Helping you understand Ofsted

Oftsted and Inspection Reports

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What is Ofsted?

The Office for Standards in Education, Children’s Services and Skills is a non-ministerial department of the UK government, reporting to Parliament. Ofsted is responsible for inspecting a range of educational institutions, including state schools and some independent schools.

Inspection reports

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 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:

  • Literacy
  • Mathematics
  • Understanding the world
  • Expressive arts and design

Teaching is often done through play, where the child learns about subjects and other people through games.

EYFS Profile

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.

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