This inspection was carried out by Ofsted under Sections 49 and 50 of the Childcare Act 2006 on the quality and standards of the registered early years provision. 'Early years provision' refers to provision regulated by Ofsted for children from birth to 31 August following their fifth birthday (the early years age group). The registered person must ensure that this provision complies with the statutory framework for children's learning, development and welfare, known as the Early Years Foundation Stage.

The provider must provide a copy of this report to all parents with children at the setting where reasonably practicable. The provider must provide a copy of the report to any other person who asks for one, but may charge a fee for this service (The Childcare (Inspection) Regulations 2008 regulations 9 and 10).

The setting also makes provision for children older than the early years age group which is registered on the voluntary and/or compulsory part(s) of the Childcare Register. This report does not include an evaluation of that provision, but a comment about compliance with the requirements of the Childcare Register is included in Annex B.

Description of the childminding

The childminder was registered in 1995. She lives with her partner who is also a registered childminder and who helps her on an occasional part-time basis. The family lives near Waterfoot in the Rossendale Valley in Lancashire. The whole of the house is used for childcare purposes. There is a fully enclosed garden for outside play. The provision is registered to provide overnight care. The childminder operates from 07.30 to 18.00 Monday to Friday, all year round.

The childminder is registered to care for a maximum of six children under eight years at any one time or a maximum of eight children when co-childminding. The childminder is currently minding three children under five years all day and four children who attend full-time school, including three children over eight years. Children attend for a variety of sessions. The childminder walks and transports children to and from local schools and nurseries. The house is close to local amenities and the children attend a variety of groups. The childminder is a member of the National Childminding Association and the Valley Childminding Network. She holds the National Vocational Qualification at level 3 in Early Years Care and Education.

Overall effectiveness of the early years provision

Overall, the quality of the provision is outstanding. Children are extremely well supported and make excellent progress in all areas of their learning and development. The childminder is highly aware of each child as a unique individual and children are fully included in all aspects of the provision. Children are exceptionally safe and secure as they flourish in the highly welcoming and child-centred environment; this ensures their welfare needs are promoted to an exceedingly high standard. Partnerships with parents and other professionals are exemplary and robustly support children's needs, ensuring they make rapid progress in their development. Highly effective steps are taken to evaluate the provision and identify key strengths and areas for development. The quality of childcare and education that children receive is very effective and consistently improved because of the childminder's commitment to the continual improvement of outcomes for children.

What steps need to be taken to improve provision further?

To further improve the high quality early years provision the registered person should consider:

  • ensure medication documentation fully meets the requirements of the Early Years Foundation Stage.

The leadership and management of the early years provision

Children benefit because the childminder is highly aware of her strengths and areas for development. She has exceptionally high aspirations for quality which is evident through her ongoing improvement; since the last inspection the childminder has undertaken 21 training courses and has devised a personal five year training plan. Self-evaluation is of a high standard and the childminder seeks comments about her practice from parents and children, resulting in sustained improvement to the early years provision. For example, a comments book is available for parents and issues raised are discussed and acted upon immediately. Robust links with professionals, such as teachers, development workers and network coordinators, promote rigorous monitoring of education and welfare practices. The childminder also offers support to other childminders and works as part of a group to review policies and practices with other local childminders.

Partnership with parents and other agencies is a key strength; close liaison ensures children's individual needs and well-being are an utmost priority for the childminder. Parents are provided with an exceptional range of information to enhance their children's care and education. Parents report that there is 'excellent communication' and that the childminder 'considers the children's broader interests when planning activities'. Meticulous files showing children's progress towards the early learning goals are available to parents and they are given digital copies of photographs showing children's activities. Information about families is treated in a confidential manner and the childminder operates in an exceedingly professional way. Her partner is registered as her co-childminder; he works away from the home in a different business and will only be called upon to work as a childminder in an emergency. All the necessary requirements for overnight care are fully met.

