NHS Digital and Ofsted collaborated on the Ages and Stages Questionnaire (ASQ-3) and analysed the results.
They analysed data gathered following the two year old assessments that all nursery staff are very familiar with. Disappointingly only 12% of eligible children took part — but their outcomes were improving. When there is a smaller sample, statistical data can deliver variable results. They state, ‘limitations may apply to the interpretation of this data.’ However, in this case some of these results match anecdotal and other intelligence that suggests Black/British boys do not advance in their education and development at this age in the same way as girls.
This is the first characteristic that is mentioned within the data in this report, others are by personal characteristics (gender, ethnicity and first language), and by deprivation (income deprivation affecting children). In all three characteristics Communication in most affected by the results; ’the gender difference in Communication was a substantial contributor towards the lower percentage of males scoring above threshold overall.’
I can almost hear you say well we could have told you that without conducting this analysis. But what does this mean for us? This is all about Narrowing the Gaps and particularly between boys and girls. In the West Midlands 83% of males versus 93% of females scored above the thresholds.
The statistics for ethnicity form the second of the three characteristics. Again it appears that achievement in communication has the most impact on the differences and variables in scores. West Midlands statistics suggest Black/British having the lower scores. ’90 per cent of children whose first language is English (FLE) scored above threshold compared to 84 per cent of children with English as an additional language (EAL); a 6 per cent point difference.’
Areas of deprivation is the third characteristic. Again communication was the most affected aspect of child progress in meeting the thresholds.
NHS Digital welcome your thoughts on how useful this analysis is, however variable in presentation and content. You can contact them with your opinion.
What do we read into this? There remains a focus on Narrowing the Gap for disadvantaged children and for boys who are Black/British especially from areas of deprivation in the area of Communication in particular.
Why is this useful? This helps us focus on where gaps may appear or be present within a setting. Your measure of success is where you can demonstrate improvement over time within the setting, in narrowing gaps previously identified locally. Take care not to overlook other gaps due to this new information though.
What will Ofsted look for: Leadership which has the capacity to analyse the quality of the early years provision they are responsible for, by their ability to Narrow these or other Gaps for individual children. Make sure you are tracking progress effectively in order to evidence this.
About the author: Esther Gray
Esther is a renowned and respected expert in early years education and regulation in England. She qualified as NNEB and achieved a BTEC Level 6 in Investigative Practice, amongst others, while working for Ofsted.
For four decades she has honed and used her skills to support and advise providers of childcare and education. Until retirement from Ofsted in March 2017, Esther was focused upon the legal requirements, regulatory matters and compliance with the EYFS required by the Department for Education.