Preparing for an early years Ofsted inspection — toolkit

What is the purpose of an inspection?

Note: As a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, routine graded inspections have been suspended and are currently set to resume in the summer term of 2021.

Inspection provides independent, external evaluation which drives up standards and provides assurance to the public and the Government that minimum standards of childcare, education, and skills are being met.

Why should you prepare?

Preparing for an inspection gives you a positive opportunity to help you identify weaknesses, make improvements and demonstrate your strengths and qualities to inspectors, ultimately leading to the best judgment rating possible.

What do you need to do?

  1. Be prepared for an inspection any time. Find out how often Ofsted is likely to carry out inspections.

  2. Make sure you have access to the documents and information that Ofsted might want to see during an inspection. Find a list of documents here.

  3. Ensure you have all the required polices under the EYFS and that they are up to date. Find a list of polices required under the EYFS with links to model documents here.

  4. Be prepared to demonstrate a high regard to safeguarding. Although it is not a defined judgment area of its own, every inspection will include a focus on how well children are protected so that they are kept safe. Find a Safeguarding Children model policy here.

  5. Keep records of disclosure and barring service checks.

  6. Ensure that all previous concerns or complaints have been followed up and that there are clear records to show how the provision has learnt and improved. Find a Complaints model policy here. See also a Handling Complaints in Early Years Settings staff training presentation which you can distribute to staff.

  7. Complete a self-evaluation form to document your progress, highlight your strengths and address any areas of weakness or concern. Self-evaluation is optional but Ofsted will expect providers to have quality monitoring systems in place and to address any issues. Ofsted removed the SEF from its website in March 2018, but Croner-i provides a template self-evaluation form here, based on the Ofsted SEF. If you have one, you can also use your previous inspection report to assess yourself.

Useful documents