Alliance comments on early years inspection third-party contract extension

10 June 2015

The Pre-school Learning Alliance has voiced its concerns following confirmation that Ofsted has extended its current contracts with third-party inspection service providers Tribal and Prospects until March 2017.

The Ofsted annual report and accounts 2014 - 15, published today, states that “… we have extended our current contracts with our early years ISPs to March 2017”.

Neil Leitch, chief executive of the Pre-school Learning Alliance, said:

“Given the concerns that have previously been raised about the quality of the early years inspector service providers, we are disappointed that Ofsted has chosen to extend their contracts to 2017. 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.

“Ofsted’s previous defence of the decision to continue outsourcing early years inspections - that it would be ‘unsettling’ to make any changes before the inspection cycle ends in 2016 and while the details of childminder agencies were still be finalised - no longer applies, so we would be very keen to gain a better understanding as to why this decision has been taken.”

The Alliance has called for early years inspections to be brought back in-house as part of its post-election Early Years Agenda manifesto. The organisation is also calling for:

  • the introduction of independent provider representation at both the quality assurance stage of inspections, and the first stage of the complaints/appeals process.
  • the implementation of paid-for re-inspections, as legislated for by the Children and Families Act 2014

For further information or to interview, Neil Leitch, Chief Executive of the Pre-school Learning Alliance please contact:
Shannon Hawthorne
Pre-school Learning Alliance
T: 020 7697 2503
E: Shannon Hawthorne


Notes for editors

  1. The Pre-school Learning Alliance is the largest voluntary sector provider of quality affordable childcare and education in England.
  2. Through direct provision and its membership of 14,000 nurseries, sessional pre-schools and parent and toddler groups, the Alliance supports over 800,000 children and their families in England. The Alliance also develops and runs family learning programmes, offers information and advice, runs acclaimed training and accreditation programmes and campaigns to influence early years policy and practice.
  3. For information about the Pre-school Learning Alliance, visit our website:

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