Purnima Tanuku, chief executive of the NDNA, said the move by Ofsted to standardise inspections across school-based nurseries, schools and further education colleges has added to concerns across the early years sector about an increased emphasis on education.
Commenting after Ofsted launched a consultation on the proposals on Thursday, Tanuku said: “The issue of schoolification in early years has been a growing concern and there will be worries this could lead to a one-size-fits-all policy.”
Tanuku added that the inspection process and training for inspectors must be tailored to the needs of the different sectors.
“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 – but it is vital that inspectors are specifically trained for each sector,” she said.
“The consultation proposes having a specific inspection handbook for each stage which will set out the key inspection details. In our response, we will be stressing the importance of proper training which must be detailed, thorough and robust.”
The eight-week Ofsted consultation outlines the inspectorate’s planned reforms of the education inspection framework, which are due to be introduced from September 2015. It proposes replacing the existing separate frameworks for school nurseries, school-age children, and post-16 education with a common approach across all three.
This new approach will also see the introduction of shorter inspections for settings that have a “good” judgment.
The consultation proposes four areas that settings will receive a judgment on – leadership and management; teaching, learning and assessment; personal development, behaviour and welfare; and outcomes for children and learners.
Launching the consultation, Ofsted chief inspector 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 consultation runs until 5 December.