DISCLAIMER:(!) I know that today is not my usual ‘blog day’ but we wanted to pass on the latest developments with Ofsted. Normal blog service will resume on Monday…
I recently met with Sue Gregory, Director of Early Childhood at Ofsted, and Dee Gasson, Principal Officer of Development in Early Years. I began by thanking them while also emphasising that I was just one person in the sector. I said that what is needed is a system where Ofsted could talk to practitioners on a regular basis. Sue agreed to develop the regional system and set up a series of meetings across the country, although I think we as a sector need to host and Chair them. I volunteered to do the first London meeting.
These regional meetings would be the place where Ofsted consults with the sector on potential changes to the system, such as the revised framework, applying and implementing new policies and inspection practice, and also consider our views with regards to future commissioning and contractors. These are all part of their improvement agenda, or to use Ofsted speak: “Qualitative judgements in relation to children’s early education and welfare.”
Ofsted also agreed to start a conversation as to how the Ofsted concept of quality improvement could evolve. I suggested that they might test emerging information they are collecting from the regional meetings and align this with findings from their annual reports. I asked them to create a forum where we can flag up emerging issues. In this way, improvement driven by Ofsted would actually be in the form of action-research with the sector as partners in the process.
Sue and Dee also agreed to clarify the situation regarding complaints driven inspections. They insisted that those inspections were related to the last inspections cycle so that meant in 2008. But I asked for greater clarity and more explicit explanation as to how complaints driven inspections would be managed in the next cycle.
They have agreed to clarify the notion of the ’47 month cycle’ and when inspections happen. As one cycle is completed, the other begins within that 47 month period. In effect, I think it looks as if you can be inspected at anytime.
Sue has agreed to write to the sector again via an article in Nursery World confirming these points. But I think that now the sector has the opportunity to work proactively with Ofsted to organise their own regional meetings and begin to form a relationship with their regional lead. …. It’s a step in the right direction.