Dear Lib Dems …. again!   Leave a comment

Following on from Penny’s letter to Nick Clegg and the rest of the Lib Dems about atypical hours, in which she focused on childminders; Penny would now like to comment on another aspect mentioned in the Nursery World article Link to article

To be precise – this bit

‘To encourage longer opening hours, the Lib Dems will recommend that Ofsted not award ‘outstanding’ unless the availability of flexible hours to parents is high.  

The paper suggests that children and family centres and full daycare nurseries should open for 10 hours a day to accommodate parents who work outside the normal 9 to 5 shift patterns.  

This would be limited to those nurseries with more than 25 places and receiving the Nursery Education Grant, for whom it is suggested that they operate between 7am and 7pm daily for 48 weeks a year.’

This would , in  Penny’s opinion – (if brought in ) be discrimination. Any criteria for achieving an outstanding grade should be based on the settings practice and outcomes for children NOT the hours that they are open.

In addition any criteria set should be applied to all settings – not just to nurseries who provide more than 25 places.

If this comes in we might as well all give up trying to meet Ofsted criteria and just get on with doing our jobs, because in any one community we could have;

Independent childminders trying to meet criteria but with very little support when compared to now

Agency childminders who may never be inspected by Ofsted and who may have an agency based grade that is lower or higher than their practice indicates

Small nurseries and pre schools who could achieve an outstanding even if do not offer extended hours

Larger nurseries who no matter how good their practice will not be able to achieve an outstanding grade unless they offer extended hours

Penny has to ask ‘What next?’


Can’t get an outstanding if don’t have an outside area – even if take the children out in the community?

Can’t get a outstanding if only open mornings or afternoon – such as some childminders and pack a way groups?

Can’t get an outstanding unless have lots of  desks / tables and chairs – and spend 75% of the time on formal learning activities

Penny needs to make it clear that she is very much in agreement with having Ofsted as the regulatory body – provided the criteria is applied fairly, consistently and across all settings – otherwise parents will be confused, settings discriminated against for things not related to the outcomes for the children

However the role of advice and support should not be Ofsted’s responsibility.

As someone who has been involved in childcare for over 33 years – Penny thought that the sector was making steady progress towards;

a play based curriculum

acknowledging practitioners skills, knowledge of the children in their care – and so the ability to plan for those children without tick lists and excessive written records,

Common sense judgments on practice rather than paperwork

Support when needed – mainly for free – so settings are not limited by ability to pay when support is  needed

Training at times when needed and at a price that was affordable for most

Practice based on research and evidence from practice in this country – but inform by that from other countries

In Penny’s Opinion – 33years (and more that Penny not personally involved in) of small steady steps in the right direction – and hope that in 2016 when EYFS 2012 should be replaced that further progress would be made

BUT NOW – Penny despairs – for herself and her career as a registered childminder, for the early years sector as a whole – and most importantly for the children of this country.

Penny wonders why one Government – in fact just a few key people within the Government – can be allowed to undo everything that has been achieved in recent years – and be allowed to impose their own PERSONAL views of care and education (Penny says personal because they are not based on any research that she is aware of, and certainly are not the views of those in this country who work with young children, or those that support, train  and advice those who work with young children, or even of those that are experts on child development and effective practice.

Penny also thinks that the early years sector is beginning to think ‘enough is enough’ and because they really care about the children they care for and can not simply just watch young lives be hinder at best and destroyed at worse – that the time is fast  approaching when they will do more than write polite letters, sign petitions and wait patiently for the Government to listen to their concerns.

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