The Ofsted National Consultative Forum: Read, Rage and Respond

Ofsted held its National Consultative Forum on the 12th  of November and I was invited.  This was my second meeting and I am there (in my mind anyway) to represent the OBC. I had sent Nick Hudson the minutes of the London Steering Group meeting in advance so he could see what was troubling us.  Of course those minutes are also available for public information on the OBC website.  I think all Chairs might consider sending Steering Group minutes to their Regional Leads as a matter of course.  It means we are very open with our information and it’s a better way to encourage two way conversations.
The attendance list is below and I have added those not in attendance so you see the whole group.

Ofsted Representation 
Nick Hudson (chair) Director, Early Education, Ofsted
Gill Jones Deputy Director, Early Education, Ofsted
Dee Gasson Principal Officer, Early Education, Ofsted
Dorothy Worral Senior Manager, Early Childhood
2 others from Ofsted

School Representation 
St Bede Academy (Bolton)
Mead Primary School in Trowbridge
Everton Nursery School and Family Centre
St Werburghs Park Nursery Sch and Children Centre
Dfe Representation
Charity Representation I CAN
Large Providers Busy Bees Childcare
Membership Organisations National Children’s Bureau (NCB)
National Day Nurseries Association (NDNA)
Professional Association for Childcare and Early Years ( PACEY)
PVI – Kids Planet
OBC  – June O’Sullivan
Local Authority

No Representation / Apologies
Absolute Return for Kids (ARK)
Association of Directors of Children Services (ADCS)
Pre-school Learning Alliance (PLA)
4Children
Skills Active
Bright Horizons
Co-operative Childcare

The meeting is three hours long and is mostly information sharing with room for questions and queries.  It covers a lot of updates and so it’s easy to miss something. The meeting was Chaired by Nick Hudson who keeps to time and limits great long meanderings, much to everyone’s relief!

OBC Point : If you are a member of any of the listed organisations ask to see their write up of the meeting to get a complete picture.

The following issues were on the agenda which was presented on the day.

Changes to the Ofsted Report
Ofsted confirmed that changes to the written report will be implemented from January 2015. It would seem they have plumped for an interim report style taking into account our comments at the last meeting which asked to find a balance so that the report was not too long but also not so short that it lacked credibility. We will have to wait and see as there was no example to examine at the meeting.

Children Centre Inspections
No change to the Children Centre inspections as Ofsted are in a continuing dialogue with the DfE.

Complaints Procedure
Progress on the complaints initiated inspections and how to complain to Ofsted is on the agenda for February as Ofsted await some proposals from the Small Business, Enterprise and Employment Bill which is looking at regulation and red tape and may impact on the process of appeals. NDNA gave written and oral evidence on the Bill – here’s a link to their submission. This should give you a good summary of the issue. We’d like to see the Reviewer (or Small Business Appeals Champion as it’s also been called) have more powers so there can be an independent person in the complaints process – after the initial stages.

My OBC Point:  Please check this as it has implications for deregulation of schools which may mean PVI will have a different set of rules?

Common Inspection Framework Proposal.
This is out for consultation and needs careful consideration.
Better inspection for all – closes 5th December 2014 so be sure to reply.

Ofsted is keen to have single inspection framework for ease of inspections and clearer approach.  While the sector agrees with the broad principle of a common inspection framework there remains anxiety about how this will be interpreted into a single set of inspection criteria and consistent inspections. This will also include frequent but shorter inspections for good schools, academies and EY providers.

In general the intention is to have inspections every three years reporting on four common judgements:

  • Leadership and management
  • Teaching, learning and assessment
  • Personal development , behaviour and welfare
  • Outcomes for children and learners with greater emphasis on safeguarding and curriculum

They want to do a pilot led by an HMI using “good” settings and include childminders. New documents will also be part of the pilot.

My OBC Point:  Please ensure that you contact Gill Jones and your Regional Lead and get involved in the consultation.  Its imperative active OBC members contribute so Ofsted and the sector has a full and thorough conversation and the resulting criteria is agreed and appropriate and proportionate. Contact your membership organisations and ensure you are nominated by them for the pilot also. If we get the wrong criteria we will be inspected against the wrong issues and we cannot blame Ofsted if we don’t engage.

No Notice Inspections
HMCI retains the right to unannounced inspections but is asking about harmonisation of notice which is currently looking like a half day notice for schools being extended to the PVI sector with Ofsted retaining the right to do unannounced visits.

My OBC Point:  Please ensure that you keep note of this and raise with your Regional Lead at next OBC.

Paid for Inspections
Progress on the introduction of these has been held up because the accompanying regulations and criteria are written by the DfE. The inclination is that legacy satisfactory graded inspections should be the priority for paid inspections and RI should remain an Ofsted priority.  Given that the regs are written by the DfE and the Government has a policy of a new set of regulations then it will take time for this piece of legislation to be operational. From March the Government and Local Authorities will go into purdah before the election so nothing will get written or implemented so paid for inspections may be some way off.

