Labour has announced plans to abolish Ofsted and introduce a two-tier approach in its place, at its annual conference in Brighton.

The proposal would replace regular inspections with “health checks” by local authorities and a new inspectorate stepping in if concerns were raised. The new independent inspectorate would cover schools, early years, further education and children's services and would be staffed by inspectors based in regional teams with expertise across different areas of provision.

Angela Rayner, shadow secretary of state for education, also pledged to deliver a renewed Sure Start programme called “Sure Start Plus” and offer free nursery education for all two to four-year-olds, as part of Labour’s wide-ranging plans for education reform.

The proposals have received a mixed response from sector organisations who have raised concerns over insufficient funding. Neil Leitch, chief executive of the Early Years Alliance, said:

“Proposals to create more funded hours and reinvest in Sure Start would mean more children have access to a quality early education. It’s an offer that could transform the lives of some of our most disadvantaged children and should be welcomed by anyone interested in social mobility.”

“That said, even without seeing the detail we can be confident these proposals represent an unprecedented financial commitment to early education spending. And that will concern childcare providers, especially when thousands have closed in recent years, many as a direct result of governments overpromising “free” childcare in elections and underfunding in delivery.”

“Broadly speaking, these proposals represent a move in the right direction but, without a firm commitment to ensure funding matches the true cost of delivery, the sector will struggle to take them seriously.”

Last reviewed 30 September 2019