Leading early years charity National Day Nurseries Association has said it strongly disagrees with the messages delivered in Ofsted's annual report published today.
NDNA Chief Executive Purnima Tanuku OBE said:
"NDNA strongly disputes the idea, which is not backed by Ofsted's own figures that nurseries are letting down children, including those from a disadvantaged background.
"We have to question how Ofsted can draw the conclusion disadvantaged two-year-olds are being failed by nurseries when the scheme to give free places to these children has only just started.The two-year-olds who have taken up free entitlement, most of whom would not have had any early education without it, have not reached reception age so their 'school readiness' cannot be judged.
"Ofsted's figures show the majority of nursery provision is rated good or outstanding and high quality nurseries are specifically designed to cater for the needs of very young children with experienced expert staff trained in early years development.
"A disadvantaged two-year-old in a good quality nursery will be given an invaluable start by the early years professionals who understand their needs. Nurseries can also support the whole family ensuring a child's development is continued when they leave nursery for the day.
"Rather than push toward schools setting up their own nurseries, we should be looking at making full use of the capacity already available in private, voluntary and independent nurseries.
"The most recent figures from Ofsted (October 2013) show around a fifth of nursery provision required improvement, roughly the same amount as schools.
"The two sectors are so similar in their inspection results that if early years care is not working, then schools are not working either and any improvement needs to be universal not limited to one sector. Wherever provision is less than good it needs the right funding and support system to improve.
"Ofsted needs to look closely at the inspection process which is not fit for purpose and instead of trying to sideline the nursery sector, look at the situation from the other side. I would invite Sir Michael to take the time to visit a nursery, speak to the staff and children and get a proper insight into the sector.
"The report also says there is a lack of information for working parents on the quality of childcare. Ofsted has been inspecting early providers since 2001 so we would query how information is lacking. It seems to conflict with proposed changes to the law by DfE which would allow schools to provide care and early education for under- threes without having to be registered on the EYFS.
"We think a two year old should benefit from the protection of full registration and inspection under the EYFS whether the child is at a nursery, childminder or school. Removing it is a backward step which would leave parents with even less information on a school's quality of provision."