Ofsted chief under fire from early years experts on assessment

Catherine Gaunt
Wednesday, July 3, 2013

A group of early years experts has written to Ofsted to challenge Sir Michael Wilshaw on his plans to reform early years assessment.

TACTYC, the Association for the Professional Development of Early Years Educators, says that Ofsted’s focus on teaching and assessing academic skills in the early years is at the expense of young children’s holistic development and learning and will have a negative effect on children’s development.

The letter also asks for clarification about the work experience of early years inspectors.

Last month Sir Michael called for ‘a major change in our approach to assessment in the early years’ and said that the EYFS Profile was ‘too broad an assessment’ and did not link effectively to subsequent Key Stage assessments, with ‘a weak basis for accountability'.

TACTYC is also concerned that some early years inspectors ‘do not necessarily have direct knowledge’ of working in early years provision with children from the full age range from birth to five, and might instead have only worked in schools.

In the letter, Dr Jane Payler, (pictured), chair of the association, says, ‘Primary head teachers do not necessarily have deep knowledge of care and education in the early years.  It is vital that those responsible for assessing and improving the quality of early years care and education have a full understanding of appropriate  pedagogic approaches and strategies to enhance welfare and learning, which are quite different for babies and very young children in non-statutory provision compared to those for older children in school contexts. Please could you reassure us by providing information on the curricula vitae of early years HMIs.’ 

In recent months, Ofsted inspections have been widely criticised by nurseries and childminders.

As Nursery World reported last week the Pre-School Learning Alliance has met with Ofsted to discuss the rise in nurseries’ inspection grades being revised.

The Alliance has spoken with the inspectorate about ‘pre-determined inspection outcomes’ and the appeals procedure.

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