All childminders need to self-evaluate your setting, reflecting on what you are doing well and thinking about ways you could improve. In April 2018, Ofsted removed its online self-evaluation form. However, it has not removed the requirement for childminders to self-evaluate. So all childminders need to have in place a method to reflect on your practice, especially if you are being inspected any time soon, as your inspector may want to discuss your evaluation with you.


How does the Guided Self-Evaluation Pack work?

This pack is organised as a series of questions and model answers about you and your setting, with one question per page. You can use it as a structured way to set up a complete evaluation document for your setting from scratch. Or you can pick and choose questions that you feel are helpful to your setting to complement any other form of self-reflective practice you already do.

I have based the structure of this pack around the online Ofsted self-evaluation form which many of you will have already completed. I’m hoping this will help you to make the transition from the information you may have copied from the online form to whatever new, self-managed format you choose to use going forwards.

The pack is sent as a PDF and editable Word document. There is one question per page. To use the pack you:

  1. Choose which questions you feel would be helpful to answer
  2. Read the question and model answer provided
  3.  Reflect on your own practice and type or write your own answer to the questions in the space provided

Scroll down the page or click here to see three example questions and model answers so you can see exactly what it included in the pack.  

 
If I buy this pack do I have to use its format and answer every question?

Absolutely not. How you choose to self-evaluate is entirely up to you. There are as many different ways to self-evaluate and reflect on your childminding business as there are childminders. The electronic Ofsted version of the SEF made it feel as if you were filling out a passport application or tax return and that if you missed any part, you would get your application returned to you or it would count against you at your inspection. So, I want to be clear that you should only fill out the pages of this document that feel helpful to you.

 If you don’t want to use my format, you could just use the headings and questions to prompt you to write your own version using post-it notes and highlighters or loose leaf A4 sheets in a ring binder. Or you could simply scribble notes and thoughts in your Ipad or diary. It is literally totally up to you what you do with the information in my pack – I am just providing you with a starting point so that you have a structured base to begin and some guidance.

If you DO use my format and fill in every answer, then you can feel confident that you are evaluating your whole setting and practice thoroughly before you are inspected. Answering these questions will help you to feel fully prepared for your inspection. Many of the questions are the sorts of questions that an inspector will ask you.

 
Can I send my self-evaluation to my inspector?

If you are about to be inspected, this is an ideal time to write or review this document. Your inspector may be happy for you to email her a copy of your self-evaluation document before you are inspected.  This will allow her to learn more about you and your setting before she arrives. Many childminders, who previously used the Ofsted form, were concerned when it was removed that they would lose the ability to ‘wow’ the inspector before she arrived and lay the framework for her to expect an ‘outstanding’ setting. Another valid concern about the removal of the Ofsted form is that it puts a lot more pressure on the actual inspection because there is no way to show other things that may not be apparent on inspection day.

When you ‘get the call’ that you are about to be inspected, ask your inspector if you can email her in advance a copy of your setting’s self-evaluation. She may be very pleased to see it.  


Do I have to do a WRITTEN self-evaluation?

No. There is no requirement to write out a written self-evaluation. The reason many people do written reflective practice is that it can make it easier for you to think through the different aspects of your business and monitor what you need to change. Writing things out can help you to focus and get organised. It can also be a great way to prepare for your inspection.

Remember that your Ofsted inspector will want to discuss your setting’s self-evaluation during your inspection. Even without the online form, you are still expected to reflect on your practice.  The Early Years Inspection Handbook outlines exactly how an inspector will use your setting’s self-evaluation during your inspection: “59: Inspectors will use the self-evaluation to evaluate how well a setting knows its own strengths and weaknesses and how it can improve.”

In my opinion, writing things out is the best way to feel properly prepared and to remember to put things into action.

 
Open-ended Parent and Child Questionnaire to gather and act on the views of parents

Included in the pack is a sample parent questionnaire that you can adapt to your setting. It also includes questions for the parents to ask their children so that you can confidently show your inspector how you are getting the children’s views as well as their parents. Open-ended questions asking for honest answers can be hard to read, but it is much better to hear bad news from parents directly than to have them gossiping and complaining behind your back!


Resource, Toy and Activity Audit to reflect and improve your ‘teaching’

Included in the pack is a Toy and Activity Audit so that you can look at ways to improve the range of activities you offer the children. First you make a list of all of the normal activities that you do including outings you go on (playground, soft play, music club etc.) and normal activities you set up for the children to do (jigsaws, messy play, playdough, cooking etc.). You can then check that you are covering all areas of learning and development, the characteristics of effective learning, balancing indoor and outdoor time, free play and structured activities in your setting etc. It is a perfect way to reflect on the curriculum you offer, show that you plan careful activities for the children and gives you a structured method to think of things you may need to improve.


Examples from my Guided Self-Evaluation Pack

Here are three example questions and sample answers from my Guided Self-Evaluation Pack so you can see if this format is suitable for your needs:

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How to order your Guided Self-Evaluation Pack or Inspection Pack

 Click here to order a Guided Self-Evaluation Pack for only 15 or an Inspection Pack for £20 to start evaluating your setting today. 


Hi Kay I just thought I'd let you know that I had my inspection yesterday & she couldn't praise my SEF enough. I used your model answers as inspiration & just wanted to say thank you regards Jill

Hi Kay, thank you for the swift send. They are just what I need to help me write my SEF. Fantastic and in plain "English"! You make the questions much easier to understand. Thanks again, Sharon. Xx

I'm just writing to say 'thank you'! I ordered the updated SEF from you, as I was stuck for ideas on writing my own. Your SEF gave me inspiration, not only of what to write, but also an idea of what good practice should be. I have just had my Ofsted inspection, and have been upgraded from 'Satisfactory' to 'Good'. My inspector said that my inspection time was drastically cut down because my SEF was so complete and informative, and that many of her questions had been answered before she had visited me. If I had not had your SEF to inspire me, my SEF would have been very short, and my inspection time very long! I am thrilled that I have a 'Good' grading. Thanks again, Liz

Thanks Kay. I've already completed my SEF, but wasn't sure if I had done too much/too little, and ticked all the boxes. So great to have this as a point of reference/sanity check. Have a fabulous weekend, Karen x

The very thought of completing a SEF has been so daunting I have put it off for a long time. I am now more enthusiastic and in fact completed one section already. Mine does look quite different to either of the two samples, it is such a relief not to be faced with the ‘blank piece of paper’. The model answers are a great idea and give a good starting point. Thanks, Jane

The sef pack is amazing. I have the best sef ever after purchasing it! After reading it, Ofsted only asked me one question in the three hours she was here. Sarah

I have received SEF form, so much information that I wouldn't have thought of mentioning, will be a great help. Thank you, Paula

I have found your SEF  really helpful to make a starting point on each section, and to know what sort of information to include. Thank you, Jackie

Thanks to the SEF model answers I have now completed my SEF which has been 80% completed for the past year but there were bits I didn't have a clue how to fill in. Thanks for this great service, I feel it is money well spent. Alison

Just to say a BIG THANKS because I got an OUTSANDING at my Ofsted Inspection this week and the Inspector particularly praised the thoroughness of my self-evaluation form. I’ve mentioned you to several other childminders and so you might be getting more business your way soon. Kind regards, Caroline

Just wanted to thank you for the Sef model answers which I found very helpful.  I spent several weekends working on my Sef and it was worth it as it helped me focus on my business and prepared me for the questions Ofsted asked. I have now had my inspection and I got a Good - really chuffed as I have only been minding 4 months. With best wishes, Tracey

 

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