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Giving children the best start in life

Posted by: , Posted on: - Categories: Early years

In this blog post, Chris explains what we'll be doing as part of our strategy for early years education.

Ofsted strategy

In April 2022, we published our new strategy, which sets out what we hope to achieve over the next 5 years.

One aspect we’re particularly committed to is to develop what we know about early years education and to use that knowledge to raise awareness and promote a better understanding of good early education and care. Because it's so important for children to receive good quality education in their formative years, we have called this part of our strategy ‘The best start in life’.

When we launched the strategy, Chief Inspector Amanda Spielman said:

Each of us has only one childhood, and it shapes the rest of our lives. That’s why this strategy has a particular emphasis on giving all children the best possible start. Our work should help make sure a child’s earliest experience of education is as good as it can be. It should also help make sure that children who need extra help have the right support in place, both within and outside education.

We know that a good early education sets the foundation for children’s later success. A good early education:

  • enables a strong start at school
  • can avoid unnecessary labelling of children with special educational needs
  • increases children’s engagement with school-age education
  • reduces poor behaviour.

But not all children get a good early education.

To further develop our understanding of what high-quality early years learning and development looks like, we're going to focus research in this area. We’ll share our findings at every stage. We’ll also use what we learn in our inspector training.

We want our research to be helpful for those working directly with children, so we’ll also ask early years leaders to tell us how they’re using it.

Early years research reviews

Over the next year, we’ll publish a 3-part research review that will focus on the pre-school age-range, from birth to 4 years.

We're publishing the 1st part later this month. It will explain the current context of early education for children from birth to 4. It will also be the first stage of our investigation into the factors of a high-quality early education.

The second part of the research review will focus on the 3 prime areas of learning as set out in the early years foundation stage. The third part of the review will look at the 4 specific areas of learning.

This 3-part review builds on the research we did for the education inspection framework (EIF).

Sharing our thinking about inspection and curriculum in the early years

Since launching the EIF in September 2019, we have delivered many curriculum roadshows for early years providers and schools and spoken at many conferences. In all of these, we have highlighted the importance of communication and language and how we look at these when inspecting.

The feedback from these events has always been very positive. People often tell us that the events have been useful and helped them improve practice at their settings. However, we know that not everyone is aware of these events or able to attend. So, we will continue to share this information in a number of ways, including here, on our YouTube channel or on SlideShare, as well as on our website.

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