The Observer is reporting that Sir Michael Wilshaw, the chief inspector of education, will this week warn childminders and nurseries that they will need to show more evidence to parents that they are preparing young children for the academic rigours of school.
He will insist that parents be given proof of progress in key areas, and is also expected to usher in new standards for providers of early years education. A source close to Ofsted said Wilshaw believed that there were “serious weaknesses in the information provided to parents, meaning it is difficult to hold providers of early education to account”.
In a speech to launch Ofsted’s annual report on early years providers, he will say that he wants parents to be able to see their child is being taught a rich vocabulary, enjoying nursery rhymes, learning to build small towers with blocks, and being given the chance to listen to stories and look at books.
It is understood that Wilshaw is particularly concerned that children in the country’s most disadvantaged areas are being badly let down by staff who do little more than supervise.
Last year, Wilshaw said, tens of thousands of young children were being cared for in substandard preschools and nurseries. Some 157,778 under-fives were at facilities considered by Ofsted either inadequate or in need of improvement.
An Ofsted source said: “Beyond the Ofsted reports, there is nothing to show how a childminder or provider of childcare is performing on a general basis to prepare a child for school. We are not talking about tying children to desks to learn times tables, but they should be counting, learning numbers, and doing things to earn rewards.
“At the heart of all of this is that we need to focus on getting those children from disadvantaged backgrounds the help that they need. If the gap isn’t closed by the age of five, the chances of overcoming that disadvantage are very slim for a lot of children.”
…Wilshaw has already written to Ofsted’s early years inspectors urging them to focus on checking that the provision they see is offering children the right stimulation. In the letter, he reminds inspectors that they should “focus on evaluating whether children are being adequately prepared for the start of their statutory schooling”.
However, it is understood that there is unhappiness among some in the sector at Wilshaw’s directions. Many believe that his priorities stand in contradiction to their play-based approach to early years care…
Is SMW right to focus on the impact Early Years providers can have on helping close the gap? Does it sound like he is going about it the right way? Please let us know what you think in the comments, via Twitter and by taking part in our poll…[yop_poll id=”141″]