As the new school term begins and children of all ages get back into the routines with their childcare providers, Vanessa Dooley – Founder of Jigsaw Early Years Consulting – is celebrating after becoming a No.1 best-selling author.
In just four hours after its release, her debut book written for early years practitioners Are You Ready For Your Inspection was riding high on Amazon in the categories of Preschool & Nursery Books, Education Policy Books and Education Theory Books – overtaking two New York Times Bestselling Authors; Wendy Mogal and Education and Creativity Expert Sir Ken Robinson to take the number one spot. An ex-OfSTED inspector, Hampshire-based Vanessa is now hoping that instead of being feared by many working in early years settings, she will now be turned to as someone who can offer support, having shared her years of wisdom, knowledge and expertise to fill the gap she believes exists for nursery owners.
Vanessa has actually been sharing this knowledge since the launch of Jigsaw 2 years ago, already offering a series of services including training courses and e-learning courses for early years CPD, quality improvement inspections and consultancy days, alongside expert articles in industry press, but feels the book is her best yet accessible route to her guidance and advice, as she focuses on spreading her knowledge as widely as possible.
Vanessa said, "Whilst I am an ex-OfSTED inspector, I have also spent years managing nurseries so I’ve experienced the stress associated with being inspected. All of our nurseries achieved outstanding status – but I know how hard it is when you do not know how the system works, or really understand what OfSTED is looking for and I’ve seen the pressure this put on nursery managers and their teams. With this book I wanted to openly share my knowledge to help guide early years settings and remove some of the tension attached to inspections, as the stress often involved doesn’t do the children or staff any good.”
Vanessa, who has been working within Early Years since 1987, has always been very career focused. However when in 2010 she was managing seven nurseries alongside juggling a significant personal health challenge, she decided to focus on more flexible ways of using her skills.
Available now via Amazon the book's success has left Vanessa hugely overwhelmed. She said: “I am so taken aback by the response this has had and so so grateful to the team at Authors & Co who helped me bring this to life. I’m so glad that sharing my knowledge that I’ve acquired over the years will now help others. I know there are so people working in nurseries, or as childminders who are doing amazing jobs, but are unable to always showcase that when it matters for OfSTED – hopefully I can remove some of the stress and mystery to help them achieve the grades they crave, and focus on providing the best settings to aid children's learning and development.
“This book will hand-hold you through the journey of the entire process making sure that you are going to shine, you are going to be confident, and you are going to show impact. The journey through opening your setting, preparing for your inspection and actually enjoying the inspection itself is no mean feat – trust me on this. I have felt impelled to write everything down I know to share. The motto sharing is caring is not only highlighted, but also exemplified in this case. You need to shine for others. This book will help you be consistently outstanding, every single day.”
Within the 2015 Common Inspection Framework, all areas are covered within the following sections – overall effectiveness; effectiveness of leadership and management; quality of teaching, learning and assessment; personal development, behaviour and welfare and outcomes for children.
Vanessa’s Top Tips for achieving an Outstanding Early Years setting include:
1. Remember that the whole inspection process is all about the impact practitioners are making to children’s learning and development. This is seen through observations of teaching, following safeguarding procedures and processes, ensuring the whole team are on board.
2. The main focus is the interaction staff have with children so be sure to effective communication with the children, question them through thought-provoking conversation which ignites their curiosity and critical thinking skills
3. Put yourself in the shoes of the children. Imagine what it would be like if no one spoke to you for a few hours during the day. How would that make you feel? We need to be engaging in children’s play and focus on the way they are learning and not just being a tick box exercise to get through the inspection process.
4. Don’t forget about the parents. Engaging parents to ensure you are able to meet the reporting requirements of working in partnership as well as liaising with other settings is key. The three-way triangle partnership approach ensures that the outcomes of children are of the highest priority.
5. Take the time to step back and watch how children are learning and interacting with each other, use these skills to engage with them and be able to learn with them. Every day is a learning day. We can create inspiring environments for children to thrive but we do need to remember that we are the source!
Vanessa added, “Being ready for your Early Years inspection can be one of the most stressful occasions in an Early Years setting. With the limited amount of support local authorities are now being able to deliver and the far reaching outstanding result as your grade seems further away I believe there is a real need for knowledge sharing in this area. I really hope I can make an impact as I support others making an impact to the lives of children.”