1 in 4 nurseries is ‘inadequate’

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ALMOST a quarter of the Wigan nurseries and early years providers recently visited by Ofsted have been judged inadequate.

New figures revealed inspectors found three of the 17 venues giving the borough’s youngsters their start in life visited between April 1 and June 30 were not up to the required standard, with one facility also judged to require improvement.

One provider was given the best-possible rating of outstanding during the same period, with the other 12 facilities inspected receiving a good rating.

The Wigan figures compare favourably to the regional statistics, with 76 per cent of the 592 early years providers in the North West visited by inspectors between April 1 and June 30 judged to be either good or outstanding, although Ofsted warned against drawing too many conclusions due to the small number of inspections carried out.

An Ofsted spokesman said: “It is now almost a year since we raised standards for nurseries and other early years providers. So it is heartening that these statistics show that almost three-quarters of our inspections found a good or outstanding service for young children.

“Parents can be assured that young children at those provisions are in an environment where they can learn and develop.

“However, there are still too many early years provisions which do not help young children be ready to learn when they start school. In the coming months Ofsted will be working with the 18 per cent of providers which need to improve.”

Ofsted’s figures for the North West show 48 per cent of the region’s providers visited were deemed to be outstanding, with 402 receiving a good rating, 103 requiring improvement and 39 being found inadequate.

Ofsted altered its early years framework in November 2013, replacing the judgement of satisfactory with the requires improvement rating.

Although Wigan Council’s inspection figures differ slightly from Ofsted’s, the authority said it was pleased with the standards most early years providers in the borough are reaching.

Wigan Council assistant director of education Kirston Nelson said: “We are pleased that 80 per cent of our early year settings have been graded as good or outstanding by Ofsted in the last quarter which is above the national average. Overall in Wigan 85 per cent of early years providers are either good or outstanding.

“It is a key part of our strategy as a council that young children have a good start in life. Having high quality early years providers in the borough which enable children to learn and develop well are crucial to making that happen.”

The council is also urging parents with two-year-old children to check if they could be eligible for up to 15 hours’ free education and childcare.