One in three nurseries must improve, say inspectors who found unsafe rooms, poor first aid and staff smoking

  • Hundreds of providers were found to be operating in unsafe premises
  • Many fail to employ suitable staff or keep their first aid training up-to-date
  • Over 2,000 told to make improvements to early education programmes

By Laura Clark

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One in three nurseries and childminders is failing to provide a good standard of care and education under a tough new inspection regime, new figures revealed yesterday.

Out of 17,434 providers inspected over 14 months, 33 per cent were judged to need improvement - up from 26 per cent the previous year.

The number of providers given Ofsted’s worst rating - ‘inadequate’ - soared almost three-fold, from three per cent to eight to per cent.

One in three nurseries and childminders is failing to provide a good standard of care and education, new figures revealed yesterday (file picture)

One in three nurseries and childminders is failing to provide a good standard of care and education, new figures revealed yesterday (file picture)

Hundreds of providers were found to be operating in unsafe premises and failing to employ suitable staff or keep their first aid training up-to-date.

Nine providers were censured over staff smoking and eight for ‘staff taking medicine / other substances’ inappropriately.

 

More than 2,000 were ordered to make improvements to early education programmes.

Ofsted inspectors visiting nurseries and childminders observe care practices as well as activities to aid children’s development.

A new inspection regime introduced in September 2012 ‘raised the bar’ by scrutinising standards of early education more closely and the progress made by children.

Education Minister ElizabethTruss warned last year that some pre-schools allow children to do what they want for most of the day, leaving them unable to sit still and listen by the time they get to primary school

Education Minister ElizabethTruss warned last year that some pre-schools allow children to do what they want for most of the day, leaving them unable to sit still and listen by the time they get to primary school

Ofsted also pledged to make more frequent visits to providers which are causing concern.

The watchdog yesterday published the results of inspections between September 2012 and October 2013.

The figures came amid growing concern over standards of early education as the childcare sector expands.

Education Minister ElizabethTruss warned last year that some ‘chaotic’ pre-schools allow children to do what they want for most of the day, leaving them unable to sit still and listen by the time they get to primary school.

She said some nurseries were filled with young children ‘running around with no sense of purpose’.

Out of 17,434 providers visited, 25 per cent were rated merely satisfactory and eight per cent inadequate - 33 per cent in total.

In contrast, during the year 2011/12, 26 per cent of providers found themselves in Ofsted’s lowest two categories.

Meanwhile, in 2012/13, some 60 per cent were good, with just seven per cent outstanding - down from 63 per cent and 11 per cent the year before.

Neil Leitch, chief executive of the Pre-school Learning Alliance, said: ‘We remain concerned that Ofsted’s “tougher” inspection framework has resulted in such a significant increase in “inadequate” judgments, and decrease in “good” and “outstanding” grades, compared to previous years.

‘It is not enough to introduce a more rigorous framework without ensuring that providers have access to the necessary support, training and guidance needed to meet these standards.’

A further overhaul of the nursery inspection regime was introduced in November 2013. Under the shake-up, all nurseries and pre-schools will be expected to achieve a ‘good’ rating from Ofsted; those falling below the threshold will be given a maximum of two years to improve or face being labelled ‘inadequate’ and risking closure.

Announcing the changes, Ofsted chief inspector Sir Michael Wilshaw said inspectors would be tougher on poor nurseries and pre-schools because ‘no one thinks they should be allowed to languish in their inadequacy’.

Too many were ‘weak’, particularly in deprived areas, giving children a poor start to compulsory education.

Ofsted figures for 66,525 childcare providers across the country - including those inspected under previous inspection blueprints - show that 78 per cent were judged at least good, with 22 per cent satisfactory or inadequate.

An Ofsted spokesman said: ‘We have toughened up the way we do early years inspections.
‘Ofsted has made clear that only good or outstanding is good enough for young children.’

The comments below have been moderated in advance.

If they close, then where are the children meant to go ?

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In the past year, excellent childcare providers to which I send my children has been awarded "requires improvement" on 3 occasions. Why? 1. It was a bit cold. 2. A child licked a welly. 3. Two children dried their hands with the same towel after washing them for lunch. This nearly drove them out of business in a remote rural area with little other provision. I go there every day to drop off and pick up, and am perfectly capable of seeing what goes on. It was actually my daughter who reused the towel. Amazingly, she lived!

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Great, now nursery cost are gong to increase to meet the new standards. Nurseries are the same as hospitals, too much paper work and not enough hands on due to 'agencies'. Just let the nurseries have enough staff to interact with the kids and let them play. Too much focus on educational aspects, this is what school is for. Parents also have a role in teaching the basics of numbers etc to their children.

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The way nurseries have been graded seems ludicrous to me. The primary concern for preschool care should be a clean safe environment that promotes healthy eating and hygiene habits, developing social skills and learning through play. Let children be children! They have at least 14 years of education ahead of them. Its no wonder children feel pressured if this is the way things are going. I agree with providing a structure or framework for nurseries to follow but after seeing a recent Ofsted report its completely over the top.

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Some Childminders who previously had an Outstanding rating have been given a lower rating, because they do not have windmills in their garden or other trivial items, all part of Ms Truss's campaign to force Childminder agencies onto the profession.

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Very worrying findings. And a nightmare for working parents and their children.

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Tough new inspections. Give us a break, just another department that pushes paperwork and spends tax payers money. These inspections won't stop or change anything. However if I felt my childs nursery was not up to scratch I would just move my child.

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