Ofsted is responsible for registering and inspecting early years and childcare settings for children aged 7 and under. They also investigate concerns and complaints about childcare providers and take enforcement action where necessary.
Ofsted regulates four types of childcare provider:
- home childcarer
- childcare on domestic premises
- childcare on non-domestic premises.
The Ofsted Early years and childcare registration handbook explains the types of provider not required to register with Ofsted. If you do not need to register you can still choose to be on the voluntary part of the Childcare Register, as long as you meet the requirements. These may include some holiday play schemes, out of school clubs and crèches.
To find out about becoming a registered childcare provider contact the Family Information Service.
Guide to Ofsted registration
Ofsted has 2 childcare registers:
- The Early Years Register - you must register on this if you care for children from birth to the 31 August following their 5th birthday.
- The Childcare Register - a compulsory part covers children who are cared for from the ages of 5-8. You can choose to register for the voluntary part if you want to provide care that is not covered by the compulsory part.
The Ofsted Early years and childcare registration handbook provides an overview of how to make an application and the registration process for the Early Years and Childcare Registers.
Make an application online via the Ofsted online website.
We encourage all those offering childcare services to register with Ofsted.
Early years and childcare providers should evaluate their performance on a regular basis so that they can continuously plan their work, prioritise resources and be better prepared for Ofsted inspections. This can be done using an early years self-evaluation form available on GOV.UK.
During an inspection the form will be discussed with the inspector as it provides them with an idea of the areas of provision that are working well and those that need to be improved.
Ofsted has produced a useful myth-busting document to dispel misconceptions about its early years inspections.