Guidance on writing complaint and compliance action outcome summaries

We publish these summaries when we or the setting need to take action to ensure they are meeting requirements.

Applies to England


We publish outcome summaries about the steps we or the provider have taken to make sure their setting is complying with the requirements for registration. We do this when we have looked into a concern or a notification. It applies to those providers on the Early Years Register. We publish these outcome summaries on the same page as the provider’s reports on our website.

Principles for publishing an outcome summary

When we look into a concern or notification, we will always publish an outcome summary if we or the provider have taken action to meet requirements.

When we take different enforcement action, we will update the existing outcome summary, for example if we move from a welfare requirements notice to cancellation.

When a child has died in the setting, we will refer to the death in the outcome summary unless the parents have indicated that they do not wish this to happen. We will only include this information if the action that we or the provider took relates to the child’s death. We do not publish details of historical deaths at the setting.

When we take enforcement action that is subject to objection and/or appeal, we will still publish an outcome summary. We will make it clear that the provider has the right to challenge our decision.

If a case relates solely to the suitability of a registered person and the registered person is responsible for more than one setting, for example a chain of nurseries, we open a regulatory case for each setting registered to that provider. This allows us to publish an outcome summary for each registered setting. This only applies when the registered person is the same.

We will not publish an outcome summary when:

  • we carry out an inspection, including a priority inspection, a reinspection or an inspection at the end of other regulatory action
  • we suspend a provider’s registration, because suspension is not an enforcement action and we use other ways to let parents and prospective parents know about the suspension; however, an outcome summary may have details of a suspension if we have also taken other enforcement action
  • the provider is only on the Childcare Register, because if we follow up any concerns we will always do this through an inspection

If we inspect a provider, the inspection report will cover any breaches of requirements that we find and details of any action taken.

Complaints about the publication of outcome summaries

If a provider makes a complaint or raises a concern about the publication of an outcome summary, or the details included in the outcome summary, we will follow our normal complaints procedure. In these cases, we will not delay publication of the outcome summary if some action is still in progress. This is because we think that it is important for parents and carers to have up-to-date information. If the outcome of our work changes once we have completed it, we will publish an amended outcome summary. Published outcome summaries remain on our website for 5 years.

Recording outcome summaries

When updating the regulatory case on our system, the inspector must click the ‘create outcome summary’ button within the case to start the process. If an inspector wants to update the outcome summary, they should edit the event that has already been created.

The inspector should specify the outcome of the case and note the reason for this decision. Inspectors should then complete the outcome summary box using the principles below.

Once the outcome summary box is complete, inspectors should specify whether this is a complaint or compliance publication type and choose whether this should be published or not. Outcome summaries can be saved and published at a later date.

When the outcome summary is ready for publication, inspectors should add the current date to the outcome summary when prompted, which will publish or re-publish the information automatically. Publications are updated daily by the system.

Principles of writing and reviewing outcomes summaries

Outcome summaries outline:

  • the requirements the provider must meet
  • the date we received the information
  • what we or the provider did in response

If inspectors find that the provider is meeting some of the requirements of registration but not others, they must report positively on the requirements that the provider is meeting, alongside those that are not met. This also applies when the provider has made a notification.

Decisions that are subject to review

Sometimes, enforcement action we take may change because of a decision made by the Health, Education and Social Care Chamber First-tier Tribunal (the Tribunal) following an appeal, or a court following a prosecution. If this is the case, once the Tribunal or court has made its decision, we will update the outcome summary and republish it.

Objections and appeals

If our enforcement action is subject to an objection to Ofsted or an appeal to the Tribunal, the outcome summary should include the action we are taking, but also state that the provider has objected to our decision or appealed to the Tribunal.

Content of the outcome summary

The outcome summary must include a link to the legal requirements that a provider must meet, and the date we received the information. The summary must also include brief details about the action that we or the provider needed to take as a result of the concern. For example:

All early years providers must meet the legal requirements in the Statutory framework for the early years foundation stage. If we find that a provider is not meeting the requirements, we can take action to ensure they put matters right. On XXXXX, we received concerns that this provider was not meeting some of these requirements. We have served a welfare requirements notice. This is a legal notice that requires the provider to take the actions below within the timescales set out. The provider will be able to give parents further information about this. The provider is still registered with Ofsted.

Please list all actions needed and the dates these should be completed.

And/or if the provider has notified us, insert the following into the action summary:

On XX July XXXX, the provider notified us that XXXX. The notification means that the provider met their legal responsibility as set out in the ‘Statutory framework for the early years foundation stage’ to notify Ofsted of XXXXX.

If we are satisfied with the action taken by the provider, we should say so.

Referencing different types of actions

Welfare requirements notice

If we have served a welfare requirements notice, we should refer to it as set out in the example above.


If we are taking steps to cancel the registration, the summary must make a reference to this. It should also include the statement relating to the provider’s right to object to our action or appeal to the Tribunal against our decision. For example:

We are taking steps to cancel the provider’s registration. The provider has a right to object to our intention to take the step.

Once we know the outcome of the objection or the Tribunal’s decision on the appeal, we must update the information. For example:

We took steps to cancel the provider’s registration. The provider objected to us taking this step. Having heard the provider’s reasons for objecting to this step, we have decided not to proceed with cancellation and the provider remains registered with Ofsted.


We took steps to cancel the provider’s registration. The provider appealed to an independent external tribunal, the Health, Education and Social Care First-tier Tribunal, and it upheld/did not uphold the appeal. The provider remains registered with Ofsted/the provider’s registration is therefore cancelled.


If we decide to prosecute a provider for an offence, the inspector must not include a reference to the prosecution in the initial outcome summary information. However, the summary should make reference to any other action we are taking, such as serving a welfare requirements notice in line with the example above.

If the prosecution is successful, we must update the information to include the details. For example:

We took steps to prosecute the provider for committing an offence of obstruction under section 77 of the Childcare Act 2006. The court found the provider guilty of obstructing an authorised person exercising a power under this section and fined the provider £5,000.

If the provider is found not guilty, then the summary must not include a reference to the prosecution. However, it should include any other action that we took as a result of our inspection.

Ofsted cautions/warning letters

If we decide to offer an Ofsted caution rather than prosecute for an offence admitted by the provider, and the provider accepts the Ofsted caution, then the wording may be:

The provider admitted that they have XXXXX. This is an offence. We served the provider an Ofsted caution, which they accepted. We may take this into account if they commit an offence again when making a decision on whether to prosecute.


An example of wording when we have taken enforcement action and have also taken steps to suspend a provider’s registration is:

We suspended the provider’s registration because we believed children may be at risk of harm. Suspension allows time for the provider to take steps to reduce or eliminate the risk of harm to children.

If the provider has appealed against the suspension, but this is still in place at the time of writing the outcome summary, it should state:

The suspension remains in place while the Health, Education and Social Care First-tier Tribunal hears the appeal. The provider may not provide childcare for which registration is required while the suspension is in place and may commit an offence if they do so.

Once we lift the suspension, we should update the outcome summary to reflect this, for example:

We have now lifted the suspension because the provider took appropriate action to deal with the matter that led to the suspension and we are satisfied that there is now no risk of harm to children.

You can find outcome summaries published on the Ofsted reports website.

Published 4 December 2019
Last updated 15 June 2022 + show all updates
  1. Updated wording around cautions to align with enforcement policy, including making wording gender neutral.

  2. Removed details of our ‘consider at next inspection’ (CANI) work. While routine inspections were suspended, we carried out additional regulatory CANI work as we did not know when a provider’s next inspection would be. As part of this additional regulatory work, we only published outcome summaries where we raised actions for the provider to take.

  3. ‘Principles for publishing an outcome summary’ section updated to reflect that, as part of our focused additional regulatory ‘consider at next inspection’ (CANI) work during COVID-19, we will publish outcome summaries in cases where we raise actions for the provider to take to meet requirements.

  4. First published.