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Ofsted proposal to change inspections

PACEY welcomes Ofsted’s proposal to place a greater focus on satisfactory childcare providers’  need to improve and to make this clearer to families, by grading them as requiring improvement. Whilst the majority of nurseries and childminders are providing good and outstanding childcare, some still don’t and all children deserve good quality childcare.

However, PACEY believes changing the inspection process is just one aspect of driving up standards. These new grades can only be introduced if Ofsted’s own inspection judgements are more robust and if government recognises that providers will still need support and advice on how to improve.

Professional bodies like PACEY provide on-going support, training and development to its members. Our growing membership of childcare professionals – childminders, nannies and nursery workers – are testament to the fact that continuous professional development (CPD) helps improve the quality of the care they provide. Yet, as Ofsted has set out, there are a significant number of providers who do not access such support. Ensuring these providers will improve requires dedicated quality improvement programmes, not just more frequent inspections.

So PACEY is concerned that, as Ofsted proposes these changes, Government is proposing to make it more challenging to deliver high quality childcare. It wants to increase child:adult ratios in nurseries and allow childminders to care for more children under 5; to change qualification entry requirements for nursery workers but not for childminders and to remove local authority responsibility to keep their registered providers trained and up to date. This all goes against Ofsted's own evidence that on-going quality improvement interventions and CPD support childcare professionals to improve their practice and so drive up quality for children.

Government must think again on ratios and look beyond entry qualifications and graduate leadership of settings, to ensure that all childcare professionals are required and supported to continuously develop their practice and ensure quality care for children.

Catherine Farrell, Joint Chief Executive, PACEY