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Curriculum and Provision for EYFS


Just before we finished for the February half term break, two of our schools had visits from Ofsted. I was invited to join one of the discussions with the Lead Inspector to support one of our early years’ colleagues.

As you know each inspection is different and what an inspector will be looking for will depend on your school’s context.


The bullet points below summarise a 30-minute professional dialogue during one of the inspections.

  • The teacher had a long term plan which she used to support her conversation in the meeting. She explained that although their curriculum was linked to the whole school theme ‘Inventions’ this term, she had followed the children’s interests of ‘Transport’.
  • The inspector was not collecting data but wanted to know trends in the cohort’s strengths and areas to develop. There was a discussion about how the teacher had changed the curriculum and physical provision to develop these curriculum areas. The inspector also asked about the effects of Covid19 Lockdown on the children’s development and what gaps the teacher had identified, and how these are being addressed. 
  • After the discussion, the inspector asked the teacher to show her the classroom and talk through her changes. Whilst in the classroom, the inspector asked about the impact of the changes, for example, the teacher had reduced the amount of different types of construction equipment, which meant the children stayed engaged for longer. The teacher talked about promoting independence by ensuring the resources were easily accessible. This linked to the school focus on the learning characteristic this half term.
  • Another change was the use of books throughout the provision to improve communication and language levels for the nursery children. The teacher explained how all adults in the EYFS were sharing books with children within continuous provision (one-to-one or small groups). The teacher was able to explain the impact of this and how children were now self-selecting books to share or to look at independently. 
  • In the classroom, the teacher had pencil control posters on the wall. The inspector mentioned the importance of working towards a tripod grasp to ensure fluency in writing later in school.
  • The teacher’s long term plan included a ‘Readiness for KS1’ box linking UtW and EAD focus to the KS1 curriculum. For example, as part of the whole school theme ‘Humankind’ in the autumn term, the EYFS children engaged in learning about humans growing from young to old, this links with the Science the children will be learning in Year 2 ‘Humans have offspring that grow into adults’. We discussed laying the foundations for the National Curriculum including teaching vocabulary linked to themes, which will be revisited later in KS1.

If your focus in your setting is to develop children’s vocabulary, you may find the DfE ‘Help for Early Years Providers’ webpages useful.  

In one of Dr Helen Edwards, co-founder of Tapestry, latest articles about Ofsted in Nursery World, she said:

Reports show that inspectors are looking at how well settings offer children opportunities to share their ideas in natural and relaxed conversations. They describe how staff support children’s developing communication skills, how their vocabulary is extended, and in what ways children express themselves. The role of each staff member is crucial; for example, reports discuss how skilful staff are in using repetition to support children’s understanding of new words and phrases, in asking open-ended questions, and in giving children sufficient time to think and respond.

We will have the opportunity to discuss our colleagues’ experiences of the Ofsted inspections in our next Early Years Network Meeting.

Caroline Richardson, Head of Service EYFS