Earlier in the year, the Department for Education had disapplied the learning and development requirements and brought in temporary changes to the EYFS framework due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Early years settings have not been required to meet the learning and development requirements of the EYFS since mid-April, in temporary measures put in place during lockdown.
Ofsted said it would not be checking whether a provider has met any learning and development requirement actions set at the last inspection, to allow providers time to get back to normal following the period of uncertainty caused by the pandemic.
The plans were announced during the national meeting of the Ofsted Big Conversation, in a presentation by Gill Jones, deputy director, schools and early education, and Wendy Ratcliff, principal officer, early education.
The virtual meeting also included an update from Julian Grenier on his review of Development Matters, during which he revealed that the new guidance will be published in September.
Until Education Inspection Framework inspections of providers on the early years register resume in January 2021, Ofsted will use its regulatory powers to conduct interim visits.
Ofsted will be carrying out interim visits to all providers who were judged inadequate or requires improvement who were issued actions for a breach of one or more of the EYFS safeguarding and welfare requirements (S&W).
Visits will focus on whether providers have met their S&W actions raised at the last inspection and will provide assurance that childcare providers are now meeting these requirements.
The re-inspection date for these providers may have passed due to Covid-19, or the re-inspection may be due before routine inspections are due to restart.
Ofsted interim visits will take place during the period September to November/December 2020 inclusive.
Ofsted interim visits
- Inspectors will be sensitive to the challenges presented by Covid-19, and will take that into account.
- Ofsted will prioritise the safety and welfare of everyone involved in the visits, including children, carers, staff and inspectors; it will follow the most up-to-date guidance from Public Health England.
- Ofsted will continue to be guided by existing guidance and principles for conducting our compliance and enforcement as set out in the Early Years compliance handbook.
- Visits will not result in a judgement. Ofsted will publish a short summary to confirm what was found during the visit.
- Ofsted will publish an outcome summary on the provider page of the website. This will outline the actions a provider has taken to meet the requirements, along with any other actions Ofsted or the provider may need to take.
Ofsted has commissioned a research project that will look at the impact of COVID-19 on the early years sector. Ofsted will call a sample of all kinds of early years provider across England – taking part will be voluntary. The findings will be published due course.
The inspectorate said it was looking at the impact of Covid-19 on all the sectors that it inspects.
Early years regulation moves to expanded social care directorate
Ofsted's national director for social care, Yvette Stanley, will lead an expanded directorate responsible for regulatory strategy and policy across early years and social care.
Ms Stanley became director of social care in 2018 and her new role includes early years regulation and policy, as national director for regulation and social care.
Ofsted is the regulator and/or inspectorate for more than 80,000 early years and social care settings.
The change came about following a review of Ofsted's regulatory work, commissioned by chief inspector Amanda Spielman, to make sure that it was fit for purpose.
As a result of this review, Ofsted has brought together the central policy teams responsible for regulation. However, Ofsted said that this doesn’t change the way Ofsted delivers inspection and regulation responsibilities across its eight regions.
The education policy team will continue to oversee policy as it relates to the Education Inspection Framework. The Regulatory Policy Team will oversee matters such as registration, notification and enforcement. The two teams will work closely together.
Ofsted has also named Dame Christina Ryan as its new chair to replace Professor Julius Weinberg, and she will take up the position on 1 August.