Childminders fight back over Ofsted claims

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The National Childminding Association has hit out at the recommendation by Ofsted that ministers should consider only allowing childminders to deliver certain aspects of the EYFS.


The NCMA said it feared that such a move would create ‘a two-tier system’.

Ofsted’s early years report highlights the fact that childminders have ‘performed consistently worse’ than nurseries and pre-schools since the EYFS was introduced.

In the EYFS, all childminders are required to deliver learning and development requirements as well as those relating to children’s welfare.

Based on an analysis of inspection reports, Ofsted said, ‘Some childminders still find it difficult to assess children’s starting points, to find ways of observing and assessing children’s knowledge, understanding and skills, and to plan for their individual needs.’

According to Ofsted ten per cent of active childminders are outstanding and 61 per cent are good. The figures for nurseries and pre-schools are 14 per cent and 64 per cent respectively.

The Ofsted report also proposes ‘a system of hubs and networks for childminders and pre-schools’ to evaluate quality more frequently and support improvement.

But Liz Bayram, joint chief executive of the NCMA, said many childminders were keeping their good and outstanding Ofsted grades, despite the fact that childminders were losing support from local authorities due to budget cuts,

She also said that evidence showed that ‘excellent local authority intervention’ and childminders’ ‘own dedication to professional development’ did support improvement and she urged Government to build on that instead.

‘We are very concerned to see HM Chief Inspector proposing solutions that do not recognise the competitive market that exists between childminders and group settings, for example, linking satisfactory childminders to outstanding nurseries to support their improvement, or which propose the creation of a two-tiered system of EYFS, where childminders only have to deliver part of the EYFS,’ she said.

‘Some of these ideas were rejected when the EYFS was first introduced and again in the recent Tickell review. So we are sad to see them being explored yet again when so many childminders are already delivering high quality provision under the EYFS,' she said.

Earlier this year, chief inspector Sir Michael Wilshaw told MPs at the education select committee that regulating and inspecting childminders was too costly and he was in discussions with education secretary Michael Gove about how to make the inspection system more efficient, more effective, and provide greater value for money.

An investigation by Nursery World revealed that Ofsted spends six times as much regulating and inspecting a childcare place with a childminder than it does on group settings.

At the time Sir Michael told the select committee,'My view is that we should really look at the future of how we inspect early years, and particularly childminders, to make sure that the very large numbers of children in childminding settings are given a good delivery.’

He added that while he thought a lot of children’s centres were doing good work in supporting disadvantaged families, ‘I think the issue is for childminders it becomes childminding, care and support, rather than subscribing to the EYFS education goals.’

'Childminding agencies'

The NCMA is lobbying against proposals put forward earlier this year by Elizabeth Truss, before she became education and childcare minister, who favours an agency system, similar to that used in the Netherlands, to train and regulate childminders.

The association’s campaign, launched in April, to keep childminders regulated and inspected as individuals under the EYFS has been backed by thousands of childminders.

Ms Bayram said, ‘NCMA is concerned that - set alongside the Government's continued interest in the development of the discredited agency approach to childminding regulation and inspection - the childminding profession is under threat of being placed into a system of regulation and support that neither improves quality nor supports parental confidence in the care that childminders provide.

‘All of which threatens their future business sustainability. Thousands of our members have already registered their concerns around these agency proposals. We will now be working with them to do the same with the ideas set out in this document.’

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