Press release

More focused inspection to drive improvements in early years

Inspectors will give greater attention to the progress children make in their learning

Ofsted has today announced changes to the way it inspects early years providers, such as nurseries and childminders.

From September, Ofsted inspection of early years providers will be more focused on children’s education and their personal and emotional development. Inspectors will give greater attention to the progress children make in their learning.

The changes will also give those looking after children more freedom in managing their own service, while continuing to keep children safe by strengthening registration and maintaining rigorous enforcement for those who are not complying with requirements.

National Director Education, Susan Gregory, said:

It is crucial that children’s earliest experiences give them the best start in life. Through better inspection Ofsted wants to help ensure that every child has the best possible support in their learning and development, whilst ensuring that they are safe and well cared for. That’s why inspections are going to focus even more on interactions with children, and less on paperwork.

Observation of activities to develop children’s knowledge, understanding and skills in the main areas of learning, as well as care practices, will continue to be at the heart of inspections and providing feedback to those working with children will remain a high priority.

Early years providers will be given a judgement on their overall effectiveness that will take into account how well their provision meets the needs of the range of children who attend, how well they identify any particular needs children may have and arrange appropriate help; the contribution practitioners make to the well-being of children and the effectiveness of leadership and management. In particular, inspection will consider the extent to which all children are supported to acquire the skills and capacity to develop and learn effectively and be ready for the next stages in their learning, especially school.

In order to improve the information provided to parents, Ofsted will be making inspection reports more user-friendly. The new reports will include a front page summary, recommendations for good practice and any actions we have required providers to take.

To ensure that parents get more information about the quality of provision for their children, Ofsted is changing the way it investigates concerns. In most cases where Ofsted receives information that raises concerns, rather than simply investigating the issue, inspectors will carry out a full inspection and publish the report on Ofsted’s website. This will allow parents to have a fuller picture of provision and also gives providers more opportunity to set the concern in context of the overall quality of provision.

The timing of these inspections will depend on the nature of the concern and its potential seriousness for the welfare of children attending. In cases where the information, if true, would suggest there are, or could be, risks to children, we will carry out that inspection as quickly as possible.

To allow providers more flexibility in managing their own service, Ofsted will no longer routinely issue restrictions or conditions on registrations, such as the number of children they may care for. Instead Ofsted will draw parents’ and providers’ attention to the relevant legal requirements set out in the EYFS. This means that when providers want to do something such as change the number of children they can look after, they simply need to check if the EYFS allows them to do this.

Ofsted will also introduce changes to the way it registers people wishing to provide childcare. Childminder applicants will be expected to apply for registration only when they are confident that they know and understand everything they need to do to meet requirements. This includes completing all of their training before registration.

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