A tougher inspection regime for nurseries and pre-school facilities is being introduced by children’s services watchdog Ofsted on Monday.
Latest figures show more than 150,000 pre-schoolers are at settings which are not considered good enough by inspectors.
From today only those give an outstanding or good rating will be exempt from intervention and those failing to achieve these standards could face having their registration cancelled - closing them down.
The ratings are being changed to bring them into line with schools - so there will no longer be satisfactory nurseries. Instead, they will be told they require improvement.
At present 18 per cent of provision is considered less than good and one per cent inadequate - covering facilities for 157, 778 children.
All those considered to be under-performing will be re-inspected within two years while those classed as inadequate will be re-inspected within months..
Sir Michael Wilshaw, chief executive of Ofsted, said inspectors would be tougher on poor nurseries and free schools because “no-one thinks they should be allowed to languish in their inadequacy”.
“I wouldn’t have wanted my child to go to an inadequate nursery and I don’t believe that any other parent would either - so we’re going to be less tolerant,” he added. “When we go back to re0inspect an inadequate setting and it hasn’t improved, it’s likely that we may take steps to cancel the registration.”
However, Davina Ludlow, director of daynurseries.co.uk, warned: “While we believe that every child deserves the very best education, we are concerned about the impact this ‘downgrade’ could have on nurseries and hard-working staff members.
“The change being brought in by Ofsted risks adversely impacting staff motivation, resulting in more harm than good.”