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Early years Ofsted inspection and handbook

Ofsted approach

Ofsted will continue to be sensitive to the challenges presented by the pandemic and will always take that context into account. They recognise that providers have worked hard to provide a safe place for young children during these difficult times, helping working parents and the community to withstand the pressures.

Ofsted want to find out how well settings are helping children to thrive, both emotionally and in their education. It’s particularly important that children from poorer families, who may have lost out on the vital foundations of early learning during the pandemic, get back on track:

  • so the educational gap does not get wider
  • to make sure that no child gets left behind

Carrying out inspections

All inspections will be carried out on site wherever possible. However, some elements of the inspection may be through video or telephone calls. Inspectors will agree this with the provider at the start of the inspection. This will usually only involve parents or carers, and those with leadership responsibility, who are unable to attend the setting.

Ofsted have confirmed a move to a 6-year inspection window. Each provider has their own inspection window determined by their last inspection judgement.

How Ofsted prioritise

They will take a proportionate and risk-based approach to who is inspected first.

Ofsted aim to inspect, or reinspect' the following settings:

  • new settings - within 30 months of registration
  • requires improvement grade - within 1 year
  • inadequate grade - within 6 months

Providers will be prioritised by who:

  • were judged less than good at their last inspection, which includes those who received an interim visit in the autumn term
  • have recently registered and not been inspected, and whose first inspection is overdue
  • were not inspected in the last inspection cycle due to the pause in routine inspection

Ofsted will also continue to carry out any urgent inspections where there are significant concerns about a provider.