The dreaded 'O' word: Ofsted

So, last week was the final week of Summer Camp, and I had all but given up on the prospect of an Ofsted inspection during this week; after all, they have had 5 weeks to come and inspect and so far, failed to materialise. I had convinced myself they would now be too pre-occupied with preparing for the new round of inspections for the coming school year to bother with inspecting an average sized sports and art summer camp in its final week. How wrong I was...

It was Thursday morning and we were just about to embark on the traditional 'morning welcome' - when I hear the dreaded word "Ofsted" (it would be fair to say that a number of expletives entered my mind at this point). However, upon hearing the dreaded 'O' word, I seemed to go into overdrive and surprised myself with the amount of energy I now appeared to have. With this being my first Ofsted, and still a 'teacher in training', I was determined to prove to myself that I can do this.

Throughout the day, the inspector observed a range of the activities we had on the timetable, our snack and lunch procedures and finally spent the afternoon perusing all of the paperwork, from my observation notes to policies and procedures in place from head office.

The activities planned (and therefore observed) during the day ranged from Basketball to 'Art Explosion'. Although I was naturally nervous with having an Ofsted inspector present, I felt comfortable with the children and the activities; most of the children in my group that day could be considered regulars and the activities had been refined during the previous weeks of camp.

Similarly, I was happy with my approach to the activities, by enabling children to have choice over their activities and embark on a culture most of them would be  familiar with in Nursery/Reception (that of free choice with a structured activity). Whilst this can sometimes be dubious and hard to organise within camp, I believe that allowing children the choice to explore planned sports activities helps them develop and remain interested. With Basketball & Roller Racers, the children were given the choice of activity, and had a small amount of formal input from myself or another instructor, before being given the opportunity to explore the equipment. In Basketball, for example, I would challenge the children to see who could bounce the ball the most times, therefore extending their control of the ball without the formal teaching many inspectors would incorporate with the older children.

Additionally, with the 'art explosion' in the afternoon, all children were expected to engage with the activity, however, the time engaged and the materials used was down to each individual. I ensured that a range of materials (including scissors, PVA glue, paper plates etc) was accessible for all the children. By enabling them with this choice over which materials to use and even with whom to work. Being able to stand back and observe this session myself, it was easy to see the children were all engaged in their art time, many of whom spent over 25 minutes creating their masterpieces.

Finally, at the end of the day, (5pm!), the Site Manager and I were invited to hear our feedback. Obviously, we were both anxious to see how we had performed and ultimately, discover the overall grading for the inspection (my first ever!). While I know the initial grading and feedback, I am not going to share this until the inspection report is published on the website. Needless to say, I was happy with the feedback and the process overall. It was reassuring to have an inspector who cared greatly for the provision of children in the Early Years and appeared to care about the children she talked to during the day.