Detailed guide: Ofsted: coronavirus (COVID-19) rolling update


June 8
15:25 2020

Sending us documents

If we have previously asked you to post documents to us, please either scan or photograph them and send with your unique reference number (URN) to

You can find your URN on your registration, your inspection report(s), and on your Ofsted reports page.

Due to COVID-19 (coronavirus), there are likely to be delays in reviewing incoming post.

Forms for early years and social care providers

Please use our online forms, if possible, for:

Instructions on how to complete a form are on each forms individual page.

If you need to use one of our small number of offline (printable) forms, please do not post this to us during this time. You can scan or photograph it and send it to us by email.

New social care forms

From 27 May, you should access the following 3 forms through GOV.UK instead of through Ofsted Online, our former site that will soon be closing:

This change is to make the forms more user-friendly and better for accessing on mobile devices. There is no change to the regulations or guidance about what you need to tell us or what information we require from you.

All routine inspections suspended

We have suspended all routine inspections of schools, further education, early years and social care providers. The Secretary of State has allowed Her Majestys Chief Inspector to do this.

Urgent inspections where specific concerns have been raised are still going ahead. This allows us to prioritise the immediate safety of children where necessary.

As far as we are able, we are continuing our important regulatory work.

We are in daily contact with the Department for Education (DfE) to discuss the COVID-19 outbreak and its impact across education and social care.

Inspection reports and management information

A number of schools, further education providers and early years providers have contacted us, asking us to publish the report of their recent inspection. We had said that we would publish those reports only when providers reopen as normal for all children/students. We are now writing to all providers with reports in the pipeline to ask whether they would like their report published as soon as possible. If they say yes, we will publish their report shortly.

We continue to publish as normal a small number of reports from recent social care inspections.

We also continue to publish statistics and transparency information. We paused publishing some management information in April but we will gradually re-start when additional inspection reports have been published. The regular management information for state-funded schools will be published on 15 June, and will cover inspections published by the end of May 2020.

Data from local authorities

We have considered whether we should minimise, defer or cancel the data collections we ask local authorities to give us, in order to reduce the burden on them during this time. As a result, we have adjusted collection timescales to account for the beginning of the lockdown and the need for emergency planning time, and we have reduced the amount of data we request. We do not anticipate a delay in the publication of any social care national statistics as a result of these changes.

Also, local authorities are required to provide data on individual children when we need to carry out an emergency inspection due to safeguarding concerns.

Regulatory activity and urgent monitoring visits

This section applies only to:

Due to COVID-19 (coronavirus), we have suspended all routine inspections. We continue our important regulatory work to help maintain social care (SC) provision for the most vulnerable children, and the registration of vital early years (EY) services. This includes reviewing notifications from providers and other information we receive.

We have temporarily adjusted our regulatory and inspection activity to focus on:

  • provision that causes us concern
  • the need to register new provision
  • expansion to existing provision

We will act proportionately as an intelligent, focused and responsible regulator and inspectorate, consciously working to minimise the burdens on providers. We are focusing our work on the safeguarding and welfare of children and on identifying and addressing any major failures of leadership and management.

Although routine inspections are suspended, there may still be specific circumstances when we need to visit a childrens home or other childrens social care or childcare provider to be assured that children are not at risk of harm. We are calling these urgent monitoring visits during this time.

You should read this guidance alongside our usual registration and compliance procedures and policies. We will follow them as far as is reasonably practicable in the circumstances.

Deciding whether an on-site visit or regulatory action is needed

We want to ensure that decisions are made consistently and as safely as possible. Therefore, we are reviewing certain decisions through a central panel that covers both childrens social care and early years.

This applies to regional decisions about:

  • the need for any on-site visit to a provider for urgent monitoring purposes
  • the need for any regulatory action against an early years or social care provider that may reduce capacity in the system (for example, restrictions of accommodation, refusals to register, the cancellation or suspension of any registration, and the refusal to lift a suspension)

Off-site activity

We will decide what needs to be done on or off site on a case-by-case basis, considering the lines of enquiry and the apparent level of risk.

We will carry out as much of our activity as possible off site, including when we:

  • have identified a service as high risk or of concern based on information available to us
  • are monitoring services that were judged inadequate
  • are deciding whether to take enforcement action, such as issuing compliance or enforcement notices, suspending or cancelling a registration or restricting accommodation at a childrens home
  • are checking providers compliance with welfare requirement notices (EY) or compliance notices (SC)
  • are monitoring compliance with suspension (EY and SC) or restrictions of accommodation (SC only)
  • are considering a variation request (SC only)
  • are deciding whether we can lift, or should renew, suspensions (EY and SC) and restrictions of accommodation (SC only)

To carry out off-site activity, the inspector will usually contact the provider by telephone but may use email or letter.

The inspector may request that the provider shares electronically as much relevant evidence as possible to help the inspector. This evidence will vary according to the nature of the case and whether it is EY or SC, but may include:

  • photographs of premises such as repairs and decoration (and/or having a tour of the building through a video call)
  • safety certificates
  • confirmation of building works, such as invoices
  • updated policies
  • updated action plans
  • staffing lists to confir

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