One in three nurseries and childminders is failing to provide a good standard of care and education under a tough new inspection regime, new figures reported in the Mail revealed yesterday.
Out of 17,434 providers inspected over 14 months, 33 per cent were judged to need improvement – up from 26 per cent the previous year.
The number of providers given Ofsted’s worst rating – ‘inadequate’ – soared almost three-fold, from three per cent to eight to per cent.
Hundreds of providers were found to be operating in unsafe premises and failing to employ suitable staff or keep their first aid training up-to-date.
Nine providers were censured over staff smoking and eight for ‘staff taking medicine / other substances’ inappropriately.
More than 2,000 were ordered to make improvements to early education programmes.
A new inspection regime introduced in September 2012 ‘raised the bar’ by scrutinising standards of early education more closely and the progress made by children.
Ofsted also pledged to make more frequent visits to providers which are causing concern.
The watchdog yesterday published the results of inspections between September 2012 and October 2013.
The figures came amid growing concern over standards of early education as the childcare sector expands.
Out of 17,434 providers visited, 25 per cent were rated merely satisfactory and eight per cent inadequate – 33 per cent in total.
In contrast, during the year 2011/12, 26 per cent of providers found themselves in Ofsted’s lowest two categories.
Meanwhile, in 2012/13, some 60 per cent were good, with just seven per cent outstanding – down from 63 per cent and 11 per cent the year before.
Neil Leitch, chief executive of the Pre-school Learning Alliance, said: ‘We remain concerned that Ofsted’s “tougher” inspection framework has resulted in such a significant increase in “inadequate” judgments, and decrease in “good” and “outstanding” grades, compared to previous years.
‘It is not enough to introduce a more rigorous framework without ensuring that providers have access to the necessary support, training and guidance needed to meet these standards.’
A further overhaul of the nursery inspection regime was introduced in November 2013. Under the shake-up, all nurseries and pre-schools will be expected to achieve a ‘good’ rating from Ofsted; those falling below the threshold will be given a maximum of two years to improve or face being labelled ‘inadequate’ and risking closure.
An Ofsted spokesman said: ‘We have toughened up the way we do early years inspections.
‘Ofsted has made clear that only good or outstanding is good enough for young children.’
I recently met with a group of about a hundred owners and managers of early years settings and I know how anxious the changes in the Ofsted inspection regime is making them. What impact do you see it having and is Ofsted right to insist only good or outstanding is good enough? Please let us know what you think in the comments, via Twitter and by taking part in our poll…[yop_poll id=”117″]