Childminder agencies without any childminders on their books

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None of the childminder agencies registered with Ofsted have so far succeeded in registering any childminders.

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Louise Felstead is owner of City Childcare Childminding Agency, which registered with Ofsted last month

Within its Early Years Annual Report, published earlier in the month, Ofsted states that childminder agencies have 'yet to take off' as none of the registered agencies have childminders on their books.

The report said, 'The introduction in September 2014 of childminder agencies, where parents would be able to find a local childminder by contacting an agency, has yet to take off.

'To date, Ofsted has registered five agencies. As of June 2015, no childminders were registered with the agencies.'

The five agencies, which registered with Ofsted between October 2014 and May 2015 are: The Northumberland Church of England Academy Childminding Agency in Northumberland, St Bede Childminder Agency in Greater Manchester, Trio Childcare Connections in Wiltshire, Daryel Care in north London and Leap Ahead Achieving for Children in the London Borough of Richmond upon Thames.

A sixth agency, City Childcare Childminding Agency, registered with the inspectorate last month.

Nursery World approached the five childminder agencies referred to in Ofsted's report for a comment.

It was not possible to get hold of anyone from The Northumberland Church of England Academy Childminding Agency, as the academy is open during term-time only.

Daryel Care was unable to provide any information about its agency, while Trio Childcare Connections failed to send a comment.

However, both St Bede Childminder Agency and Leap Ahead Achieving for Children told Nursery World they are in the process of registering childminders.

A spokesperson for Leap Ahead Achieving for Children, which registered with Ofsted on 20 May, confirmed that the agency is currently processing 11 applications from childminders.

Jack Hatch, childcare director and head teacher of St Bede Academy, said, 'As stated in the Ofsted Early Years report 2015, St Bede Childminder Agency has yet to recruit any childminders but we are in the very latter stages of registering our very first childminder with the agency.

'The candidate is awaiting a final recruitment check and we hope that she will be fully registered with the agency and caring for children by mid-August 2015. We are very excited, not only to be the first agency but hopefully to have the first childminder to register with an agency in the country.

'Sam Gyimah, childcare and education minister, met our candidate back in February as she was completing her training and he was extremely interested in her journey with us.

'We are very hopeful that, now many of the myths around agencies are beginning to be broken down, both new and established childminders realise we can be a huge support to them and offer a wide range of services at very low cost.

'Speaking at the Westminster Education Forum, we emphasised that we have a passion for quality and delivering this at an affordable cost and will ensure no costs from the agency are passed onto the parents.'

Nursery World contacted the Department for Education for a comment but they failed to provide one.

Victoria Flint, director of communications at PACEY, said, 'We are not surprised that the childminder agency model has not been popular with childminders.

'Our members have always told us they are concerned about the costs associated with belonging to an agency and that they recognise the importance parents place on Ofsted's independent and impartial judgement of the quality of care provided by a setting.

'We believe that there are better ways to support new and existing childminders. The recent increase in "good" and "outstanding" settings demonstrates that through peer support from other childminders and advice and training from professional associations, such as PACEY, childminders can already gain the help they need to sustain their businesses and continuously improve their practice, without any need for agencies.

'We will continue to offer membership to childminders whether they join an agency or not.'

City Childcare Childminding Agency

City Childcare Childminding Agency was registered with Ofsted on 24 June.

The agency, which is still in the early stages of setting up, has yet to register any childminders.

Based in Woodford Green in London, City Childcare Childminding Agency is being run by nursery provider Louise Felstead (pictured), who holds an Early Years Teacher qualification and is training to become an Ofsted inspector.

She told Nursery World, 'Parents often come to us looking for a mix of childcare. With the agency, we will be able to provide a combination of nursery and childminder care.'

Ms Felstead went on to say that the agency will be particularly beneficial to parents when the 30 hours of free childcare comes in as they will be able to offer out of hours care.

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