Ofsted chief confirms early years inspection changes
Ofsted will reform the way it inspects early years settings, the inspectorate’s director for early years has confirmed.
Nick Hudson revealed Ofsted’s intention to change the way early years settings are inspected during an online debate with the sector on Tuesday evening.
Last week Ofsted announced plans to bring the management of schools and further education inspections back in-house but not those for early years, prompting a backlash from childcare leaders who accused the inspectorate of treating early years as a “second-class service”.
But Hudson defended the move while hosting EY Talking – a weekly discussion on Twitter organised by childcare consultant Laura Henry – together with Gill Jones, Ofsted’s deputy director for early years.
He said Ofsted intends to reform early years inspections but does not feel it is the right time to bring the management of the service back in-house.
Hudson said the inspectorate needs “clarity about what to inspect” before making any decisions about whether to regain control of the service or continue to outsource it.
When asked what Ofsted needed to clarify, Hudson cited “a lot of change” in the sector.
He also said the sector should bear in mind the fact that the early years contracts, with Tribal Group, Prospects Services and Serco Education and Children’s Services, are due to expire in September 2015.
However, Neil Leitch, chief executive of the Pre-school Learning Alliance, is yet to be convinced by Hudson’s comments and questioned why there is still uncertainty over the future of early years inspections.
He said: “While it’s true that the early years is undergoing a number of changes at the moment, this is a change that the sector has been actively calling for.
“As such, the alliance will continue to lobby this issue in our ongoing discussions with Ofsted.”
Claire Schofield, director of membership, policy and communication at National Day Nurseries Association (NDNA), took part in the debate.
She said: “Nick Hudson made some comments which gave hints of change in the future for early years inspections but what we need is more facts.
“If, as indicated, Ofsted is thinking of altering the inspection format, NDNA would caution that they change needs to involve consultation with the sector so its views can be considered.”
In April, practitioners raised concerns about the quality and training of inspectors appointed by Tribal Group during an Ofsted Big Conversation event in London.
Professionals criticised the company for failing to adequately train inspection staff on the requirements of the Early Years Foundation Stage.