Weekly political news round up – 8th August 2014

August 8, 2014 in News by Whitehouse

Around the sector

Information obtained under a Freedom of Information request has revealed that a quarter of early years providers have not been inspected for at least four years, despite Ofsted requirements which state that all early years providers must be inspected at least once within 47 months. The information obtained revealed that out of 77,509 nurseries and child-minders, 19,204 had been waiting for four years or more for an inspection. Of the 19,204 waiting for inspection, 342 have never been inspected by Ofsted, while 3,655 who were judged to be “satisfactory” are now reclassified as “requiring improvement.”

Ofsted considers merging early years, schools and FE inspections

It has been reported that Ofsted is looking at plans to merge its early years, schools and further education inspections under a single framework. The inspectorate has confirmed its intention to change the way education institutions are inspected from September 2015. The announcement comes two months after Ofsted unveiled plans to bring the management of all school and further education inspections back in-house. In May, the inspectorate said it will not renew contracts with CfBT Education Trust, Serco Education and Tribal Group for the inspection of schools and FE institutions when they expire in August 2015.

Play helps boost children’s development, study reaffirms

A new study for the Children’s Play Policy Forum, has shown the importance of play in improving children’s physical and mental health and emotional well-being. The report, the Play Return, reviews a wide range of research, finding playtime in the school playground enhanced academic skills, attitudes and behaviour, social skills and social relations between different ethnic groups. The research also showed play and youth facilities in public spaces led to reductions in levels of anti-social behaviour and vandalism, and that families who lived near playgrounds and visited them often reported higher levels of family happiness. The study, was in response to a meeting between the chairman of the Children’s Play Forum, Robin Sutcliff, and Nick Hurd MP, former minister for civil society on the 29th October 2013. It looked at four types of intervention  – improving opportunities for free play in school break times; unstaffed public play facilities; supervised out-of-school play provision; and street play initiatives – that each involve setting aside time and space for children to play. It concluded that:

  • Play initiatives lead to improvements in children’s physical and mental health and well-being, and are linked to a range of other cognitive and social developmental benefits. While evidence of beneficial outcomes is strongest for play in schools, it is reasonable to expect that they will also be seen in other contexts where children have comparable play experiences.
  • Families and communities also benefit from play initiatives – and want action to improve them. Play initiatives generate high levels of volunteering and community action. This finding is echoed by the consistently strong support for play provision stated in opinion polls over the years.
  • Play initiatives are associated with inter-related benefits across a range of health and developmental domains. These benefits need to be thought of as a whole rather than in a piecemeal fashion.
  • The improvement in opportunities for play is a valid outcome in its own right.