Market Rasen’s MP has slammed Ofsted’s ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach to cultural diversity, describing its decision to withdraw a critical nursery report as a ‘glimmer of sanity’ from the education inspector.
Conservative MP Sir Edward Leigh has spoken out after Ofsted withdrew a report which criticised Market Rasen’s Town and Country Kiddies because its three-year-olds did not know enough about other cultures.
Inspectors downgraded the nursery from ‘outstanding’ to ‘good’ - and Sir Edward is calling for this decision to be overturned.
He told the Rasen Mail: “I am pleased that a glimmer of sanity has emerged from Ofsted on this issue.
“In a constituency with some of the lowest levels of diversity in the country it is unrealistic to apply one-size-fits-all standards.
“I hope that the case review will restore the ‘outstanding’ status of the excellent local childcare provider.”
Residents have also spoken out against Ofsted’s report.
Reader Chelsea Noble said: “Town and Country is a lovely nursery and encourage learning about lots of different cultures and understanding that everyone is different.
“I worked in a North London nursery and found T&C a breath of fresh air especially the focus on outdoor learning rather than obsessing over being culturally diverse enough. Obviously all businesses are not perfect and can always make improvements to progress.”
Ofsted changed its boundaries in September 2015 - and now schools and nurseries have to meet additional criteria to get ‘outstanding’.
The Ofsted report praised the nursery on several aspects but stated: “Staff do not provide enough opportunities for children to develop a strong sense of belonging at the nursery and to learn about people who are different to themselves.”
One Rasen Mail reader said: “Why do the PC brigade have to make a problem when there isn’t one to start with?
“These children will learn all about life as they progress through life and different schools. What a stupid world we live in these days.”
And another reader, Janet Booth Staves, simply said: “Be off with you [Ofsted], and leave us be.”
Town and Country Kiddies owner Louise Davies said she was happy with the majority of the inspection report.
But she hit out at Ofsted, saying it had some ‘unrealistic’ expectations.
Ms Davies said: “There are things they’d like us to do over and above - children having understanding of other people and different cultures.
“It comes with living in the community where there isn’t a great deal of cultural and ethnic diversity.
“They’re not seeing that on a day to day basis, unlike nurseries in London where they do have it on a day to day basis.”
And she has thanked Sir Edward for his support.
She said: “I would like to thank our local MP for his support with regard to the Ofsted Inspection issue and for his acknowledgement of the positive contribution that the nursery makes within the local community.”
The report praised the nursery for its excellent relationship with parents, phonics teaching and highly motivated children - and it said many elements of care were ‘outstanding’.
An Ofsted spokesman said: “We are aware of the concerns around our inspection of Town and Country Kiddies Nursery, and have taken the report down from our website while we look into the matter.
“All early years providers must follow the statutory guidance as directed by the Department for Education, which includes “guiding children to make sense of their physical world and their community through opportunities to explore, observe and find out about people, places, technology and the environment”.
“The guidance goes on to state that children should “know about similarities and differences between themselves and others, and among families, communities and traditions”.
“Inspectors have a duty to follow these guidelines during every inspection and will naturally reference them in their reports.”