Demonstrate your impact to Ofsted
16 October 2017 – Yvonne Monaghan (Head of Consultancy)
Many nurture practitioners are a bit worried when they hear that Ofsted (and other inspection bodies) will soon come and visit their school. What are inspectors actually looking for when they come in your nurture group? How can you share evidence of your practice with them? Our head of consultancy Yvonne Monaghan gives tips and advice on how best to prepare for the event!
We know of many schools who have a nurture group and have been praised by Ofsted. What does Ofsted like about nurture groups?
Ofsted wants pupils to learn and succeed in school, and nurture helps with that. But Ofsted does not just like nurture in general, they want to see evidence that the intervention is targeted to the needs of individual pupils, that it is linked with the mainstream class. They want to see that the pupil is making progress, behaving well and flourishing.
How can practitioners evidence their work? What kind of data does Ofsted want to see?
It’s always a good idea to show a mix of “hard” and “soft” data. For example, you can show them Boxall Profiles but also have a case study of the child. Explain the background of the pupil, his strengths and difficulties, and the progress he has been making in the nurture group.
You can also show the learning plans, pupil profiles and transition plans you have been using to support a pupil. This will demonstrate that you have planned the intervention to target the specific needs of the child, and that you are not just delivering a generic intervention!
Ofsted also likes to see that that both teachers and TAs are focused on the learning outcomes of children. For example, talk about how you are working on numeracy and literacy, but adapting teaching to the needs of the child. Don’t forget to mention how you link your work with the child’ mainstream class! It’s important to show that what you do in the nurture group feeds into the work of the mainstream teacher.
Finally, talk about how the nurture group fits with the rest of the school! Do you sometimes invite other pupils and teachers in? Do you talk about a child’s progress with teachers and the leadership team? Do you talk to parents and keep in touch with them? All these things are proof that your nurture group is inclusive and connected with the school environment, that it’s not a little corner separated from the school. Make sure your head teacher also knows what is going on in the nurture group and talks to Ofsted about it.
Many inspectors actually want to have a look at the nurture room, and meet the practitioners and the children. What are they looking for when they come in the nurture group?
In general, they will look out for the following things:
- They want to see evidence of structured routines, that you are doing activities in a predictable way eg. do you have a week schedule on the wall that children can refer to? Do children know what usually happens when they come to nurture?
- They want to make sure that targets and expectations are clear: Do children have their own learning plan and know what targets you are working on together? Do you have posters on the wall they can check to remind them of what behaviour is acceptable or unacceptable?
- They want to see that children are making progress and enjoy being in the nurture group. That they are challenged – but in a nurturing way! That they feel good about themselves, about their achievements and that they are motivated to learn.
- And of course, that nurture principles are applied everywhere in the nurture group, not only between teachers and children but also between practitioners, with school staff, etc.
If the inspector has never seen a nurture group, take them around and explain each area and its purpose. Why is there a dining table? What skills do children practice in the kitchen? When do you go in the living room area? Remember that all these things that are now so obvious to you may be surprising to someone who is not familiar with nurture!
And try to get children to chat with the inspectors if you can. Give them the chance to share their experience of being in the nurture group and what it means for them. This will have a strong impact!
Finally, what advice would you give to NG practitioners before their Ofsted visit?
Be passionate about nurture, celebrate what you do and show your knowledge! Remember that this should be a day for you to celebrate your achievements and the great work you are doing with the children. Be confident in what you are doing and if needed, look back at the 3 day Theory and Practice training, ask advice from other practitioners on the Facebook group or get in touch with us! And remember, it's normal to feel nervous.
Best of luck during your inspection!