Am I wasting my time?   3 comments

Well today – I was supposed to be in London at a roundtable meeting with Elizabeth Truss the Early Years Minister, discussing childminding agencies – together with all the main organisations that represent childminders, other registered childminders like me, and some of those taking part in the agency trials.

But of course I am not in London as Truss cancelled the meeting – so instead I am at home  – and I had good intentions about how I should spend my unexpected free time – but to be honest I have not done any of the things on my to do list – in fact I have not even moved away from my laptop and social media sites

First thing I am on Facebook as the childminding community are rightly so, very angry about Truss cancelling the meeting and are commenting on the Facebook Groups that I run

Then one of my colleagues mentions that Truss is speaking at a conference on the future of childcare – my blood boiled – how dare she. This was clearly planned a while ago the same as our meeting was – but she didn’t cancel this one – she managed to meet this commitment. But it is not really a surprise to me – she wanted to go and talk about her wonderful ideas – she did not want to discuss people’s concerns about her ideas.

If she was able to be at a conference at 9 am why could she not go ahead with the meeting with myself and the others as planned just before lunchtime? The meeting was just for 90 mins – hardly going to make a huge difference to her day – was it? But it could have potentially made a huge difference to everyone’s understanding about why she thinks childminding agencies are needed – we would have had opportunity to explain – as a united sector voice – why we think they are not needed. Furthermore – acknowledging that childminding agencies are going to happen no mater what anyone says or does – we might have been able to establish some facts about agency fees, quality assurance, cost to remain independent and answers to all the questions that myself and my colleagues and the childminder organisations, keep asking – but so far have not had any response  to.

Because I was VERY CROSS  I then spent some time on Twitter expressing my thoughts – I admit my usual highly professional way of tweeting was replaced with anger fed comments

AND then into my inbox popped the Regulation of Childcare response document – if you have not read it yet – click HERE. It appeared in my inbox because I had bothered to take the time to complete it – as I have with most of the other consultations. I quickly scanned the first couple of pages – and was so cross that I stopped reading – and posted the link in my Facebook group and on Twitter – there followed  some more Tweets and FB posts

The whole consultation had – as I suspected it would be – been  a COMPLETE WASTE OF TIME

On several questions respondents had clearly disagreed with Government proposal but the Government still intend to implement the proposal – I have to ask – WHY bother asking for people’s views if have no intention of listening. My personal thoughts are that I wasted my time – and should not have bothered to fill it in

As you can imagine the Facebook childminding community have been vocal about this document – and saddened and rather depressed.

So I thought I would take a look in more detail at the document question by question (sorry you will have to refer to the document as I can not copy and paste from it) and added my personal comment – in blue and in relation to the impact on childminders and childminding.

Question 1: Simplifying the childcare registration system 

Things certainly need improving – I am not sure if this will improve things or not – more detail is needed about the requirements. However this aspects applies to all and so is not part of my questioning re the impact on childminders and childminding.

Question 2: Removing requirement for out of school hours settings to deliver the learning and development requirements of EYFS 

I do agree with the bit about wrap around because the children have had a formal learning environment all day and should not have to be submitted to yet more formal learning (however I know there will be plenty of learning going on).

However is it right that children who may only be a month or two older than peers who did not go to school – are allowed to enjoy out of school hours periods without the requirements of EYFS learning and development and those not in full time education still have to follow the full EYFS curriculum? And more importantly their practitioners have to ensure the whole curriculum covered and documented?

Maybe EYFS should be guidance not a requirement – and early years practitioners allowed to tailor each child’s learning environment to that child? Maybe the focus should be about the child not about the curriculum or assessment? Maybe we should look to our colleagues in other countries and stop worrying about all this until the child is 6 or 7? 

However I am digressing a little – and coming back to this regulation of Childcare response document – again it will apply to all settings so not childminding specific

Question 3; Extending the 2 hour rule to 3 hours 

So despite only 28% being in favour of this proposal the Government are going to go ahead with it

This will have an impact on childminding as parents will be able to say some one is a friend and they will be able to do ‘school runs” and look after the child for up to 3 hours without the requirement to register or hold any qualifications, have a DBS, do any training including first aid, or have insurance in place or undergo a Ofsted inspection. And I know from experience that 3 hours a day is often enough childcare either side of a school day to meet parents work requirements.

Please don’t misunderstand me – parents should be able to support each other in this way – but it is not fair that early years settings,  and before and after school clubs will still have to abide by the two hour rule – including the 2 hour rule for childminding assistants having sole care of the children (and that is assuming they have a DBS and first aid qualification) and early years settings will also have to follow the full requirements of EYFS

Of course the Government are desperate to make it look like they are enabling More Affordable Childcare – but is this the way to it – and at the expense of those settings that are in the business of providing childcare?

