Opinion: In my view - Mind the duty of care


Childminders are a key component of the wraparound provision that the Government rightly prioritised in its ten-year childcare strategy. Schools need to recognise this valuable contribution that childminders make to some pupils' lives.

I am a childminder, rated by Ofsted as 'outstanding in all areas', and have worked within various settings for my entire career, including schools. I was bewildered when my daughter was turned down for a place at an over-subscribed school as it is the very school attended by some of the children that I care for.

I would like to challenge the notion that being a childminder has no relevance to admissions procedures. I believe the school concerned has already accepted a 'duty of care' to both my son and to their pupils that I care for.

Education is far more than 'bums on seats'. Are the social networks formed with peers, adults and co-professionals not equally crucial? My clients have established a 'care package' for their children, and my service enables them to access this particular school. In these financial times, childminders are frequently the professionals who enable parents to work part-time.

So, as a parent, I am left with a dilemma. Do I leave my clients stranded, knowing that duplicate care is unlikely to be available? Do I move my children to a different school a car drive away - which would mean taking my son away from his friends and starting my business afresh?

Or do I acknowledge my responsibilities to my son and clients and home-educate my daughter, who will then miss out on opportunities that only school can offer? Or should I employ another childminder so that my daughter can attend another school and I can continue with my current business?

Only when childminders are recognised for the service they give will families truly benefit from greater choice in how they balance their work-life commitments, secure in the protection of 'Duty of Care'.

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