More “spot checks” on child care needed

Inspection body Ofsted should make more unannounced visits to
child care providers, the president of an association for early
years workers has recommended.

Marion Dowling, president of voluntary organisation Early
Education – previously the British Association for Early
Childhood Education – said that knowing about an inspection
in advance gave staff the opportunity to change their practice in
order to satisfy inspectors.

“The wool can be pulled over the inspectors’ eyes.
There’s got to be more stringent regulation from Ofsted and
many more spot checks with no notice given,” she said.

There are currently 107,100 registered child care providers and
last year Ofsted made 3,500 unannounced inspection visits.
Unannounced inspections are carried out if Ofsted receives
information suggesting that standards are not being met, otherwise
providers are told the month when their inspection will take

Dowling was speaking in response to a BBC programme revealing
poor practice by staff in three nurseries. Undercover footage
showed young children being shouted at and roughly handled, as well
as unhygienic practices by the workers.

Dowling said that such events were unusual, but added that
parents needed to be more aware of what constituted a good nursery.
She advised parents to look at the relationships between the adults
as well as between the adults and children, and to look closely at
what the children were doing. She also recommended that parents
carried out their own spot checks.

Ofsted said that it was investigating the three nurseries
involved in the BBC programme and that four of the nursery workers
had been dismissed. It plans to reduce the six weeks inspection
notice it currently gives providers from April 2005

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