Childcare in deprived areas is worse than anywhere else, says Ofsted

Catherine Gaunt
Tuesday, November 23, 2010

The gap in quality of early years and childcare provision in deprived areas has worsened over the past year, according to Ofsted's annual report.

Ofsted said that the childcare in nurseries and pre-schools was slightly better on average than provision by childminders, but that in deprived areas the difference was more marked.

Just over half (52 per cent) of childminders in the most deprived areas are rated good or outstanding, compared with 71 per cent of childminders working in the least deprived areas.

The report commented, ‘The crucial importance of early development in a child’s chances of later success is now well understood. The comparative weakness of childminders and childcare settings in the most deprived areas regarding building children’s skills for the future is therefore a concern.’

However, the report said that many providers, including childminders, did offer good or outstanding childcare in very deprived areas.

Ofsted said this was characterised by providers putting children and their families first, a deep understanding of the needs of the communities they are in, and an excellent understanding of the EYFS and child development.

‘These features are very important no matter where the provision is, but in areas with high levels of deprivation they take on even greater significance,’ the report said.

The proportion of providers judged good or outstanding overall has risen slightly, from 65 per cent in 2009 to 68 per cent in 2010.

Overall, 10 per cent of childcare providers were rated outstanding, 58 per cent were good, 29 per cent satisfactory and 3 per cent were found to be inadequate.

Seventy-two per cent of group settings were judged good or outstanding, compared with 66 per cent of childminders achieving these grades.

Of those providers who were judged to be inadequate in 2008/09 and who have since been re-inspected, 95 per cent are now satisfactory or better.

Ofsted's chief inspector Christine Gilbert, (pictured), said, 'The report has much to celebrate. However, more needs to be achieved. In an increasingly competitive world economy we do not have the luxury of complacency. We must be relentless in the pursuit of the highest standards for all young people and adult learners – the best possible start in life with high quality childcare, the best teaching and the best training and social care the vulnerable can rely on.'

In May, Ofsted started to inspect children’s centres for the first time. Out of the 39 children’s centres inspected so far, five were rated outstanding and 17 were good for overall effectiveness.

The number of providers in the sector has continued to fall, with more childminders leaving the sector than any other type of provider.

Leslie Forsyth, interim director of operations of teh National Childminding Association, said, 'It is excellent that the overall standard of care provided by registered childminders is continuing to increase, with 66 per cent achieving a good or outstanding Ofsted grade.

'However, more must be done to support childminders in deprived areas to improve their quality of care, so that all children have access to the same opportunities regardless of where they live.'

He added, 'NCMA welcomes Ofsted’s acknowledgment in this report of clear evidence that childminders who are part of quality assurance schemes - such as childminding networks - are more likely to achieve good or outstanding grades.'

The National Day Nurseries Association said that the report showed that ‘early years provision goes from strength to strength’.

However, chief executive Purnima Tanuku said she was concerned that children in disadvantaged areas were accessing lower quality childcare.

‘High-quality provision is critical for such children, and as we move to an 15-hour entitlement for all disadvantaged two-year-olds, they must be able to access a service in their local community that meets their needs and supports improved outcomes,' she said.

‘It is critical that we look to address this trend, including supporting providers in disadvantaged areas with business support, to overcome some of the challenges associated with their location.

As this report identifies, self evaluation and engagement with parents remains a challenge for some providers, and NDNA would like to stress that a robust quality improvement scheme, training, and advice can again support these areas.

However, overall this report demonstrates that nurseries are working extremely hard to raise standards in what is a difficult climate.’

© MA Education 2019. Published by MA Education Limited, St Jude's Church, Dulwich Road, Herne Hill, London SE24 0PB, a company registered in England and Wales no. 04002826. MA Education is part of the Mark Allen Group. – All Rights Reserved