Archive for April 2014

A tale of two inspection reports   3 comments

In my previous blog CLICK HERE TO READ , I wrote about the fact that I was very cross that my inspection report had been published – even though I have a stage two complaint still on going.

 

How can it be right that Ofsted can publish a report when the provider is saying it is full of errors?

Well it seems they can – and they do –  I now know that this is happening to a lot of people up and down the country – and further that often they are not believed and it is the inspectors word against the providers word, and so despite complaining the report stays – errors and all.

 

An appalling state of affairs – and something that Ofsted need to reflect on – and take action to improve – as soon as possible.

 

However Ofsted may have done me and my co minder a favour – because in my case my co minder was inspected on the same day, by the same inspector,  at my setting and with the same four children.

Now both reports are published I can quote from both of the reports, and hopefully show just how silly this whole situation is.

I am not going to unpick all  of the reports at this stage – just a few key points –  My comments are in blue

Point One – Inspection Date

My report  states the date of inspection as 24/02/2014

My co minders report  states the date of inspection as   25/02/2014

So which is right? The inspector did come on both days – 30 mins on 24th Feb and just over 4 hrs on 25th Feb.

As we were both present on both days – surely we should have the same inspection date?

Inspection Activities 

My report says  – The inspector observed the childminder engage in a range of indoor and outdoor learning activities and daily care routines with the children.

My co minders report says  – The inspector observed the childminder engage in a range of indoor learning activities and daily care routines with children

My co minder received her draft report first and objected to the wording in it. The wording was amended slightly to reflect this – and the word outdoor was removed. However the word outdoor is still with in my report.

Facts are the inspector glanced outside on 24th Feb – no children were outside at that time.

She did not even look at garden , never mind go outside on 25th Feb.  My co minder did not go outside on either day – I went out with all 4 children on the 25th Feb  but not at all on the 24th Feb.

As the inspector did not go out side at all on either day – how did she observe any outdoor activities? 

 

Recommendations

My report says –  To further improve the quality of the early years provision the provider should:

 

develop younger children’s understanding of the importance of tidying up and putting things back where they belong so that they have plenty of space in which they can play and move around safely.

 

My co minders report –  To further improve the quality of the early years provision the provider should:

develop children’s understanding of the importance of tidying up and putting things back where they belong, so that they have space in which they can play and move around safely.

 

Well,  at least we have one recommendation the same – however we did not agree to this wording.

We reluctantly – because pressured into accepting a recommendation – agreed  that we would  ‘further support the 2 yr olds to tidy when it was developmental appropriate to do so’.

Clearly the inspector had decided for some reason to change this  –  and so she has added the bit about ‘move around safely’

I strongly object to this – as it reads as though the environment was not safe to move around. The children had resources out in one room as part of normal play – an adult was supervising at all times. The other two interconnecting rooms – had resources set out but the children had mainly stayed in the one room, and so there was plenty of space in which they could play and move around safely.

I am very cross that the inspector changed the wording to include an aspect that was not even mentioned on inspection day

Furthermore I feel it was the inspectors personal judgement about if  the environment was safe or not  – we had explained about tidy up times and the reasons why we had set times at the moment for tidy up – and had she looked – she would have seen this documented in the staff communication book – and in the 2 year olds diaries, in the ideas for supporting their development

Also – if the inspector had thought the environment was not safe to move around safely – she should have said so?

 

Full report statements (Same sections from each report )

Example One

My report says;

The childminder makes good use of relevant guidance to help track children’s development accurately, to ensure they continue to make good progress. Ongoing observations and assessments help to identify what children need to do next, as well as any gaps in their learning. Weekly planning is based around children’s interests in topics, such as ‘transport’.

 

My co minders report says;

The childminder makes good use of relevant guidance to help track children’s development accurately to ensure they continue to make good progress in all areas of learning. Regular observations and assessments help to identify the next stage in children’s learning and also inform future planning. The childminder works with her co – minder to plans on a weekly basis where she takes into consideration children’s daily interests. For example, children show interest in babies, so the childminder ensures there is a good range of resources available to help children extend their learning

On the day – all four children did the same things through the day – which was their own choice.

I know that when 2 childminders are inspected at the same time that the inspector is not supposed to use the same wording – but if the children did the same things, and the childminders plan together – this is a complete farce – and in my opinion there is no reason for this rule.

It would be different if the childminders did individual key children planning separately – but in our case we planned together for all the children – as a group and as individuals.

So why does it mention transport in my report and babies in my co minders report? All the children had opportunities to take part in baby related activities / experiences AND transport related activities and experience.

In my report it says;

Planning is flexible and allows for spontaneous activities, which are led by children. For example, children develop their imagination and critical thinking as they decide to dress up. They independently put on vet outfits and nurse their toy animals,which supports their language and communication. The childminder extends children’s learning as she suggests they place plasters and bandages on the animal.

 

My co childminder report says;

As a result, children develop their language and are able express their feelings. Songs, rhymes and discussions further support children’s vocabulary as they learn new words. Children learn to care for animals as they decide to get food for the pet guinea pig. This is further supported through role play activities where children play with soft toy animals, which supports their imagination.

 

So these two bits of the main wording are very similar – but why is the bit about the Guinea pig not mentioned in my report? I think it is an important point – learning to care for animals.

Why does it not mention the plasters and bandages in my co minders report? Again this point was important because it was how the children’s spontaneous change of direction in to ‘vet play’ was supported and extended.

Example Two

My report says;

Children use a good range of equipment, such as a climbing frame, wheeled toys and crates to support their physical development.

My co minders report says;

The childminder provides a wide range of equipment, such as climbing equipment, to support children’s physical skills

As with other things my co minders report had had some wording amended – and the the words wheeled toys had been removed as we don’t have any. So why were those words in my co minders report in the first place? They were not a copy and paste from either my previous report or my co minders report . So did the inspector just make it up that we have wheeled toys?

Now it must be remembered that within my report it is stated that the inspector observed outside activities – so why is the sand pit (or the huge spider that we found when we took the lid off ) not mentioned or the musical saucepans that I got out of the shed and the children used? Could it be that the inspector did not go outside?

By the way if you want to see my evidence of the outside play on the 25th Feb please Click HERE

 Oh but I forgot – the inspector claims to have done my inspection on the 24th Feb – and these activities took place on 25th Feb. It is a shame that when you put in a complaint you are not allowed to send in any supporting documents – because like most modern camera’s my photo’s are automatically dated.

All a bit of a mess – all rather confusing – and not least because the inspector appears confused about what she saw – and when she saw it.

