Being inspected as a children's centre: guidance for providers

Children’s centre groups will have one inspection and one report. Single children’s centres will have their own inspection and report.

This guidance was withdrawn on

This guidance is no longer in use.

The inspection will look at how you:

  • help families with young children access your services, including those families who find it difficult or are unwilling to do so
  • improve the wellbeing of young children and their families

When you’ll be inspected

Your inspection can take place at any time.

How often you are inspected will depend on how well you are doing, so some centres will be inspected more often than others.

Getting notice of an inspection

You will normally get up to 3 days’ notice of an inspection, unless there are concerns related to children’s welfare

Before the inspection

The lead inspector will explain what you need to do to prepare for the inspection.

You or your local authority will need to give the lead inspector:

  • details of how the centre is run and managed
  • your self-evaluation form, action plan and activity programme; there is guidance to help you with your self-evaluation

You must tell families using the centre an inspection is going to take place and how they can meet inspectors. You must also tell the local authority and partner agencies.

During the inspection

Inspectors will gather evidence including:

  • information from you, the local authority and partner agencies
  • your self-evaluation
  • how families benefit from your services
  • inspections of the Early Years Foundation Stage for the centre’s registered childcare providers

Inspectors will:

  • observe activities
  • interview centre leaders/key contacts, staff, parents, prospective parents, and others, such as childminders
  • look at policies and procedures
  • give you feedback

After the inspection

You will have a feedback meeting where inspectors will tell you the judgements and explain any aspects judged inadequate or outstanding.

The inspector will send you and the local authority a report with your judgements. The local authority has 2 months to prepare an action plan in response to the report’s recommendations.

Inspection reports are usually published online within 15 working days of the inspection. If the centre’s overall effectiveness is judged inadequate, the report is published within 25 working days.

Complaints about inspections

At the feedback meeting the lead inspector will explain the complaints process.

Further guidance

You can read the full documents and guidance for children’s centre inspections.

Published 3 December 2014