“My days are very varied and I like working from home with the flexibility that gives me. I get out and about a lot and I’m my own boss – and I’m very proud to represent Ofsted because it’s important to ensure that children are well cared for. It’s also nice to have time with the children and hear the quirky things they say – they are the people who tell me the most.”
Hilary Turner is a childcare inspector in west London
How many childcare inspectors are there and how long have they been around?
There are 724 childcare inspectors. Ofsted has had responsibility for regulating and inspecting childcare since September 2001. Before that, inspectors were managed by their local authorities.
Where are they usually located and what other workers/professionals do they often work with?
They are all home based, and usually work in an area local to where they live, but are part of a team that meets regularly and communicates by phone and e-mail. They are allocated a certain amount of work to be completed on a three-monthly basis, which is overseen by a team manager. Other professionals they work with include: local authority officers with responsibilities for early years; health professionals such as health visitors and doctors; social services and child protection officers; and the police.
What is their main role?
Their main role is to inspect childcare providers to check whether they and their premises meet the government’s national standards on day care and childminding. Their visits can be in relation to an application to become a childcare provider, a “reporting” inspection to see how children are looked after and how providers ensure they deliver the key outcomes for children as set out in Every Child Matters, an investigation into a complaint, or a follow-up visit to check progress on an unresolved issue from a previous visit.
What are the main pieces of legislation that govern the work they do?
Childcare inspectors work to the 14 national standards for child care set by the Department for Education and Skills. They have a duty to evaluate the provision objectively against the standards, report honestly and fairly, and respect confidentiality. Any concerns they have about child protection matters must be reported to the appropriate agency. The main pieces of legislation governing their work are The Children Act 1989 as amended by the Care Standards Act 2000, the Education Acts of 2002 and 2005, and the Children Act 2004, which set out the powers and duties under which Ofsted regulates child care provision. The School Standards and Framework Act (1998) sets out the provisions relating to funded nursery education.
How and by whom is their work funded/commissioned?
All childcare inspectors are now employed by Ofsted, a non-ministerial government department funded by central government to regulate childcare. The government determines how often providers must be inspected, and Ofsted allocates work to its childcare inspectors.
What is their average salary?
£25,325 per annum.
What is the normal training/qualification route?
Most childcare inspectors transferred from local authorities where the qualifications on entry varied. However, in the last national recruitment campaign, prospective candidates were asked for a minimum NVQ Level 4 qualification, preferably in childcare, health, social work or education. Alternatively, they had to provide evidence of substantial management experience in children’s day care and education. They were also required to know and understand the DfES national standards and childcare settings regulations and to have oral and written communication skills.
What is their biggest gripe?
Their main complaint is about the continual changes made by Ofsted and the volume of new information, making it impossible to fully assimilate and incorporate the changes in their work before the next lot arrive.