Press release

Views sought on early years and childcare provider regulation

Ofsted is consulting on changes to the way it registers and inspects early years providers, including nurseries and childminders.

This follows the recent review of the Early Years Foundation Stage. The changes will coincide with the revised EYFS, which the government intends to publish in September.

The proposals will raise expectations, with a greater focus on children’s personal, social and emotional development and the progress that children make in their learning. The proposed changes would 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.

Director Education and Care, Jean Humphrys, said:

Removing unnecessary regulation and bureaucracy is important to providers. Ofsted is aiming to find the right level of enforcement to ensure that children are safe and well cared for. Our overriding ambition it to ensure that every child has the best possible start in life.

The changes we are proposing provide a balance. They will reassure parents that our systems and processes for regulating early years and childcare providers are robust, preventing unsuitable people from having access to children, while simplifying inspection for those providing care.

Ofsted wants the new inspection framework to help bring about even greater improvements in outcomes for children. There will be fewer judgements and grades with greater attention to the progress children make in their learning and development. Observation of activities and care practices will continue to be at the heart of inspections and providing feedback to those working with children will continue to have high priority.

To allow providers more flexibility in managing their own service, Ofsted intends to stop routinely issuing restrictions or conditions on registrations, such as the number of children they may care for. Instead it 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.

Also included in the proposals are changes to the way Ofsted 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.

To ensure that parents get more information about the quality of provision for their children, Ofsted proposes to change the way it investigates concerns. In most cases where Ofsted receives information that 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 allow providers more opportunity to set the concern in context.

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.

Ofsted is encouraging all those with an interest in early years, including those who use the services we inspect (parents and carers), the providers we regulate and inspect to respond to the consultation before Friday 6 April 2012.

Notes to editors

  1. The consultation document ‘Regulation of providers on the Early Years Register’ is available online.

  2. Following the Tickell review of the Early Years Foundation Stage, the Department for Education has consulted on a response to the review including a revised Early Years Foundation Stage, which will take effect on 1 September 2012.

  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 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.

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