When a ‘choice’ is not a free choice but is more of limited options!   5 comments

As an experienced childminder I am well aware of the difficulties that can be created by giving children too many choices, and so offer the children in my care a choice of one of two things – occasionally three things.

For example –  Which breakfast cereal would you like?  hoops or krispies? Would you like ham or cheese in your sandwich? Would you like to have the trains out or the cars? and so on.

The children do not need to know that there are other cereals or sandwich fillers available in the cupboard and fridge – on different days they will be given different options based on my knowledge of a balanced diet and of course their likes and dislikes

Basic rule – for the youngest children I decide what the choices available will be and the children make their choices from those limited options. I also support the children by asking what they think we could have so that over time they actually help decide what the options will be.

And the older the child ,the more options they can cope with and make informed decisions – by school age they will be able to select their cereal from a wider choice – and I would expect them to self select fully understanding the reasons for sensible choices.

Often the choice is between doing the ‘right’ thing or having a consequence – so would you like to put away the trains and then we can go to the park?  or stay here and play trains instead of going to the park?

Would you like to put your lego model safe on the shell or leave it on the floor where it may get broke?

And again I support by asking questions so the children think through the consequences themselves, so that eventually they can self regulate their actions and their feelings.

And so on – I think most childminders and indeed childcare providers from all types of early years settings are very skilled at helping children to make informed choices and in stopping them becoming overwhelmed with too much choice . Leading to children who over time can make choices and can understand the reasons for those choices and can regulate their feelings around those choices.

So maybe this is why as someone who could be described as ‘mature’, I am feeling like I am being treated like a young child who can only cope with limited options – who it is felt by the government, does not need any additional information other than the bits that are being spoonfed over a number of weeks and even months.

I am of course talking about the whole childminder agency proposals in More Great Childcare.

Despite hundreds, if not thousands of letters to MP’s, Elizabeth Truss and the Prime Minister  – no one is answering the questions asked – all we get is patronising remarks about the value the government places on childminders and chunks of More Great Childcare quoted back at us – as if just like children we need things broken down into small chunks and to be told in very basic language – that is is all to make things easier for us, to raise quality, to encourage more childminders into the profession, to increase our professional status – and on and on – repeating the same things – never giving us any further information.

WHY NOT – you have to ask – why will the government not tell us the answers to the things we want to know?

These questions (and more)

Where is the research based evidence that supports these ideas?

Why are you using out of date data for agencies?

Why are you not waiting for data based on inspectitions under EYFS 2012?

What is the rush?

Why are pilot childminding agencies being planned – ahead of the results of the consultation?

Why is there a time scale that has pilots for Sept 13 and for agencies to be up and running for Sept 14?

Why are are we being told that there will be a full consultation on agencies BUT on how we want them to work – not if we want them – as that sounds like agencies are a done deal?

Can you say why when over 70% of childminders are judged by Ofsted to be good or outstanding you are ‘grouping’ us all together as needing support?

You have decided that weaker group providers should have more frequent inspections – why can you not do the same for weaker childminder settings?

Why are you are setting up new support services that will be provided by people who want to make profits – rather than allowing those who currently provide service to charge a ‘break even’ cost?

Please explain how having a one shop through agencies will be any quicker or cheaper than the current system of going though the LA’s?

What will the cost to the childminder be of registering and using the services of an agency?

How much will cost to register with Ofsted as a non agency childminder?

You have stated that it costs too much to register and inspect individual childminders – and so why can you not just put up the yearly fee to remain registered?

Please can you provide figures that show how an agency will be a cost effective model for providing support, monitoring and assessment – because if Ofsted find it too expensive and LA’s can not provide universal support due to the cost of doing so, and ccf networks are decreasing in numbers – in part due to cost – how will an agency be able to provide the services for less?

And so at the moment the questions remain unanswered – the details still vague or even non exsistant – and childminders all over the country are watching and listening  – waiting to be treated as professionals

Come on government not telling us is simply not good enough!

However the thing that is starting to annoy me is the the agency idea is being pushed through – pilots are being set up – meetings held to discuss the details – and about 6 months after the More Great Childcare was published we will have the pilots up and running – no options – no real consultation – just up and runnig.

And they are going to be evaluated early in 2014 – and it seems no matter what that evaluation says – agencies WILL be implemented across the country from September 2014 – again the government are planning on just doing it – unless together we can find a way to stop them

5 responses to “When a ‘choice’ is not a free choice but is more of limited options!

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  1. Well said Penny – so many questions and very few answers. Agencies will have a huge impact on our businesses whether we join or not, that it’s so unjust that we’re being kept in the dark.

  2. Happy Friday Penny!

    I know I joked a few months ago about behaving like other professionals unhappy with their work environment …….
    Now I am thinking its possibly the only way we are going to be portrayed fairly by the media and our professionalism & working knowledge treated with respect …..

    A strike, 48 hours no Childcare

    We don’t want more money , bigger pension contributions just to be considered
    Consulted and respected by the media public and government.

    Can you imagine the changes we have had over the past years let alone recent and expected changes being swallowed by Nurses, teachers & Council workers !
    Oh how they would march and run weeks of strikes !

    All I read is “Childminders prices rise by so and so percent” …. Mine haven’t in 4 years or lacking education etc etc

    Respect and to be listened to , not a lot to ask !!!!!!!!!!!

    • I am not going as far as a strike (because of impact on children and families)- but I am organising some rallies, hopefully all over the country. More details very soon. In the meantime I am looking for ‘organiser to help on the day because clearly I can’t be everywhere at once

  3. Hi Penny

    Here, Here. Very well said, all very frustrating and upsetting. I despise the way this is all being bulldozed through, without any real justification. Feeling let down and very demoralised at the moment 😦

  4. Well put Penny. We should take your lead and be as persistent and repetitive with our questions as Ministers are with their soundbites!

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