Hands up if you think you don’t need to worry about childminding agencies because they are voluntary   1 comment

It has been concerning Penny that many childminders appear to still not know about childminding agencies and even if they do they do know about childminding agencies they appear not to be worried – maybe  because the government have said that joining a childminding agency will be optional. – and therefore maybe they think they don’t need to  be proactive in objecting to childminding agencies .

It is possible that childminding colleagues may think all they need to do to show that they don’t want childminding agencies, is simply not join one and remain an independently Ofsted registered and inspected childminder.

And they may be right – we can all just sit back and wait for market forces to show that no one wants to be part of childminding agencies and therefore they won’t be successful and will close as financially they have to be self funded.


Penny’s view is that the government are determined that childminding agencies will become a reality and will be a ‘success’ and so will do everything they can to ‘make it so’

Let’s think about it – the government have already said when childminding agencies will be rolled out – no if – just  a date – September 2014

The government are spending a lot of time and effort to ensure that the Children’s and Families Bill under which childminding agencies will become law gets through the various processes. Despite a large number of amendments put forward at committee stage during the Bill’s progress through the House of Commons – most were not accepted – we are now relying on the House of Lords to pick up on the important points about childminding agencies and to put forward amendments – but the government have been very clever – because you see the Children and Families Bill cover a huge variety of very important issues and the childminding agency bit is actually just a few lines – and compared to some of the other things in the Bill – might seem of less importance.

Let’s  image that you are a Lord or a Baroness and have the very important role of making sure the Children and families Bill is fit for purpose and ‘does what it says on the tin’  – with such a huge range of proposals and subjects matters – what would you do? I know what I would do – I would focus on the things that seemed to be most important and / or most complicated – and unfortunately childminding agencies are neither – in the grand scale of things

So although some of those taking the Bill through the House of Lords do have some understanding of the issues involved, not everyone does and even if they did – it is likely that discussion will be limited and as with the House of Commons – although amendments will be put forward , the chances of any major changes – such as dropping the idea – are limited to say the least.

Therefore we are all going to have to support the Lords and Baronesses – and the MP’s who have been supporting us – in whatever ways we can – More about this later towards the end of the blog.

However unless there is a HUGE amount of campaigning and expressing of concerns about childminding agencies – they will become law.

Once that change to the legal requirement for all registered childminders to be inspected individually by Ofsted, has been made – then the Government will have in place the means to make further changes to the regulation of childminders.

So if you are thinking that all you have to do is not to join a childminding agency – ask yourself these questions: –

Can you be sure that the Government will not make further changes?

Can you be sure that at some point in the future (and maybe sooner rather than later) that the Government won’t decide that childminding agencies are so successful that it would make sense for all childminders to registered and inspected through an agency?

Can  you be sure that the Government won’t increase the fee to be registered and inspected by Ofsted to an amount that you won’t be able to afford?

Can you be sure that the Government won’t leave the Ofsted fee as it is  – and then use that as the ‘reason’ why  the Government can’t not afford to continue registering and inspecting childminders through Ofsted?

Personally Penny does not trust any Government – and in particular  this government – as Penny along with a room full of inspectors and early years practitioners who had taken part in the pilots for EYFS 2012 – were told that EYFS 2012 would be in place until 2016 and that any changes would be fully consulted on – and then even before EYFS 2012 became law – the rumours had started – within weeks we were presented with More Great Childcare.

Let’s not forget that EYFS 2012 is still within its FIRST YEAR and already we have had numerous changes to inspection criteria, to grades, to expectations for more formal learning,  also new qualifications which do not focus on play, the changing role of the LA’s – and so on.

We have consultations galore BUT it seems that even before the ink is dry on the paper of the consultations – and certainly before the views of those who take the time to respond to consultations are known – that this Government has already put wheels in motion so that it is almost to late to change things. Certainly Childminding agencies are an example of this, so much has already been decided, pilots are starting and changes to the law already at an advance stage. The consultations appear to be a exercise – just to ‘tick the box’ and say that consultation did take place.

We know this Government are very good at ‘cherry picking’ the information that suits them – and ignoring the rest. We know this Government are very good at ‘creative Counting’ – for example instead of counting the number of members of an organisation that fed into that organisations response to a consultation – they just count it as ONE view. Instead of counting all the letters to MP’s and Ms. Truss and the Prime Minster expressing concerns about childminding agencies – they just count the ones sent to the DfE.