 

That is it for now – as I will be writing the full story for a magazine but I think I have given enough information for anyone with an ounce of common sense to see that the inspector – being generous has not been consistent in recording what she observe – and at worse has made it up without any actual observed evidence – which in many eyes would be regarded as lying. Certainly with my strong honesty based ethos, I call it lying.

 

What will be interesting now is if the inspector is believed or if I am.

 

 

 

OFSTED – I HAVE HAD ENOUGH – (and yes capitals mean I am cross and I am SHOUTING)   10 comments

PLEASE NOTE  – THIS BLOG HAS BEEN EDITED  – AS I MADE A FACTUAL ERROR. APOLOGIES TO THOSE WHO READ FIRST VERSION

 

I am known for being fair, for being honest (to the point that I can dig myself a hole by refusing to lie or to with hold the truth)

 

I believe in discussion and negotiation, I believe in people doing what they are supposed to do – especially if they are paid to do that thing, I believe in a democratic society where you are innocent until proven guilty, I believe in inspection and accountability, and quality assurance

 

My personal ethos is stated clearly in my setting documentation as follows;

 

I am a very honest person – and being honest is important to me. I cannot cope with lies, or withholding information or with using information creatively to benefit self. I accept that sometimes, what I might call a white lie or withholding information to benefit another person or prevent them from being upset or hurt – can have a place.

Being so honest does not always ‘sit well’ with others – including family members. Sometimes I have ‘dug myself a hole’ by refusing to sit back and allow others to do or say things which I know to be wrong and I know have the potential to hurt others.

Within my childminding practice I say it as it is – my weekly parents newsletters are full of apologies for not doing things that I should have done – like not being up to date with the children’s records, like not having the draft of a policy review completed when I said I would. If I have a day where my personal reflection is that – I could have done better – I say so. If I have one of those days when to be honest I wish I could throw myself on the floor and kick and scream in frustration – I say so (have not yet thrown myself on the floor – but if I ever do – I will say so)

 

Some will say I should be more worldly wise, I should not expect others to have the same ethos as me, or to act professionally and with honesty.

 

But why shouldn’t  I expect people to be honest? Why can’t I expect people to act professionally and do the job that they are paid to do? Why can’t I expect to have a fair, consistent inspection experience?

 

Yes – you have guessed right – I am on about my recent brought forward inspection of my childminding practice.

 

There are already several blogs that I have written documenting my experience (use the search on the blogsite to find them if you have not already read them) – however for the past few weeks I have not said a lot – as I wanted to be fair to the inspection company and give them opportunity to investigate and to come back to me with their findings.

 

It seems I was wrong – very wrong – to expect any sort of professional investigation in to my complaint, or to expect my report to remain unpublished until the investigation was complete, or to expect that the truth would be apparent and another inspection offered to judge me on my practice through observation and secondary documentation evidence.

 

So as I was was wrong – and as I feel I have been treated unfairly – the gloves are off so to speak – I am now going to go public – and kick up a fuss.

 

Hang on – calm down Penny – I hear my friends and colleagues shouting at me through their computer screen as they read this – what has changed since yesterday?

I will tell you what has changed ….

 

…… it all started with the arrival of the post – I had a lovely letter from my LA congratulating me on my grade of GOOD in my recent Ofsted inspection – a generic letter I know but a lovely touch from my LA – in ‘normal’ circumstances.

 

But not today and not for me – because I knew this meant my Ofsted report from my inspection – yes my brought forward inspection that I currently have a stage two complaint about – you know about the fact that the inspector did not follow the inspection framework, about the fact that the draft report had errors – well –  lies really – and that because of this, I thought the inspection was flawed and the report not worth the paper it was written on (Ok I did word it better than that – but I am cross now)

 

So onto the Ofsted website I go  ……

……. and there it was my report complete with all the errors, all the lies – not a word changed – nothing to suggest that I was complaining about it – just there for everyone to see.

So much is wrong – it really is not worth the paper it is written on

And if you are interested and because by now I am not bothered about keeping the name of the inspection company or the inspector confidential – you can go and look for your self – remember this is the Ofsted website and it is they who have published this information – not me                                   My Ofsted report

 

 

So now I have a report that is  not based on facts or the truth, I have a grade that does not reflect my practice

 

…… and all because someone decided to put in a malicious complaint

 

Which is fine – but what is not fine is that those who are paid to inspect my practice and to report fairly on that practice have failed to do so.

 

So OFSTED – what are you going to do about this?

By your own admission (at round table talk with Truss on 25th March) you said –  the inspection companies have proved difficult to control at arms lengths – and the bricks being thrown at Ofsted (and the inspection companies) are justified.

 

So;

Are you going to allow this to continue?

Are you going to allow practitioners like me to have their reputations damaged – through no fault of their own?

Are you going to allow those who make unfounded malicious complaints – to walk away without answering to  you or anyone else?

Are you going to continue to allow the inspection companies to investigate their own complaints?

Are you going to continue to allow Ofsted’s reputation to be ruined?

Are you going to ensure fair, consistent inspections in the future?

Are you going to state facts – based on what inspectors really see and check?

 

I want to be inspected by OFSTED, I want to remain an independent Ofsted registered childminder – and I want to be judged on my practice based on observation, and secondary documentation evidence.

 

To be fair Ofsted – actually you have no idea if my practice is Good as stated in the report that you have just published – or if it is outstanding, or indeed if it requires improvement – because the person paid to gather the evidence did not do so, the company you employ to carry out inspections failed to QA their inspector or to fully investigate my complaint about my inspection.

You simply do not know.

 

 

 

ENOUGH IS ENOUGH

This is what I am going to do about it;

I have asked my membership organisation to support me with this

I have agreed to write an article for a professional  childcare magazine – where I shall – as I always do – tell the truth – the whole truth

I shall continue in my role as Chair of the West Midlands Big Ofsted Conversation and continue to try to work in partnership with Ofsted to put these issues behind us – not just mine but those of so many colleagues from all early years settings. I shall do this because it is my personal opinion that Ofsted made a grave error when they sub contracted to the inspection companies – and I hold on to my belief and personal experience that HMI inspectors and Ofsted as an organisation want things to improve, as much as I and my colleagues do

I have written this blog and will be sharing as widely as possible because this can not be allowed to continue

 

Ofsted, I actually have a professional respect for you and I have worked closely with you over a number of years – please step in to restore not only my confidence but that of the whole early years sector

Neil Leitch – CEO of Pre – School Learning Alliance nominated for an award   1 comment

As many readers of this blog will know, I am a member of all the organisations that represent childminders, but it is the Pre School Learning Alliance that is my main membership organisation – and the one that I volunteer for (currently holding the role of Chair of the Worcestershire sub committee)

 

There are two main reasons for this involvement with the Alliance;

First reason –  I have been associated with the Alliance for many years and was a volunteer in the past – this is because the Alliance has a very similar ethos to my own about children, about learning through play – and also about valuing adults – both parents of the children attending their settings, their volunteers and their staff. Certainly my involvement as a young, lacking in confidence mum who was encouraged to be a parent helper and on pre school committee’s, and the training I attended, plus the nurturing and the support I received – have helped make me who I am today.

