Magazine article Times Educational Supplement

What Do You Expect?

Magazine article Times Educational Supplement

What Do You Expect?

Article excerpt

My children's nursery has just had a visit from Ofsted. Although I'm not exactly a fan of the watchdog's work, I'm happy for the nursery to be inspected - after all, when you hand over your most treasured possession to relative strangers, it's good to know that they're not going to just stick it in a highchair and play Candy Crush all day.

The report was very positive, which came as no surprise. My children love nursery; the staff are great and, since my eldest is articulate and of a watchful disposition, I feel pretty clued up about what goes on there.

What I found bizarre was the language used in the report. Staff in the baby room were praised for having "high expectations of the babies". This sounds like a good thing until you realise how ridiculous a statement it is - some of the babies are just a few months old. Why are there any expectations at all, other than to be a baby?

When I was pregnant with my first child, I had high expectations that it would sleep through the night and not leave snot and sick on me. These were not met. By the time the second one came along, my expectations consisted solely of keeping everyone alive until at least their first birthday. No doubt Ofsted would have marked me down for this.

One of the nursery's weaknesses was that staff in the toddler room didn't give the children enough thinking time when asking them questions. Again, this seems reasonable until you remember that the thinkers in question are tots in nappies who are still figuring out where their feet are. …

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