Press release

A focused inspection of Wiltshire's early years providers

Too many early years settings inspected as part of a focused inspection in Wiltshire are not yet good.

Ofsted today has published the outcome letter from a focused inspection of 8 early years settings in March and found only half were judged good or better.

As well as the visits to 8 providers, inspectors conducted telephone surveys with a further 11 providers and held a focus group discussion with the local authority and its partners.

The inspection was prompted by the wide gap in learning and development outcomes for the poorest young children compared to their more affluent peers. Only 36 per cent of children eligible for free school meals achieved a good level of development in 2014, making Wiltshire the third worst local authority in the South West region.

Inspectors judged half of those inspected to be inadequate or requires improvement. In these weaker settings children made insufficient progress in their learning and development because the quality of teaching and learning were found to be not effective enough.

However, inspectors did find signs of improvement. There is a clear strategy to improve early childhood provision in the area and there are well established partnerships with a wide range of providers to support its early years activities. In addition, the recent focus on supporting disadvantaged communities by increasing provision for funded places for two-year-olds is well directed.

Bradley Simmons, Ofsted Director for the South West said:

The local authority has provided some helpful training along with additional funding to enable early years settings to further develop their provision for funded two-years-olds. However, much still needs to improve. It cannot be right that the poorest young children in Wiltshire are not able to master basic skills such as being able to hold a pencil, count to 20, listen to a story or express themselves.

Good learning and development is vital if children are to grasp the basics skills before they start primary school. As a result we have provided a number of recommendations the local authority should consider, particularly to those childcare providers, on meeting the needs of the poorest children.

Ofsted recommends that the local authority should consider:

  • targeting high quality information, advice and training to weaker providers to ensure that young children in the most disadvantaged areas access the best provision
  • continuing to provide information, training and advice as required to help practitioners further their early years knowledge, skills and experience
  • using Ofsted’s inspection evidence, to encourage providers to strengthen their monitoring of teaching and progress made by groups of children so that settings have clear evidence of what they do well and what they need to improve

Ends

Notes to editors

  1. The focused inspection outcomes letter for Wiltshire Council.
  2. Inspectors carried out eight inspections including childminders, pre-schools, an out of school club and a nursery. Settings that were inspected were all due for an inspection during the spring term 2015 and were scheduled during the two-week window (16-23 March) of the focused inspection.
  3. The Office for Standards in Education, Children’s Services and Skills (Ofsted) regulates and inspects to achieve excellence in the care of children and young people, and in education and skills for learners of all ages. It regulates and inspects childcare and children’s social care, and inspects the Children and Family Court Advisory and Support Service (Cafcass), schools, colleges, initial teacher training, work-based learning and skills training, adult and community learning, and education and training in prisons and other secure establishments. It assesses council children’s services, and inspects services for looked after children, safeguarding and child protection.
  4. Media can contact the Ofsted Press Office through 03000 130415 or via Ofsted’s enquiry line 0300 1231231 between 8.30am – 6.00pm, Monday – Friday. Out of these hours, during evenings and weekends, the duty press officer can be reached on 07919 057359.