Ofsted has published its annual report 2019/2020 addressing the full range of its inspections across education and care.
Of the inspected Early Years Register (EYR) providers, 96% were judged good or outstanding at their most recent inspection. This is unchanged since last year and a marked increase from 85% in 2015, the start of the CIF. Providers that are judged less than good are inspected more frequently and have more time to improve.
However, Ofsted Chief Amanda Spielman has warned that the neediest children are missing out on support through home-learning and there is still a long way to go.
Overall there has been some promising reviews. Between September 2019 and August 2020, Ofsted carried out 8,540 inspections of early years and childcare providers. Of these, 7,330 were full inspections of providers on the EYR. We judged 89% of these providers as good or outstanding overall. A higher proportion of inspections resulted in an outstanding judgement compared with 2018/19. This may be due to Ofsted inspecting a higher proportion of previously outstanding providers as we near the end of an inspection cycle.
Purnima Tanuku OBE, Chief Executive of National Day Nurseries Association (NDNA), said:
‘It’s really encouraging to see the overall improvement of provision, with 96% of nurseries, more than ever before, being judged good or outstanding. This is down to the incredible and dedicated work of early years providers. We are so proud to represent the early years sector who are achieving these results despite battling so many tough challenges.
‘The sector was concerned about children with SEND and vulnerable children even before the pandemic hit and the extra support it needs is highlighted in this report. Now they need tangible resources to help them support these children with both their physical and emotional development.
‘Nurseries have been coping with low, inadequate funding rates for years and need real, meaningful rises in their hourly rate to deal with the full impact of Covid-19. The small rise in investment announced last week will not even cover the increase in wages from April, let alone enable them to support the most vulnerable children.
‘Quality of provision comes from the knowledge and experience of practitioners but the sector is experiencing a staffing crisis, with nurseries largely unable to benefit from the continued furlough scheme. Many nurseries are having to close rooms due to staff absence with positive cases, resulting in lower parental income to cover soaring costs. The sector desperately needs support now more than ever to remain sustainable so they can continue to deliver the high quality care that parents expect and children need.’
Commenting, Neil Leitch, chief executive of the Early Years Alliance, said:
‘It is incredibly positive to see that despite the challenges of recent years, early years providers are still achieving record highs when it comes to inspection outcomes. This is a testament not only to the professionalism of practitioners across the country, but their commitment to giving young children the best possible start to their educational journeys.
‘At a time when the early years is all too often treated as the poor relation to schools and colleges, this report is a timely reminder that nurseries, pre-schools and childminders are not simply providers of ‘childcare’ – they are an integral part of the education system in this country.
‘In the last week alone, the sector has been offered pennies per hour at a Spending Review which found over £2bn to spend on schools, and excluded from a vital new DfE workforce fund directly solely at schools and colleges.
‘It’s time the government stops undervaluing the early years sector and starts treating settings as the providers of quality education they are. These figures should act a stark reminder of what they stand to lose if they don’t.’