Last reviewed 11 December 2020

Ofsted has announced its plans for a phased return to routine inspection in early years settings and schools in 2021.

From the start of the spring term, Ofsted will carry out a programme of “assurance inspections” which will not result in a judgement of quality but will confirm whether or not providers are meeting the early years foundation stage (EYFS) requirements.

Assurance inspections will be proportionate and risk-based and early years providers will be prioritised based on the length of time since their last inspection, and any other relevant information. Ofsted has published further details on assurance inspections for early years providers in new guidance effective from January 2021.

Routine graded inspections will now resume in the summer term of 2021. Inspections had originally been set to resume from January, but this has been put back due to the ongoing challenges of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Ofsted also confirmed that they will discuss the approach to routine inspection in 2021 with sector representatives over the coming months and test it through a series of pilot visits, where necessary.

Amanda Spielman, chief inspector at Ofsted, said:

“The usual level of scrutiny within the education and care system has been absent since last March, so it’s important that it returns next year as we all hope for a greater level of normality. But we understand the pressure that everyone in education and social care is working under and we want to return to our usual work in a measured, sensitive and practical way.”

"We will not re-introduce graded inspections to schools and colleges before April. During the spring term, we will use supportive monitoring inspections to help those that most need it, focused on how well pupils and students are learning. Routine inspections in early years and social care are also planned for the summer term, but regulatory work will continue in the interim.”

"Our role is to offer the greatest assurance we can to parents and the public about the quality of education and care arrangements for children and learners. These plans will help us support the providers who are facing the greatest challenges during these difficult times. They will ensure that inspection is fair, safe and valuable, while remaining true to our core purpose and principles.”