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Ofsted’s new education inspection framework and the accompanying handbooks will come into force from September 2019. The new framework is expected to bring down the pressure on teachers and early years practitioners to produce masses of data and paperwork for inspections.

The initial draft framework which was released in January has now been modified based on feedback received during a three-month public consultation. Over 15,000 respondents participated in the consultation, which concluded in early April.

Changes for Early Years

One of the major points addressed for the early years sector was the discrepancy between the schools and early years handbook. Ofsted reported there was a large number of responses from early years providers that the judgement criteria for early years provisions in the 'schools handbook' were not the same as those for 'registered early years settings.'

Early years providers felt the focus of the schools' criteria was more on reception-aged children and did not sufficiently cover the category of two- and three- year olds who are in school.

Ofsted said amendments have now been made to the grade descriptors to clarify the criteria that would apply for two to three-year-olds and reception-aged children. However, no changes have been made for 'the expectations for the end of Reception’ as it matches the Early Learning Goals.

Out of School Care

Although there was general support to apply the new framework for all early years providers, the 'quality of education' judgement will not be applied for before and after school providers as they are not expected to meet the EYFS learning and development goals. Inspectors will restrict the judgement to the overall effectiveness - the quality and standards of early years provision for out of school providers.

Maintained Nursery Schools

A new section has been added to the framework to differentiate maintained nursery schools from other providers and highlight they are early education providers. The new EYFS handbook sets out clear instructions for inspectors to take into account how leaders adapt the EYFS to suit the different children’s needs and starting points.

Although nearly 50 per cent of the consultation respondents said they would like to be inspected using the Early Years handbook, Ofsted said they would be unable to go ahead with the proposal as maintained nursery legally fall under the category of schools, with a designated headteacher and governing body.

The Pulse from Across the Industry

Though with reservations, most of the Early Years Organizations such as the PACEY (Professional Association for Childcare and Early Years) and Early Years Alliance welcomed the new Early Years Framework and are supportive of the shift in focus from data to the quality of education.

Teaching unions are however sceptical about the proposed changes and said the plans put forth by Ofsted are unworkable owing to the lack of resources and inspectors’ expertise.

Nick Brook, the Deputy General Secretary of School Leaders’ Union, raised concerns that the framework was rushed considering the announcement about the framework was made within three weeks after the consultation was over in April. He added it was unlikely that Ofsted would have had the time to process the 15000 responses in such a short span and would have ended up missing or ignoring many important views in the process.

For more details about the consultation response, check out the consultation outcome report here.


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Ofsted’s Educational Inspection Framework 2019: What’s in it for Early Years

Ofsted Inspection for Early Years: Myths Vs Facts


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