#OfstedBigConversation: On your marks, get set…!

September 3rd 2013

Charles Handy identified three attributes, ‘difference, dedication and doggedness’ as the mark of successful entrepreneurs. He quoted the poet Keats view on doggedness,

“… as negative capability; the capability to keep going when things are going wrong. Or when you are in the midst of doubts and uncertainties. You can only demonstrate this however, if you feel convinced of the worth of what you are doing, if you believe in yourself and have the courage and patience to ride the storms.”

Hutchinson London 2004 Pg 26

Doggedness is very evident among sector colleagues as the energy and power builds in readiness for the #Ofstedbigconversation on the 13th and 14th September.

The London response is very heartening not least the sheer distance people are preparing to travel. This is being replicated across the country and more groups are being set up almost on a daily basis.

In addition Catriona Nason at Daycare Doctor has set up a central website where we can collate all the stories and outcomes from our meetings.

Visit www.thebigofstedconversation.co.uk

Today I talked to a group planning something in Liverpool. Sadly the stories keep flowing in about downgrades, unfair inspections and the quality assurance debacle. Neil Leitch at the PSLA has submitted a Freedom of Information request to find out what is actually happening and whether all the stories and the bank of evidence we are collecting fits with the data. We anticipate a response by the 18th September.

Right now many people are on holiday and no doubt this includes the Ofsted management but unless they are holidaying on the moon it’s likely they are aware of our plan. Clearly, neither the plan nor their holiday will have moved them from their apparatchik response as they continue to hold tight to the Ofsted party line. Why? Because this month they announced this report.

A toughening up of early years inspections, making it clear that only ‘good’ or better is good enough for very young children.

From 4 November 2013, a judgement of ‘requires improvement’ will replace the current ‘satisfactory’ judgement for all early years providers

From November, pre-schools and nurseries requiring improvement will have a maximum of two years to get to ‘good’ – otherwise they face the prospect of being judged ‘inadequate’.

For all early years providers:

  • the satisfactory judgement will be replaced by ‘requires improvement’
  • ‘inadequate’ settings are likely to be re-inspected after 6 months
  • if an ‘inadequate’ setting fails to improve sufficiently and is found ‘inadequate’ again after re-inspection; Ofsted may take steps to cancel that setting’s registration.

For pre-schools and nurseries:

  • there will be re-inspection within a year for those which ‘require improvement’ with the expectation that the setting will get to ‘good’ within two years
  • those that fail to improve after two years are likely to be judged ‘inadequate’.

Ofsted will take into account the potential impact of an inadequate decision on a case by case basis when the first non-domestic providers judged to ‘require improvement’ approach the end of the 24 month period. Any decisions made will be taken in the best interests of the children and parents using the services inspected. I very much hope that this will be the case given our Deputy Prime Minister’s announcement to increase the free childcare offer to 20% of two-year-olds from some of the poorest families across the country.

So Sir Michael, while you continue to issue dictats over the holidays and tell us what you find acceptable, I hope you will also be prepared for us to question whether your inspection regime merits good or outstanding or whether we have issued a notice to improve. Your system needs to be able to deliver what you demand.

Ofsted plays but a small part in your ambition that Early Years must give children a solid foundation. You need us to do this with you. Right now you are lucky that so many hard working, caring people are taking the time to join together and travel miles to share their views. Failing to acknowledge our concerns and to respond to the sector as if we are naughty pupils that need new school rules is a high risk strategy.

Remember, right now we allow you access to our settings, share information with you, give you critical data and pay for the pleasure of inviting you into our nurseries. Listen up!