Early years inspection handbook

Ofsted guidance on inspecting registered early years and childcare providers under the education inspection framework.

Applies to England



You can also read ‘Ofsted EIF inspections and the EYFS – what early years providers need to know about inspection and the EYFS.

This handbook is primarily a guide for Ofsted inspectors on how to carry out inspections.

We also publish this for childcare providers so that they are aware of Ofsted’s inspection processes and procedures under the education inspection framework (EIF).

Updates to this page

Published 14 May 2019
Last updated 5 April 2024 + show all updates
  1. See 'Summary of changes'.

  2. See 'Summary of changes'.

  3. We are in the process of updating this handbook to reflect the changes mentioned in our statement published on 7 December. We have also updated the handbook to reflect updates to the DfE’s EYFS.

  4. See 'Summary of changes'.

  5. See 'Summary of changes'.

  6. See 'Summary of changes' document.

  7. See 'Summary of changes' document.

  8. Added updated guidance for September 2022. See 'Summary of changes' for more information.

  9. See 'Summary of changes' for details of the updates.

  10. Please see 'Summary of changes'.

  11. Moved the current handbook (which applies from 1 September 2021) to the top of the page. Clarified the period covered by the previous handbook.

  12. See 'Summary of changes' document.

  13. See 'Summary of changes' document.

  14. Edits throughout: please see 'Summary of changes' for more information.

  15. Updated with minor changes as we launch the education inspection framework (EIF).

  16. First published.

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