Ofsted Publishes Major New Survey On Foundation Stage

Most Foundation Stage settings provide effective education and care, according to a new Ofsted report, The Foundation Stage: a survey of 144 settings.  However, the quality of provision varies between them.

Ofsted visited a variety of different settings, including primary and special schools, first schools, nursery schools and children’s centres, to evaluate standards, achievement and the quality of provision for children aged three to five.

The report found that leadership and management of the Foundation Stage was good or better in almost two thirds of the settings.   Teaching was good or better in seven out of ten settings, with meticulous planning of activities that built on positive relationships and combined skills teaching with imaginative enjoyment.

Standards were higher than expected in aspects of personal, social, emotional and physical development. However, standards in communication, language and literacy were lower than expected in one third of settings visited.

Most children achieved well in the majority of the early learning goals. However, achievement was lower in calculation, early reading and writing, a sense of time and place, an understanding of culture and beliefs, and imaginative play because practitioners gave these too little attention.

Girls achieved better than boys in all areas of learning. Children with learning disabilities usually did well; some more able children underachieved.  

Inspectors found that parents appreciated the high level of care their children received, but many settings did not involve parents in children’s progress enough.

Miriam Rosen, Ofsted’s Director for Education, said: “Parents need to be assured that the quality of integrated learning and care is consistent, regardless of which setting their child attends. Children’s low achievement in reading, writing and calculation in some settings must be tackled so they are able to achieve the best possible outcomes to set them on the right path for their future education.”

The survey’s findings provide a baseline from which the success of the Early Years Foundation Stage may be measured when it is implemented from September 2008, and subsequently inspected by Ofsted.