Second reason –  Neil Leitch himself. I have been very lucky to have been able to meet Neil several times and to work closely with him in my campaigning against increased ratio’s and childminding agencies.

Neil is – in my opinion – the most amazing man, he  has a very caring nature, an insight in to what makes people ‘tick’ and a genuine passion for young children and their families. He also has a sense of humour, a gentlemanly way, and a way of making others feel valued;  and he  is prepared to speak up for children and families … and say things as they are. This does not make him popular with those that he speaks up against – but it does make him highly respected within the early years sector and beyond.

I first met Neil face to face, in his office where together with other members of Alliance staff, we discussed the Alliance’s plans to offer a specific childminder membership package. I remember being very scared (just getting to London was scary for me and having a meeting with a CEO – even more scary) However Neil put me at ease, made me feel that my opinion mattered and was valued – and amazed me at his ability to read between the lines about what I was saying – and feeling. A skill I have seen him use many times since that first meeting, putting people at ease and making them feel valued.

Since that first meeting I have met Neil on 5 other occasions; some public events and some more private events such as the recent round table meeting with Elizabeth Truss,  and each time I have continued to be impressed with his sector knowledge and his belief in the fact that what he is doing is not only ‘right’ but is in the best interests of the children of this country.

And I agree with him – it is.

Due to  our shared vision and joint campaigning, I have come to know Neil quite well through emails and phone conversations – our discussion have been varied and wide-ranging – which is why I have an insight into what makes him tick, about why he is so passionate about what he does and why he does not ‘give up’

It is Neil’s own background  as a child, as a parent and as a grandparent that is the basis of his understanding and his belief that every child matters, and every child should have the best possible early years experiences – and furthermore that every parent matters and should be supported and encouraged to ensure as many children as possible, also have positive early years experiences at home.

And so this is why I am supporting  the nomination for Neil in the 2014 Nursery Management Today CHILDCARE POWER 20 – his own personal vision and determination to make a difference – together with his leadership of the Pre School Learning Alliance – taking the association forward and building on its past history as a leading organisation within the early years sector and its strong values and ethos about the rights of the child and support for the family.

 

If you wish to add your support you can do so by writing a statement and sending it to  events@hawkerpublications.com

 

UPDATE

I am very pleased to tell you that Neil has won the 2014 Nursery Management Today CHILDCARE POWER 20 award.

Many congratulations Neil

 

Posted April 17, 2014 by psw260259 in Pre School Learning Alliance

Ofsted’s Early Years Report – The answer to improving outcomes for children – is in the report …..   1 comment

………… but it is not getting children in to school earlier.

 

This short blog is in addition to my usual blog about the report from a childminders point of view (which I have not completed yet)

 

SO – PENNY (I hear my regulars readers saying) WHAT IS THE ANSWER THAT IS IN THE REPORT?

 

Simple really – and I know I am not the only one to think this.

 

IT IS SUPPORT FOR PARENTS                        IT IS LEAVING THOSE PARENTS AND EARLY YEARS SETTINGS WHO ARE DOING A GOOD JOB ALONE

First that ‘evidence’ so kindly provided by Ofsted in their report

My comments in normal text, text from the report in bold, points I want to emphasise in blue

Let’s start with the forward on page 5

Ofsted’s publication in June 2013, Unseen Children: Access and Achievement 20 years on, emphasised the importance of the early years for breaking the cycle of disadvantage. It also powerfully demonstrated the importance of parenting.

It continues

Parenting style, parental involvement in education and the quality of the home learning environment are major factors that explain the differences between children from low income backgrounds and their wealthier peers

and

Not enough is being done to support and encourage parents …………………..

 

Three cheers for Ofsted for recognising this – and I fully agree with the statements above

So Government how about looking at yourselves to lay blame for the fact that some children do not do as well as other children?

Parents need enough money to live on – a living wage. Parents are often very worried about how they will pay the bills, how they will feed their children, how they will buy clothes and shoes – and worry leads to stress and a state of mind where you simply are not able to function fully as a parent.

This state of mind does not just effect parents on low income – I wonder how many of the working population are currently on sick leave due to stress related issues?

But of course if you are a parent – you don’t get sick leave – you just have to do the best you can.

Parents need suitable housing that they can afford and equipment to enable their children to be cared for  – if you live in a house that is hard to heat, or have essential equipment that is not working – even the simplest tasks are difficult and more time consuming and cost more. Take having a working washing machine – ensuring your children have clean clothes is fairly easy – but if you don’t have a working washing machine it can be a nightmare (and costly) if you have to go by bus to a laundrette; if your cooker doer not work, making home made meals is difficult and so on

All of these things would help parents to do the most important  job in the world – that of parenting – much easier.

It is time the Government stopped blaming all parents and stopped putting in measures that impact on all parents and children, when in fact for the majority, there are NO ISSUES that need addressing

So instead of wasting money on getting two year olds into school – spend money on supporting those parents, that need support – and I say support because it is not just a case of increasing benefits, those that need support, need much more.

 

While talking about the issue of getting 2 year olds in to school – WHY not talk about getting even more children to access early years settings?

The Government acknowledge that most children ALREADY access an early years setting, it says on page 10;

At some stage between birth and the age of four, most children will also attend an early years setting that has been inspected by Ofsted. This is because around 94% of children will, at some point before starting primary school, benefit from government-funded early education and childcare located in early years settings that have been inspected by Ofsted.

So that means 6% of children don’t access any early years provision at an early years setting.

It should be noted that some of that 6% will be getting very good early years experiences from their parents – and if parents don’t want to send their child to a early years setting – and are doing a ‘good job’ that right MUST be respected.

More could also be done to support parents who don’t want to send their child to an early years settings as well those parents who choose not to work to be their child’s primary carer. So maybe a free membership to a Government approved website with early education based resources – such as playdough recipes, ideas for ‘educational activities in the home; maybe a toy library that also offers play sessions; maybe support for hiring a venue for parents to run parent and toddler groups / or much better access to Children’s Centre’s (so able to run own sessions from the Children’s Centre) and so on.

Silly thing is all this used to happen – there used to be a wonderful set of booklets on early reading, maths and so on for parents, many areas used to have Toy Libraries – some even had mobile ones, in some areas there used to be a mobile resources van, where practitioners and parents could buy glue, paper, paint and so on.

