Important Ofsted Updates

Changes to the Early years inspection handbook

Ofsted have issued an update to the Early years inspection handbook to reflect the changes to the way the organisation works.

Additional clarity has been added to the way that inspectors will conduct themselves during inspections and in the pre-inspection call, where deferrals and pressures on settings can be discussed.

Some new sections have also been added about when it may be appropriate to pause inspections (paragraph 71), how inspectors will consider well-being of staff (paragraph 75) and how inspectors will act if feedback on the inspection is likely to be challenging (paragraph 140).

A summary of all the changes is available here

Ofsted have clarified that: “While we have made some changes, our inspection methodology remains the same and we will continue to inspect in line with the principles and requirements of the EYFS.”

“Today’s changes include making clear our expectations for inspector conduct during an inspection. And we have made explicit what inspectors will do to ensure the well-being of providers, leaders and staff during and after inspections. We have also updated our complaints policies, following the consultation carried out in summer 2024. This means that inspectors will give providers/leaders a number they can call should any concerns about their inspection not be resolved at the time.”

Purnima Tanuku OBE, Chief Executive of National Day Nurseries Association (NDNA) said: “Updating the early years inspection handbook is an important piece in the changes Ofsted are making to the way they work. It is important for providers and inspectors that there is more clarity on how concerns can be raised before, during and after inspections.

“We also welcome additions which clarify how inspections might be paused if there are concerns, how staff well-being can be taken into consideration and dealing with difficult and sensitive feedback.

“These changes, combined with the additional training inspectors have undertaken, need to work to build and maintain the professional dialogue between inspectors and early years professionals so that the inspection process can focus on everyone’s priority; improving quality for the benefit and wellbeing of all children.”

Ofsted response to Coroner’s Recommendations

Ofsted has now formally responded to HM Coroner’s a Prevention of Future Deaths report, following the inquest into the death of headteacher Ruth Perry. 

The Chief Inspector, Sir Martyn Oliver addresses each of the recommendations presented by the Coroner, highlighting action that has taken place before and immediately after the inquest as well as future action steps.  These include:  

  • all inspectors trained to recognise and respond to signs of distress in school leaders
  • a clear and simple process for providers who have concerns about an inspection to speak to an unconnected senior Ofsted employee
  • a new policy on pausing an inspection
  • appointing an independent expert to lead a learning review of Ofsted’s response to the tragic death of Ruth Perry

In addition ‘the Big Listen’ will be conducted by Sir Martyn to reach all sectors that Ofsted operates in.  The Big Listen will give parents, leaders and professionals the opportunity to engage with Ofsted and give feedback on the strengths and weaknesses of its current approach to inspection and regulation.

Purnima Tanuku OBE, Chief Executive of National Day Nurseries Association (NDNA) said: “This report comes from the tragic circumstances of Ruth Perry’s death and our thoughts are with her family at this difficult time. We are pleased to see that Ofsted is taking positive steps to understand and deal with the pressures that educators are under, both during and after inspections.

“We speak with nurseries who tell us about the stress they, and their staff teams, feel under when being inspected or when they are anticipating an inspection, so we know this is a common experience which must be handled sensitively. Sir Martyn Oliver has promised inspectors will be professional, courteous, empathetic and respectful which is very positive.

“While there is an understanding that all of Ofsted’s work will be reviewed as a result of this report, we look forward to a positive working relationship with the new team leading the organisation to ensure the specific pressures on early years leaders are recognised and addressed. The Big Listen presents an opportunity for all of us to work together in finding effective solutions.”

Ofsted inspectors receive mental health training

Since beginning his 5-year term at the start of this year, Sir Martyn Oliver has launched an immediate package of training for inspectors across all areas of Ofsted’s work on mental health awareness.   This involves training and support from Mental Health First Aid England, providing a rolling training programme of mental health awareness for all inspectors. A recording of one of the training sessions has been published by Ofsted.

  • England

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