Excellent procedures are in place to ease children's transition into school and strong links are made with nurseries and reception classes. The childminder takes strong steps to ensure children are well protected and she is highly vigilant when caring for the children. She has spent considerable time reviewing all policies and procedures, they are shared with parents and go far beyond the minimum requirements. Medication procedures, however, include permission to give medicine 'as required', which is not in line with the welfare requirements. Resources and space are deployed in an exemplary manner, with children benefiting from indoor and outdoor play on a daily basis. The childminder values diversity and teaches the children through discussion and good role modelling that people should be valued and respected. Effective strategies are in place to support children with English as an additional language. The childminder is aware that some children may have specific needs and she takes active steps to support all children and their families. All children are encouraged to use some basic sign language, which in turn prompts learning about hearing impaired people. Children's individual needs are respected and valued; for example, the childminder has a wealth of understanding of children's preferences, such as favourite types of music when going off to sleep and types of foods that children cannot tolerate. The childminder demonstrates a consistently high level of knowledge and understanding of each child's family situation, health and abilities. Children are happy and relaxed in the childminder's company as she joins in their enthusiasm for singing and dancing. Children approach her to sit on her knee and she actively ensures that children are able to direct their own play.

The quality and standards of the early years provision

Children are making excellent progress in the Early Years Foundation Stage because the childminder provides an inspirational service. The educational programme is exceptionally well organised and children make significant gains in their learning in relation to their starting points. Meticulously maintained records show children's abilities as they enter the childminder's care and are rigorously sustained throughout the child's time at the setting. Children's progress and areas for development are comprehensively monitored. The next steps for learning are clearly identified and incorporated into the planning systems. The childminder has undertaken research and training, and obtained support to develop her practice to provide a superior learning experience for the children. A key strength of the setting is the superbly kept observation and assessment records of the children with clear details kept by a highly motivated, enthusiastic childminder.

An exemplary learning environment offers innovative opportunities for high levels of achievement and children have access to a wealth of stimulating, varied activities with resources being supplemented by regular loans of materials from the local resource centre. Daily activities are planned around children's individual needs, interests and capabilities. For example, children enjoy playing outdoors, bird watching and growing their own food. A vegetable plot has been established and children are growing herbs, fruit and wild flowers. They use binoculars and ornithological magazines to identify birds in the garden and are beginning to recognise the different breeds and markings of various garden birds. Babies actively contribute to life at the setting and in their local community as they participate in activities, such as baby bounce and rhyme sessions, and trips to farms and Asian supermarkets. Children are learning about people in the wider world as they meet a variety of people in their local community and the childminder explains in a sensitive, caring manner why, for example, some people have disabilities.

Children's welfare is promoted exceedingly well and is significantly enhanced by policies, procedures and practices which are robustly and consistently implemented. Children are confident, self-assured and secure in a safe, comfortable child-centred home. They feel a strong sense of belonging, showing interest in their photographs on the laptop computer, and move freely around the house. Children are learning about healthy lifestyles as the childminder explains to them about hand washing and the value of exercise. Nutritious meals and snacks are on offer, with children being given healthy food choices and drinks of fresh water are available at all times. Children's special dietary requirements are discussed with parents, recorded and respected, with the childminder being vigilant about issues such as allergies or cultural requirements. Children are well behaved and polite; they are learning the house rules and co-operate well together. Risks of infection are minimised because superior hygiene procedures are in place: children have their own towels with individual motifs; high quality sick children policies are actively implemented; and superior risk assessments contribute to keeping children safe.

Annex A: record of inspection judgements

The key inspection judgements and what they mean

Grade 1 is Outstanding: this aspect of the provision is of exceptionally high quality

Grade 2 is Good: this aspect of the provision is strong

Grade 3 is Satisfactory: this aspect of the provision is sound

Grade 4 is Inadequate: this aspect of the provision is not good enough

Overall effectiveness

How effective is the provision in meeting the needs of children in the Early Years Foundation Stage? 1
How well does the provision promote inclusive practice? 1
The capacity of the provision to maintain continuous improvement. 1

Leadership and management

How effectively is provision in the Early Years Foundation Stage led and managed? 1
How effective is the setting's self-evaluation, including the steps taken to promote improvement? 1
How well does the setting work in partnership with parents and others? 1
How well are children safeguarded? 1

Quality and standards

How effectively are children in the Early Years Foundation Stage helped to learn and develop? 1
How effectively is the welfare of children in the Early Years Foundation Stage promoted? 1
How well are children helped to stay safe? 1
How well are children helped to be healthy? 2
How well are children helped to enjoy and achieve? 1
How well are children helped to make a positive contribution? 1
How well are children helped develop skills that will contribute to their future economic well-being? 1

Any complaints about the inspection or report should be made following the procedures set out in the guidance available from Ofsted's website:

Annex B: the Childcare Register

The provider confirms that the requirements of the compulsory part of the Childcare Register are: Met
The provider confirms that the requirements of the voluntary part of the Childcare Register are: Met