Ofsted has published its Annual Report for 2018-2019 revealing that 96% of early years providers were judged good or outstanding.

However, although the quality of providers is improving overall, the gap between nurseries in the least deprived and most deprived areas of England has increased.

The report also shows that the total number of early years providers has fallen from the previous year, mostly due to a decline in childminder numbers. However, the number of childcare places on the early years register has remained stable, indicating an increase in the average number of places per setting over time.

More nurseries are now classed as being in a group and those that are part of a larger organisation are more likely to be rated as outstanding, suggesting strong practice can be shared effectively across the whole chain. Ofsted has confirmed that although there may be benefits of having a different inspection model for nursery chains in the future, they will still continue to inspect settings individually, in addition to any collective analysis that might take place.

Liz Bayram, chief executive at the Professional Association for Childcare and Early Years (PACEY), said:

“We're celebrating that 96% of early years providers are good or outstanding, but we're at a crossroads.”

“The childcare sector is changing. There is ongoing decline in the number of people choosing to become a childminder; the number of small nursery and pre-school providers is reducing with the rise of large nursery chains. Without careful management by local authorities and Government this is going to lead to less choice for families. Action will need to be taken to support the many small providers whose sustainability is most at risk of continued underfunding of early education entitlements.”

Ofsted’s full report is available here.

Last reviewed 7 February 2020