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Advisers attack OFSTED early-years role

THE SOLE power to inspect early- years providers should not lie with the Office for Standards in Education, say Government advisers.

In a report to ministers this week, the Better Regulation task force said that "due to its lack of expertise in the area of care", Ofsted should not "play the lead role" in the regulation and inspection of early education and daycare. Task force member Helena Shovelton said: "We just don't see the care of very young children as being Ofsted's role. It is there to inspect and maintain educational attainment, but the care of young children is profoundly different and should be the number-one priority."

Ofsted inspects school or private nurseries and playgroups every four years. However, the task force says that that is not enough.

An Ofsted spokesman said the report had a care bias and insisted that regulation of under-fives must focus on quality of education as well as child protection. He said: "Ofsted is quite clearly the organisation which has the greatest expertise in regulating educational provison and we have no doubts about our ability to develop and lead a framework covering the aspect of childcare as well, if that is what the Government wants."

The report also rejects the idea of a new national register for nannies and nanny agencies.

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