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Ofsted Childcare Providers and Inspections

The process of being inspected as a childcare provider ensures compliance with registration requirements. Check how to prepare for an inspection, how often Ofsted inspect childminders, and how the grading system works.

OFSTED INSPECTIONS: You should prepare to get inspected if you want to register as a childminder or a childcare provider.

Home visits take place after you are registered. The aim is to verify you are meeting the requirements for learning and development (and safety).

So, what happens if you fail to meet Ofsted registration requirements?

In this case, they will inform you what improvements to make and how long you have to become compliant.

The register you are on determines when the inspections take place.

Note: As a rule, Ofsted inspectors will carry out both inspections at the same time for anyone registered on the Early Years Register and the Childcare Register.

The Childcare Register

Being registered ONLY on the Childcare Register means you could get inspected at any time. Afterwards, they will send out a letter that informs you whether you met all the requirements.

You can search for Ofsted inspection reports they have published about childminders, childcare providers, schools, and colleges.

Note: You can read further guidelines on how Ofsted inspects childcare services only recorded on the Childcare Register.

The Early Years Register

Anyone registered on the Early Years Register should expect an inspection within the first thirty (30) months after registering. Following that, you should get at least one more visit during each inspection cycle.

Note: Ofsted inspections also occur any time they get a report of someone’s concerns about childcare provision.

Getting Notice of Ofsted Inspections

So, how do you get notice of an inspection if you are running an organisation (e.g. a nursery or a playgroup)?

In this case, you would receive a telephone call at midday (or afternoon) on the working day before the inspection goes ahead. They would still inspect you even if the inspector was unable to confirm it in a phone call.

What about childminders or childcare providers who operate irregular hours?

They would receive a telephone call up to five (5) days before a planned inspection to check what days they are working. So, you would get notice of the inspection start time, but not the actual day that Ofsted inspectors would conduct it.

Note: Ofsted would ask the occupier for permission to conduct an inspection if a home childcarer works there. They can carry out an inspection without warning if they have concerns about the childcare you are providing.

1. Before an Ofsted Inspection

You will need to inform the parents of the child you are looking after that an inspection is going to take place.

2. During an Ofsted Inspection

The inspector will be from the Office for Standards in Education, Children’s Services and Skills (Ofsted). During the course of a childminder or childcare provider inspection, they will:

  • Make observations while watching the children at play.
  • Talk to the childminder and to the children.
  • Observe how the childminder and the children interact.
  • Check if the children take part in learning activities and their levels of understanding.
  • Discuss the children’s knowledge, skills, and abilities with the childminder.
  • Observe basic care routines and how they support the personal development of the children.
  • Evaluate the childminder’s knowledge of the early years foundation stage (EYFS).

You will get some immediate feedback from the inspector. They will also give explanations on anything that needs to happen as part of any improvements.

3. After an Ofsted Inspection

The final report you receive will contain your grading for the inspection. You may also get some extra information on how to do better, (if there are any improvement areas to work on).

  • Grade 1: Outstanding
    Being graded ‘outstanding’ means you can use the Ofsted outstanding provider logo as promotion on your stationery and website. You can read more about using the Ofsted logos (which are protected under Crown Copyright).
  • Grade 2: Good
  • Grade 3: Requires improvement
  • Grade 4: Inadequate
    Being graded ‘inadequate’ means you will be inspected again within the next six (6) months. They will inform you what needs doing to remain registered, and how much time you have to get it done.

Note: Receiving a grading of ‘4’ means they will inform your local authority about the result. In some cases, it can affect eligibility for funding.

Judged as ‘Inadequate with Enforcement’

Several things will happen if you get judged as ‘inadequate with enforcement’. First off, you get monitored by an inspector.

Inspectors will also make extra visits to check how you are progressing on the areas they pointed out as needing some improvement.

Childminders may face further action by Ofsted if their findings do not improve. If you get judged as inadequate for two (2) consecutive inspections, Ofsted may decide to cancel your registration.

Note: You can get further information on what the grades mean by reading the early years inspection handbook.

All inspection reports get published online within ten (10) working days of the childminder receiving it. Even so, childminders are responsible for giving a copy of the report to the parents of the children they look after (and to anyone else who asks for a copy).

Complain about Ofsted Inspection

Schools, childcare providers, and other institutions can complain about an Ofsted inspection report. As a rule, the problem must relate to:

  • The process of being inspected as a childminder or childcare provider.
  • The outcome and the result of the inspection.
  • The way Ofsted inspectors conducted the inspection (e.g. their behaviour).

Childcare Providers Being Inspected: Procedures in United Kingdom