The report continues saying;

Quality in this sector has been rising, and 78% of providers on the Early Years Register are now good or outstanding, which is the highest proportion since the register was established.

So 22% are not graded good or outstanding – it is those settings that need support to improve their practice BUT before that can happen we need to be sure that the grades given to this 22% of settings are actually sound judgements because at the moment Ofsted are aware that the inspection companies are not always making sound judgements.

 

As a thought – would it not be a good idea to say to settings that are graded under a good – the opportunity to have an inspection from a HMI, as a quality assurance method? Those settings that are ‘gutted’ at the grade or unsatisfied with their actual inspection, would welcome this opportunity. And those that know deep down that actually they do need to improve, can either make those improvements with support or decide to close their setting.

It is time the Government stopped tarring all early years settings with the same brush – and targeted those that need to improve.

As to making it easier for school to take younger children, and to offer 8 – 6 care, and setting up childminder agencies – the Government should leave well alone, we already have a wide range of early years settings that are not only experienced in providing high quality care and education, they already have premises and equipment to enable them to continue doing, so – why replace one thing with another – when it is working.

 

Government –  parents are on the whole, providing excellent parenting for their children, and making the right decisions for them and their child about their child’s early years education experiences – both at home and by sending them to early years settings.

 

Stop accusing parents as a whole of not being ‘good enough’ by implementing policies that impact on all

 

Government – early years settings are on the whole providing excellent care and education and working in partnership with parents.

 

Stop accusing early years settings as a whole by implementing policies that impact on all

 

INSTEAD – look to yourselves for the reason why things are not improving

Ofsted inspections are flawed

LA support for settings is being reduced / removed

Charities that support parents are managing on a shoe string and the good will of the public and their volunteers

Parents are finding that they are worse off – and it is getting worse not better

Parents who want to stay at home with their child – are not supported

Children’s Centre’s are having their budgets reduced / services are being reduced or disappearing

Maintained nursery school are being closed

Pre schools are struggling to make ends meet because of a short fall in the Early years Education funding

Childminders have such low moral because of the impact on their sector from the introduction of childminder agencies

 

In fact Government – if you left us to do what we do well – parents and early years settings – you would see outcomes improving because most do actually care about the children and are passionate about ‘getting it right’.

If you spent as much time and effort in making sure you ‘got it right’ – as you spend in interfering in parents lives and early years settings practice – you may actually see outcomes improve for society as a whole

 

 

Revised version of EYFS 2012 – To be implemented from September 2014   Leave a comment

Of course we have been expecting this revised version of the EYFS 2012 – if for no other reason than the implementation of childminder agencies from September 2014 – however the revised version also reflects the changes as a result of the consultation on the regulation of childcare

 

If you have not seen the revised version yet CLICK HERE

I must stress that this revised version does not come into force until September 2014

 

One of the things I have noticed is that the number of the points is not consistent  across the Sept 12 version and the Sept 14 version – therefore if settings have any documents that are reference by the numbering from EYFS 12 – they will need to update their documents.

Another thing that I noticed was that on page 4 it says

Expiry or review date
This statutory framework remains in force until further notice.

 

Which I take to mean – there will be further changes – and maybe even before Sept 2016, when we expect a full review / change of the statutory requirements

 

So let’s start at the beginning – I am going to try to highlight the changes – but must make it clear – I am just one person – and doing this in my spare time and so I may miss things.

SO PLEASE CHECK FOR YOURSELVES

 

Section 1 – The Learning and Development Requirements

Page 7 of revised version (pg 4 of current version)

The bit about Wrap around and holiday providers has been removed – we expected this as was part of the Regulation of Childcare – consultation response document.

It is from this point in the revised version that the numbering for section 1 is not in line with the numbering from the current version.

Page 10 of revised version 1.11 ( pg 7 1.12 of current version)

The sentence that starts Providers should regularly consider ….. has been moved to 3.20 on page 20 and been reworded – more about that later

Unless I have missed something – that is all I could spot in Section 1

Section 2 – Assessment

Progress check at two – the bit from current version on pg 11  at start of 2.5, has moved to the end of 2.4 on page 13 in revised version

2.5 of  revised version on page 14 is worded quite differently to the version in 2.5 in current version on page 11

This is the wording from 2.5  (page 13 – 14) in revised version – with changes to wording highlighted in blue;

2.5. Practitioners should encourage parents and/or carers to share information from the progress check with other relevant professionals, including their health visitor and 14 the staff of any new provision the child may transfer to. Practitioners must agree with parents and/or carers when will be the most useful point to provide a summary. Where possible, the progress check and the Healthy Child Programme health and development review at age two (when health visitors gather information on a child’s health and development, allowing them to identify any developmental delay and any
particular support from which they think the child/family might benefit) should inform each other and support integrated working. This will allow health and education professionals to identify strengths as well as any developmental delay and provide support from which they think the child/family might benefit. Providers must have the consent of parents and/or carers to share information directly with other relevant professionals

As far as I know – those are all the changes in Section 2. However, I understand that further changes to the bit about the profile will change when baseline testing on entry to reception comes in. So watch this space.

Section 3 – The Safeguarding and Welfare Requirements

Revised version page 17  – 3.7

Just added a date

3.7. Providers must have regard to the Government’s statutory guidance ‘Working Together to Safeguard Children 2013

 

Revised version page 17 – 3.8

Added a bit about agencies

3.8. Registered providers must inform Ofsted or their childminder agency of any allegations of serious harm or abuse by any person living, working, or looking after children at the premises (whether the allegations relate to harm or abuse committed
on the premises or elsewhere). Registered providers must also notify Ofsted or their childminder agency of the action taken in respect of the allegations. These notifications must be made as soon as is reasonably practicable, but at the latest within 14 days of the allegations being made. A registered provider who, without reasonable excuse, fails to comply with this requirement, commits an offence.

Revised version page 18 – 3.100

Another bit which now includes childminder agencies

3.10. Ofsted or the agency with which the childminder is registered is responsible for checking the suitability of childminders and of persons living or working on a childminder’s premises, including obtaining enhanced criminal records checks and barred list checks

Also on page 18 of the revised version 3.12

3.12. Providers other than childminders must record information about staff qualifications and the identity checks and vetting processes that have been completed (including the criminal records disclosure reference number, the date a disclosure was obtained and details of who obtained it). For childminders the relevant information will be kept by Ofsted or the agency with which the childminder is registered.

