Registering with Ofsted

Find out how and why childcare providers register with Ofsted and information about the Childcare Act 2006.

Ofsted (Office for Standards in Education, Children's Services and Skills) are the official body for inspecting schools and childcare businesses.

Ofsted are an independent, non-ministerial government department, which is responsible for the inspection of a range of education and children's services, and for the inspection and regulation of registered early years and childcare provision. Find out more information about Ofsted on GOV.UK.  

Why must childcare providers register with Ofsted?

Through registering childcare providers, Ofsted aims to:

  • protect children and keep them safe
  • make sure childcare providers meet the requirements of the Early Years Register
  • make sure that they contribute to children's well-being by promoting children's good health and safety, and to help them develop the skills and attributes to be successful in their later lives.
  • promote high quality in the provision of care and learning and development
  • provide reassurance to parents

Who does Ofsted register?

People who want to provide childcare for children under eight, for more than two hours in any one day, must register with Ofsted before they can become childcare providers.

What is the Early Years register?

The Early Years Register is for all providers working with children aged from birth to five. Providers must deliver the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) which brings together care and learning. Typically this will be full daycare, pre-schools, childminders and some out of school provision (holiday schemes or after school clubs).

What is the Early Years Foundation Stage?

The statutory framework for early education and care of children from birth to 31 August following their fifth birthday. The Early Years Foundation Stage includes requirements for young children's safeguarding and welfare, learning and development that all providers must meet, as well as good practice guidance. The Early Years Foundation Stage must be delivered by all schools and early years settings that are registered on the Early Years Register.

What is the Ofsted Childcare Register?

This is a register of providers, registered by Ofsted to care for children from birth to 17 years. There are two parts to the register:

  1. The compulsory part – Providers must register on this part if they care for one or more children following their fifth birthday until they reach their eighth birthday.
  2. The voluntary part - Providers who are not eligible for compulsory registration may choose to register on this part. These are mainly people looking after children aged eight and over, or providing care in the child's home. (Usually nannies).

Who applies for registration with Ofsted?


A person who is registered to look after one or more children to whom they are not related to on domestic premises for reward. They:

  • care for children at a private dwelling that is not the home of one of the children, or
  • care for children from more than two families wholly or mainly in the home of one of the children, and
  • must register to care for children under the age of eight years
  • can choose to register to care for older children.

Childcare providers on non-domestic premises

Registered providers that care for children on premises that are not someone's home. These premises can range from converted houses, to purpose-built nurseries and are usually known as day nurseries, private nursery schools, pre-school playgroups and before and after school clubs for children in the early years age group.

What is the ‘Early Years age group’?

Children aged from birth until 31 August following their fifth birthday who attend an early years setting that delivers the Early Years Foundations Stage.

If you would like more information on the Ofsted registration process please go to the Ofsted website. You can contact Ofsted on 0300 123 1231 or by email at:

What Suffolk County Council do

The council's Suffolk Family Information Service is able to provide information to people who are looking to extend their services or set up new childcare provision in Suffolk. We offer help and support to childcare providers both before and after they register. For more details please contact the Suffolk Family Information Service.

Childcare Act 2006

The law sets out:

  • duties on local authorities to improve outcomes for children and ensure access to information about provision in their area
  • legal frameworks for the regulation and inspection of provision for children from birth to age 17
  • the Early Years Foundation Stage: this is the framework for the delivery of good quality integrated care and education for children from birth to 31 August following their fifth birthday

The Department for Education are responsible for the Childcare Act 2006 and the regulations that underpin it. This includes Ofsted's responsibilities for regulating and inspecting childcare and early education. The department for education is also responsible for the Early Years Foundation Stage, which underpins Ofsted's inspections of early years provision.