Learn, explore and debate have been the themes of events which have featured in Ofsted presentations in recent months.
Ofsted has attended the National Day Nurseries Associations and 4Children events where colleagues have spoken about the big changes which will take place in September. From this point, nurseries and other early years settings will be subject to the common inspection framework, so the way we inspect provisions for young children all the way up to young adulthood and beyond will come under one framework.
I am pleased there was strong support from early years professionals who voiced their opinions when we consulted on the common inspection framework last year.
So, what is in it for early years settings' owners, managers and staff?
There will be greater clarity, coherence and comparability for early years settings. Ofsted inspectors will make judgements using consistent criteria across all ages of education. Of course, inspections will never be totally comparable, because Ofsted is the regulator for private and voluntary providers, whereas it is only the inspectorate for schools.
A key change proposed in the common inspection framework will be an end to routine no-notice inspections of early years settings. We will move towards the same notice period across all remits, but we will retain the right to inspect without notice. The details have still to be worked out, but it is likely that early years providers can expect to receive a call at about midday on the previous working day before their inspection.
It is with these fundamental changes in mind that we tried 30 ‘shadow’ pilot inspections of early years settings during February. We intend to do about 40 more after Easter. Some of them will involve the provider getting notice in advance.
That is the future, but what has been happening in recent months?
In January, we introduced our new style of reporting to make it clearer for parents. It is now almost 18 months since we raised the bar for early years settings. I am heartened that so many nurseries and other providers have risen to the challenge in that period.
Statistics published yesterday (26 March) show that between September and December last year, Ofsted published 6,089 full inspections of early years settings. Of these, 77 per cent of early years register inspections were judged to be either good or outstanding for overall effectiveness.
In terms of the most recent inspection of all active providers, we can see that the north-east has the highest proportion of non-domestic childcare settings that have been judged to be good or better. On the other hand, the south-east has the highest proportion of childminders judged to be good or outstanding for overall effectiveness. So the statistics show that thousands of early years settings – of all kinds – are demonstrating their worth and are providing good or better early education for young children.
Ofsted has already committed to respond to demand from parents and providers for re-inspection for early years providers. We will re-inspect any nursery or pre-school which has been rated requires improvement, usually within 12 months of the judgement, and within six months if rated as inadequate.
We intend to say more about the early years in the summer, when we publish the early years annual report.
Finally, Ofsted is hosting three events for early years providers to talk about the common inspection framework. Ofsted particularly wants to talk with early years providers about how the framework applies to the sector and to look at the principles in the draft early years handbook.
This is a real opportunity for providers to help shape inspection guidance and to have a say. If you are interested in joining us at one of these events then see the details below – places are allocated on a first come, first served basis.
23rd April 2015- 10am-1pm
23rd April 2015 - 2pm-5pm
25th April 2015-10am-2pm
These will complement future of education inspection launch events in each of the eight regions in the summer. Some places are still available.
If you are interested register here