Outcomes focus for new Ofsted early years framework

By Laura McCardle

| 11 October 2013

Safeguarding, safety and teaching are set to be the focus of Ofsted's new inspection framework for nurseries, the inspectorate's early years lead has said.

Ofsted aims to improve outcomes for children with its new early years framework

The areas to be prioritised by the new framework were outlined by Sue Gregory, director of early years at Ofsted, at the 4Children national conference yesterday.

The framework, which takes effect on 4 November, will take a tougher approach to the regulation of childminders, nurseries and other childcare settings.

Gregory told the gathering of early years leaders that the aim of the framework is to improve the quality of outcomes for children, particularly those from poorer backgrounds.

Under the new framework, Ofsted will scrap the "satisfactory" rating and replace it with a "requires improvement" judgement.

Ofsted will also take a greater role in monitoring providers. As an example, Gregory explained that settings rated as inadequate will be re-inspected within 12 months, before a further inspection six months later. If the settings have not improved by the time of the final inspection, Ofsted will consider further action.

The inspectorate is also planning to publish guidance around the framework in response to calls from childcare providers for information on how inspectors form their judgement of a setting.

Gregory said: “The framework will have a really strong emphasis on teaching and I’m not making any apologies for that.

“All children should have the best quality provision that they are entitled to and all settings must be aiming to reach a benchmark of 'good' or better.”

The new approach follows evidence of what Gregory described as a “big national problem”.

She said: “Too many children from low income families under achieve. They just don’t get the high-quality provision they need to help them make a strong start.

“We see that problem across the whole of the reception year, because at the end of the reception classes, we look at the profile and we know that the poorest children do not meet the expectations we have of them.

“Last year, more than a third of children failed to meet expectations in communication, language and literacy, and in poorer children that was a quarter of them. That’s a frightening statistic.”

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