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Alliance calls for temporary halt to routine childcare inspections

By Rachel Lawler

The Alliance has written to Ofsted to request a temporary suspension of routine early years inspections – excluding those undertaken in response to safeguarding concerns – in light of the ongoing coronavirus outbreak. 

Letter to Ofsted
In a letter to Ofsted chief inspector Amanda Spielman, Neil Leitch, chief executive of the Alliance, said: 

"This is a constantly-changing situation and it remains unclear what steps government may take to mitigate the spread of this virus – for example, the recent proposal to temporarily relax ratios. 

"While we know that the sector will always prioritise the safety and wellbeing of the children in their care, there remains the possibility that changes implemented by government in response to the coronavirus could have some impact on the way that care and education is delivered at early years settings. This in turn might mean that providers undergoing inspections during this time aren’t able to demonstrate the normal running of their provision as effectively as they would otherwise. 

"As such, it would be very useful if Ofsted could confirm what its plans are for inspection arrangements during this period. It is our view that, in order to ensure that providers are not inadvertently penalised for responding as best they can to what are exceptional circumstances, and that they are not placed under the additional stress of an inspection during what are already stressful times, Ofsted should consider temporarily suspending early years inspections, other than those undertaken in response to safeguarding concerns or similar." 

Last week, the government proposed potential relaxing ratios in childcare settings as part of its coronavirus ‘battle plan’. In response, the Alliance said that it recognised that the early years sector would need to adapt as necessary to such unprecedented circumstances, but that “existing childcare ratios are in place for a reason, and so any temporary adjustments made to current rules must still ensure that child safety and wellbeing are not compromised.

More information
Keep up to date with the latest advice and guidance on coronavirus for childcare providers here - the page is being updated daily and includes links to all the relevant government updates.