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The journey to excellence

Michael Hart, Director, Children

I am encouraged because our inspections show not only that most registered settings are providing good or outstanding quality care and early education for children, but also that many are improving.

We have reported before on the key roles of high-quality leadership, evaluation and partnership working to secure improvement. Effective leaders know what they are doing well and what contributes to this. They are frank about their weaknesses and use their self-evaluation to improve.

Pursuing quality involves a journey of continual improvement. The journey requires commitment and good organisation. It starts by reflecting on practice, evaluating current outcomes for children, taking steps to do better, and reviewing the impact of these steps.

Leading to excellence shows that most providers are well on the road. Some are travelling fast, others are moving at a slower pace. But a few have yet to begin. We need to see the improvement of every inadequate setting.

There is too much variation. In particular I am concerned that children in more deprived areas do not, on the whole, have access to as much good provision. This cannot help overcome disadvantage. There are exceptions which buck this trend and from which we should learn. We need to ask ourselves how we can work better to close the quality gap.

From September inspections under the Early Years Foundation Stage will continue to focus on what it is like for a child in the setting. They will assess how well the setting meets the needs of every child, including any groups who may be disadvantaged by race, gender or ability. Self-evaluation becomes a central element of inspection.

I hope providers, local authorities and others who promote quality find Leading to excellence a helpful guide for the improvement journey, and that in our inspections we will see even more progress, including for disadvantaged children, as a result.

Ofsted is also trying continually to improve. Please tell us how helpful you found Leading to excellence in your own journey of improvement, by responding on the website or contacting us for a feedback form.

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Michael Hart

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