Dear Lib Dems ……   4 comments

Ever since Nick Clegg stood up and said he would not be supporting the ratio increase (which of course Penny had been campaigning about and had started a petition about) – she has been ‘keeping an eye’ on the Lib Dems – you see Penny is not a political person at all and really doesn’t  know her right from her left when it comes to politics.

Penny has  more or less been dragged kicking and screaming into this world of politics because of her passion for her job as a childminder and for the children in her care.

Penny  was lucky enough to actually go to the House of Lords and meet with Lord Storey – who happens to be a Lib Dem – but she has  to admit she is  none the wiser about the finer details of politics.

Anyway as Penny says – She has  been keeping an eye on the Lib Dems as she thought maybe – just maybe the Lib Dems might support her current campaign against the other proposals in More Great Childcare – and in particular – the proposals to introduce Childminding Agencies (which of course was the subject that she went with UKCMA to talk to Lord Storey about)

So naturally when Penny saw this article in Nursery World Link to article – Penny had to read it – and so she did – twice.

Then Penny gave herself a good talking to and told herself to calm down –  it appears that the Lib Dems really have no idea about current early years provision that is already available – because if they did they would realise that childminders (and a small number of nurseries) do offer the extended hours that are talked about in this article.

So Penny decided to write a letter to Nick Clegg – it will be posted tomorrow – short and to the point.

Dear Nick Clegg,

My name is Penny Webb and I am an Ofsted registered childminder – currently with an Outstanding grade . Not that my grade has anything to do with the subject that I am writing to you about, but I thought I would mention it – just in case you thought I was one of those childminders that your colleagues Wilshaw and Gove think do not understand the EYFS and do not provide high quality care and education,, or one of those childminders that your colleague Ms.Truss thinks needs a third party to look after the business side of things (for a rather large fee of course)

I apologise as I have I deviated from the point of my letter, which is about parents needs for childcare outside normal ‘office hours’ to cover atypical shifts.

Many childminders already offer extended hours to cover atypical shifts, and care for siblings of different ages, collection and drop off to schools, and so on.

However as I can not really talk about the details of the hours that many of my colleagues offer, I will tell you about my own childminding setting.

My normal opening hours are 5:30 – 19:00, currently Monday – Friday – but I do offer the same hours on Saturday and Sunday should a parent require those hours.

In addition I can provide overnight care and a babysitting service where I take the child home to their own house after I finish my normal childminding day – and put them to bed in their own bed – and baby sit until the parent gets home. Until recently a parent who was a nurse did use this service.

All of the parents using my childminding service at the moment – use my service for a 10 hour day – in fact this is my standard day – any 10 hours within the hours of 5:30 – 19:00.

I do not have a late fee or charge an anti social fee or ‘overtime rate’ – parents can’t help it if they are delayed on the journey home.

The  parents who use my service are just about to have a price reduction because I feel I should try to help out with lower childcare costs and so  I now do not charge for any days that my setting is closed – such as my annual leave or Bank Holidays – this is going to save parents around £300 per child per year.

If you are interested parents pay £29 per day for 10 hours

All the children in my care access their full entitlement to Nursery Education (I provide the FE for 2,3 and 4 year olds) and all the children have been in my care since they were 12 months old – which I am sure you will agree is a sign that parents are very happy with the service that I provide.

Oh and I forgot to mention – if parents have transport difficulties – as does one parent at the moment – I collect the child from home and take back home at the end of the day – FREE of charge.

Meals and snacks, and outings and a setting T.shirt are all provided free of charge

However as I say I am not unique – many of my colleagues offer a similar service.

Therefore Mr. Clegg my question to you is ‘Surely, it would make sense to support all these small businesses that are already providing the very thing the article in Nursery World suggests is needed?’ , and to support the campaign to stop the implementation of childminding agencies which will provide an income to a ‘middle man’ but do nothing to lower childcare costs, and will create a two tier system with some childminders inspected on their own practice and some via an agency based grade.

However the most important reason to support the campaign to stop the implementation of childminding agencies is that childminders are not going to be motivated to offer the extended hours or any of the additional services, if they do not receive credit for their professionalism and hard work through their own individual inspection and grade. Why would anyone do more than the bare minimum in terms of hours or additional services if they will be graded on the practice of others, which is what will happen if childminding agencies become a reality.

Mr. Clegg, I would very much like to welcome you to my setting in Kidderminster so you can see for yourself  the quality of the care and education that the children receive, talk to the parents about their children, and discuss with me in more detail why childminding agencies are not the way forward – and why supporting childminders to continue to provide an individual service that meet the needs of parents – including those that work atypical hours could solve some of the childcare issues facing this country.


Penny Webb

4 responses to “Dear Lib Dems ……

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  1. Brilliant Penny

  2. Penny, you may single handedly affect positive changes to all Early Years services. Go girl go!

    • Thank you for you kind words Catriona – and although at times I do feel still like a lone voice calling from the wilderness – I really do think that that the only way we are going to get the positive changes we all want and all agree are needed – is to work together.

      As you know I have been on this mission for about a year and a half now – I have blogged and written letters, started petitions,set up the One Voice website, joined as many groups of like minded people as I can, worked with those who are happy to work with me, personally joined all the national organisations that represent childminders, and extended my own professional network

      and yet

      I still don’t think I am being very effective and certainly I am not getting many opportunities to speak to the people who can make the changes needed – maybe it is the way I speak my mind? maybe it is because I am a childminder? ( not that there is anything wrong with that) – but at the end of the day I do not represent the views of anyone other than myself – I am not the CEO of a big company or organisation – and although I do have a lot of childminding colleagues who connect and share with me I can not speak on their behalf, although I can pass on their views if they ask me to.

      I hope that the early years sector does come together and does speak with one voice – as these issues will impact on all of us one way or another

  3. We seem to have very small voices don’t we penny? please keep going- you are a major inspiration and thank you for all your hard work.

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