Again on page 18 of the revised version 3.13 – there is quite a bit added

3.13. Providers must also meet their responsibilities under the Safeguarding Vulnerable Groups Act 2006, which includes a duty to make a referral to the Disclosure and Barring Service where a member of staff is dismissed (or would have been, had the person not left the setting first) because they have harmed a child or put a child at risk of harm
Section on Disqualification –  lots of changes – so easier just to take the revised version as it is, or will get complicated Revised version page 19

Disqualification (all registered providers and employees in registered settings)
3.14. A registered provider or a childcare worker may be disqualified from registration
.
In the event of the disqualification of a registered provider, the provider must not continue as an early years provider – nor be directly concerned in the management of such provision. Where a person is disqualified, the provider must not employ that person in connection with early years provision. Where an employer becomes aware of relevant information that may lead to disqualification of an employee, the provider must take appropriate action to ensure the safety of children.
3.15. A registered provider or a childcare worker may also be disqualified because they live in the same household as another person who is disqualified, or because they live in the same household where a disqualified person is employed.
3.16. A provider must notify Ofsted or the agency with which the childminder is registered of any significant event which is likely to affect the suitability of any person who is in regular contact with children on the premises where childcare is provided. The disqualification of an employee could be an instance of a significant event. If a registered person or childcare worker is disqualified they may, in some circumstances, be able to obtain a ‘waiver’ from Ofsted.
3.17. The provider must give Ofsted or the childminder agency with which they are registered, the following information about themselves or about any person who lives in the same household as the registered provider or who is employed in the
household:
 details of any order, determination, conviction, or other ground for disqualification from registration under regulations made under section 75 of the Childcare Act 2006;
 the date of the order, determination or conviction, or the date when the other  ground for disqualification arose;
 the body or court which made the order, determination or conviction, and the sentence (if any) imposed; and
 a certified copy of the relevant order (in relation to an order or conviction).
3.18. The information must be provided to Ofsted or the childminder agency with which they are registered as soon as reasonably practicable, but at the latest within 14 days of the date the provider became aware of the information or ought reasonably to have become aware of it if they had made reasonable enquiries

Staff Qualifications, training, support and skills

As mentioned previously 3.20 has an added bit from the current 1.12

Please note it now says must rather than ‘regularly consider’

3.20. The daily experience of children in early years settings and the overall quality of provision depends on all practitioners having appropriate qualifications, training, skills and knowledge and a clear understanding of their roles and responsibilities. Providers must ensure that all staff receive induction training to help them understand their roles and responsibilities. Induction training must include information about emergency evacuation procedures, safeguarding, child protection, the provider’s equality policy, and health and safety issues. Providers must support staff to undertake appropriate training and professional development opportunities to ensure they offer quality learning and development experiences for
children that continually improves

On page 21 of revised version 3.24 (is 3.23 in current version) Have taken out the bit ‘local authority approved’ and added a bit about agencies

Page 20 of the revised version – the focus and requirement for staff supervision appears to have change – as the requirement for ‘regualar’   staff recruitment drives show

3.24. Childminders must have completed training which helps them to understand and implement the EYFS before they can register with Ofsted or a childminder agency. Childminders are accountable for the quality of the work of any assistants, and must be satisfied that assistants are competent in the areas of work they undertake.

Please note there is NO reference as to what the training should contain but maybe there will be a separate guidance document later.

Same with First Aid training 3.25 on first page – took out bit about ‘local authority approved’

3.25. At least one person who has a current paediatric first aid certificate must be on the premises and available at all times when children are present, and must accompany children on outings. Childminders, and any assistant who might be in sole charge of the children for any period of time, must hold a current paediatric first aid certificate. Paediatric first aid training must be relevant for workers caring for young children and where relevant, babies. Providers should take into account the number of children, staff and layout of premises to ensure that a paediatric first aider is able to respond to emergencies quickly.

The note at bottom of page 21 says a lot as says;

Providers can choose which organisation they wish to provide the training (preferably one with a nationally approved and accredited first aid qualification or one that is a member of a trade body with an approval and monitoring scheme) but the training must cover the course content as for St John Ambulance or Red Cross paediatric first aid training and be renewed every three years.

Worrying that only says ‘preferably’ in the bit in brackets. Open to people taking advantage re number of hours and content

Staff :child ratio’s

Revised version page 21 2.29 (is 3.28 in current version) Added bit about apprentices

3.29. Only those aged 17 or over may be included in ratios (and staff under 17 should be supervised at all times). Students on long term placements and volunteers (aged 17 or over) and staff working as apprentices in early education (aged 16 or over) may be included in the ratios if the provider is satisfied that they are competent and responsible.

 

They have made it easier to understand which ratio requirements apply to childminders

The main change in this section is in 3.40 on page 24 of the revised version – this applies to Before and after school care and holiday provision. Easier to take the whole thing as new, rather than try to highlight the changes

3.40. Where the provision is solely before/after school care or holiday provision for children who normally attend Reception class (or older) during the school day, there must be sufficient staff as for a class of 30 children. It is for providers to determine how many staff are needed to ensure the safety and welfare of children, bearing in mind the type(s) of activity and the age and needs of the children. It is also for providers to determine what qualifications, if any, the manager and/or staff should have. Providers do not need to meet the learning and development requirements in Section 1. However, practitioners should discuss with parents and/or carers (and other practitioners/providers as appropriate, including school staff/teachers) the  support they intend to offer.

Childminder Ratio’s

In the revised version 3.41, 3.42 and 3.43  refers to childminder ratios – and is worded just as it is in the current version – no changes at all.

At the moment this guidance document CLICK HERE  from Dec 2012  still covers exceptions. HOWEVER please note a new guidance document may be published nearer to Sept 2014

 

 

Health

Revised version page 26 – Food and Drink

Just added bit about agencies

3.49. Registered providers must notify Ofsted or the childminder agency with which they are registered of any food poisoning affecting two or more children cared for on the premises. Notification must be made as soon as is reasonably practicable, but in any event within 14 days of the incident. A registered provider, who, without reasonable excuse, fails to comply with this requirement, commits an offence.

 

Accident and injury

3.51 – added about agencies

3.51. Registered providers must notify Ofsted or the childminder agency with which they are registered of any serious accident, illness or injury to, or death of, any child while in their care, and of the action taken. Notification must be made as soon as is reasonably practicable, but in any event within 14 days of the incident occurring. A registered provider, who, without reasonable excuse, fails to comply with this requirement, commits an offence. Providers must notify local child protection agencies of any serious accident or injury to, or the death of, any child while in their care, and must act on any advice from those agencies.