It seems to me that the Government are over regulating some and under regulating others


Question 4a) – Multi premises 

Again despite just under 50% in agreement the Government are going to implement this one – and leave it to Ofsted to ensure the suitability of each premises. How are they going to do that – without inspecting each setting? All this says to me is more money saving measures from the government  at the potential cost of not safeguarding children. Just because one person or one company owns several settings it does not mean that the buildings are the same, the staff the same, the risks the same, the implementation of EYFS the same.

In fact not unlike childminding agencies where the government thinks one grade on the agencies robust systems will cover all the different childminder settings within that agency. 

Question 4b); Childminders working in suitable non domestic settings 

So about 38% agreed with this – but surprise, surprise – the government are still going to implement it. Why you might be asking – because they want to support childminders? Do they heck!  They want childminders to work in after school clubs providing the extended hours.

Of course some childminders may want this sort of work, it may suit some BUT most childminders have other commitments. What are the childminders supposed to do with the under fives that they care for? What are they supposed to do with their own children? Childminding is about home based childcare and most school children cared for by childminders like to go to a home based setting with sofa’s, TV, games, not many children, and most importantly get away from school. What about the children’s evening meals – something that many childminders provide and a service that many parents really appreciate.

I could say more but I have a blog already about this extended school day.

Question 5; Single set of safeguarding requirements

80% were in favour – and to give credit where it is due – it does make sense, as so easy to over look something if having to apply two different sets of criteria

Question 6: Requirement to undertake a LA approved course before registering as a childminder

Only 14% agreed with this – many gave detailed reasons why they disagreed – but of course the government know best and so have taken no notice at all – so in future ANYONE can provide the training – no one will quality assure it – and Ofsted will ensure it is suitable. No disrespect to Ofsted but how will they be able to judge this? And how will they know if a person has passed or failed when there is not a set criteria?

I could get on my soap box on this one – as a qualified tutor and someone with vast experience in delivering such courses both national ones and local ones – I can honestly say this is a huge step backwards – what are the government thinking? 

Actually I am not against the LA not having to approve the course – I am against there being no standard national criteria / bench marking

Question 7; Requirement for First Aid Training to be approved by LA

My personal opinion is much the same as previous question – in that ‘making it clear what should be covered’ is not the same thing as quality assurance. First Aid training does not need to be LA approved but someone has to quality assure the training and set the bench marking

Question 8; Risk assessment requirement

I do, in principle agree with this one as my personal thoughts are – a piece of paper does not remove or reduce a risk or keep children safe – practitioners do – and if supported to develop the skills in risk assessing, children can also help keep themselves safe 

Question 9; Staff requirements for children aged 5 – 7

Again only a few people agreed with this proposal – and again the government are just going to ignore the responses and implement anyway. As a childminder myself and my colleagues will be disadvantaged because regardless of our qualification or the amount of space available – we will still be required to maintain a one to three ratio with the 5 – 7 year olds. Other settings may be able to reduce their fees  – we won’t – oh but silly me – of course that is what the government want – for us to not look after 5 – 7 year olds in our settings but to go and work in schools covering the extended hours. 

Question 10; Additional comments

Nothing really to comment on.

So there we are – and I am still of the impression that responding to the consultation was a complete waste of time – and furthermore the government are busy banging another nail in the coffin of childminders

Posted February 13, 2014 by psw260259 in My thoughts on current childcare issues

3 responses to “Am I wasting my time?

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  1. The clearest thing that arose from this whole exercise is how pointless it is for the Government to put their proposals out for consultation, if they then ignore any responses that don’t agree with their plans. 84% of respondents disagreed with the proposals to remove staff qualification and staff ratio requirements for out of school clubs, but the Govt is still going through with it anyway. So what was the point of asking people for their input?
    These proposals may well result in more plentiful childcare (which is all the Govt wants really) but I strongly doubt that they will result in good quality childcare.

  2. I think we all knew that the consultation was just a sham from the start. We are often asked for our opinion but it’s just playing lip service. As childminders we are doing a good job, some are excelling. But the government don’t like it as they can’t control us, their fingers aren’t deep enough in our pies and they don’t like it. We have to stand together on this one, it’s like fighting Maggi Thatcher over the Poll Tax all over again.

    Evelyn Weightman, Nans nippers
  3. So insulting that your meeting was cancelled and this meeting went ahead! What message does that give & Tut, tut!

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