Nurseries Undercover: The Real Story

Star rating: 4/5.

BBC1, 12 August

Good old Ofsted. The real villains of this undercover documentary that shockingly showed children being shouted at, humiliated, called “minger”, “imbecile” and “idiotic”, and dragged about were not the poor (although presumably not in a financial sense) owners of the private daycare services featured who, honest guv, didn’t know such appalling care happened in their nurseries. Nor were they the staff who dished out such treatment. Nor was it, naturally, Ofsted which is clearly in need of some sharp self-inspection. No, the real villains, according to those charged with regulating children’s daycare, are those pesky people at the BBC, writes Graham Hopkins.

And in one way Ofsted is right. By not informing Ofsted of its findings immediately but waiting until nearer broadcast time for bigger journalistic impact, the BBC effectively let Ofsted off the hook or at least gave it a diversionary let-out. So, rather than face the charge that, gosh, perhaps the government’s favourite regulatory body isn’t much cop, it’s able to whip up a defence showing how efficient it truly is by announcing resultant sackings – nursery nurses not inspectors, naturally.

The programme’s sensible solution is to change the practice of informing nurseries of the month (though not the date) of the inspection to one where the inspectors simply turn up unannounced. Ofsted even managed to hijack that. It claimed that it had been thinking about doing this long before it knew about the programme. In typically crumpled Ofsted-speak it is “considering” the use of “next to no notice inspections”.

That the nurseries which were inspected by Ofsted (remarkably one hadn’t even been inspected) were both given glowing reports might well suggest to some that currently Ofsted provides “next to no good inspections”.

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