Detailed guide: Education plans from September 2020


December 2
00:00 2020

We will be carrying out a phased return to inspection, starting with an interim period of visits during the autumn term.

About the interim period

What we will do in the interim period

The activity we will carry out in registered early years settings, state-funded schools, non-association independent schools and further education and skills providers will be led by what is most important for children and learners in each remit.

We will continue our registration and regulatory activity in early years, state-funded schools, non-association independent schools and further education providers.

We began carrying out early years interim visits at the beginning of September and other visits at the end of September 2020.

How we will report our findings

For state-funded schools, visits will not result in an inspection grade. We will publish a brief letter that establishes the context of the visits.

For further education and skills providers, we will publish a brief report but no grade. However, it will be necessary to give progress judgements when we monitor new providers of apprenticeship training.

For non-association independent schools, we will carry out non-routine inspections, as commissioned by the Department for Education (DfE), where appropriate. We will prioritise those with safeguarding concerns and those that open up local capacity where it is needed. As usual, these inspections will have a judgement and result in a published report.

Registration visits and regulatory work continues in early years. For more information about our interim visits and what inspectors will look at, see our early years operational note. After carrying out registration or regulatory activity in early years settings, we will publish a short summary about what we have found.

National restrictions from 5 November

During the national lockdown we will carry out our work remotely where we can. We will only go on site where it is necessary to do so, or in response to urgent concerns.

Our programme of autumn visits to schools and colleges will take place remotely.

We will carry out a risk assessment for Childcare Register inspections and early years interim visits. We will either:

  • deliver these remotely
  • make a visit, if it is safe and necessary

We will pause LA SEND visits during this time.

We will continue to carry out our regulatory work in early years to respond to safeguarding concerns or breakdown in leadership, and continue our additional inspections of independent schools. Well continue our investigatory work into unregistered schools/early years provision.

Information for early years and childcare providers

We will focus on ensuring sufficient capacity in the sector, supporting a safe return to education and care and responding to information that causes concern.

Providers on the Childcare Register

On 11 September, the Secretary of State for Education wrote to Ofsted to outline the requirements for the autumn term. These included the request for Ofsted to return to inspecting 1 in 10 providers registered on the Childcare Register each year. Ofsted resumed inspecting these providers on 16 September.

Inspection of provision registered only on the Childcare Register (either or both parts) is a compliance inspection. It is not to make judgements about the quality of the provision but to make sure that the provider is complying with the requirements of the register.

Registration visits

We will continue with the early years registration process, including on-site registration visits.

Regulatory activity

We will continue our emergency regulatory and enforcement work as usual. We will also start making interim visits from the beginning of September 2020.

Inspectors will look at what action leaders and managers have taken since the last inspection. In these visits, inspectors will confirm whether providers are meeting any actions set that relate to the safeguarding and welfare requirements of the early years foundation stage (EYFS). Find out about EYFS disapplications.

These are not inspections and visits will not result in an inspection grade. However, inspectors can take regulatory or enforcement actions if appropriate.

We will publish an outcome summary after a visit, confirming:

  • whether the provider has met the actions raised at the last inspection
  • whether we need to take any further action

Information for state-funded schools

We will focus on carrying out visits. These will look at how leaders are managing the return to full education for their pupils, including considering remote learning and safeguarding, in line with Department for Education guidance.

Pre-registration inspections

We continue with pre-registration inspections, as needed, to increase capacity within the sector.

Section 8 emergency inspections

We continue to make emergency inspections as and when required. These are in response to serious concerns, such as safeguarding.


We will visit all inadequate schools and a sample of schools across the other Ofsted grades (outstanding, good, requires improvement).

The visits will be based around a series of professional conversations with senior and middle leaders. They will focus on:

  • identifying the barriers schools have faced and are still facing in managing the return to full education for pupils
  • how leaders are ensuring pupils resume learning the schools extant curriculum in line with DfE guidance, including the blend of classroom teaching and, where necessary, remote education
  • how pupils are settling back into expected routines and behaviours
  • how any identified and specific issues related to special educational needs, disabilities, health, care and well-being for particular groups of pupils are being addressed
  • safeguarding

The visits are not inspections and so will not result in schools receiving a grade.

As with other inspection visits, we will not require any pre-written planning or other documentation for the visit or ask schools for documents or records in a certain format. We will use what schools have already, if needed to support discussion. We will not require teachers to prepare any lesson plans or examples of assessment, or to put up any displays for the visit.

We will give schools up to a days notice of a visit.

Information for non-association independent schools

We will provide essential, targeted oversight of independent schools, prioritising safety and vulnerability. We will focus on additional inspections, which are an existing type of inspection activity within the independent school sector.

As usual, the DfE will commission us to carry out additional inspections. Additional inspections are demand-led, in response to risk or immediate need.

Pre-registration inspections

We continue with pre-registration inspections to increase capacity within the sector, prioritising urgent cases.

Material change inspections

We continue with material change inspections to increase capacity within the sector, prioritising where this is urgent.

Emergency inspections

We continue with emergency inspections as and when required by the DfE.

Emergency inspections are usually carried out without notice to the school. During this interim peri

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