Editor's view - Paying for it

Monday, December 1, 2014

The facility to be able to pay for re-inspection of early years settings was lobbied for by substantial parts of the sector, and Ofsted duly agreed to move forward on this.

The introduction of such inspections is hardly imminent, as the necessary legislation will not be sorted out before parliament goes into pre-election purdah, after which priorities are unknown.

But the more you think about the prospect of paid-for re-inspection, the more pitfalls become apparent, and the more the scheme seems open to abuse.

Ofsted is already aiming to save money by increasing the length of time to a first inspection to up to 30 months, and some providers are already waiting a long time between inspections if they are visited at the beginning of one cycle and towards the end of the next.

No-one should feel that they should pay for an inspection as a substitute for a reasonable schedule being in place. Will there be a tendency to increase the gap?

And the price being discussed of around £2,500 for a nursery re-inspection means that only certain settings will be able to afford this. Who benefits from the revenue? Will there be pressure on inspectors to raise grades where such a sum is paid?

There is more debate on this in our news story on pages 4 and 5.

Meanwhile, am I alone in wondering whether the early years sector's 'success' in getting more good and outstanding grades is quite what it seems. The percentage for all most recent inspections has risen to 80 per cent, but the figure for inspections just in the last quarter and the one before that was 74 per cent. This could be caused by the fact that a great proportion of RI/inadequate settings are being inspected, but doesn't it mean that the overall figure will soon go down if this trend continues? And will the sector then receive flak rather than praise?

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