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Q. What is the Ofsted Online Portal?

A. The Ofsted Online Portal provides members of the public with online access to specific Ofsted services, such as application forms.

Q. How do I access Ofsted’s online services?

A. Access to Ofsted’s online services is managed via the Government Gateway, which means anyone wanting to use them must first sign up for a Government Gateway account. Anyone may sign up for a Government Gateway account, either via the Ofsted Online Portal or through a visit to any other government website that uses the Gateway.

Please note that although the process of signing up for a Government Gateway account is known as registering this is not your Ofsted registration.

Once you have signed up for an account, you will then be able to log in to the Ofsted Online Portal. This will give you access to certain entry-level features of the Ofsted services on offer. For example, you will be able to access the initial application stage of the Childcare Register or Social Care service, where you may fill in an online application form and submit it to Ofsted for their consideration.

Further features of the Ofsted services on offer such as self-service, are only accessible if you enrol in them and you are providing the applicable childcare type. The process of enrolment is also managed by the Government Gateway, and requires you to supply what are termed known facts. These are reference numbers or other pieces of information, specific to the service you want to enrol in, that are known only to you and Ofsted and are used for security reasons to confirm your identity.

For example, to enrol in the self-service you will be required to supply your date of birth, together with a special password called an Ofsted Security Token (OST), which we send in the post to all childminders and childcare providers once we receive an application and we have carried out our initial review.

Q. How do I manage my Government Gateway account?

The Ofsted Online Portal gives you the ability to manage your own Government Gateway account to some degree. This includes the option to change your Gateway password, email address, and recovery word at any time.

Q. What if I lose my Government Gateway ID or Password?

You can retrieve the lost information if you are already enrolled in a service - either those provided by Online Ofsted (for example the self-service), or those available via other websites (for example Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs). This is because the Government Gateway requires additional information to check a user’s ID and send your details. This information is obtained when you enrol for services and includes things such as your date of birth.

You can retrieve lost Credential information as follows:

  1. If you have forgotten your password, you can use your recovery word to change your password as long as you know your user ID and the email address you used to set the account up.

  2. If you have lost both of your credential elements and are already enrolled in self-service using your Ofsted Security Token, please contact Ofsted via stating your name, full address, postcode and DOB. Please indicate if you need Ofsted to resend your user ID, reset your password or both.

  3. If you have not enrolled in the self-service and have forgotten your user ID you will have to create a new government gateway account.

You will be required to supply information for the service or services you are currently enrolled in.

Q. I receive the error message “Please enter a valid date of birth”

A. The Government Gateway checks the date of birth on Ofsted’s systems as a security measure. It needs to be entered in DD/MM/YYYY format.

Q. I receive the error message "Failed to maintain consistency in IDM, Business rule error"

A. Your OST can only ever be used with one single set of Government Gateway login Credentials.

This error message will be displayed if you try to enrol in a service using an OST that has already been used to enrol in conjunction with a different Government Gateway User ID and Password. Please logout and login again using the Government Gateway User ID and Password you used when you first enrolled using your OST. If you have forgotten them, please refer to the lost Government Gateway ID and Password guidance above.

Q. After trying to enrol, I receive the error message "Service Access Denied", “Our records indicate that you are not currently allowed access to the service you are trying to enrol in.”

A. This error may have one of the following causes:

  1. You have entered your Date of Birth and/or Ofsted Security Token (OST) incorrectly. Please try again. Take care to distinguish between zero “0” and letter “o” in your OST.
  2. Our records do not hold your correct date of birth. Please contact Ofsted on 0300 123 1231.

Glossary of Terms


Access to a function via an internet page


Your Gateway User Id and Password


Connected to a system e.g. the internet

Government Gateway

A secure service used to register for online government services

Ofsted Security Token

A 16-character code that you would receive via email or in the form of a letter alongside your acknowledgment letter, once your application to register is processed by Ofsted.

Self Service

Access to the part of Ofsted Online where you would be able to keep your details up-to-date via the self-service tab that would be made available alongside the Apply, Saved Forms, Messages tabs of Ofsted Online. You would only be classed as enrolled once you have validated the Ofsted Security Token via the Enrol in Self Service screen.