Ofsted’s blog: The Big Conversation taking place at a region near you

20th October 2016 at 14:11

An early years collaboration – Ofsted and the sector


Back in May 2013 a dialogue struck up between Ofsted and the early years sector.  June O’Sullivan, MBE, CEO London Early Years Foundation, started the conversation on the Nursery World Linkedin forum because she was concerned about Ofsted’s approach to regulation at the time. It prompted a flood of comments and gave birth to the #Ofsted Big Conversation (OBC).

“The Ofsted Big Conversation came into being because people didn’t feel that there was a conversation with our inspection and regulation body,” explains June Sullivan. “And now we have one and we have a positive one.”


What is it?

The OBC is a collaboration of early years practitioners, child minders, local authorities, organisations, trainers and consultants throughout the UK. It’s a chance for them to participate with Ofsted at a grassroots level. Very early on in the process Ofsted took the decision to be part of the conversation.

Gill Jones, Deputy Director, Early Years explains, “We engage with the OBC in all regions to varying degrees, depending on the activity level of the regional OBC steering groups. In the North West, for example, their Saturday meetings attract well over 200 delegates and we recently delivered a session on early mathematics.”

Gill attends the national steering group as well as local events.  She says, “It’s been really important in improving relations between Ofsted and the sector.”

And there have been tangible changes as a result of the engagement – most notably leading Ofsted to removing our previous practice of complaint-led inspection.

Over the last two years, and more, Ofsted has taken part in many events around the country.


The Big Conversation in the West Midlands

Recently Lorna Fitzjohn, Regional Director, West Midlands, took to the stage at an event hosted by  Worcestershire County Council to present an overview of Ofsted’s early years programme and the approaching changes (click here). She highlighted Ofsted’s approach, and talked about the common inspection framework. It was also an opportunity to share with early years practitioners the findings of Ofsted’s report, ‘Unknown children: destined for disadvantage?’ that was published in July.

If you are in the sector and want to come along to an event keep an eye on details here: