Guidance

Ofsted: coronavirus (COVID-19) rolling update

Ofsted guidance and information relating to coronavirus (COVID-19) for schools, early years, children's social care and further education and skills providers.

Government advice

Coronavirus (COVID-19): what you need to do includes information on:

  • how to protect yourself and others
  • employment and financial support
  • school closures, education, and childcare
  • businesses and other organisations
  • healthcare workers and carers
  • travel
  • how coronavirus is affecting public services
  • how you can help

There are answers to questions like:

There is also advice for employers and information for employees.

Inspections

We have suspended all routine inspections of schools, further education, early years and social care providers. The Secretary of State has allowed Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector to do this.

Urgent inspections where specific concerns have been raised can still go ahead. This will allow us to prioritise the immediate safety of children where necessary.

As far as we are able, we will continue to carry out our important regulatory work to help maintain social care provision for the most vulnerable children. We will operate as a proportionate and responsible regulator, in what we know are challenging times, focused on children’s safeguarding and well-being.

We are in daily contact with the Department for Education (DfE) to discuss the COVID-19 outbreak and its impact across education and social care.

Inspection reports

We will not be publishing reports from our recent inspections of schools, further education and early years providers until they reopen as normal for all children/students. We will continue to publish a small number of reports from recent social care inspections.

Sending us documents

If we have previously asked you to post documents to us, please either scan or photograph them and send with your unique reference number (URN) to enquiries@ofsted.gov.uk. You can find your URN on your registration, your inspection report(s), and on your Ofsted reports page.

Due to COVID-19 (coronavirus), there are likely to be delays in reviewing incoming post.

Early years and childcare

At this time, you do not need to let us know if you are closed due to COVID-19 (coronavirus), whether that’s because you are not caring for the children of critical workers or vulnerable children, or because you are ill.

The DfE has published new guidance for Ofsted-registered childcare providers about childcare provision following the outbreak of coronavirus (COVID-19).

You should continue to tell us if you are resigning your registration. To do this, email enquiries@ofsted.gov.uk from your email address that we have on your registration and include your unique reference number (URN). You can find this on your registration, your inspection report(s), and on your setting’s Ofsted reports page.

If your paediatric first aid certificate is due to expire, see advice from the Health and Safety Executive. It has announced a 3-month extension to the validity for all certificates coming up for renewal on or after 16 March.

Nannies

Nannies on the voluntary part of the Childcare Register should follow government guidance on isolation. We suggest you discuss this with the family you work for to see if it is appropriate for you to carry on working.

Children’s social care

All routine inspections have been suspended until further notice.

We will continue to register social care providers and managers. We are making some temporary changes to the steps we take in completing the registration process. Most contact throughout the process will be by telephone, email or video call. We will keep any visit to a minimum and will follow the latest government guidelines, restrictions and safety advice.

Notifying Ofsted

You only need to notify us about incidents that the regulations require you to tell us about. We do not need you to tell us about anything else. However, we do expect you to risk assess and carefully record any steps you are taking in running your services.

Emergency inspections

We reserve the right to inspect in emergency situations, for example when we receive complaints or whistle-blowing information that suggests children may be at risk of harm, or when we might want to visit in order to lift a restriction on the numbers of children who can live in a children’s home.

Regulation 44 inspections

We do not have the power to lift regulatory requirements. Legislative change is a matter for central government and, ultimately, parliament. We are in close contact with government officials as the situation develops.

We expect all providers to continuously risk assess their actions to reflect the risks that COVID-19 poses and to follow Public Health England’s advice. We expect people to think about alternative ways to keep in contact, supervise provision and maintain oversight, such as using telephone and Skype, while recognising the limitations of this approach.

We are, of course, sensitive to the challenges that all providers are facing. We will take a balanced and proportionate approach to regulation, taking account of how people have tried to satisfy regulatory requirements in these difficult circumstances.

Schools, further education and early years providers

The government’s advice coronavirus (COVID-19): what you need to do has a section on school closures, education and childcare. This includes guidance on:

Ofsted staff

As well as focusing on our regulatory work, we recognise that our staff might be able to help relieve some pressure across the wider system.

We’re currently matching our staff into supporting roles within local authorities, social care, education and the wider Civil Service. We are doing this in a coordinated way to target support where it’s most needed.

Ofsted Inspectors (serving headteachers who carry out inspections on our behalf) have returned to their schools.

Consultations

We currently have 2 consultations:

We plan to publish the new initial teacher education (ITE) inspection framework in the summer term to give providers time to familiarise themselves with it. By then – and through discussions with the DfE – we may be able to clarify when routine inspections will resume, including those of ITE providers.

Published 19 March 2020
Last updated 2 April 2020 + show all updates
  1. Updated guidance links for employers and employees.

  2. Updated information for children's social care providers on registering with Ofsted and sending us notifications.

  3. Updated to include information for nannies.

  4. Updated to include a section on our consultation work during this period.

  5. If we have previously asked you to post documents to us, please either scan or photograph them and send with your unique reference number (URN) to enquiries@ofsted.gov.uk.

  6. Updated to include links to DfE guidance for schools, early years and further education providers on implementing social distancing, maintaining provisions, closures and attendance.

  7. Updated with information for childminders, including advice about first aid certificates.

  8. Updated to include that we will not be publishing reports from our recent inspections of schools, further education and early years providers until they reopen as normal for all children/students. We will continue to publish a small number of reports from recent social care inspections.

  9. Updated to include links to advice for vulnerable children and young people and guidance about cancelling GCSEs, AS and A levels in 2020, free school meals and isolation in residential educational settings.

  10. Updated with a reminder to use registered childcare in order to keep children safe.

  11. Updated to include information from the Department for Education asking schools, colleges, nurseries, childminders and other registered childcare settings to remain open for children of critical workers and vulnerable children where they can. Also added links to information for parents and definitions of vulnerable children and key workers.

  12. First published.