Bringing early years inspections in-house

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I’m pleased to be able to write that these are good times for the early years sector.

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Gill Jones, Ofsted early education, deputy director

Our most recently published statistics show that we judged 86 per cent of early years settings to be good or outstanding at their last inspection. That proportion has never been greater. Moreover, providers are strong across the country and quality is improving.

In the last few months, we have been moving towards bringing early years inspections in-house. We announced this move back in March, when it was warmly welcomed by the National Day Nurseries Association and the Pre-School Learning Alliance.

There is now only six months until the training, management and deployment of early years inspections is brought under direct Ofsted control. At present, most early years inspections are carried out by Tribal or Prospects. Bringing early years inspection in-house will mean that Ofsted will have complete oversight of the quality of inspection. Those who undertake early years inspections will do so from next April as either direct employees or inspectors contracted directly to Ofsted. 

We began the contracting process with inspectors this month. Induction and training will follow, beginning next year. We are aware that any kind of change can potentially be unsettling so we will keep it to the minimum.

In the midst of this structural change, Ofsted will never forget what is at the heart of our work - the well-being and development of young children. It is young children who benefit from high quality settings. Particularly young children from disadvantaged families, who might not get to enjoy the experiences provided to those from more fortunate backgrounds.

By bringing early years inspection in-house, we have direct control, which means a more streamlined chain of command. Ofsted will be able to be more responsive to major changes in inspection volumes and any policy changes in the future.

We’re also bringing our early years work in line with our regional structure, so Regional Directors will take responsibility for early years inspections in their respective region. This is significant work but it is my sincere hope that it will not impact your day-to-day work. There will be no immediate change in the way we undertake and schedule the inspections of early years settings. It will be business as usual. We do not anticipate any big changes to the common inspection framework in the near future and we will keep our regulation and inspection in line with the requirements set out in the EYFS.

There is a lot of change ahead for us as an organisation. However, it is our absolute intention that for those of you working on the frontline, these changes will be seamless.

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