Wilshaw committed to bringing early years inspections in-house

By Neil Puffett

| 16 September 2015

Ofsted chief Sir Michael Wilshaw has told MPs he is "committed" to bringing early years inspections in-house.

Wilshaw says he wants to bring inspection of early years settings back in-house. Picture: Emilie Sandy

Appearing before the education select committee today, Wilshaw said that although a consultation on the issue is currently taking place, he is keen for the current outsourced arrangements to end.

"I'm committed to doing as much as possible to bring them in-house in the way we brought schools and further education and skills in-house," Wilshaw told the committee following a question from Conservative MP Caroline Nokes.

Just last month Wilshaw said Ofsted was reconsidering bringing early years inspections in-house, amid ongoing concerns in the sector around their consistency and quality.

Earlier this year, Ofsted opted to extend existing contracts with third-party providers Tribal Group, Prospects Services and Serco Education, by a period of 18 months rather than bring them in-house.

In a letter to providers, Wilshaw said that bringing early years inspections in-house at the same time as school and further education inspections were being brought in-house, “would have made the project unmanageable”.

Asked by Nokes whether the fact early years inspections are still outsourced for the time being indicates the sector is seen as "less important" by Ofsted, Wilshaw said: "No. It is as important as the other sectors.

"We monitor the quality of inspections in the same way we monitored the quality of inspections in the other remits before we brought the inspections in-house.

"Our national director for early years makes a real priority of making sure the quality is high and that senior inspectors and inspectors know to monitor the workforce in the way that they have always done.

"In fact we have increased the number of inspectors in early years to make sure that happens."

During the session Wilshaw also called on health visitors to play a greater role in encouraging parents of two- and three-year-olds to take up their free entitlement.

"It is really important that parents of youngsters from poor backgrounds get good-quality provision," he said.

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