Ofsted is the Office for Standards in Education, Children’s Services and Skills. They inspect and regulate services which care for children and young people, and those providing education and skills for learners of all ages. Providers will be required to register and Ofsted will undertake an inspection of the provision.
Childcare that is provided at any time for children under eight years, on premises other than domestic premises, for more than a total of two hours a day, must be registered and inspected under the Children Act 1989. Providing childcare without being registered is an offence and could lead to prosecution and sizeable fines.
Ofsted regulate for the following reasons:
Ofsted's Annual Report examines the quality of schools, early years, children's social care and further education and skills.
There are two registers which childcare providers can apply to join. A childcare provider can apply to join one register or both registers at the same time (depending on the age ranges of the children they intend to care for).
The Childcare Register is for people for whom registration is either:
The Early Years Register is for people for whom registration is compulsory, because they care for children aged under 5 and the child/children attend for a total of more than two hours in any one day. All pre-schools and day nurseries must be registered on the Early Years Register.
Ofsted have produced the following guides for registration
Inspectors of Early Years education focus on the quality of the service for individual children and young people. During an inspection, inspectors collect first-hand evidence based on the practice they observe and what they learn from the people using the service. They use this evidence and other information available to make their professional judgements which they publish in inspection reports.
If providers become aware that they are to be inspected, they must notify parents and/or carers. After an inspection, providers must supply a copy of the report to parents and/or carers of children attending on a regular basis.
For a range of early years providers, Ofsted also act as a regulator, checking that people, premises and the services provided are suitable to care for children and potentially vulnerable young people. Where childcare providers do not meet the required standards, Ofsted require them to take the necessary action to improve or do not license them to operate. However setting up and operating early years provision also entails compliance with other statutory requirements, for example those relating to planning and building control, health and safety, employment law, food and hygiene, disability and anti-discriminatory legislation. These are not within Ofsted’s remit.
Being Inspected as a childminder or childcare provider is guidance produced by Ofsted for inspections.