Governing body Ofsted has been accused of putting pre-schoolers at risk as a backlog of inspections at nurseries and pre-schools continues to grow.

In research carried out by Sky News, it was discovered that a quarter of early years providers have not been inspected for up to 4 years.

The Head of Policy and Research at the Family and Childcare Trust has said that they are exposing children to unknown dangers. She continued: "Ultimately it does increase risks to children,"

Neil Leitch, Chief Executive of the Pre-school Learning Alliance, has released a statement pushing for answers from Ofsted.

"If you've got providers out there that haven't been inspected for years and years and years that's not a healthy position and that's not, if you like, fit for purpose," he said.


A cause for concern

It is reported that the backlog has been caused by Ofsted quietly resetting the clock on inspections back in September 2012.

In a statement released by Ofsted they have said that all early years providers "must be inspected at least once within 47 months".

“The current cycle began on 1st September 2012 and will end on 31 July 2016."

Under the Freedom of Information Act, Sky News accessed data on inspections of settings on England's Early Years Register as of 31 March 2014.

Out of 77,509 registered nurseries and childminders, 19,204 have been waiting for an inspection for a minimum of four years.

342 of those 19,204 have never been inspected and 3,655 were judged as “satisfactory”

The information accessed also shows that 611 settings have been waiting for inspection for 6 years or more.

Back in 2005, Ofsted extended the interval at which childminders and nurseries were inspected from 2 to 4 years saving an estimated £4.7m a year. At the time they released a statement saying:

"It could be argued that the proposed reduced inspection frequency for childcare providers might lead to very young children being at greater risk."

How can we trust Ofsted to ensure our children are getting the best possible care if they are unable to keep up with demand?

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