Penny is of course referring to letters that she and her colleagues are sending to our MP’s, the Prime Minister, the Deputy Prime Minister, Ms. Truss, the DfE and Mr. Gove about childminding agencies.
Hundreds of letters have been sent – all slightly different, all raising personal concerns, all written in childminders own time and sent at their own expense – and more importantly all written in the belief that we live in a democratic society where we have the right to express our opinion, to voice our concerns – and to have them listened to and responded to.
The good news is that the letters are sometimes responded to – but the bad news is that ‘standard’ replies are sent – and usually signed by a person who is not the person that the letter was address to.
How can so many different letters be responded to with a standard reply?
And why do those standard replies just say what we already know – and re quote bits of More Great Childcare and More Affordable Childcare?
The reason childminders are writing is because they HAVE READ both More Great Childcare and More Affordable Childcare and they want to express their concerns and / or ask for clarification about specific aspects.
Penny finds this patronising and insulting – surely the Government have a duty to respond to concerns raised and genuine questions asked?
Penny wonders if the Government think that childminders really can’t understand the original documents and so they best repeat the key messages that are contained within the documents – maybe in the belief that if they say it often enough – that like a child learning times times my rote – that childminders will eventually be able to quote the key points back and not question if they are true.
If you, the reader are noting a slightly cynical tone to this blog – you will be right.
To be honest Penny is tired – tired of keep trying to get the government to listen and to consult – in fact to show the slightest indication that they are listening to the concerns expressed.
You see, Penny has personally been campaigning against childminding agencies for over 18 months – and that is a long time to keep on writing letters, emails, articles for the media, blogs, doing interviews , explaining in person, working in partnership with other early years professionals and providing information via social media and the One Voice website.
In the very early days before she had responsibility for Early Years, Elizabeth Truss did respond in person – but only to put her point of view and to suggest that Penny might be the ideal sort of person to run a childminding agency.
Since then – just standard replies – no answers – no explanations to suggest that Penny had missed the point/ didn’t understand the bigger picture – no offers to meet with Penny and colleagues for discussion and two way sharing of information / no fine detail about the Governments plans to enable Penny and colleagues to make informed decisions.
So as the heading says – How can Penny and her colleagues engage with the Government – at any level? How can they ensure their voice is heard and their concerns at least listened to and not brushed aside with another standard letter?
In an attempt to open a dialogue with the Government Penny has TWO questions that she would like an answer to – and if these questions get answered then she will ask another two questions.
Why can’t childminders who wish to join a childminding agency remain registered and inspected with Ofsted instead of through an agency?
How many CHILDMINDERS have indicated through letters or consultation responses or petitions or any other means that they DO want to join a childminding agency?