The Outstanding Ofsted Experts:
11 Parent Partnership Tips

Everyone wins when the parents are on board.

Welcome to edition number five in our series on Ofsted. We’ve talked to five outstanding nursery managers and leaders, as well as leading early years expert Dr Sue Allingham, to bring you all the tips, advice, and guidance that you need to improve your Ofsted rating.

When we spoke to our outstanding Ofsted Experts about self-evaluation last time around, it was really clear the important role that parent relationships played in their settings.

Keeping that in mind, we decided to focus a little more on the topic. Read on to learn more about developing strong parent partnerships, and in turn enabling better relationships with the ones that really matter – the children.

1. Understanding the child

When running your nursery, parents and children come as a package deal. Learn how best to work with the child by first getting to know the parent.

The better the relationship with the parent, the more you understand and know the child and the more comfortable they are. So partnerships with parents are really important to make sure the children learn and develop.

Catherine Walker, Childcare Manager, Priesthills Nursery

2. Daily diaries

Communication shouldn’t wait for a weekly or monthly newsletter. Quick, regular updates free up more time for regular and meaningful discussion with parents when you get that all important face-to-face time.

Try to involve parents as much as possible in everything you do. Famly has really helped with that, tracking sleep times and meal times, all the daily diary stuff. What they really want to know is all the amazing stuff we’ve done in the day and now they don’t need to ask about the daily stuff because they can find out on Famly.

Lizzy Barlow, Nursery Group Leader, Hollies Day Nursery

3. Bad relationships

We know can be tricky to get on with everyone, and things can easily get heated when someone’s children are involved. Yet building bridges with any difficult parents will make your job and the child’s development easier to manage in the long term.

If you need to have difficult conversations with a parent who you have a bad relationship with, it’s 10 times harder. But with a good relationship and open communication things are a little easier. It also makes it easier for the parent to come to you when they’ve got concerns and then things get flagged up earlier.

Catherine Walker, Childcare Manager, Priesthills Nursery

4. Parent questionnaires

Want easy proof which demonstrates to Ofsted that your nursery is outstanding? Why not develop a parent questionnaire?

We also do parent questionnaires based on the Ofsted primary school ones. We compile them for evaluation and we also have evidence to show Ofsted.

Ailsa Monk, Principal, Cotswold Montessori School

5. Your biggest fan

Understand your strengths by finding out what makes your most satisfied parents happy!

If a parent loves you, then get them in and ask them why! Or get them to send an email or have a meeting about why they believe you’re outstanding.

Lizzy Barlow, Nursery Group Leader, Hollies Day Nurseries

6. Telling them about the inspection

Parent feedback is a key element of outstanding Ofsted ratings. Keep your parents in the loop and encourage their honesty to help achieve success

As soon as I knew that we were going to have an Ofsted inspection I messaged all the parents to let them know. I told them that the inspector might want to speak to them and that they should be completely honest and say whatever they think. We got a huge number of comments back and I even showed that to the inspector. It was incredible what they put and the inspector really liked that.

Michelle Tuddenham, Manager, Little Acorns Montessori

7. Regular communication

Strong parent partnership relies on ongoing open communication. You can make parents feel welcome at any time by scheduling regular catch-ups, events and discussion.

We’re always chatting with parents as they come in and out in the morning and we invite them in for regular parent evenings. We have things like craft afternoons and mother’s day breakfasts. We have newsletters. But mainly it’s about just having open communication and letting them know that they can call or come in.

Catherine Walker, Childcare Manager, Priesthills Nursery

8. Parent-teacher meetings

Your setting can be a winner in both Ofsted and the parents’ eyes by understanding and catering to differing communication needs.

Different parents want different things. So when we send out the reports we ask them if they’d like a parent-teacher meeting. This means it’s efficient, because we only spend our time on the parents who really need it.

Ailsa Monk, Principal, Cotswold Montessori School

9. Behaviour management

At the end of a challenging day, honesty works best in ensuring that children’s misbehaviour is dealt with. A united approach between yourself and the parents will achieve the best results.

Having a hugely trusting and confident relationship with parents allows you to have that difficult conversation. You mustn’t say to them that their child has had a good day if they haven’t. The language we use is “WE haven’t had a good day.” Because then it’s about the practitioner taking on those emotions and trying to change it.

Lizzy Barlow, Nursery Group Leader, Hollies Day Nursery

10. Documenting communication

Instant, easy digital communication means your parents can contact the setting much more efficiently and in a documented way. Easier for you, and great for your Ofsted rating.

Famly has improved our partnerships even further, because our parents love the fact that they can just message straight to the rooms. What’s more, it’s all documented so you can show Ofsted on the day.

Catherine Walker, Childcare Manager, Priesthills Nursery

11. An open door

Parents should always feel welcome in your setting. Help build trust by communicating your nursery’s open door policy.

They can always come in and talk to us. That’s very important for Ofsted, because parents are leaving their children with us and they need to know that they are secure and safe when they’re here.

Michelle Tudenham, Nursery Manager, Little Acorns Montessori

Found some helpful tips? Well, we’ve got some good news. You can now download the full guide for free, with 12 different sections covering every area of your Ofsted inspection. Time to get the outstanding result that you deserve.

Free outstanding Ofsted guide

Download the full guide to read 12 sections of outstanding advice, completely free.