Managing behaviour – revised version page 26

Current version page 23,  3.50 requirement for a policy has been removed in revised version

There is nothing about the need for a behaviour policy in the revised version

Safety and suitability of premises, environment and equipment

Safety

New version page 27,  3.54 (3.53 in current version) Change to wording – some words taken out, including the need for a policy – some words added

3.54. Providers must ensure that their premises, including overall floor space and outdoor spaces, are fit for purpose and suitable for the age of children cared for and the activities provided on the premises. Providers must comply with requirements of  health and safety legislation (including fire safety and hygiene requirements).

Smoking 

New version page age 27 ,  3.56  – Removed the need for a policy

3.56. Providers must not allow smoking in or on the premises when children are present or about to be present.

Premises

More changes to wording

New version page 28 3.58 Mentions Equality Act 2010

3.58. Providers must provide access to an outdoor play area or, if that is not possible, ensure that outdoor activities are planned and taken on a daily basis (unless circumstances make this inappropriate, for example unsafe weather conditions). Providers must follow their legal responsibilities under the Equality Act 2010 (for example, the provisions on reasonable adjustments).

Page 28, 3.59 new version  It appears that children no longer need to sleep or relax or play quitely as the following words have been taken  out

‘ Provision must be made (space or partitioned area for children who wish to relax. play quietly or play quitely)

Risk Assessments

Revised version page 28, 3.64 Again need for policy removed and changes to wording

3.64. Providers must ensure that they take all reasonable steps to ensure staff andc hildren in their care are not exposed to risks and must be able to demonstrate how they are managing risks Providers must determine where it is helpful to make some written risk assessments in relation to specific issues, to inform staff practice,and to demonstrate how they are managing risks if asked by parents and/or carers or inspectors. Risk assessments should identify aspects of the environment that need to be checked on a regular basis, when and by whom those aspects will be checked, and how the risk will be removed or minimised.

 

Special Educational Needs

The bit on Equal Opportunities has gone – so no policy needed – however a new bit added on Special Educational Needs, as follows on page 29 of the revised version

3.67. Providers must have arrangements in place to support children with SEN or disabilities. Maintained nursery schools and other providers who are funded by the local authority to deliver early education places must have regard to the Special Educational Needs (SEN) Code of Practice
. Maintained nursery schools must identify a member of staff to act as Special Educational Needs Co-ordinator and other providers (in group provision) are expected to identify a SENCO

Which of course used to be part of the Equal Opportunities bit in the current version. Personally – I would have thought this was an area that needed a clear policy – to help avoid discrimination. I also feel that my removing the need for an equality policy that settings will find it difficult to face up to those that challenge the settings ethos and practice

 

Information and records

Added bit about agencies to 3.68 – page 29 revised version  (3.67 current version)

3.68. Providers must maintain records and obtain and share information (with parents and carers, other professionals working with the child, the police, social services and Ofsted or the childminder agency with which they are registered, as appropriate) to ensure the safe and efficient management of the setting, and to help ensure the needs of all children are met. Providers must enable a regular two-way flow of  information with parents and/or carers, and between providers, if a child is attending more than one setting. If requested, providers should incorporate parents’ and/or carers’ comments into children’s records

same with 3.69 revised version – added childminder agency bit

3.69. Records must be easily accessible and available (with prior agreement from Ofsted or the childminder agency with which they are registered, these may be kept securely off the premises). Confidential information and records about staff and children must be held securely and only accessible and available to those who have a right or professional need to see them. Providers must be aware of their responsibilities under the Data Protection Act (DPA) 1998 and where relevant the Freedom of Information Act 2000.

Complaints

Revised version 3.75 on page 31 – added bits about the agencies

3.74. Providers must put in place a written procedure for dealing with concerns and complaints from parents and/or carers, and must keep a written record of any complaints, and their outcome. Childminders are not required to have a written procedure for handling complaints, but they must keep a record of any complaints they receive and their outcome. All providers must investigate written complaints relating to their fulfillment of the EYFS requirements and notify complainants of the outcome of the investigation within 28 days of having received the complaint. The record of complaints must be made available to Ofsted or the relevant childminder agency on request.

3.75. Providers must make available to parents and/or carers details about how to contact Ofsted or the childminder agency with which the provider is registered as appropriate, if they believe the provider is not meeting the EYFS requirements. If providers become aware that they are to be inspected by Ofsted or have a quality assurance visit by the childminder agency, they must notify parents and/or carers. After an inspection by Ofsted or a quality assurance visit by their childminder agency, providers must supply a copy of the report to parents and/or carers of children attending on a regular basis.

Changes that must be notified to Ofsted or the relevant childminder agency

More changes to wording re adding childminder agency

3.77. All registered early years providers must notify Ofsted or the childminder agency with which they are registered of: ………

3.78. Where providers are required to notify Ofsted or their childminder agency about a change of person except for managers, as specified in paragraph 3.76 above, providers must give Ofsted or their childminder agency the new person’s name, any former names or aliases, date of birth, and home address. If there is a change of manager, providers must notify Ofsted or their childminder agency that a new manager has been appointed. Where it is reasonably practicable to do so, notification must be made in advance. In other cases, notification must be made as soon as is reasonably practicable, but always within 14 days. A registered provider who, without reasonable excuse, fails to comply with these requirements commits an offence.

 

 

 

 

 

Government Consultation on Childminding Agencies   1 comment

So we now have the consultation on childminding agencies – please excuse me if I don’t get too  excited or even positive about this opportunity. as recent personal experience has shown me that not only is my personal opinion not listened to by our Government – neither are the voices of all the others who bother to go to the trouble of finding time in their busy lives to fill in the Governments consultations. Still despite the lack of taking any notice of previous consultations., we do have an opportunity to leave comment – and further more I have opportunity to make comment here for others to read. So this is the link to the background information document Click Here

I will be copying and pasting from the document and adding personal comment in blue – however I will not be commenting on all the bullet points

2.1 The Government wants to make more great childcare available for children, and to provide more choice and flexibility for parents. If we want all of our children to succeed at school, go on to university or into an apprenticeship and thrive in later life, then we must get it right in the early years.

I totally agree – we must get it right in the Early Years – and although I acknowledge that there was room for improvement, we were more or less getting it right – this can be evidence by the number of children in the 80’s and 90’s who did go on to university, hold down jobs and maintain personal relationships.

 Of course we don’t yet have the data for those born after 1997 because they are not yet adults  – and who knows what the data will show when they are? Will the data show the continued Government changes to curriculum at all levels has improved both academic success, and enabled people to thrive in later life?

My gut feeling is it won’t and that as a society we will be seeing the results of  the erosion of childhood; the culture of assessing and testing; and the commercialism of  everything in modern life.

However the Government is continuing to push academic achievement as a measure of success. They are failing to recognise or acknowledge that;

a) some children will not achieve academic success but will go on to lead successful lives,

b) that for society to flourish we need people with a wide variety of skills – including caring skills.

