Nurseries and childminders to face tougher inspections

 
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Nurseries and childminders in England will face tougher inspections under proposals announced by Ofsted.

Under the plans, childcare providers currently classed as "satisfactory" will be dubbed "requiring improvement" and undergo extra inspections.

The move follows concerns that nurseries are not improving fast enough, particularly in deprived areas.

The Pre-School Learning Alliance warned that real improvements would require better funding for childcare.

Chief inspector of education Sir Michael Wilshaw announced a consultation on the proposals in a speech to an invited audience in London.

Similar changes were made to school inspection ratings last year.

'Raising expectations'

Ofsted says that evidence from inspections shows that nurseries, pre-schools and childminders are not improving fast enough between inspections, particularly in poorer areas.

Sir Michael Wilshaw told the BBC the number of poor nurseries was "unacceptable"

The latest Ofsted figures show that in 2012 the majority of England's nurseries and childminders were judged "good" (62%) or "outstanding" (12%) by inspectors - but 25% were judged "satisfactory", with 1% classed as "inadequate".

Under the proposed changes from September, only "good" or better will be deemed acceptable by Ofsted.

The watchdog says the proposals "will raise expectations and tackle weaker settings".

Nurseries and pre-schools "requiring improvement" will undergo more frequent inspections and will have a maximum of four years to achieve a "good" rating.

Those that fail to do this are likely then to be judged "inadequate" and may face closure.

"We all know from the research that children's early years are a period of rapid development and vital for building a secure foundation for future personal and academic success," Sir Michael said.

"Parents, whatever their circumstances, want their children to access good-quality childcare and get a good early education that sets them up well for statutory schooling.

"Yet too many providers are not good enough, particularly in the most deprived areas. We must be tougher on weak settings."

Sir Michael added that Ofsted would encourage good or outstanding childcare providers to support weaker ones.

Ofsted's most recent report on early years providers said that, despite an overall improvement, many children were not well prepared for school, particularly in poor areas.

Start Quote

I want to see more teacher-led nursery classes where children are learning so that they arrive at school ready to progress”

End Quote Elizabeth Truss Education and childcare minister

The report, analysing inspection reports from 2011-12, said: "It is a concern that 34% of children are not working securely in communication, language and literacy by the end of the early years foundation stage.

"It is also worse in deprived areas, where 41% of children are not working securely in communication, language and literacy," it adds.

'Support and advice'

Sir Michael said that inspections would also include a focus on qualifications held by early years staff. Earlier this year the ministers announced plans to allow nurseries and childminders to look after more children, but only if there is a qualified graduate present.

Ministers also said it was not acceptable that childcare professionals are not required to have at least GCSE grade C in English and maths.

Commenting on Ofsted's announcement, education and childcare minister Elizabeth Truss said: "I want to see more teacher-led nursery classes where children are learning so that they arrive at school ready to progress."

Prof Andy Goodwyn, of the University of Reading's Institute of Education, warned: "What the sector needs is not tougher inspection but better investment and a period of stability to allow its staff to build up their skills.

"It needs to become an attractive and high-status sector that can attract graduates who can see a real career path and a sustainable future. The very last thing it needs is more threats, disguised as yet another crusade to 'raise standards'."

Groups representing childcare providers broadly welcomed the focus on improvement with some reservations. Neil Leitch, of the Pre-school Learning Alliance, said: "While we welcome the aspiration of high-quality childcare, without a rethink on policy and adequate funding from government, we struggle to see how a real improvement will be made."

Purnima Tanuku, of the National Day Nurseries Association, urged the government "to make sure that there are sufficient support mechanisms in place to help weaker settings get better".

Start Quote

The very last thing [the sector] needs is more threats, disguised as yet another crusade to 'raise standards' ”

End Quote Prof Andy Goodwyn University of Reading

She warned that local authority cuts had reduced the amount of local improvement work and free training for staff.

Anand Shukla, of the Daycare Trust, added: "We are particularly concerned by the suggestion that Ofsted will be the sole arbiter of quality in the early years. Ofsted is ultimately a regulator with a limited remit and is not resourced to enable it to influence providers in all parts of England.

"Local authorities tend to have local intelligence and are closest to providers."

Catherine Farrell, of the Professional Association for Childcare and Early Years, said: "These new grades can only be introduced if Ofsted's own inspection judgements are more robust and if government recognises that providers will still need support and advice on how to improve."

 

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  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 182.

    "Ministers also said it was not acceptable that childcare professionals are not required to have at least GCSE grade C in English and maths."

    I have a B and A respectively at O level but don't recall being taught or examined on changing a nappy, helping a child discover the world around them or consoling their tears.

  • rate this
    +9

    Comment number 181.

    I am the only one who doesn't actually think nurseries should have to provide education. My nursery has been graded as unsatisfactory according to OFSTED but I think it's great. My opinion is based on the fact that my children are happy to go there and look just as happy when I pick them up. At 2 & 4 they should be playing (& if they learn things in the process then great) not being assessed!

