Ofsted to look again at re-inspection of 'requires improvement' childminders

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Ofsted’s national lead for early years has agreed to follow-up on concerns that ‘requires improvement’ childminders, unlike nurseries, could wait years to be re-inspected.


Liz Bayram

During PACEY’s annual conference last week, Lee Owston, Ofsted’s national lead for early years, committed to looking at why under the new Common Inspection Framework (CIF), which came into force in September, childminders have to wait for the next inspection cycle for their re-inspection if they are found to require improvement, while nurseries with the grade will be re-inspected within 12 months.

PACEY’s chief executive Liz Bayram first highlighted the issue in a letter to Ofsted’s national director Sean Harford and Gill Jones, deputy director of early education, at the end of last month, in which she called for childminders to be put on a level-playing field with other early years settings.

According to PACEY, under the new CIF childminders, along with childcare on domestic premises, before and after-school care, holiday schemes and crèches, will now have to wait for the next inspection cycle for their re-inspection if they are found to require improvement by Ofsted.

This is despite the latest Early years inspection handbook stating that ‘all pre-school and nursery provision judged as requires improvement will be re-inspected within 12 months’.

Within the letter, Ms Bayram argues that grouping childminders in the same inspection category as informal childcare settings that do not have to follow the EYFS, is ‘wrong’ and contrary to Ofsted’s aim of ensuring poorer settings improve quickly or are removed from the early years register.

She says, ‘PACEY is very concerned about the impact this decision has on the well-being of children. Ofsted knows from its consultation with childminders that they were very supportive of the principle of shorter re-inspection for ‘requires improvement’ childminders.

‘This decision goes against this and means there is little incentive for these settings to improve if inspection is not imminent.’

Ms Bayram also raises the point that the policy could mean some settings are excluded from delivering the free childcare places of their grade even when they have taken steps to improve.

She closes the letter by asking Ofsted’s Sean Harford and Gill Jones to clarify the reasons behind the move and whether the inspectorate is willing to have a re-think given that there are only 5,609 childminders and 24 domestic childcare settings with a ‘requires improvement’ grade.

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