Today (26 April) Ofsted has published its five-year strategy setting out key areas of focus between 2022 and 2027. Ofsted continues to work to ‘raise standards and improve lives’ supporting children and young people in England who have been impacted by the coronavirus restrictions and lockdowns.
A focus on early years
The early years is set out as a priority under a new section titled ‘The best start in life’ with a commitment to address the disruption the pandemic has caused to the youngest children’s learning, wellbeing and development. As part of this Ofsted says it will develop ‘specialist training’ for its workforce on early years and childcare.
Ofsted says it will look at 'simplifying the regulatory regime’ for childminders to ease pressure on the workforce and tackle the ongoing decline in registered childminders. PACEY has been in early exploratory discussions with Ofsted and the Department for Education (DfE) on this proposal which, to date, has focussed on how the leadership and management requirements of the EIF could enable childminders to more easily demonstrate how they meet these requirements.
As always, any proposed changes to regulation will be subject to a consultation process involving feedback from sector representatives and practitioners. We will keep our members informed of how they can be involved in this.
Evidence and research
In its strategy Ofsted highlights the importance of using evidence collected from inspections and latest research to improve its practice and inform Government policies. PACEY will continue to provide Ofsted and the DfE with insight from you, our members, to improve your inspection experience and ensure guidance is clear, relevant and supportive for all types of setting.
The strategy can be read in full on GOV.UK
Liz Bayram, Chief Executive at PACEY comments:
“It is positive to see Ofsted including such a strong focus on early years and childcare in its new strategy. PACEY welcomes the ambition to improve regulation and inspection to help address the significant decline in the early years workforce, particularly among registered childminders, that has accelerated since the pandemic. Any changes must be shaped in partnership with the sector and must maintain the equality that childminders, nurseries and pre-schools share because they are ALL required to deliver the same EYFS.
“However we must not forget that there are other factors underpinning this decline. Changes to inspection and regulation alone will not be enough. The Department for Education must also take meaningful steps to address the recruitment and retention challenges the sector faces. These are due to underfunding, low earnings and low morale in the workforce. Currently many people are choosing to work in retail rather than early education, simply because they can earn more money and work flexibly. We must value the work of early years practitioners in the same way we do teachers and elevate the profession, or this decline will simply get worse.”