Children's minister accused of 'insulting' childminders over closures

Katy Morton
Tuesday, September 7, 2021

The children and families minister Vicky Ford has been accused of ‘dismissing the closure of thousands of childminders’.

Vicky Ford, children and families minister
Vicky Ford, children and families minister

Yesterday in the House of Commons, shadow children and early years minister Tulip Siddiq confronted Ms Ford on the closure of nearly 3,000 nurseries, childminders and other early years providers since the start of the year, which she said was due to a lack of targeted funding.

'Earlier this year, in June, I stood at this Dispatch Box and confronted the Minister about the number of nurseries and childcare providers that were closing because of the Government’s inability to fund the early years sector properly. The Minister accused me of scaremongering,' she said. 'Since June, there has been a further loss of 500 childcare providers in the sector, which brings the net loss for this year alone to nearly 3,000. Will the Minister make up for dismissing the concerns of parents, children and carers by providing targeted funding for the early years sector from this Government?'

In response, the children and families minister, said, ‘The Ofsted data from March shows a 4 per cent dip in the number of childcare providers since 31 August, which is largely a fall driven by childminders and carers, not nursery settings.

'Sufficiency is the key measure and we have not had any reports of sufficiency issues in early years settings since they reopened in June 2020. We put £3.5 billion into our early years entitlements because we care about childcare.'

The Early Years Alliance called her casual dismissal of the closure of thousands of childminders as ‘insulting, infuriating and disrespectful’ to the ‘vital part of the sector’.

Chief executive Neil Leitch said, ‘Childminders are an absolutely critical part of the early years sector: they are experienced, Ofsted-registered educational professionals who provide quality, flexible care and education in line with the Early Years Foundation Stage.

‘To hear the children and families minister so casually dismiss the closure of thousands of childminders and falsely imply that what they provide is just “care” rather than education – is both insulting and infuriating.

‘Over recent years, we have seen more than a quarter of childminding professionals leave the early years. If this was happening in any other part of the educational sector, there would be an outcry – so why is it any different for childminders.

‘It is high time ministers understood that care and education delivered by an educational professional in a home environment is of no less value than that delivered in a nursery, pre-school – or, for that matter, a school or college – and gave childminders the respect or recognition they, like their early years colleagues, deserve.'

 

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