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Ofsted Renews Contracts to Outsource Inspections


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According to Ofsted's annual reports and account, 2014-2015 the contracts for Tribal and Prospects have been extended and the contractors will continue to inspect early years providers until March 2017:

'The current contracts with our inspection service providers (ISPs) for schools and FE and skills inspections come to an end in August 2015. On 29 May 2014, HMCI announced that these contracts would not be renewed and that, from September 2015, we would contract directly with inspectors. These changes to how we resource inspection will help to ensure that we have the necessary quality, control and flexibility in our workforce to deliver our plans for the future of school and FE and skills inspection. Alongside this, we have extended our current contracts with our early years ISPs to March 2017' (p. 75)

'The Department has also entered into a non-cancellable contract (which is not a lease or PFI contract) for IS services. This contract will be completed in March 2017' - (p. 110)

'Ofsted has also entered into an agreement for the supply of regional inspection services in terms of Early Years childcare inspection work until March 2017' (p. 110)


Nursery World say that 'the move is a blow for the sector, as early years providers have long been calling for Ofsted to bring all early years inspections in-house' and raise some concerns


'Neil Leitch, [Pre-school Learning] Alliance chief executive, expressed “disappointment” at the decision.

He said: “Over recent months, the inspectorate has demonstrated its willingness to engage with the sector and respond positively to practitioners’ views and concerns, and so this seems like a missed opportunity to make a change that would have helped improve confidence in the fairness and consistency of early years inspections'



What do you all think?

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But, what evidence do we actually have that if taken back in house to Ofsted, the system would be any fairer or any quicker. We already have settings waiting 6 years (or sometimes more). I can't see how this would improve if taken back in house.


I'm not saying I necessarily agree or disagree with the decision, just that we can't assume that taken back in house would suddenly solve everything....somehow I don't think it would.


What do others think?

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what evidence do we actually have that if taken back in house to Ofsted, the system would be any fairer or any quicker

I'm not sure, but everything I've read claims that outside agencies offer much lower quality services. I'd be interested in reading some sort of study if there is one, but I think it mostly comes down to sector complaints, concerns and grievances. They began outsourcing inspections in 2010 and some thing sI've read claim that there has been a steady decline in quality since then. They also highlight the fact that our government think inspections in schools are too important to be left down to third parties - so why not early years settings? Might additionally be worth mentioning that settings that require improvement are inspected in-house, implying that in-house inspections are better?





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It's interesting though that we now have steadily increased number of settings year on year getting good and better judgements, so wouldn't we like to think that's down to the hard work from the sector and not a result of poorly trained inspectors? Many members here have been more much positive about their inspections than in the past, and this is also the case in my LA. Yes of course there will always be complaints, usually in cases where the result isn't the one we want, but would this happen any less?


It's also interesting that the person spec to become an ofsted inspector for ofsted does not specify having early years experience but the one for eg tribal does. There is no guarantee that an ofsted inspector will actually have early years experience and I have certainly been inspected in the past by someone who didnt. Yes there are still some about in the outsourced organisations but they have to complete compulsory training on the EYFS in order to inspect in the sector.


Finally, I suspect this all comes down to money. Ofsted don't currently employ freelance inspectors. I imagine the EY sector is by far the biggest and so bringing back in house would cost huge amounts in terms of recruiting full time inspectors. There aren't enough as it is now, and many freelance inspectors do this as well as another job and so would not wish to do it full time.


I do completely agree that taking schools inspections back in house suggest that Ofsted think they are more important. But taking all back in house at this moment in time, given the possible expansion of the sector when the 30 hours kicks in, the lack of inspectors and the cost in doing so, the lack of evidence that its the solution to fairness and consistency issues, I am not yet convinced that this will actually be the right solution.


Debate on chaps... always good to hear a range of views

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Well said. I haven't really come across anything that conclusively supports or contests bringing inspections in-house - although I haven't done all that much research.

The consensus of the entire Early Years sector (as far as I have read) is that moving inspections in-house would be of great benefit, and the only opposition comes from the government. Without further research I can't say whose side I'm on, but I can happily say that I trust the sector more than I do the government

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