Ofsted's early education chief to leave post

Jess Brown
Thursday, August 27, 2015

Ofsted's national director for early education is set to leave his post ahead of a raft of reforms to the way services are inspected coming into effect.

Nick Hudson will move on from his role as director of early education from 1 September but will remain with Ofsted as a regional director. Picture: Alex Deverill
Nick Hudson will move on from his role as director of early education from 1 September but will remain with Ofsted as a regional director. Picture: Alex Deverill

A letter to early years providers from current national director Nick Hudson said he will be “moving on” from the role on 1 September.

Responsibility for early education inspection policy will be passed to Sean Harford, Ofsted’s national director for education, supported by Gill Jones, deputy director of early education.

Hudson will remain with Ofsted as regional director for the North East, Yorkshire and Humber.

The precise reason behind his departure as national director for early years is unclear.

“I have thoroughly enjoyed my time as national director, early education and have appreciated the professional dialogue, which has informed the changes we have introduced over the last 18 months,” Hudson’s letter states.

Neil Leitch, chief executive of the Pre-school Learning Alliance said the move to hand control of early years to the national director for education is “one of concern” and could indicate a desire for greater focus on academic skills such as reading, writing and maths, and less on play.

“It appears to be yet another move towards early schoolification,” Leitch said.

“No single individual has done more to listen and act upon sector recommendations than Nick Hudson, so it is hard to see this as anything more than a regressive step,” he said.

“Changes were made under his leadership. He was prepared to listen.”

Purnima Tanuku, chief executive of National Day Nurseries Association, said: “We have concerns that a move to a single directorate with early years included within education generally will dilute the priority that has been placed on our sector – particularly at a time when the government sees preschool education as a priority for reform and expansion.”

News of Hudson’s departure comes just days before a raft of reforms to the way early years services are inspected are due to come into effect.

Ofsted's new common inspection framework, whereby private, voluntary and independent (PVI) childcare providers will be given notice of half a day when an inspection of one of their settings is to take place, will be introduced next month.

There will also be efforts to improve the way the complaints process is scrutinised, with “high-level scrutiny committees” being set up in each Ofsted region to rule on how the inspectorate handles complaints.

Hudson is the second Ofsted director to leave their post this year.

In May, CYP Now revealed that Ofsted’s national director for social care, Debbie Jones, had resigned.

In June it was announced that Jones' interim replacement Kath O'Dwyer was leaving her post to become a director of children's services at Cheshire East Council.

An Ofsted spokesman said: "From September Ofsted will be introducing significant changes to the way we inspect and how we manage inspection.

"With the introduction of the common inspection framework covering early education, schools and further education, it is right that we encompass all of this work under one senior director – a national director for education. 

"At the same time the role of regional director, which Nick Hudson so successfully combined with his role in early education, has expanded considerably to include the management of our new contracted Ofsted inspectors. 

"These changes are designed to ensure our inspection practice and positive working relationships with the sector continue to be managed in the best possible way."
Ofsted’s national director for education, Sean Harford, said: "Early education is hugely important to Ofsted, and I am committed to continuing Nick’s good work with early years colleagues in improving outcomes and raising standards."

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