The emerging suggested fee to fund HMI inspection is:
£1300 on domestic premises
£2500 Non domestic

My OBC Point: We should not have to pay for inspections that are overdue and all resources should be directed into getting everyone their inspection on a timely basis.

Better Regulation Executive (BRE)
The review of Ofsted Childcare inspection enforcement suggested improvements to the website and guidance. This has happened and now Ofsted is evaluating the impact of the changes. Ofsted want some sector support as part of the evaluation and are planning a Webinar asking about the changes. They also want a small face to face seminar into the details of the Webinar.

My OBC Point: We should  get them to do this Webinar as part of the OBC and maybe @EYTalking.

The second piece of feedback was that parents continue to find it hard to get information about childcare locally. This mostly affects childminders and the issues of not having names, addresses and contact details on the website. Discussion regarding the trade-off between Data Protection and Accessibility.  Pacey agreed to examine this further.

My OBC Point: We should get them to ask the OBC childminders leads about this and maybe @EYTalking.

Early Years Pupil Premium
How the usage of this will be measured as part of the leadership judgement from April 2015. We will need to show evidence of impact whether it’s direct such as a group of childminders coming together to purchase the support of a SLT to advance their skills or purchasing special equipment to teach the children.

My OBC point : Not discussed but for information. The EYPP rate was confirmed as £300 per year. Getting families to sign-up will be challenging as schools are already reporting their Pupil Premium sign-ups have dropped through the floor now that infant school meals are a universal entitlement, i.e. no direct FSM benefit to the family in sharing their benefits status with the school.

Update from the DfE
National take-up of the two year offer increased.
There will be an EYFS revaluation of guidance on how “ British Values” are built in an age appropriate  part of the service but with the outcome of limiting risk of extremism.
The DfE has responded to the admissions code consultation which closed on 29th September. The purpose of the School Admissions Code is to ensure that school places for all maintained schools and academies are allocated and offered in an open and fair way. Responses to the consultation were broadly in favour of the proposed changes to the School Admissions Code, whilst raising a small number of concerns and seeking additional clarification on certain elements of the proposals.

My OBC point: if two year olds are enrolled in school numbers will that mean heads won’t have to provide separate space for 2 year olds with possible implication for ratios?

New Registration
In some cases Ofsted is suggesting there will be times when they will not conduct a registration visit though it will be the exception rather than the rule. They will choose not to make a registration visit if they are assured that the organisation has a strong history of safeguarding processes with which Ofsted is very familiar.

My OBC point: will schools opening nurseries ever have a registration visit? What are the many implications for quality, access, ratios, equity etc.

OBC Information Round Up (here is some super music by Bonobo to play while you do your Ofsted homework)

  1. ¾ of Ofsted inspections in PVI found to be good or outstanding. Increase on 68% of those inspected at the beginning of 2014.
  2. 40% of five year olds not properly prepared for the demands of full time education at five yet 98% of them have been in school since they were 3!
  3. Ofsted have updated Conducting EY inspections to reflect the change to 30 months inspections. http://www.ofsted.gov.uk/resources/conducting-early-years-inspections
  4. Speech by Minister Sam Gyimah (Keep calm!) https://www.gov.uk/government/speeches/childcare-minister-speaks-about-more-pre-schools-in-schools
  5. Have you seen www.watchsted.com with the new Early Years data set in it?
  6. Conducting Early Years Inspections new guidance applies from the 1st September
  7. In April 2014 Sir Michael Wilshaw promised the Association of School and College Leaders (ASCL), he would review the inspection schedule of schools requiring improvement with relatively new leadership. In a letter to ASCL general secretary Brian Lightman earlier this month, Sir Michael said: “I recognise that the headteachers of these schools need to be given sufficient time to address the various difficulties that face them, and … Ofsted needs to play its part in encouraging our best and most ambitious leaders to go into our most challenging schools. “It is for these reasons that I am asking recently appointed headteachers of Requires Improvement schools to contact, in writing, the relevant Ofsted regional director to describe the context of their school’s present position. “The regional director will then allocate an HMI to the school to discuss with the headteacher the most appropriate scheduling for the next inspection.”
  8. http://www.sec-ed.co.uk/news/chief-inspector-promises-new-heads-more-time/#sthash.LSQNKKr1.dpuf
  9. Read report by Ceeda commissioned by PSLA ( and featuring LEYF) about the cost of a two year old place. Then compare it with the 2013/1, figures published by DfE and try and make sense of it all. PVI: £5.20Primary nursery places £5.12
  10. Nursery schools: £7.48
  11. https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/277605/Early_Years_Benchmarking_Tool_-_Funding.xlsm