 As to more great childcare – it is my opinion that what we are going to end up with in the future is less great childcare – and more low quality ‘pack them in and crowd management childcare’

2.3 We are enabling the setting up of childminder agencies to encourage more people to take up childminding, to offer greater support for childminders, and to improve quality. Childminder agencies are designed to give parents more choice and help with securing childcare that meets their needs. Childminder agencies are not intended to replace existing independently registered childminders – rather we want them to build on and complement existing childcare provision.

I think I have commented about my thoughts re childminding agencies enough. However if anyone is reading my blog for the first time – take a look at some of my other blogs. However as a summary, I don’t think childminding agencies will achieve any of the aims mentioned in 2.3, in fact I think agencies will make things worse for childminders and parents and ultimately children.

2.5 Our reforms will ensure that if providers are high quality then they are guaranteed Government funding to deliver early education places without having to meet additional local authority quality requirements. We have made it easier for childminders to be able to deliver funded early education places by removing the expectation in statutory guidance that a childminder must be part of a childminder network in order to qualify for early education funding.

Admirable aims – so why set up agencies that remove the requirement for agency childminders to be registered and inspected by Ofsted – surely a standard benchmarking of quality by a national body would ensure that parents could make informed decisions based on uniform information via the grades and reports?

2.6 In addition to these changes, we published the Government response to the consultation on the ‘Regulation of Childcare’ on 13 February 2014. These introduced some changes that will promote a prosperous and growing market that gives parents more choice and enables providers to improve affordability and quality, for example, making it easier for schools to offer care and nursery provision from 8-6pm.

I despair ! This would be Regulation of Childcare consultation that many responded to saying that they disagreed with Government proposals  but that Government decided they know best – and are implementing anyway. Hardly a selling point to people to take the time to respond to this consultation – and to be honest – even I am asking ‘Why bother?’

3.2 Childminder agencies might appeal to parents for a lot of reasons – a one stop shop offering a valuable brokering service (contacting around 2 or 3 childminder agencies might give you a choice of a very wide number of childminders, whereas contacting each childminder individually can be a very time consuming exercise), offering advice and support about the things to consider when choosing your childminder, a trusted brand, the assurance that comes with knowing that there is supervision and wider quality assurance in place, and the ability to both have that very personal relationship with your individual child’s carer, but also to have that brokerage and back up support role performed by a third party (with whom you can raise any concerns or clarify issues at any time).

Are the Government suggesting that parents don’t need to contact individual childminders – and can just choose from a catalogue of available childminders? As a childminder I would be horrified if someone looked at my website and / or my Ofsted report, and wanted to place their child with me.  I also know from the Mumsnet survey that parents want to be able to visit several childminders and make their decision based on what they see and their gut feeling. Information available via Ofsted reports and websites or  online searches is a starting point .

The Government, therefore, wants childminder agencies to act as a lever to:  increase the number of childminders in the market, through helping potential childminders navigate the various requirements for establishing their business and to get them up and running; see childminders who elect to join agencies provided with more support, including training and development, and business and marketing support; and make it easier for parents to find a childminder to suit their child’s needs.

What the Government are not mentioning here is that the services of a childminding agency will not be free to parents or childminders  

5.2 The Government sees childminder agencies as being ‘one-stop shop’ organisations that will help childminders with training, business support, advice and finding parents seeking childcare. They will be a new route in addition to independent childminders. By enabling the establishment of childminder agencies, the Government hopes to attract new childminders to the profession. Agencies will also make life easier for childminders by providing a range of services such as marketing, administrative support and training and development opportunities to help them to further raise the quality of their provision.

Established childminders acknowledge that when you first registered as a childminder that support is often needed – but this already available via pre registration courses, via membership organisation, and via the internet and peer to peer support. However once established most childminders develop their own setting specific marketing, admin of the business side of things is not difficult – and those that want to can pay an accountant to do their accounts / tax paperwork. As to training and development opportunities – there are lots of opportunities via membership organisations (including online training, some of which is free) and independent trainers. Agencies will without a doubt provide training – but it will not be free and as the availability of agencies in all areas is not guaranteed – it will be a postcode lottery as to who is able to access training through an agency

5.3 They will also provide a valuable service for parents who want to find a high quality childminder. Many parents struggle to find the right local childminder and this can take a lot of time with no consistency in the information which is available to parents. Agencies can help by providing a matching service for parents and by providing them with the information they need to make informed choices. Agencies will also be able to provide holiday and sickness cover ensuring parents have reliable childcare.

See comment in 3.2

Re holiday and sickness cover – I have to ask will agencies ensure that children know the person providing holiday / sickness cover? And what will they do about ensuring similar level of service for a similar fee?

5.4 The Government does not want to prescribe a business model for agencies – we want to give agencies the freedom to develop models that suit parents and childminders locally. But it is vital that childminder agencies provide a guarantee of high quality provision, and it is right that some minimum standards should be set out in legislation. This consultation seeks views on the specific requirements – for example, on hours of CPD– that agencies must provide for their childminders.

There are huge issues with this ‘vision’ – the very fact the each agency can set it’s own model will create ‘headaches’ for everyone, including Ofsted – but most importantly for parents trying to navigate a complex system without standardised benchmarking. What the Government are not recognising is the just saying a childminder should undertake so many hours of CPD is not enough – they must also implement in their setting and review the impact on the setting / children. Childminders in an agency will not have the driving force of individual Ofsted grade to ‘push’ them to demonstrate the effectiveness of their CPD. 

5.5 Registration Childminder agencies will need to register with and be inspected by Ofsted to ensure they meet all the necessary safeguarding and quality standards. This means parents can have confidence in agency staff, and consequently the quality of care and early education offered by childminders registered with the agency.

As they can through Ofsted registration and inspection! Also I have to ask who will check the agency staff – each staff member could have different levels of knowledge and understanding – Ofsted grading the agencies is not sufficient to say the agency staff or the agency childminders are ‘high quality’ each will be different.

5.6 Once registered with Ofsted, childminder agencies will – in turn – be able to register and quality assure childminders, help new people take up childminder roles, and enable parents to have a greater choice over the early education and childcare they want for their children.

I remain to be convinced – so we will wait and see

5.7 It is important that childminder agencies provide parents and childminders with a high quality and safe service. Therefore, many of the requirements we are seeking to put in place on agencies in relation to childminders they register mirror the checks Ofsted currently undertakes to establish a prospective childminder’s suitability, e.g. ensuring that they have submitted an application for an enhanced Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) check and carrying out a pre-registration visit.

