Nursery Management

Q&A: Ofsted Inspection Framework

Claire Schofield, NDNA’s director of membership, policy and communications, looks at how the Inspection Framework has been amended and what the changes will mean for nurseries…

Nb. This article refers to the changes to Ofsted’s Inspection Framework introduced in September 2012. Advice on the introduction of the Common Inspection Framework in 2015 is available on

Q: What are the key changes to the Inspection Framework?
A: Ofsted has changed the inspection framework so it aligns with the new Early Years Foundation Stage. The new framework will focus much more on learning and development and how nurseries support children and families. Observations of staff interacting with children will form a greater part of the inspection. The nursery manager or early years professional will be able to join the inspector making the observations, which should help managers have a strong professional dialogue with the inspector to inform their judgement. NDNA welcomes these changes, but feels it is more important than ever before that inspectors are highly qualified and have recent relevant experience of working with children.

There will also be a bigger focus on personal, social and emotional development of children. Nurseries must make sure they have systems in place to demonstrate how children are progressing, and identify any particular needs a child has and develop plans to support individual needs. When looking at the effectiveness of leadership and management there will be a strong focus on how the quality of provision is measured. Nurseries must also demonstrate how they are working in partnership with parents.

Q: There have been some changes to registration requirements; can you explain a little more about this?
A: Ofsted will no longer conduct ‘suitable person interviews’ for managers; this will be the responsibility of the nursery from 1 September 2012. Conditions of registration have been removed from certificates, so nurseries can decide the numbers and ages of children they will provide care for. The EYFS sets out requirements regarding space and ratios for children.

Q: Would NDNA have liked to have seen any other changes to the Ofsted inspection framework?
A: NDNA has been campaigning for schools and nurseries to receive the same amount of notice of inspection to create a level playing field. At the moment, nurseries receive no notice of inspection whereas schools are to be notified the day before. NDNA is concerned that at the moment inspectors can visit a nursery when the manager is on holiday or on a training course. It is difficult to see how the inspection can offer a true reflection of the setting if there is no dialogue with the manager. As well as equality with schools on notice, NDNA would like to see a system put in place where nurseries can notify Ofsted in advance about managers’ holidays. NDNA would also like to see nurseries being given the option to pay for a repeat inspection after a few months if they feel the grading they received does not reflect their setting accurately. This would incentivise rapid improvement and support local authorities in offering free nursery education in high quality settings.

Q: I’ve heard there will be some changes to how Ofsted deals with complaints; can you explain what this will mean for nurseries?
A: Ofsted will now refer ‘minor concerns’ back to nurseries for them to deal with using their own complaints procedure. When deciding what is classified as a ‘minor concern’ Ofsted will review the seriousness of the complaint and also look at the information they hold about the nursery and any previous complaints they have received. Nurseries will have to update Ofsted on actions they have taken to resolve the concern at their next inspection.

The process of dealing with other more serious complaints remains the same; Ofsted will carry out an inspection in the next 30 working days. For high-risk or priority complaints, inspections will be completed within five working days.

NDNA is the national charity and membership association for children’s nurseries across the UK, supporting settings across all sectors to deliver the best possible care and early learning for children whilst ensuring they are sustainable businesses.