Select Committee on Merits of Statutory Instruments Eighteenth Report


Further information from the Department for Children, Schools and Families

Q1: What was the extent of support for pre, or post, registration visits? Can you spell out more fully why DCSF does not support this idea? Is it simply on cost grounds?

A1: This issue regarding registration visits was raised in response to the consultation question on "Does the information being requested with the application provide a good sense of how the provider measures up against the requirements?". In response 36% of respondents agreed (2% strongly) and 32% disagreed with the proposals. 19% disagreed strongly. 8% had no strong opinion. About half of the 32% responses that disagreed with this question included comments about the proposal not to have a pre or post-registration visit for the GCR. The points they made were that the requirements for the GCR should match those for the EYR (including the pre/post registration visit). Providers applying on the Early Years register (0-5 years) will in all cases be subject to a pre-registration visit to check that the applicants have met the requirements and likely to continue to met the requirements, particularly in relation to Early Years Foundation Stage.

The GCR on the other hand is based in part on the higher age group and the amount of time that children spend in the provision (as these children will be going to school). Therefore it is not necessary to prescribe the same level of childcare and approach to registration. This is also within the context of DCSF/HMT 10-year Childcare Strategy - "Choice for parents, the best start for children", the Gershon review of public sector efficiency and the Hampton review of regulatory inspections and enforcement.

We therefore agreed that a pre-registration will not be compulsory for the GCR in all applications, however OFSTED still retain the right to request additional information or to inspect the premises if it considers this is necessary in order to satisfy itself that the provision meets the requirements. It is also important to note that providers will have to confirm annually that they are continuing to meet the requirements in order to remain registered and OFSTED will always inspect following a complaint. OFSTED have also assured us that the application procedure allows them to assess whether the provision has met the registration requirements.

Q2: How do you expect to determine the basis for inspections which are to be carried out "proportionally on the basis of risk to children"? How do you know what the risk is if no inspection is carried out?

A2: We agreed that a proportion of providers are inspected are carried out each year. This proportion will amount to around 10% of providers registered on the OFSTED Childcare Register and OFSTED will decide how they identify these providers. I understand that they will look at the type of provider, number of children being cared for, area and other information provided as part of registration. Again this approach is in line with moves more widely across the public and private sector to streamline inspections and use them in a more targeted way.

Risk will also be determined by the level of complaints which will trigger an inspection in all cases. Given the unpredictable nature of complaints, this could mean that some providers are inspected more than once in the year. In addition, OFSTED retain the right to increase the proportion of inspections or vary how they target inspection if necessary.

April 2008

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