New Ofsted Director for Childminding   2 comments

Over the weekend I have had a large number of childminders contact me via email and social media – they all wanted to make sure that I had seen the latest Ofsted newsletter – which can be accessed by clicking on this LINK .

There is of course quite a lot of information in the newsletter – but it is the first bit that has caused concern – it says in the introduction from Sue Gregory

‘At the end of this term I will be retiring from Ofsted after 13 and a half years. As I look back over the variety of roles I have had in my time here, each of them has been professionally rewarding. None more so than the last year as National Director, Early Childhood. It has without doubt been an extremely busy and at times a challenging period; but one where we have made real headway in our drive to improve early years provision through better inspection and regulation.
We can be proud of our achievements over the last year, but there is still more to do. As I hand over to the two new national directors, Nick Hudson (Early Education) and Lorna Fitzjohn (Childminding) I wish you all the very best.’


It is fair to say that at first I had not seen it, due to being at a conference all day Saturday and being ill on Sunday, but when the first person sent me the link I clicked on it, read the introduction and could see straight away why childminders were concerned and why they were making sure I had seen it – and why they wanted me to comment.

Many of those contacting me asked similar questions  based on ‘Have we lost the battle?’ or ‘Is there any point in continuing with our campaign?’ or ‘Is this the nail in the coffin?’

And  – these thoughts were also rushing through my head as I considered why Ofsted might want to have one director for childminding and one director for Early Education.

These are the questions that I thought of;

Will we now see separate statutory documents – as we had in days of National Standards?
Will it be a step towards all childminders being inspected and regulated through agencies? Maybe through suggesting that only those regulated through agencies and subject to home visits being ‘good enough’ ?
Will it be a step towards childminders once again be regarded professionally as of ‘less quality’ and  ‘professionalism’ than other EY settings?
In fact I was so concerned that this move by Ofsted may have a hidden agenda that I decided to email Liz Bayram CEO PACEY and Neil Lietch CEO Pre-school Learning Alliance – wearing  my hat of lead of Save Childhood Movement,  Childminding Advisory Group, to ask their professional opinion.
NB I chose Neil and Liz to approach first as I know they both have opportunity to attend meetings with Ofsted at director level as so thought they have an insight into what is going on.
Liz Bayram responded first and acknowledged that things are changing but put forward a suggestion as to why a new separate  childminding director had been created. She said

It may also be that Ofsted are introducing this role because their two childminding specialists (Sue Gregory and Dee Gasson are due to retire) so they will have a significant knowledge transfer’

A reasonable point  I think – and Ofsted will of course want to ensure a smooth transfer of this significant knowledge – especially as this is a time of significant change in early years and particularly within childminding

As Liz also says ‘ Ofsted will want to ensure that the framework for agencies is effective ‘

I can of course see the logic of what Liz Bayram is saying – Ofsted what to ensure that childminding agencies are a success – and I can also see if they are not, Ofsted – and indeed the government will be in a very difficult position if they do not work or are not successful.  Personally I can not see how they will work or be successful – but then most readers of this blog know my thoughts about childminding agencies (and if you are a new reader – just take a look at some of my previous blogs on the subject)

So getting back to the concerns being expressed by myself and colleagues – Both Liz Bayram and Neil Leitch want to reassure us that the ‘battle is not lost’ – that there is still plenty of time to challenge the idea of childminding agencies  – Liz has pointed out that there will be

‘further legislation which is beyond the end of this parliament and a lot more lobbying by the sector before it gets to that.’

So in a nutshell – we have not lost the battle, there is still time to challenge, there are still a lot of processes for the Children and Families Bill to go through before Childminding Agencies become legal – and perhaps most importantly we all have a very important role to play in standing our ground, in working with our membership organisations – all of them – to demonstrate through our combined efforts and our valid arguments about why agencies will not work, about why individual inspections are essential and about why childminding needs to remain an integrated part of the early years sector.

We can all do our bit, and our membership organisations are all doing their bit – as a member of all of them, and lead on the Save Childhood Movement Advisory group, I know how hard they are all working to represent us all and to ensure our voice is heard.

I understand that both Liz and Neil have meetings with Ofsted in the very near future and I have been reassured that they will be discussing the creation of a new childminding director at the meetings – and raising our concerns.


Finally on a personal note, I would like to thank Neil and Liz for their quick response to my email, and thank all the organisations Pacey, Pre school Learning Alliance, UKCMA and ICM-SE for working in partnership with me (wearing my SCM hat) and with each other – and for sharing information on a weekly , if not daily basis – as I think it is essential that we do share knowledge, do speak as a sector and do not give up our campaigning.



Posted November 11, 2013 by psw260259 in My thoughts on current childcare issues

2 responses to “New Ofsted Director for Childminding

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  1. Thanks for sharing Penny. Important that CMs are kept up to speed with what is going on.

  2. Just adding a comment from June O’Sullivan on Linkedin – she thinks that the two director post are to do with Directors workloads and that there may be a coordinating post created at some point. Pesonally I hope to speak to Ofsted at the new regional meetings to find out just what the plan is – and I am still not happy that childminding has been separated. Again personally – if to do with work load why not just have two directors like we had previously?

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