Monday, 28 January 2013

Newham is not the worst local authority for early years, whatever the press say

Nursery World's report which names Newham in East London as the "worst authority for early years" gives a misleading impression. 

Although the report clearly says that the league table is based on Ofsted grades, it's important to point out that these are the grades for inspections under the Early Years framework. The large majority of three and four year olds in Newham are in nursery schools and nursery classes attached to primary schools. These are not inspected under this framework.

Looking at the national statistics which show outcomes by the end of the EYFS, Newham's children are above the national average. This is an exceptional achievement given the levels of disadvantage faced by many of the children and their families. Newham is the sixth most deprived borough in England and has one of the highest rates of child poverty.

Those statistics from the DFE also show that pupils in Newham who are eligible for free school meals do particularly well - the gap between that group and the rest, at just 2%, is the lowest in the whole country.

Clearly there is still a lot of work to be done, in order to improve the Ofsted inspection outcomes under the Early Years framework. Whether naming Newham as being "the worst" will help or hinder that improvement is a question that's worth considering in its own right. Personally, I'm doubtful. 

But looking at the statistics overall, I would say that Newham must rank as one of the very best councils for the early years, and certainly not "the worst". 

A version of this letter was originally published in Nursery World

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