Warning over shake-up of Ofsted nursery inspections

The Telegraph is reporting warnings from early years experts that children will be put at risk by Ofsted rules that leave new nurseries and childminders without an inspection for up to two and half years…

The education watchdog announced today that inspections of newly-opened childcare providers would be made within 30 months – more than four times the current limit of seven months.

Ofsted insisted the changes would give nurseries, pre-schools and childminders “longer to embed” good standards.

The move will also create additional time to allow the regulator to focus on those providers already known to be performing below the accepted level.

But the reforms were criticised by experts today who insisted it could mean some infants will spend “their entire early years experience” in a provider that has not been subjected to an inspection.

Neil Leitch, chief executive Pre-school Learning Alliance, insisted the plans were motivated by attempts to tackle a huge inspection “backlog” suffered by the watchdog.

The disclosure comes just 24 hours after figures showed more than 4,000 nurseries in England are currently not good enough, although this was down on the number a year earlier.

Announcing the reforms, Nick Hudson, Ofsted’s director of early years, said new providers would be expected to register with the regulator would but would receive their first inspection within 30 months rather than the current seven.

He said this would free up an estimated 10,000 days to “prioritise those nurseries, childminders and other early years providers that are not yet good or outstanding”…

The reforms come on top of other changes introduced last autumn that sees inspectors focus more closely on early education and the extent to which children are prepared for school.

But Mr Leitch said the latest change – which is effectively immediately – was an “extremely concerning proposal”.

“It’s vital that new providers are inspected sooner rather than later to ensure that any issues within the provision are promptly addressed and good practice is embedded as early as possible,” he said…

Liz Bayram, chief executive of the Professional Association for Childcare and Early Years, said she was “extremely concerned” by the change.

“A provider’s first inspection must be carried out sooner rather than later in order for any problems to be addressed quickly,” she said. “Waiting two and a half years until a first inspection is carried out is far too long.”…

More at: Warning over shake-up of Ofsted nursery inspections


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