Earlier this month, PACEY wrote to Ofsted to formally raise a concern about the re-inspection of settings in England requiring improvement.
Some types of provision - namely childminders, childcare on domestic premises, before and after school care, holiday schemes and creches - now have to wait for the next inspection cycle for their re-inspection if they receive a 'requires improvement' grade. This can mean that their re-inspection is some years away. Non-domestic settings such as nurseries and pre-schools, on the other hand, are guaranteed a re-inspection within 12 months.
Gill Jones, Ofsted’s Deputy Director for Early Education, has written to PACEY Chief Executive Liz Bayram to explain the reasoning behind the decision.
“You raise an important issue and one that the policy team is currently discussing”, explains Gill Jones in the letter. Limited resources and the need to prioritise the re-inspection of settings which provide the most number of places are the main reasons behind the decision.
However, she goes on to emphasise that the current inspection cycle finishes in July 2016, and that Ofsted is currently looking at how best to prioritise inspections in the future and “drive more rapid improvement in settings that are not yet good”.
Whilst Ofsted can make no guarantees, she says, the aim is for ‘requires improvement’ and ‘satisfactory’ childminders to be inspected as soon as possible in the new inspection cycle.
Whilst we recognise the particular funding restraints that Ofsted is working within, PACEY’s view is that placing childminders and childcare on domestic premises in the same inspection category as informal childcare is misguided, and runs contrary to Ofsted's aim of ensuring poorer settings improve quickly or are removed from the register.
We welcome the opportunity for continued dialogue with Ofsted on this issue.