You’ll be inspected by Ofsted when you’re registered as a childminder or childcare provider. This is to make sure you’re meeting the requirements for safety and learning and development.

If you don’t meet the requirements, you’ll be told what you need to do to improve and when you need to improve by.

When you’ll be inspected depends on which register you’re on.

If you’re on the Childcare Register and the Early Years Register, you’ll be inspected for both at the same time.

Childcare Register

You could be inspected at any time if you’re only on the Childcare Register.

You’ll get a letter to tell you whether you’ve met the requirements.

The inspection result will be published online for one year.

Read more about how inspections are done.

Early Years Register

If you’re on the Early Years Register, you’ll usually be inspected within the first 30 months of registration and then at least once in every inspection cycle.

You’ll also be inspected if someone reports concerns about the childcare you’re providing.

Getting notice of an inspection

If you’re an organisation (like a nursery or pre-school), you’ll get a call on or after midday on the working day before the start of the inspection. You’ll still be inspected even if the inspector hasn’t been able to speak to anyone.

Childminders or providers that don’t operate regularly will get a call up to 5 days before an inspection to check what days they work. You’ll be told what time the inspection will start but not what day it will start.

You can be inspected without warning. This is normally if Ofsted are concerned about the childcare you provide.

If you’re a home childcarer, Ofsted will ask the occupier of the home where you work for permission to carry out the inspection.

Before the inspection

You must tell parents an inspection is going to take place.

You can do a self evaluation online.

During the inspection

The inspector will:

  • observe the children at play
  • talk to you and the children
  • observe how you and the children interact
  • check the children’s levels of understanding and if they take part in learning
  • talk to you about the children’s knowledge, skills and abilities
  • observe care routines and how they’re used to support children’s personal development
  • evaluate your knowledge of the early years foundation stage

The inspector will give you feedback and explain what needs to be done to improve, if necessary.

After the inspection

You’ll be sent a report with your grade. You’ll be told how to do better, if there’s anything that can be improved.

You’ll be graded as one of the following:

  • Grade 1 - outstanding
  • Grade 2 - good
  • Grade 3 - requires improvement
  • Grade 4 - inadequate

Read the early years inspection handbook to find out what these grades mean.

Your inspection report will be published online within 10 working days of you being sent it.

You must give a copy of the report to the parents of the children you look after and to anyone else who asks for one.

If your judgement is ‘outstanding’

You can use the Ofsted outstanding provider logo on your stationery and website.

You’ll also get a certificate and a letter after your inspection report is published.

If your judgement is ‘inadequate’

You’ll be inspected again within 6 months.

You’ll be told what you must do to remain registered, and the date by which it must be done. Your local authority will also be informed, which may affect your eligibility for funding.

If you’re judged as ‘inadequate with enforcement’

You’ll be monitored by an inspector. They’ll visit you to check how you’re progressing against the areas you were told needed improvement.

Ofsted may take further action if there’s no improvement. If you have 2 inspections in a row where you’re judged as inadequate, Ofsted can cancel your registration.

Complain about an inspection

You can make a complaint during or after an inspection.