Nick Hudson steps down as Ofsted drops early years division

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Nick Hudson, Ofsted’s director for Early Education, is leaving the role, which has been absorbed into the education remit.


Nick Hudson

Mr Hudson is stepping down as director of early education from 1 September, but will remain in his post as regional director, North East, Yorkshire and Humber.

The move comes ahead of major changes to the way Ofsted inspects as the new common inspection framework is brought in, bringing the inspection of early years in alignment with the inspection frameworks of schools and further education.

The overall responsibility for early education inspection policy will be led by Sean Harford as national director for education, supported by Gill Jones, deputy director, early education.

An Ofsted spokesperson said, 'From September Ofsted will be introducing significant changes to the way we inspect and how we manage inspection. With the introduction of the common inspection framework covering early education, schools and further education, it is right that we encompass all of this work under one senior director – a national director for education. 

'At the same time the role of regional director, which Nick Hudson so successfully combined with his role in early education, has expanded considerably to include the management of our new contracted Ofsted Inspectors. These changes are designed to ensure our inspection practice and positive working relationships with the sector continue to be managed in the best possible way.' 

Ofsted’s national director for education, Sean Harford, said, 'Early education is hugely important to Ofsted, and I am committed to continuing Nick’s good work with early years colleagues in improving outcomes and raising standards. I look forward to meeting with colleagues from across the sector in the coming months.'

In a letter announcing his departure posted on the Ofsted website, Mr Hudson said, ‘I have thoroughly enjoyed my time as national director, Early Education and have appreciated the professional dialogue, which has informed the changes we have introduced over the last 18 months.

'I am particularly grateful to colleagues on our National Consultative Forum for their contribution and support during this time.

'Thank you also for the hard work you and your members are doing to raise standards and improve the lives of, and outcomes for, young children.’

Mr Hudson has been praised by the sector for opening up the lines of communication between early years providers and Ofsted, particularly through the Ofsted Big Converstion, which was founded in response to the rise in complaints-driven inspections. This led to reforming the way complaints were dealt with.

Purnima Tanuku, chief executive of National Day Nurseries Association (NDNA), said, ‘Working with Nick has been really good. He has had a constructive, open and ongoing dialogue with the nursery sector. The sector particularly welcomed the action he took to reform complaints-driven inspections, resulting in a much more sensible system.

‘Early years is a large, diverse sector, delivering a unique stage of children’s education and care. We have concerns that a move to a single directorate with early years included within education generally will dilute the priority that has been placed on our sector – particularly at a time when the Government sees pre-school education as a priority for reform and expansion.’

Neil Leitch, chief executive of the Pre-school Learning Alliance said, 'No single individual has done more to listen and act upon sector recommendations than Nick Hudson, so it's hard to see this as anything more than a regressive step.'

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