Hmmm – MANY?     Not all?  This suggests that Ofsted Registered Childminders will undergo more rigorous checking than childminding agencies and the childminders in those agencies

5.8 Continuing Professional Development (CPD) for childminders A key objective for enabling the establishment of childminder agencies is to further improve the quality of childminders and children’s outcomes. We estimate that currently fewer than 10% of childminders are part of a formal childminder network and able to access formal CPD and support, with the quality of support that childminders receive being mixed. The Government wants to help a broader range of childminders to access support and training with support available from a variety of sources including childminder agencies, local authorities, as well as other professional bodies and training providers.

Formal childminder networks are great – and worked – and the reason we don’t have many – oh yes – reduction in LA funding – FROM THE GOVERNMENT – and all the hype about agencies – FROM THE GOVERNMENT

In my opinion the Government have removed a lot of support – and are now trying to set up something else up that does not cost the Government anything and is not even of the same quality as what was in place before all the hype about agencies started

 

5.9 It is the Government’s view that agencies and childminders should be free to agree what form the CPD that the agency secures takes, for example, workshops, on-line learning or mentoring. This means that CPD is not just about attending one-off training courses but includes things like conference attendance, gaining peer support from colleagues or keeping up to date by reading factsheets/guidance, practice and policy briefings, preparing for inspection and self-reflective practice.     5.10 Childminder agencies will want to offer a differentiated level of CPD dependent on each childminder’s own development needs. It is not for Government to detail the exact type or length of CPD for each childminder registered with a childminder agency. However, to ensure quality across the piece, we believe it is important to set a CPD requirement that all childminders registered with childminder agencies must receive.

So agencies without a good financial position (or those who look at profits more than quality) could say that to remain sustainable they would offer limited CPD to their childminders – and not go’the extra mile’ as most registered childminders who are currently graded good or outstanding do. I have commented below about the government requirements for number of hours CPD  

5.11 The Government proposes that childminder agencies be required to secure 16 hours CPD per year for early years childminders and 8 hours CPD per year for later years childminders.

Does this include the statutory requirements of First Aid and Safeguarding training ? If so these only add up to an averaged out 7 hours per year. And when you look at the list in 5.12  and 5.15 about CPD activity – then there is not a lot of room for a agency staff member to ensure that CPD in areas of weakness are undertaken – as a agency childminder could actually  fulfil the requirements for CPD by attending just one 2 hour workshop a year (together with the statutory training and the CPD activities listed)

5.12 Support time and visits for childminders We propose that childminder agencies should secure 20 hours support time per year for early years childminders, with 10 hours per year for later years childminders. This support time could be a combination of an agency sending a weekly or monthly update newsletter to childminders, the agency checking with a childminder on their hours for invoice purposes, CPD activity where this is delivered by the agency, quality assurance visits, or telephone or e-mail support. We want agencies to have flexibility here so, for example, when an agency provides a training session or on-line learning programme for all their childminders this could count towards them meeting the requirements. It will be for agencies and childminders to determine the precise form of support in a way that works best for them.

Oh dear – I am not sure that Ofsted will agree with this version of CPD – and if they don’t will it be another huge difference between an agency cm and Ofsted registered cm (and all other early years settings). Maybe those of reading this blog (and any others) should record it as part of your CPD hours. Speaking personally based on the above list, I spend about 30 – 50 hours A WEEK on my CPD. 

5.13  (Please note this one would not copy and paste) We would expect an agency to be in regular contact with their childminders. We envisage childminders registered with agencies will have much more regular contact and visits than childminders currently have with Ofsted. There is then a bit about what Ofsted currently check during a pre reg visit.

Well yes – even once a year is more regular than Ofsted – but what about other professional visits to the setting. Reading what is expected from an agency – peer to peer support would be as good provided a report was written (similar to the one I blogged about for my friend Carol) from what I can see agency staff will not be trained by Ofsted and it will be up to the agency to set their own requirements in terms of knowledge and experience of childminding – as those staff member CPD. I feel that the reports written by agency staff will not be ‘anything special’ in terms of accountable content. And certainly reports written by an assessor from an independent company or a membership organisation would be just as valuable and just as informative to parents.

 

5.14 (This one also would not copy and paste)  The Government will also require agencies to conduct similar pre registration for early years childminders to Ofsted, and in addition carry out regular quality assurance visits. Agencies will also have to put in place arrangements to visit and quality assure later years childminders

The key word here is ‘similar’ – so not as set out for / by Ofsted. This means that can be very similar or a little bit similar – and can change over time. As you will see in 5.15, the Governments idea of regular is maybe not the same as others – and certainly not my idea of ‘regular’

5.15 In the draft regulations, we therefore set out specific proposals around support time and visits that childminder agencies must secure for or undertake in relation to early years and later years childminders registered with them. The intention is that, after the initial year, the number of visits could be scaled back to a minimum of one per year, depending on the quality of the childminder. The Government proposes that, in relation to early years childminders:  agencies be required to secure 20 hours support time per year;  that the support time may include CPD activity delivered by the CMA; and  that the support time must include at least two visits for early years childminders in their first year of operation but that agencies be free to scale these down to a minimum of one visit per year once they are satisfied as to the childminder’s quality. The Government further proposes that, in relation to later years childminders:  agencies be required to secure 10 hours support time per year;  that the support time may include CPD activity delivered by the CMA; and that the support time must include at least one visit per year.

Oh dear (again) – so this is the ‘nitty gritty’ of all that ‘hype’ about better support and improving quality – I think I must have missed something important as as it is stated above I personally can not see how agencies will give better support or improve quality. I actually hope that I do have to eat humble pie sometime in the future – but then I doubt I will – because how will we know if quality has improved? All we will have is the Ofsted agency grade – and the agencies own judgement on the agency childminders practice – hardly a sound quality assurance system in my opinion.

5.16 Other legal requirements for childminder agencies Amongst other requirements, we are providing in the regulations for childminder agencies to have to produce a ‘statement of purpose’ when registering with Ofsted. This will set out the services the agency will offer, including their procedures for registering providers and monitoring the standards of childcare provision on offer. We are also providing for the type of information an agency should provide to parents, childminders and local authorities – and when this should be provided.

This is one of my main concerns – that the agency will be telling Ofsted what services they will provide. In my opinion Ofsted should be telling agencies, to ensure consistency. One of the things that Ms. Truss said in the recent meeting was that when it was LA’s / Ofsted carrying these roles it was not consistent. Therefore in my opinion, nothing has changed.

There is of course the bit of the consultation that refers to LA role – but I wanted to concentrate on childminder agencies, I think it safe to say – I am not impressed. The actual consultation can be accessed   HERE. I have completed and submitted my response – I am sure you can work out for yourselves from this blog what I put