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


August 24
16:35 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:

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

You should access the following 3 forms through GOV.UK, as Ofsted Online has now closed:

There is no change to the regulations or guidance about what you need to tell us or what information we require from you.

Our plans for the autumn

On 17 March, all routine inspections of schools, further education, early years and social care providers were suspended. 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 have now announced our plans for autumn. Routine inspections will remain suspended, but we are planning a programme of visits to education and social care providers. We have also updated our deferral policy, including a section on deferrals during this period.

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

During this period, we paused publishing some reports from recent inspections. After requests from a number of schools, further education providers and early years providers to publish their reports, we wrote to all providers with unpublished inspection reports to ask whether they would like their reports to be published. We have published the reports for providers that asked for this.

We have decided to publish before the summer holidays the inspection reports that are not yet published. It is important that learners, parents and carers have access to the most recent inspection information about providers when they make decisions about their future or their childrens future. To delay publication any longer would not be in the public interest. We contacted affected providers beforehand to confirm this and are now publishing these reports.

We continue to publish reports from urgent social care inspections as normal.

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.

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 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:

We have suspended all routine inspections but will start a programme of visits from September 2020. 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 activity to focus on:

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

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.

The inspector may ask the provider to share more electronic evidence than usual. This evidence will vary, 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 confirm that the provider has enough staff to re-open
  • staff training records and/or a careful risk assessment and plan for training (including e-learning, given the current circumstances)

On-site visits to social care providers

In addition to assurance visits, we may carry out on-site visits to social care providers when:

  • off-site inspection activity has not provided enough evidence that children are safe
  • we have received concerns that we can only fully consider through an on-site visit
  • we must visit to be able to decide whether to take, or to stop taking, regulatory action

There may be other circumstances in which we decide that an on-site visit is necessary, but we will decide those on a case-by-case basis.

Urgent monitoring visits to social care providers

We may announce an urgent monitoring visit so that we can take account of the circumstances, such as whether any children are self-isolating.

In some cases, we may need to visit unannounced. When this happens, the inspector will explain on arrival why they have come and ask the provider to take action so that they can safely enter. The inspector will usually stay outside while they do this.

Inspectors will plan the visit to ensure that they are on site for the minimum amount of time.

The inspector will ask the provider to try to limit the number of children and staff that they will need to see, talk to or meet with. They will ask the provider to help any child who is self-isolating or unwell to stay separate from the inspector. Inspectors will follow government guidance on, for example, washing hands, physical contact and social distancing.

Inspectors will be able to raise statutory requirements and recommendations where relevant. However, these will be focused on the things that are directly affecting the safety and well-being of children. They will take account of what is, and is not, within the providers control during this time.

On-site visits to early years and childcare providers

We will only make on-site visits after we have considered evidence from off-site activity, for example if off-site activity has raised concerns and there is insufficient evidence that allows us to decide that children are safe.

Inspectors will plan the visit to ensure that they are on site for the minimum amount of time. In announced visits, they will agree in advance with the registered provider what activity they will carry out

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