Ofsted announce assurance inspections as full inspection activity delayed

Ofsted has announced a phased return to inspections in 2021 including plans for inspections and regulatory work in early years. Amanda Spielman

A programme of early years “assurance inspections” will begin from the start of the spring term. These inspections will confirm whether or not a provider is meeting the early years foundation stage requirements.

Assurance inspections will be risk-based and proportionate. Inspections will be prioritised based on the length of time since a provider’s last inspection, and any other relevant information.

Routine graded inspections will resume at some point in the summer term of 2021.

Purnima Tanuku OBE, NDNA’s Chief Executive, said: “It’s the right decision by Ofsted not to resume full inspection activity in January as planned, but delay that until summer.

“These new assurance inspections with their designations of “met” or “not met” are very different to the routine inspections that the sector is used to. Ofsted need to give providers clear guidance so they have time to fully prepare, they should also be clear with parents about what these categories mean.

“The early years sector continues to deal with a challenging set of circumstances managing positive cases and self-isolation of staff and children. Nurseries have been looking very different as managers have had to prioritise infection control measures while endeavouring to create engaging learning environments for their children.

“Ofsted must be clear with both childcare providers and parents what these interim inspection arrangements mean and make sure that newer settings are not disadvantaged by not having the opportunity to be judged good or outstanding in the near future. 

“Before Ofsted resumes full inspections in the summer, they must consult with the sector on how the whole inspection process will be reviewed in the light of the impact of Covid, which will remain for many months to come.

“We welcome the fact that Ofsted has taken on board feedback from NDNA and the sector. They should continue to consult with providers about their plans for next year.”

Read the full guidance here.