The inspectorate says the modernisation of its online system has made the process of applying and notifying it of changes simpler and easier.
Previously, those wishing to become childminders or nannies or open new childcare settings needed to register using Ofsted online, the system for Ofsted registration forms.
Registered providers also used this site to notify Ofsted of any changes or incidents.
However, prospective and existing providers should now use the Gov.uk website to access any Ofsted forms. Users trying to access Ofsted’s system via its old site will automatically be re-directed.
Ofsted says the move is due to its system becoming out-of-date, which meant new browsers, platforms and standards for websites made it difficult to use.
The move to a new platform means that Ofsted forms can now be viewed on mobiles and tablets as well as desktop computers.
It will now be able to communicate with applicants via e-mail rather than messages which can only be viewed by applicants by logging into their account.
The inspectorate says it has also removed a lot of ‘jargon’ in the forms, given them clear names and made the language as simple and clear as it can.
A number of changes have been made solely for prospective childminders and nannies, which include:
- Being able to pay at the end of the online application process rather than being invoiced afterwards.
- No longer needing a Government Gateway login to access the new registration site. Childminders and nannies now use their e-mail address and mobile number.
- Making it more straightforward for childminders to tell Ofsted about the people they live with, which it says will prevent delays in registering.
Nursery World reported last January that childminders were facing long delays registering with Ofsted, putting many off joining the profession at a time when numbers of childminders have seen substantial drops.
Stella Ziolkowski, NDNA's director of quality and training welcomed the new system, but warned that with any new system, there are likely to be 'teething problems'.
She said, We know that individuals have faced challenges with the old registration system and we are glad to see that Ofsted has been listening to the challenges raised by the sector. We hope this simpler and clearer process addresses and eliminates them.
'As with any new system, there are likely to be teething problems and although there is opportunity to contact via email, often settings need someone to talk though their issues. Those registering must have an opportunity to flag up issues and receive support.'
Samantha Surry, programme director at the Professional Association for Childcare and Early Years (PACEY), said, 'We believe the new portal will make it easier and clearer for childminders to navigate the required documents, which should avoid any unnecessary delays. However, it is not a fix-all solution and there is still much work to be done by both Ofsted, and local authorities, to ensure childminders are not having to wait more than 12 weeks to open their business and start earning money.
'Alongside all this, we know funding is another part of the challenge facing childminders. We have to develop a comprehensive response to this and many other obstacles to ensure childminding is an attractive career to more people. Our current inquiry will be presenting its proposals next month.'
Ofsted has created a number of videos to demonstrate what its new site can do: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLLq-zBnUkspNmrj35pBAg_sJIJ4x4NeVm