Ofsted is responsible for the registration and inspection of all childcare providers. It operates two registers: the Early Years Register (“EYR”) and the Ofsted Childcare Register (“OCR”). Since September 2008, providers of childcare for children up to the age of five are required to register on the EYR, unless exempt, and providers for childcare for children aged between five and seven are required to register on the compulsory part of OCR, unless exempt.
One of the major functions of Ofsted is to register and inspect settings to ensure that they comply with their statutory requirements as laid out in the Early Years Foundation Stage (“EYFS”).
They prepare an inspection report that includes:
- A description of the provider
- The overall quality and standards of the provision, including the quality of teaching and learning
- how well the provider meets the needs of the children to ensure they make the best possible progress
- The contribution of the provision to the children’s well-being
- How the leadership and management helps with understanding and implementing the requirements of the Early Years Foundation Stage.
Inspectors give providers one of four grades.
- Grade 1 – outstanding
- Grade 2 – good
- Grade 3 – requires improvement
- Grade 3 – requires improvement
- Grade 4 – inadequate
All inspection reports are available on the Ofsted website.
The Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS)
The EYFS sets standards for the learning, development and care of children from birth to 5 years old.
All schools and Ofsted-registered early years providers must follow the EYFS, including childminders, preschools, nurseries and school reception classes.
There are assessments when a child is aged between 2 and 3 years and at the end of the academic year when they turn 5. These are not tests for the child – the assessments are based on EYFS practitioners’ observations.
Information from these assessments is used for parents, practitioners and teachers to support children’s learning and development.
Early years learning concentrates on 7 areas split between prime and specific areas of learning.
The prime areas of learning are:
- Communication and language
- Physical development
- Personal, social and emotional development
The specific areas of learning are:
- Understanding the world
- Expressive arts and design
Teaching is often done through play, where the child learns about subjects and other people through games.
At the end of the academic year when a child turns 5, the practitioner records each child’s development by watching the child playing and in the classroom. The completed assessment is known as the ‘early years foundation stage profile’. This is used to help the year 1 teacher plan lessons for the children.
Ofsted Registered Nannies
Although childcare provided in the child’s own home, such as nannies and babysitter, are exempt from registration and inspection, there are some nannies who are Ofsted registered. (Please refer to our page on Nannies and Ofsted for further information.) Where this is the case you may be able to receive some financial assistance towards childcare costs through employer supported childcare vouchers and/or working tax credits depending on your situation. Please see our page on the cost of childcare for more information.
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