Today, Ofsted has launched what it describes as ‘the biggest change to education inspection’ - since the inception of the inspectorate more than two decades ago.
The changes include the introduction of a Common Inspection Framework for all early years settings on the Early Years Register, maintained schools and academies, non-association independent schools and further education and skills providers. The new common inspection framework will be used by inspectors from September 2015.
Liz Bayram, Chief Executive of the Professional Association for Childcare and Early Years, said:
"PACEY welcomes the new Common Inspection Framework as an opportunity to improve consistency across the inspection system. As our recent survey, Building Blocks, shows, there are significant concerns about consistency of inspections. We are keen therefore to ensure that this new framework offers a real chance to renew trust in the fairness and impartiality of the inspection process among early years providers.
"In principle, plans to establish a new complaints scrutiny committee that will include early years representatives is to be applauded. Our sector survey showed confidence in Ofsted’s complaints procedure is currently low among providers. Ofsted has clearly listened to widespread sector concerns on this issue, and we will be keen to work with the inspectorate to ensure this additional scrutiny has the efficacy it needs to boost providers trust in the complaints process.
"PACEY has worked hard with Ofsted to ensure the new Common Inspection Framework recognises the unique early years environment in which our members operate, and we are encouraged to note that a number of our recommendations have been incorporated into the final guidance. We are particularly pleased to see that our recommendation for a focus on children’s well-being and happiness has been preserved as a key inspection criteria.
"However, we need to balance this with the reality that the new framework focuses on mainly educational outcomes. It will be dependent on inspectors recognising how a play-based approach, as championed by PACEY, can boost outcomes. It is therefore a disappointment that Ofsted early years inspections will not be brought in-house to embed this new ethos of consistency across the whole education system.
"Our efforts now turn to finalising the expert advice and support which we will be providing to our members on how to prepare for the new inspections which will take place from September."
You can download the early years handbook from the Ofsted website: Early Years Inspection Handbook from September 2015.
For a summary of changes, please read ‘The future of education inspection: understanding the changes’
Watch the video below to hear Nick Hudson, Ofsted's National Director for Early Years, outline the key changes for early years settings.
We are currently working our way through the details of the handbook and will post further updates shortly.