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The vast majority of early years providers in the UK are producing more paperwork than required, according to a recent survey. The study carried out by Early Years Alliance in conjunction with the Department of Education and Ofsted has revealed that nearly 84% of respondents felt they are producing more paperwork than required by the EYFS.

The report follows an earlier Minds Matter survey by the Alliance that highlighted paperwork and administrative workload as one of the major source of stress among early years practitioners.

Administrative overload

Almost three-quarters of the respondents (70%)  said they were producing more paperwork in case an inspector Ofsted asked for it.

  • 59% said they did additional paperwork to meet the best practice requirements within their own settings
  • About 35% said they produced extra paperwork to fulfil local authority regulations
  • Close to a third of the respondents (29%) felt the extra work was done as a pre-emptive measure to protect the setting from parental complaints
  • Around 25% reported the additional workload was down to the documentation requirements set by senior management

The survey also showed the volume and content of paperwork varied across different local authority areas. Nearly 42% said they end up doing more paperwork because they had received conflicting information from different agencies and organisations about reporting incidents or concerns.

The way forward

Neil Leitch, the Chief Executive of the Alliance, said, 'We are pleased that the Department for Education and Ofsted have agreed that our top priorities must be to address the 'just in case' approach that has been flagged by a majority of the providers who took part in our research, as well as the  inconsistency, duplication and complexity at local authority level’.

He added, 'No paperwork should be so burdensome that it becomes a source of stress and deflects time and attention away from the learning experience of the child’. The Alliance will be working with the Department of Education and  Ofsted to develop practical solutions that allow providers to feel more confident during Ofsted inspections and when working with local authorities.

Wendy Ratcliffe, an Ofsted Inspector, specialising in the early years said the inspectors and providers involved in the Education Inspection Framework pilot inspections were keen to move away from the system of looking at assessment data.

"The early years inspection handbook makes it clear that the major focus of the inspections will be discussing children's experiences and learning and not looking at unnecessary paperwork. Ofsted will keep the survey findings under review as they introduce the new inspection framework and will continue to work hard to provide more clarity about the myths surrounding inspection and paperwork".


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