Early Years Alliance comments on Ofsted's Annual Report

Commenting, Neil Leitch, CEO of the Early Years Alliance, said:

"It is testament to the dedication of early years educators in this country that 97% of settings on the Early Years Register are rated good or outstanding for the quality provision they offer young children - and that dedication has been proven throughout this very difficult year. However, it is concerning to see that attendance in early years settings remains lower than before the pandemic, with more deprived areas the worst affected, meaning more children are missing out on essential early education, including many of those who stand to benefit the most.

"Ofsted’s Annual Report shows that providers continue to operate under the huge additional pressure of Covid-19 safety measures and staffing challenges, all while helping children to close gaps in their learning and development - and yet the early years sector is still the poor relation of the education system when it comes to the government's Covid-19 support and recovery funding.

"While only a small number of inspections were carried out last year, initial data suggests Ofsted inspectors may not be giving adequate consideration to the ongoing impact of Covid-19 on providers, and what little support they have had, so we are committed to working closely with Ofsted to ensure a robust, but fair inspection process that remains focussed on the wellbeing of children.

"As the report says, early years educators went out of their way to support children and keep them safe during the pandemic – crucially, the government must now repay that hard work and care with proper support for this sector, to ensure it can continue to deliver the early education that every child needs and deserves, more now than ever before."