to help children move forward in their development. The learning journals are delightful records of children’s achievements and show the progress they make very clearly.
Children with special educational needs and/or disabilities receive excellent support because staff know how to meet their specific needs in purposeful ways and work closely with external agencies to support each child’s inclusion. Outings around the local community and further afield to farms provide children with exciting and extremely good opportunities to learn about the wider world. Children eagerly chat about their impending trip to the theatre in Brighton and how they are going by bus with some of their mums and dads and staff. On their return from the outing, other children eagerly ask if they have had a nice time, showing good friendships are established. Partnerships with parents are extremely good.
Parents praise the exceptional levels of care and education their children receive, and comment how ‘my child loves it here and so do I’. The nursery uses comprehensive systems to engage all parents in their children’s learning and development, both within the nursery and at home. Parents are able to borrow resources to share with their child at home, such as dual language books and physical activity bags. They attend parents’ evenings and know they can talk to their child’s key person at any time. The nursery also works collaboratively with other early years settings children attend, with local feeder schools and support services to fully meet every child’s unique needs and support them as they move on in their education.
The well-being and safety of the children
All of the children show they feel very happy, safe and settled within the nursery. There is a harmonious atmosphere in the homely environment, which is busy and fun, while also having an underlying sense of calm. This is particularly beneficial for the youngest children who receive good levels of consistent care, with their routines followed from home. The staff adorn walls with children’s creative efforts and photographs of them engaged in activities to foster a sense of belonging.
The children receive plenty of praise and encouragement to promote their self-esteem and confidence, while also having clear behaviour expectations and boundaries. The staff teach children to keep safe and healthy through daily routines, outings and as they play. For example, when older children step from a low wooden balance beam into the small paddling pool and begin to slip, staff remind them about the dangers to themselves and others in the pool. Visits to the nursery by the emergency services help reinforce important messages to children about keeping safe.
The nursery cook provides children with a good variety of wholesome, nutritious meals and snacks, which the children thoroughly enjoy. Children serve themselves when they are able to do so and pour their own drinks of water so they learn to recognise when they might be thirsty. Babies are offered regular drinks of water and staff follow very good procedures regarding bottle feeds to promote health and safety. The nursery is clean and well maintained throughout all areas. Children learn to follow good hygiene routines regarding their personal care and show they understand this as they comment to a friend ‘I think you need a tissue’.
Children have very good opportunities to develop healthy lifestyles and get plenty of exercise each day. They gain skills by jumping, running, building large structures using crates, digging and kicking balls. Toddlers and babies develop resilience as they gain physical strength crawling, standing and walking. The nursery is working hard to develop and enhance their outdoor provision even further. They recognise that some children do not always have excellent opportunities to climb, balance and develop further their physical capabilities and skills.
The nursery strongly prepares children for their move to school. They teach them important self-care skills and above all encourage children to be confident learners with high levels of self-esteem. Key skills such as learning to hold a pencil, recognise their first name and sit and listen are all embedded through daily routines with the oldest children.
The nursery implements robust procedures to safeguard children and promote their welfare. They conscientiously and thoroughly fulfil their responsibilities in meeting the requirements of the Statutory Framework for the Early Years Foundation Stage.
Leadership and Management of the Nursery
The management team is strong and provides effective leadership throughout the nursery to maintain good quality care and drive improvement in the outcomes for children. They act quickly upon any concerns or incidents to safeguard children. For instance, after a recent incident where a child was left unsupervised in the garden the nursery completed a thorough investigation. The nursery reviewed their procedures, ratios, supervision of children and how staff are deployed. This identified some areas were improvements can be made and the nursery has implemented these.
Risk assessments are thorough and cover all aspects of the nursery provision, so make sure safeguarding procedures are embedded into practice. For example, staff closely monitor children going in and out of the garden, doing regular head counts and registers. Access to the nursery is secure and staff are vigilant at all times about children’s whereabouts. They understand their roles and responsibilities regarding child protection, including about whistle blowing and the use of mobile phones. Comprehensive policies and procedures are in place and implemented routinely by staff to maintain high quality and safe care for children.
All documentation required to safely manage the nursery is in place. There is a comprehensive range of records and procedures in place, many of which are put on display around the nursery. This helps parents be aware of how the nursery cares for their children. Parents can access the informative nursery website and also receive newsletters regularly so they keep informed about events happening that may involve their child.
The nursery is rigorous in its approach to reflective practice and self-evaluation in order to drive and maintain continuous improvement. They conduct surveys, seek the views of children and their parents to identify priorities for improvement, using action and operational plans to plan their next steps. Management implement robust recruitment, vetting and induction procedures to make sure staff are suitable to work with children.
They support staff’s professional development with training, meetings, appraisals and have an open door policy for staff to share any ideas or issues. Any underperformance is quickly identified and supported through monitoring, training and staff meetings. They also reflect and critically evaluate the educational programmes and assessment systems. This enables them to check that they are narrowing achievement gaps for particular groups of children, meeting each child’s needs fully and that all children are making progress from their starting points for learning.