An update from Ofsted for our members

21st July 2020

As the UK's largest childcare platform with over 2 million members, we are pleased to be able to share this exclusive update from Ofsted about registration and inspection visits

Some things change – some stay the same!

Here at Ofsted we have been, like you, going through a massive upheaval during the COVID-19 crisis. We’ve been deploying inspectors and other staff to local authorities, other government departments, children’s homes and a home-learning helpline for parents. Some of us have become emergency foster carers.

We need to, and we know you want us to, start putting in place plans for how we return to normal – or perhaps a new kind of normal. We know that pre-registration visits are vital if we – as a sector - are going to get people back to work and do our part to get the economy on its feet. It’s vital that new childminders can register, new early years settings can be established and new branches of already established settings can open. These visits might be a bit different.

Inspectors will do more preparation off-site than previously and will spend as little time as is workable on-site. Before the registration visit, an inspector will call you to arrange the visit time and discuss whether you have any fears or concerns relating to COVID-19. The inspector will talk with you about current government guidelines and set out the plan for the on-site visit, so everyone is aware of any extra precautions that need to be in place. This includes maintaining a suitable distance and other protective measures such as hand washing and face coverings.

As part of the visit, the inspector will need to tour the premises, complete the usual identity checks and discuss aspects of safeguarding on site. Some other aspects of the process may happen over the phone or through a video call to minimise time on-site.

Completing some of the process off-site may take a bit longer, but it’s safer for everyone. What we can’t do is make it simpler by taking out some of the steps; I am sure you agree that it is vital for Ofsted to make sure that only those who are suitable to look after children are registered.

If you are waiting for a non-domestic premises registration visit, where the site isn’t already open and only one other person is present, then it may be that the full process is completed on-site. This is because we will be able to social distance and maintain the safety and well-being of both providers and the inspector.

If you are struggling to be ready to open due to household or staff illness or other valid reason, you can defer your pre-registration visit for up to 16 weeks. You should discuss this with the inspector when they phone you to arrange the visit.

We aren’t inspecting early years and childcare settings in the autumn – or even visiting. You may have heard that we plan to visit schools as part of a programme of support, but that doesn’t apply to early years settings. We are carrying out regulatory work if we have a concern.

You can keep up to date with new information by following the Ofsted coronavirus (COVID-19) rolling update.

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