Early years inspections could be merged with schools and FE and skills

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Ofsted is considering merging inspections for early years, schools and further education colleges.


Ofsted is planning a major overhaul to merge all education inspections under a single framework

A consultation will be launched shortly on the plans with a view to merging all education inspections under a single framework from September 2015.

Michael Cladingbowl, Ofsted’s national director of inspection reform, is leading the plans.

Sean Harford, Ofsted’s national director for schools policy, and regional director for early years, tweeted about the proposals.

‘Mike [Cladingbowl] is leading the work to harmonise all our education (schools, colleges, EY) inspections under a single framework, ready for September 2015. Consultation starts very soon.’

An Ofsted spokesperson confirmed that Ofsted is looking to harmonise the inspection framework from next year to encompass schools, FE colleges and early years, and that there would be a consultation before the end of the year on the plans.

Commenting on the plans, Neil Leitch, chief executive of the Pre-school Learning Alliance, said, 'There appears to be a lack of clarity about Ofsted’s plans to create a single integrated framework for education and childcare – particularly when Ofsted has confirmed that criteria between school based early years inspections will differ from those in the PVI sector.

'While it is encouraging that the sector will have an opportunity to feedback on the draft plan, the longer term plan to create a single integrated framework will be contradicted unless there is some consistency in the development of the criteria. Ofsted and the DfE should use the same judgement criteria to ensure that the inspection process used across different provision can be compared fairly and accurately.'
'This would seem to contradict plans to make frameworks consistent unless Ofsted/DfE are planning to change the criteria for EY registered provider inspections.'

Earlier this year, Ofsted confirmed that it would bring early years inspections for schools and FE and skills in-house from 2015.

The current contracts with CFBT, Serco and Tribal for school and FE inspections have run since September 2009 and were due to expire in August 2015.

Early years providers have called for Ofsted to do the same for early years inspections.

However, Ofsted has confirmed that early years inspections will remain with the existing contractors overseen by Tribal and Prospects.

The current inspection cycle ends in 2016, so to make any significant changes before then would be very unsettling, Nick Hudson, Ofsted’s early years director said.

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