Wednesday 5th June – A phone call leads to celebrations   10 comments

Wednesday 5th June was a fairly normal day here at Penny’s Place – and I shall write a blog about it when times allows. When I say it was a normal day – it was but only until approx 17:40

Because at 17:40 the phone rang – it was a voice that I have come to recognise – that of Mr. Neil Leitch CEO of the Pre-school Learning Alliance.

Now the Pre School Learning Alliance is my membership organisation but even so I am sure that Neil does not phone every member  – time would not make it possible no matter how much Neil would like to speak directly to all members.

So why might you ask was Neil phoning me?

Simple – we have worked together on the ratio campaign ever since Neil signed the original ratio petition that I initiated on 24th January 2013

The news that Neil had to tell me was unexpected and therefore a bit of a shock.

Neil had just been talking to the Deputy Prime Minister’s Office – and the news was that Nick Clegg would not be supporting the increases to ratios in Early Years settings (which as we know were part of the More Great Childcare proposals)

This meant we had won – and the campaigning had been worth it – we had a victory over the ratio issues

Neil asked me not to tell anyone as the news was embargoed until midnight.

Oh boy – was that hard – and I admit I did tell one person – just had to as I was so excited.

Then the news was leaked by others and about an hour after Neil had told me the news – it was all over the social media sites – not confirmed at this stage – but being celebrated by many.

This morning – well after the midnight embargo rules  – the Pre School Learning Alliance issued This Press Release

Nursery World also have an article online Nursery World 6th June 13 news

I am of course delighted that the early years sector has been listened to and that children of this country will continue to have the benefit of high adult to child ratios.

And so for me personally, a bit of a celebration – not being a woman who drinks, I had some chocolate instead!

I have also been reflecting on my journey in this campaign – and the road I still have to travel in relation to the other proposals within More Great Childcare

I started out this campaigning over 16 months ago,when I first heard about Elizabeth Truss’s ideas for childminding agencies – writing letters to the childcare press, writing the words to a first petition about childminders and in particular the point that childminders would not be able to be independently registered with Ofsted, and writing via email to Ms.Truss.

That first petition was closed as Ms.Truss announced via an article in the media that childminders would be able to remain independently registered with Ofsted

But as we all now know Ms.Truss became the Early Years Minster and her ideas became the document More Great Childcare.

And as we all know I spearheaded a new petition which went live on 24th January 2013 and was specifically about increased ratios in Early Years settings – but I did not do it alone – yes it was my idea and my wording – but I had the support of Laura Henry and Nathan Archer who have both worked tirelessly on the campaign since day one.

The petition also had the support of the Pre School Learning Alliance and the then National Childminding Association (now PACEY) from the beginning – and later on the support of NDNA , other organisations and many early years experts.

In those early days there was also frustration and disappointment as the Childminding Forum started their own petition and despite being asked to join together as campaigning about the same thing they refused to do so – and in doing so caused confusion – and people to sign both petitions – which in turn led to a diluting of the impact of the number of signatures and therefore the potential to make the government listen.

I was actually approach by one of those connected to the Childminding Forum to ask if a joint statement could be issued about both petitions – however when I said this was a brilliant idea and I would just check with those supporting the petition that I initiated – I was told I could not tell them – that it was to be between the person concerned and me! Most odd – and not the way I work at all. To me to do anything that did not involve everyone concerned was not working in partnership – and so I did not take up the offer of a joint statement.

However the Childminding Forum should be congratulated on the amazing success of their petition – over 52,000 signatures, and by far the most successful  petition about ratios.

Of course with the owner of the Childminding Forum having access to a huge database of names and contact details from other businesses, it was to be expected that they would reach more people – and as an individual there was no way that I could directly target so many people. So hats off to the Childminding Forum – just a shame that all those signatures were not on one petition and not all speaking with One Voice.

Which brings me to the next part of my personal reflection – the One Voice site.

This site was set up by me to try to bring together as much information as possible about all things related to More Great Childcare – and if I say so myself, despite inputting all the links on my own – the One Voice site does have a lot of information on it. However it does not have all the information because despite the information being provided via links back to the original source – not everyone has given permission for links to their sites.

Another part of my reflection has to be the support of so many individuals – who have written to their MP’s, to the Prime Minister and to Truss, who have tirelessly kept on spreading the link to the petition and campaigning in their own areas. Also the support of those who have sent me information and passed on ‘stuff’  – in confidence.

And I must thank those who have supported me through emails and phone calls – you know who you are – THANK YOU.

My campaigning has led me to meet with and work with many professionals from across all sectors of Early Years – and my personal learning journey through these professional contacts has been – well outstanding.


The journey does not stop here – with the victory over the ratio issues – there is still much to do re the other proposals in More Great Childcare – and in particular the proposal about Childminding Agencies, this ill thought out idea must be challenged , as it is not workable and not in the best interests of anyone.

Furthermore – there is also the issue of the role of the Local Authorities, the whole early years qualification mess……. and the connected and long standing issues about school starting age and the right to learn through play without constant ‘testing’ and assessment.

I hope you will all continue to support the campaigning on behalf of the children of this country – they do not have a voice in these things – but we do – so lets all speak with passion, with knowledge and experience and with One  Voice.

10 responses to “Wednesday 5th June – A phone call leads to celebrations

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  1. Well said Penny. I still keep pinching myself thinking this must all be a dream, cannot quite believe it.

    I totally agree with your closing comments, hopefully the passion of those choosing this vocation will have the strength to unite and turn around all the ridiculous ideas within More Great Childcare.

    Victory does feel so good.

    Kind regards


  2. Wonderful news Penny and thank you for all the wonderful work you put in on behalf of childminders but as you say the agencies are what are worrying me

  3. Most excellent news Penny – and a real testament to standing your ground on an issue of principle. Time to celebrate, and then more to do, but for now – thank you and congratulations.

  4. Great news Penny and thank you and everyone else for all the hard work you have done to get this great outcome,

  5. well done Penny

    elaine o'brien
    • Thank you Elaine – I accept the thanks for starting this ball rolling – but I think it is really ‘well done to all of us who care about the well being and futures of the children of this country’

  6. Wow! you are a truly remarkable lady and an inspirational childminder. You are passionate, but professional, vocal but considered.
    I totally agree the battle is not quite won yet, childminder agencies are not going to help anyone. Parents need to be able to choose their child’s carer “one size does not fit all”.
    After working as a childminder for 6years and working with childminders for almost 4 years I know that every childminder works differently and as in every profession, each childminder has different skills, strengths and weaknesses. And of course every child in different and needs to be able to form a close bond and relationship with their carer, these relationships can not be decided by a third party.
    In my humble opinion the only possible benefit of childminder agencies is to the people who choose to run one and charge childminders and parents of something they have managed to do quite well alone for years and years, which is build working relationship in order to provide their children (and the children they care for) loving, secure relationship and environment in which they can grow and develop

  7. Well said Penny I wholeheartedly agree with everything you’ve written here.You’ve been amazing and I and many others are indebted to you. Thanks once again. Carole.

    Sent from my iPhone

    Carole Wardrop
  8. Pingback: Pre- School Learning Alliance Conference 2013 (and a potted history of my connection to the Alliance) | Penny's Place Childminding

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