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From next September, Ofsted will introduce a new common inspection framework, which is set to standardise their inspections across nurseries, schools and colleges.
It is hoped the new standardised approach will help parents compare and make informed choices about the quality of different providers.
Ofsted’s chief inspector made the announcement as he outlined plans to reform educational inspection processes and launched an eight week consultation to maintain and improve education standards in England.
Sir Michael Wilshaw
Introducing the common inspection framework, Sir Michael Wilshaw said: “I believe that our new inspections should place emphasis on safeguarding, the breadth of the curriculum in schools, the relevance of courses and training in further education and skills, and the quality of early learning. Only then will we be able to make sure that all children and learners are properly safeguarded and prepared for life in the modern world.”
The proposal has widely been welcomed by the early years sector, however questions have been raised about how the inspection will be tailored to the early years sector specifically.
Chief executive of the National Day Nurseries Association, Purnima Tanuku, welcomed the move to make inspection provision the same for nurseries, schools and colleges but wants new early years inspections to be tailored to the sector.
She said “The features of good provision are the same whether it is in early years or college. Strong leadership, learning and assessment are universal inspection targets, it is then vital inspectors are specifically trained for each sector.
“Ofsted must take this opportunity to make the routine inspection process consistent rather than carrying on with the current unfair system.
“The actual inspection process must be tailored to the sector. The consultation proposes having a specific inspection handbook for each stage which will set out the key inspection details.”
Liz Bayram, PACEY chief executive, said: “A consistent inspection framework will help parents to recognise high quality care across the entire education spectrum and has to be a positive step.
Early years 'unique' stage of education
"PACEY welcomes the principle of a common inspection framework for early years, schools, further education and skills providers but in reality it will be a challenge to deliver. Whatever the final framework, success will as always depend on the knowledge and skills of the inspectors themselves.”
Neil Leitch, chief executive of the Pre-School Learning Alliance said: “We have long called for a fairer and more consistent approach to inspection across the education system, and so welcome the decision to consult on a single inspection framework.
“However, the devil is in the detail. Inspectors carrying out inspections under the new common framework must understand that early years is a unique stage of education. Inspection criteria such as ‘quality of teaching, learning and assessment’ and ‘outcomes for children’ have very different meanings in an early years context, and this will need to be reflected in the inspection judgements.”