Inspecting early years and childcare
We inspect early years settings to judge the quality and standards for the welfare, learning and development of children which are set out in the Statutory Framework for the Early Years Foundation Stage.
We carry out inspections with little or no notice to ensure we can see the setting as it normally is. An inspection takes no more than half a day and is carried out by one inspector.
During their visit, the inspector will look at how well the children are looked after - whatever their need; how well the setting is led and managed; how children are helped to learn; and how children are helped to develop more generally in their health and social well-being.
Inspectors give each setting one of four grades:
To reach an overall judgement, inspectors will ask themselves 'What is it like for a child here?'
We inspect childcare providers to check that they comply with all the requirements of registration, but we do not make any judgements about the quality of their setting.
During the inspection, which normally takes up to two hours, the inspectors:
- talk to the children to see what they think of their care,
- talk to the provider and staff members to see if the requirements of registration are in place and that the provider is keeping to the requirements of registration
- check the requirements which relate to people, premises and provision.
The inspection result will be measured in one of three ways, indicating how well the provider is meeting the requirements of registration. They are:
- not met – and notice to improve
- not met – and enforcement measures taken.
- Are you ready for your inspection? A guide to inspections of provision on Ofsted's Childcare and Early Years Registers
- Using the early years evaluation schedule: guidance for inspectors of registered early years settings required to deliver the Early Years Foundation Stage
- Guidance on inspecting providers registered on both the Childcare and Early Years Registers
- Conducting early years inspections
- Conducting Childcare Register inspections
- Framework for the regulation of those on the Early Years and Childcare Registers
- To help providers, we have a suite of factsheets.
- Committee-run registered childcare provision
- Concerns and complaints about childcare providers
- Criminal Records Bureau (CRB) checks for those providers who register with Ofsted
- Exemption from the learning and development requirements
- Giving medication to children in registered childcare
- Requirements for risk assessments
- Requirements of the Early Years Register
- The next steps: when a provider is judged inadequate or is not complying with requirements
- Triggers for inspections of those on the Early Years and Childcare Registers
- These factsheets are only for early years and childcare providers.
- These factsheets are only for childminders.
- Information topics provide a resource for providers of childcare, but will also be of use to parents and carers. The information contained is neither statutory guidance nor exhaustive; it is supplementary information of topics common to childcare and will be updated quarterly.