Ofsted turns its guns on Nurseries

27 Aug

The Standards of Education (Ofsted) watchdog will be bringing nursery schools under a more powerful microscope with tougher inspections.   Underperforming maintained and private schools will be closed if, when placed in special measures or given a notice to improve, fail to improve rapidly.  Also, nursery schools requiring improvement and failing to improve within a timeline of two years will be placed in special measures and could, if bouncing along at the bottom, be closed.

The move, focusing on provision for the two-to-five-year-olds, is the latest attempt by, Sir Michael Wilshaw, Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector (HMCI), and his troops to improve the quality of education in England.

Wilshaw announced: “As a nation, we spend around £5 billion a year funding early education but too many pre-schools and nurseries across the country are not yet good, particularly in the most deprived areas. That’s why Ofsted is determined to introduce greater challenge into the early years’ sector.”

Child care providers too, like their education colleagues, will be graded as “requiring improvement” rather than “satisfactory”, and be regularly monitored.   They will have to rise to “good” in two years’ time or face Armageddon – i.e. closure – if they don’t.  Providers judged “inadequate” will be revisited by inspectors within six months and be at risk of failing registration if there is little or no evidence of improvement.

While it seems reasonable for Ofsted to take these measures against nurseries, given that they now receive government funding to cover 15 hours of education for every three-year-old child a week, it appears excessive to subject child-minders to the same regimen.   The Pre-School Learning Alliance is up in arms.   “The sector is growing more concerned by the day about the unfairness of Ofsted inspections with an increasing number of childcare providers having their rating downgraded,” said chief executive Neil Leitch.”   On the other hand, would we want our very young children to be in the care of adults who are not doing a decent job?

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