Opinion: Editor's View - Childminders are being wooed by all the political parties

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It's been a good couple of weeks for childminding. The sun beamed down at last week's National Childminding Association election manifesto launch at the House of Commons terrace (see News, page 3). Happy MPs, sector dignitaries, childminders and children mingled by the river, not even needing their coats!

While sponsoring Labour MP Joan Humble had been called away to her constituency, the Tories and LibDems vied for childminding's favours, with shadow minister for the family Maria Miller looking rather slow on her feet compared with LibDem spokesperson for children, schools and families Baroness Walmsley.

Ms Miller praised childminders, but added that she was really lucky to have her childcare provided by her parents. Baroness Walmsley was able to cite her direct experience of using childminders.

Ms Miller hinted that the Conservatives saw the EYFS as a barrier to attracting more recruits to childminding and said it was proving difficult for childminders. Baroness Walmsley not only backed the NCMA's support for the EYFS, but said that the LibDems had taken action on worries over EYFS bureaucracy, by sending Annette Brooke MP to meet Ofsted chief Christine Gilbert, with the result that new guidance on reducing the burden is to be issued.

Meanwhile, the new code of practice on the free entitlement to nursery education may go down rather better with childminders than with some other early years providers. Every local authority will be expected to set up childminding networks, enabling childminders (with at least level 3 and a good or above inspection grading) to offer the free entitlement. At the moment, those in an area with no network must adhere to the EYFS but are not eligible to take the nursery education grant.

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