Ofsted to resume early years inspections

1 April 2021

Ofsted has confirmed that onsite education inspection framework (EIF) inspections of registered early years providers will begin from 4 May 2021.

Setting out its plans for the summer term, Ofsted said it will prioritise early years providers:

  • judged less than good at their last inspection (including those who received an interim visit in the autumn term)

  • that registered recently but have not been inspected

  • whose first inspection is overdue

  • that were not inspected in the last inspection cycle due to the pause in routine inspection.

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

In the notification call before an inspection, early years providers and inspectors will agree safety measures to ensure the inspection is Covid-19 secure. Inspectors will also take a lateral flow test before arriving at the setting.

Some elements of the inspection may be undertaken via videocall, where necessary, although this will only usually be used for speaking to parents/carers or leaders who are unable to attend the setting. Providers who are experiencing active cases of Covid-19 at the time of inspection will be able to request a deferral.

Ofsted said that any “full” EIF inspections carried out in the summer term will maintain the four key judgments, but with additional flexibility in recognition of current contexts. It is also piloting changes to inspection methods to take account of the challenges raised by Covid-19 and will publish an updated set of EIF handbooks after the Easter break.

For schools, the majority of Ofsted’s activity will continue to be lighter-touch monitoring inspections in the summer term with a return to a full programme of inspections from September 2021.

Education Secretary Gavin Williamson said:

“I have asked Ofsted to resume inspections in the summer term in a way that is fair and proportionate to schools and other settings that we know are still emerging from the immediate impact of the pandemic, whilst making sure parents have the necessary reassurance that only Ofsted can bring.”

“I will continue working closely with HM Chief Inspector, Amanda Spielman, to make sure plans are in place as we work towards the inspection regime returning in full from September.”

Further information can be found on Ofsted’s COVID-19 rolling update.