Then we need to try and guess just what the Governments hidden agenda is – it maybe that they don’t have one – but their lack of detail about their proposals, their track record of slipping in changes to wording without any discussion, their ability to ignore evidence and research that does not support their proposals – and most importantly the fact that through criticism, down grading of settings and constantly changing of the ‘goal posts’ they seem determined to make early years settings and in particular childminding settings appear to be somehow – well somehow ‘not good enough’ and getting worse – despite inspection evidence to suggest otherwise,

So Childminding colleagues  – Penny has to ask:

Do you still think all you need to do is not join a childminding agency and trust the Government not to implement further changes?

Personally Penny thinks that the risk in trusting the Government is too high – and that by not being proactive in expressing concerns or saying clearly that you don’t want to join a childminding agency – that sooner or later  there may not be a choice – and those that want to remain registered and inspected by Ofsted – will have that option removed.

Of course Penny maybe wrong – very wrong – but please ask yourselves these two questions;

How would I feel if Penny is right and in the future I do not have the option to remain an independent childminder who is inspected by Ofsted?

What do I have to lose by signing the Stop, Listen Consult petition or by writing to the Department of Education to tell them that I don’t want to join a childminding agency?

And now ask yourself a third question;

Can I personally take the risk that Penny might be right?

In Penny’s opinion – most childminding colleagues should now know what is important to them personally – they should know that unless they personally want to join an agency or maybe don’t care either way  (and if that is the case please read the Pacey briefings  Link to page on Pacey website for briefings about cm agencies and the copies of letters already sent to the Dfe and reproduced on One Voice website Link to One Voice page with letters sent to DfE) that they have nothing to lose by supporting the campaign against childminding agencies- and actual help ensure that remaining registered directly with Ofsted remains an option.

If you have decided that it might be better to speak up now – just in case Penny is right – you should:

Sign the Stop, Listen, Consult petition and leave a comment about why you don’t want to join a childminding agency Link to Stop, Listen, Consult petition (By the way this is a new petition – and not to be confused with the ratio petition – to check if you have signed it or not – just click on the link – and it will say ‘signed’ if you have already signed it – and ‘sign’ if you haven’t)

Write to the Department for Education to tell them that you don’t want to join a childminding agency Link to One Voice for some sample letters to adapt and send (and if you do write to the DfE please email Togetherforquality@hotmail.co.uk  to give permission for your name and / or letter to be put on One Voice as evidence how many against the idea – but also as inspiration to others)

Write to your MP Link to One Voice – how to find details of your MP

Write to House of Lords Link to One Voice for details about how to contact the House of Lords

Share this blog with as many colleagues as you can

Ask parents of the children you look after and family and friends to sign the Stop, Listen, Consult petition

If 100% of those who do not want to join a childminding agency were proactive and signed the petition / wrote letters – we would stand a good chance of getting things changed

If 50% signed – our message would be loud and clear

If people don’t sign or write letters and leave it to a few individuals such as Penny to campaign – well to be honest Penny and those who are campaigning along side her – including The Alliance. PACEY. UKCMA and ICM-SE – are wasting their time – as the Government will say ‘If it is true that most childminders don’t want to join childminding agencies – why are they not signing the petition or writing to us?’

And the Government would have a valid point – if you don’t tell them personally your views either by signing the petition or writing to the DfE – how are the Government supposed to know if Penny and her campaigning colleagues are representing the views of all childminders?

And some final words from Penny – If you are a colleague from the wider early years sector – or a parent of young children or a concerned member of the public – you need to ask yourself this question;

Will childminding agencies be a good thing for me personally and have a positive impact on me as a person in my private or professional life?

And if your answer is – ‘No, they would have a negative impact’  – or even ‘ I am not sure at the moment’ – ask yourself this question;

Should I do nothing and hope that everything works out OK – or should I be proactive in supporting those who are campaigning against childminding agencies?

Thank you for taking the time to read this blog – and remember together we can be a strong voice and make a difference.



Since writing this blog a couple of related items have come to Penny’s attention

First an article by Neil Leitch CEO of Pre school Learning Alliance in Nursery World Neil Leitch talking about childminding agencies in Nursery World

Second – a company offering support and training for childminders giving details of support and training – and the costs. At Home Childcare. Take a look at the whole site – it is not an agency at the moment (can’t be – as not legal yet) but they do provide childcare via a service in child’s own home. Penny is not making any personal judgments – just providing the information

One response to “Hands up if you think you don’t need to worry about childminding agencies because they are voluntary

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  1. Pingback: Thought provoking blog - re childcare

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