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BLOG: Ofsted registration FAQs during national lockdown

The registration of early years and childcare settings continues to be a priority for Ofsted. It’s important that there are enough good quality nurseries and childminders out there for parents who need them.

We also want to reassure parents about the care their child is receiving. During the pandemic our early years regulatory work didn’t stop. We’ve continued to put children’s safety first, making urgent visits to providers where we have concerns.

Of course, we’ll continue to adapt our approach to this work in line with the latest COVID-19 restrictions - making risk-based decisions about our visits and how we blend our approach to on and off-site work.

Once registered, providers can begin to operate from the day they receive their certificate. Our registration process is therefore an important gateway. We need to make sure that providers are equipped with the knowledge and expertise to care for children effectively as soon as they are registered. 

We regularly reflect on our work and seek feedback on our processes. Over the years, we’ve streamlined our registration application process, to make it easier for those who use it. This year, we introduced a new application system and we have received excellent feedback about the changes. You can view the videos that help new applicants through the process on our YouTube channel

Over the years, we’ve run several myth-busting campaigns to help applicants and providers understand Ofsted’s requirements. As things have been changing so frequently throughout the pandemic, we have been continuously updating our COVID-19 guidance on our website, to make sure you have the most up-to-date information. We also operate a Childcare Registration Facebook page, where we share updates and communicate directly with childminders across the country to address any issues. If you don’t already follow the page, you can do so here

On Wednesday 11 November, we hosted a Facebook Live event in partnership with PACEY. We hope you found this useful. If you missed it, don't worry, you can find the whole session in PACEY's First Steps to Childminding Facebook page.

I also want to take this opportunity to thank you for what you are doing to help young children to learn, play and develop as well as keeping them safe in these difficult times.

Frequently asked questions

Included below is a selection of frequently asked questions and our answers, which we hope will help those at different stages of the application and registration process. If you have any other questions, you can also call our enquiries number on 0300 1231231.

Q: Why is my DBS taking so long?
A: You should contact the Disclosure and Barring Service or the service you used to apply for your disclosure certificate. We recommend that you apply using the website and they will usually get this back to you within 6 weeks.

Q: Can I leave my assistant to look after the children before she gets her letter of suitability?
A: No. You must wait until you have received a letter from us confirming the applicant's suitability status before they can be left unsupervised with children. Once deemed suitable, assistants can care for children, unsupervised, for a maximum of 2 hours. You should discuss with parents whether the arrangements you have are appropriate.

Q: Can I childmind from a cabin in my garden?
A: Yes. If you are registered as a childminder, you are registered to provide childcare from any domestic premises. You must tell us where you plan to provide this childcare and we will record this information. This includes when you move to a new house.

Q: Can I set up after-school club using my childminding registration?
A: If you want to operate on non-domestic premises for 50% of the time, you can submit an approvl request to us using this form. You can also register for a new provision entirely if you want to have a separate Ofsted registration for a non-domestic setting

More than any other question, we are always asked about the time it takes to register. Our registration timescales are 12 weeks for childminders and 25 weeks for nurseries and other types of daycare. For most of this time, we are waiting for information from other people, such as your local social services department or your GP. If you try to get the information we request back to us as quickly as possible, this will help us to meet those timescales.

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