Ofsted has announced a toughening up of early years inspections under which only provision that is “good” or better will be deemed acceptable for very young children.
From 4 November 2013, a judgement of “requires improvement” will replace the current “satisfactory” judgement for all early years providers, as it has already for schools and colleges.
Publishing the outcomes of the Good early years provision for all consultation, which sets out Ofsted’s proposals for early years providers, Sir Michael Wilshaw, Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector, announced that “good” will be the minimum standard expected.
As a nation, we spend around £5 billion a year on funded early education, but Ofsted believes that too many pre-schools and nurseries are not meeting an acceptable standard, particularly in the most deprived areas. “Early years provision is only as good as the quality of interaction between adults and children”, says Sir Michael. “The best providers understand the importance of teaching children through their play while also giving them structures and routines which bring order and security into their lives.”
Under additional changes to the inspection framework, “inadequate” settings are now likely to be re-inspected after 6 months, while those judged to “require improvement” will undergo re-inspection within a year. From November, pre-schools and nurseries requiring improvement will have a maximum of two years to achieve a “good” judgement or they will face the prospect of being judged “inadequate”.
Ofsted says it will take into account the potential impact of an inadequate decision on a case by case basis when the first non-domestic providers judged to “require improvement” approach the end of the 24 month period. Any decisions made will be taken in the best interests of the children and parents using the services inspected.
The new inspection framework will be published in full in September with the first inspections under the new system beginning in November.