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Primary Education News
News Ofsted warns failing nurseries and childminders may be shut down
Education watchdog warns on pre-school failings amid fears that 250,000 children are being let down by inadequate care
Almost a quarter of a million children are being let down by inadequate nurseries and childminders, Ofsted will warn on Friday, with those in the most deprived areas most likely to be faced with poor care.
The education watchdog's chief inspector, Sir Michael Wilshaw, was expected to outline plans for an overhaul of early education, which could see failing nurseries and childminders closed down if they do not improve.
The move comes amid concerns that many pre-schoolers do not have access to decent childcare. Ofsted figures show that since August up to 243,400 children were being cared for by nurseries, childminders and pre-schools that were not considered good.
More than two-fifths of early years educators were judged no better than satisfactory at their last two inspections, and more than one in 10 had dropped a grade, according to the watchdog's annual report in November.
Under Wilshaw's proposals, to be published for consultation on Friday, Ofsted will consider only a rating of good or outstanding to be acceptable from September. The satisfactory judgment will be scrapped and replaced by "requires improvement", a change already implemented at school inspections in England.
Nurseries and pre-schools that are judged to require improvement will face more inspections and have up to four years to raise standards. If they are not rated good after two inspections they are expected to be considered inadequate.
Inadequate nurseries and pre-schools that fail to improve could face having their registration cancelled, in effect closing them.
Wilshaw was expected to say: "Parents, whatever their circumstances, want their children to access good-quality childcare and get a good early education that sets them up well for statutory schooling. Yet too many providers are not good enough, particularly in the most deprived areas. We must be tougher on weak settings.
"From September 2013, nurseries and pre-schools judged less than good will need to improve rapidly. I want the new designation of 'requires improvement' to act as a catalyst to get all early years providers to good as soon as possible.
"We'll encourage providers that are good or outstanding to support weaker settings. We know that the best schools are joining forces and we anticipate that this will happen in the early years."
Ofsted said it was considering plans for inspection of childminder agencies, and had not yet made proposals about early re-inspection of childminders.
In September, the satisfactory rating used by inspectors for school inspections was scrapped, and replaced with requires improvement, a move Ofsted said was intended to raise standards.
Schools judged to require improvement at two consecutive inspections, and which were still not providing a good education at the third, were more likely be placed in special measures.
The move caused upset among headteachers as it was likely to leave more schools in special measures.
The consultation on the latest proposals closes on 24 May.