Personal Response to Ofsted Annual Report for Early Years – Part One   6 comments

It has taken me some time to read and reflect on the content of the Early Years  report

http://www.ofsted.gov.uk/resources/report-of-her-majestys-chief-inspector-of-education-childrens-services-and-skills-early-years

and to the comments made by Susan Gregory about childminders in the video clip

I have decided to put my feedback on my blog in stages – so this is part one.

I feel the comments made by Susan Gregory are sweeping and unfair to the huge number of Childminders who have an outstanding or a good judgement on their practice.

Figures from the report show that 10% of childminders have a outstanding judgement – that means using figures from the report  that over 28,000 children are receiving  outstanding care and education. Furthermore 61% of childminders have a good judgement and so over 172,000 children receive good childcare and education. The maths therefore say that over  200,000 children receive outstanding or good childcare and education at a childminder setting.

Of course a lot more children receive outstanding or good childcare and education within a pre school setting – due to the number of children that attend each setting.

Personally I think the government is attacking (and yes I do feel as a childminder that the government is constantly attacking my profession) childminders without fully unpicking their own data.

If we look at number of children in satisfactory care we can see that just under 8,000 children receive satisfactory care and education at a childminder setting, and just under 3000 children receive inadequate care and education. Of course this needs improving and I will talk about this later in part two.

However if we look at the figures provided for pre schools, the number of children who receive satisfactory care and education is just under 216,000 children. In the  pre school sector there are no children receiving inadequate care.

So if every child matters, and outcomes for each child are important, more children receive care and education below a good judgement within a pre school setting than within a childminder setting.

I am aware that the figures provided in the report do not break down how many children are in each category and so I am only using the % figures – but in each case the actual numbers of children could be better – or worse.

Before colleagues in the pre school sector think that I am attacking their profession – I am not, as I think that both within the childminding sector and pre school sector there are many complex reasons behind the judgments that are made. Both sectors need support to help make the improvements needed to ensure that all children receive high quality care and education.

My comments are directed at the government – in my opinion the recent constant negative views about childminders are unfair and do not look at the overall impact on the children of this country as a whole.

It would be far more positive to provide support to all sectors and not to constantly devalue and demoralise one particular sector.

I have to say that as a childminder (and I know many childminder colleagues feel the same) that I question why the government has asked childminders to jump through so many hoops – and which a huge % of childminders have complied with, if the government has such a low opinion of  the professionalism and the quality of care provided.

I also need to question the cuts to budgets for the early years sector – both to local authorities and to membership organisations – at a time when the government is asking childcare providers to attend update training, increase level of qualifications, and improve learning environments. All of which stretch provider budgets – and at a time when providers are unable to increase fees to parents to cover these increased demands on budgets.

If the government want to improve outcomes for children and inspection judgments – the government needs to support this and not expect providers to cover these costs out of the personal pockets – because the truth is settings do not not have the funds to do this so owner managers often not only do things for free in their own time but subsidise the setting by providing things for free as well.

Maybe I am being a little judgmental myself – but could it be those settings that are receiving the lower inspection judgments are not in a position either as a setting or via goodwill of owners / managers to invest in training / qualifications, and so on?

Posted November 29, 2012 by psw260259 in My thoughts on current childcare issues

6 responses to “Personal Response to Ofsted Annual Report for Early Years – Part One

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  1. Thanks, Penny. I have read the report. The cynic in me says ‘they ‘DoE, Truss, et al’, will use Ofsted’s annual report to justify and push through the changes within the sector’ Read between the lines!

    • I too think this Laura – it seems that the government is travelling in a particular direction. I have to remain hopefully that research, the professional opinions of those in the sector will be listened to – but with the release of each statement, government report and so on – that hope is beginning to fade.

      I am (as you know) passionate about high quality care and education for all children in all settings – but I also believe in providing support, sharing good practice – and personal and professional development. Unfortunately the government makes many of these things far more difficult than the need to be – not impossible but difficulty.

      On the whole I am a positive person and have given a considerably amount of my time to speaking up for childminders and the children- but even I now wonder if anyone in government is listening to me – or to all the others who also take the time to speak up.

      • Indeed, change can sometimes be good. However, it MUST benefit the children’s care, welfare and making sure that they reach their full potential.

      • Very true

        I am not against change – and as a reflective practitioner, I am always considering and then if appropriate making changes, to practice, to environment and so on – and all to benefit the children in my care.

        So as you say – change can be good – but must be for the benefit of the children

  2. Another excellent posting Penny, and very well observed. I suspect that those in positions of power simply do not understand the early years sector, and to be fair, it is an incredibly complex, hodge-podge of a sector. But this misunderstanding – and you can see by the more positive language used when talking about provision in schools and the historical ‘mis-trust’ (is that the right word, maybe not) of the PVI sector – seems at its highest when discussing childminders and the childminding profession. Because of this lack of knowledge/experience I think it is seen as fair game for any policy designed to save money and to leave a legacy – the ‘look what we did’ syndrome that seems to be the Govian way of doing things – academies, literacy tests, free schools etc, if you ignore the right evidence/facts, you can prove anything . From what I hear, Liz Truss is listening to the sector, but listening, understanding and then doing the right thing for children and for those working in the profession are not the same things, and I fear that the ‘agenda’ has long ago been set in the education department, and that the under secretary will have little room for manoeuvre, even if she had an inclination to. This is where the member organisations need to make a stand, and a big one. Either way, the next few months are going to be a very big rollercoaster…

    • Thank you Neil

      You comment about listening and understanding, and then doing the right thing is a very valid one – as a practitioner I am very aware of the difference between these things when working with the children – I had not thought it through to the levels of government!

      I also believe that the early years minister is listening, and it does appear from her tweets that she is on a fact finding mission – I also wonder just what she will be able to do.

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