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 180.

    "140.martiniqueen
    138. RobinTheBoyWonder
    What if she'd been part of a paedophile ring?
    Still don't want any checks?
    ...
    That's the remit of the CRB system - not OFSTED. It is possible to have one without the other."

    I was making a general point about complaints of nanny state interference, not about specific bodies.

    So why were Ofsted involved with a babysitter anyway?

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 179.

    Appears even our youngest can't escape the diktat of the state. We will regret robbing our children of their childhood one day.

    "You are not a person, you are a unit that can be proportionally improved year-on-year until our desired product is achieved."

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 178.

    Most parents

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 177.

    Have you guys actually read the EYFS guidance - its all about learning through play and being guided by each child's individual requriements. I'm not a professional in the industry but my child is at nursery and so I have read the guidance. It all seems pretty logical, fair and reasonable. Nothing about chanting times tables at all....

  • rate this
    -1

    Comment number 176.

    I have no faith in Wilshaw's figures, but even using those, 3 out of 4 are 'good or outstanding'.
    So, even on his daft success criteria, 75% of the sector he is moaning about are actually exceeding his demands.
    Where else in this world would you get such bile from your boss when 75% of what you do is above expectations?

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 175.

    I heard part of the inteview with Michael Wilshaw on BBC Radio 4 this morning when he said he was "shocked to learn that Veterinary Assistants required higher qualifications than Nursery Assistants". The man is an idiot!

    He has no clue about what veterinary assistants actually do and wouldn't want my cat treated by one with if the minimun qualifications where the same or less than for a nursery

  • rate this
    -1

    Comment number 174.

    "170.RobinTheBoyWonder"

    Oh I see.

  • rate this
    -1

    Comment number 173.

    95. The Academy

    '88 ... they shouldn't be warned at all so that you get a true reflection of the standard of teaching. '

    Your view that a school can put on a show with a few hours notice and fool Ofsted inspectors just shows your lack of understanding. How do you alter the work in kids' books, stop inspectors asking kids 'Is your classroom always like this?' or seeing previous lesson plans.

  • rate this
    +4

    Comment number 172.

    Sally, just had a quick read of the guidelines regarding applying for the Childcare Register run by Ofsted and by the looks of it that lady isn't even required to submit anything, only by choice, as money for payment for food and electricity doesn't count as reward. Tell her to open back up.

  • rate this
    +4

    Comment number 171.

    The problem is that parents need to be honest with themselves. They know best, regardlesss of what they are told, case in point being the MMR. Parents knew better than the health authorities and didn't have their kids innoculated now, when measles rears its head, they blame anyone but themselves..

  • rate this
    -1

    Comment number 170.

    "166.mainsail67
    "158.RobinTheBoyWonder "
    Children are much more at risk being knocked down in the street. We don't ban cars as it's a risk we live with. I think you need to learn about levels of risk."

    Now who's being silly.
    Risk assessment before your kids go out the front door?

    My point was that people object to Nanny State interference and then blame the state when things go wrong.

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 169.

    I think the idea that "tougher Ofsted inspections" will improve services is an expensive red-herring. Why, are their current efforts too lax?

    Competition works best. Allowing people to get together, or individually, to enter the market as easy as possible. Perhaps we could set up our own industry ratings agencies, like Amazon.
    Ofsted just wants more powers to invade our privacy.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 168.

    165 Sally
    What's wrong with parents looking after their kids?
    Am I the only person who thinks the world has gone made when people prefer to work to childcare? OK they'd have less money, but they wouldn't be paying childcare costs. There would be more work available for the unemployed and they could return to the job market when they kids were older.

  • rate this
    -1

    Comment number 167.

    Just PRIVATISE THEM and then there will be no problems. Minimise regulation at the same time, in fact why not abolish regulation all together?
    Then Nurseries /crèches etc will be able to be run properly.
    PROFITS WILL ABOUND!!!

    As for the children, they have to be there, but as long as it is at minimal cost because too much cost EATS INTO PROFITS.

    Privatisation is wonderful. For the few.

  • rate this
    +4

    Comment number 166.

    "158.RobinTheBoyWonder "
    Children are much more at risk being knocked down in the street. We don't ban cars as it's a risk we live with. I think you need to learn about levels of risk.

  • Comment number 165.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • rate this
    +12

    Comment number 164.

    When did kids start learning before they started infant school at 4-5? I'm all for learning through play, but there are times when they poor kids don't really play. As they all develop at different rates, trying to force them into learning before they are ready is wrong, all it does is leave them with a dislike of it. Interest them in letters and numbers by all means, but nothing else

  • rate this
    +4

    Comment number 163.

    "... many children were not well prepared for school, particularly in poor areas."

    So it has been for generations, and for myriad reasons. Apportioning blame, rather than encouraging, is hardly likely to change that. Wilshaw needs to get off his lofty perch and start being seen to be a human being, rather than the stony hearted ideological monster he is rapidly becoming.

 

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