Ofsted toughens up nursery inspections

Preschools and nurseries will be closed if they don't improve

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Tens of thousands of children are going to nurseries and preschools that simply are not good enough, says Ofsted.

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A fifth of early-years settings have already been considered less than ‘good’ by Ofstead this year, which means there are around 144,000 children attending settings that the official inspection body for schools and children’s services thinks aren’t good enough.

So, from today, Ofsted is introducing new, tougher inspections for early-years settings. It will also close nurseries and preschools with the worst ratings, if they don’t improve within two years of being first inspected.

Ofsted ratings, before today, were ‘outstanding’, ‘good’, ‘satisfactory’ and ‘inadequate’. But ‘satisfactory’ has now been replaced with ‘requires improvement’. And those handed this rating will be re-inspected within a year and be given two years to change.

What makes a nursery or pre-school less than ‘good’?

Settings will be judged on whether they meet the needs of the children who attend, and also on how effective the leadership team are.

The new criteria has been set after a consultation period with early-years providers and the public.

But not all education experts are happy with the changes. “Ofsted’s decision to change the grading from ‘satisfactory’ to ‘requires improvement’ is a cause for concern,” says Purnima Tanuku OBE, Chief Executive of National Day Nurseries Association.

“The new grading sends out an entirely different message about a nursery, and providers receiving this assessment will want to put an action plan in place and be re-inspected as quickly as possible.”

“No one thinks [poor nurseries] should be allowed to languish in their inadequacy,” says Ofsted’s Sir Michael Wilshaw says. “I wouldn’t have wanted my child to go to an inadequate nursery, and I don’t believe that any other parent would either, so we’re going to be less tolerant.”

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