Dear Mr. Gyimah ……….   6 comments

Dear Mr. Gyimah,

I am not sure if you are aware but I was what might be called a ‘thorn in the side’ of the previous early years minister – in fact I spent over two years of my life (from before she become the minister for early years right up to the day she was given her ‘promotion’ to a fully blown minster of state) challenging her proposals and policies.


Out of respect to you, apart from a couple of tweets and mentions in my blog and on Facebook inviting you to visit my setting / work in partnership with me  (which you did not respond to), I have remained silent wanting to give you chance to settle in, to learn the ropes of your new role – and indeed to engage with the early years sector – including with the many organisations that I am a member of.

In fact, chance to gather the basics, maybe to read some of the research, to ask some questions about why Ms Truss was so unpopular with the early years sector.

So yesterday I was able to judge for myself if you had used your time wisely, and if in fact you would actually stand up and be counted as someone who REALLY understands about the early years sector and the children and families who use early years settings.

Of course I am talking about your speech at the Policy Exchange (I am sure most people have already read it judging by the number of emails and social media comments that I am reading today) but out of fairness to you, so that everyone can read for themselves your actual words – here is the link   Link to Sam Gyimah’s speech at the Policy Exchange


My personal response – and that of MANY others – is that you really don’t have a clue. I am sorry to be so blunt, but it has to be said you are just making a terrible situation even worse.

Your mother sounds a wonderful mother doing her best to bring you and your siblings up under difficult circumstances – I say wonderful because she clearly understood (from what you have said)  the importance of spending time with her children, doing things such as reading to them.

Mr. Gyimah how can you justify two years old going to school against this loving family interaction? (during which time you would have been forming secure attachments with your mum, learning a love of books and stories – and no doubt a lot more as well but I can’t state that because you have not spoken about other aspects of your early years )

I could write pages of informed responses to your speech based on over 30 years of practice and over 38 years experience as a parent and a grandparent (just a a few  years  more than you Mr. Gyimah) but I won’t because many others have felt compelled to pen to paper about your speech in blogs, on social media and press releases.

I can tell you Mr. Gyimah – I have not witness such despair and horror since Truss mention her increased ratio proposal. In case you have not been briefed – I started the whole ratio campaign off when I set up the first ratio petition – the whole sector and parents came together on the ratio issue – and believe me they will come together now as a result of your speech at the Policy Exchange.

However I do want to pick up on your complete lack of mention of registered childminders in your speech – yes, of course I know registered childminders are apart of the PVI sector – but we are not nurseries or pre schools. You have stated in the articles I have read, that you really value the early years workforce – including registered childminders, and yet you have done your best to limit pre schools and nurseries to a sort of ‘add on’ to schools – and not mention registered childminders at all – not even childminder agencies – not even the  St.Bedes school childminder agency.

Why is this? – it is because actually childminder agencies are not financially sustainable or that hardly anyone wants to pay to join one?  I can only guess as no information about those childminder agencies that have set up or are being set up has been made available yet to the public.

Mr. Gyimah – as you will soon realise, as your little one reaches two years of age – they are still very young, they have many more needs than a 3 year old. If their parents WANT to work, they should have a choice of home based settings and small groups in a group based settings with staff who understand their needs.

Finally, I may be being cynical – but is this whole into school agenda complete with removal of the need for schools to register separately for the early years provision – just another money saving initiative?

But be warned Mr. Gyimah – without your ‘help’ schools will not be able to make the financial side add up – and unlike early years settings (including childminders) you will not find schools subsidising your lack of sufficient funding out of their own pockets.

Will we soon be seeing headlines that if schools employed qualified teachers, they will be able to have 1:13 ratios for 2 year olds within a school building?

Oh,  but Mr.Gyimah – that would be increased ratios – something that the sector have already said very strongly – along with many parents – that they won’t stand by and let the Government increase ratios

So it looks like you may have a battle on your hands

Maybe it would be better to walk away now (or to listen to what the sector says, and amend your policy ideas) before you get a promotion to another department or sidelined altogether when the Prime Minister realises that too many people don’t like what you are saying and vote with their feet by putting a cross in a different parties box on election day.

And if that is not good enough reason – act now before any of this ill informed policy impacts on your own child




Penny Webb

Registered Childminder

Posted October 22, 2014 by psw260259 in My thoughts on current childcare issues

6 responses to “Dear Mr. Gyimah ……….

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  1. I agree Penny, Mr. Gyimah doesn’t have a clue! And yes, I fear another money saving initiative revamped as the first version was impractical i.e. schools have made clear that they do not have the “skills, the resources and the buildings” or the money to take 2 year olds 8am – 6pm…let alone the inclination…and where are all the staff coming from?! So now “schools can always team up with local nurseries, again strengthening those community links, to offer more nursery provision”. Ah ha! Now we get to the crunch – schools can’t or won’t do it so contract it out?
    Though the early education window dressing hasn’t been abandoned completely, the number of times this initiative is referred to as “childcare” and as “convenient” for working parents I think the writing is on the wall…reduce the cost of childcare by institutionalizing children into large cost effective group settings, which seems to contradict his comment “when it comes to childcare, no one-size fits all”.
    All this from a minister who has read Nursery World and Children and Young People Now magazines?! And considers the first day at school (for a four year old presumably) to be about “knotting their school tie, fastened the laces on their shoes” Out of touch?

  2. Penny you are awesome and an inspiration and for people like me who are just too busy to care enough about these silly silly people who sit in government and speak and write and don’t actually THINK, you’re a godsend, Thankyou.

  3. Well said Penny, I too was shocked (well I shouldn’t be really should I after our experiences with Truss and current government thinking); with the naive comments made by Mr Gyimah and his ability to read Nursery World and have parent experience with a young child, I want to say ‘bless him’ but that would be patronising would it not!

  4. Well said Penny! Many of us are saying the same. I had hoped after Liz Truss things would improve but not yet!

    you put into words how I and many others feel.

  6. It all seems a bit misguided.
    While it is possible that “children who go to pre-school are projected to earn a staggering £27,000 more during their career than those who don’t” is there evidence that this is a causal relationship? Or are other factors at play – such as the socio-economic status of the family???
    Furthermore: if people who went to pre-school 30+ years ago are earning more today than those who didn’t – is that really relevant for today’s children? I imagine pre-schools – and childcare in general – were different then, so even if it was the actual experience of pre-school rather than anything else that caused these people to earn more – what exact element of the pre-school experience is the cause? Are today’s children benefiting from the same hypothetical element in today’s pre-schools? And what about other settings?
    And finally, at what age did the people who earn more today attend pre-school? And if an element of their pre-school experience caused them to earn more today, is it crucial to be exposed to that hypothetical element at that exact age? Will earlier exposure enhance the benefit? Or quite the opposite?
    This argument is utterly flawed – I suspect so is may be his other arguments.
    (and, erm, how many years is a ‘career’ anyway? 30-40 years? So that’s around £800 a year, yes?)

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