SEED research – and in particular the bit that covers the views and experiences of childminders   1 comment

Way back in September 2013, I wrote my first thoughts about the SEED project, after listening to a presentation by Sue Robb from 4Children at the Early Years 2013 – How Children Learn conference.

(I should point out that 4Children are only one of the partners in the SEED project – and that it is funded by the Department for Education.)

It is fair to say that apart from being pleased that childminders were to be involved I was not over impressed with the methods that they planned to use at that moment in time – and I expressed my concerns

I have kept a general (but not close) eye of the development of the SEED project since that time – and have mentioned it in passing a couple of times – the most recent being when SEED was mentioned in response to a question about data about childminders, that I asked at the Early Education AGM and Conference. I mentioned that I was reserving judgement until I saw the results of the research.

And now we have the results in the form of a Research Report from SEED on the views and experiences of childminders.

I AM SO VERY, VERY DISAPPOINTED

There is NOTHING in this report that I (and a great many other childminders) could not of told the researchers, and backed it up with evidence from the childminding community, local forums and online social media.

The content of this so called research study is common knowledge – and in fact I have blogged about it, written to Ministers about it, done talks on it – and even spoken to the ex early years minster Elizabeth Truss about it.

Every organisation that represents childminders could have told them this because they are aware of their members views and concerns.

Every local authority could also have provided this information

But before I get too negative about this research report – maybe readers have not seen it yet?

So here is the link https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/387247/RR395_Childcare_provision_views_and_experiences_of_childminders.pdf

PLEASE DO TAKE THE TIME TO READ IT

Of course this report is part of a much bigger project – and so will not be the only research that has been carried out using the funding of this project. However, I have to question why money was wasted on the research into childminders experience and views?

For a start – take a look at the number of childminders who took part (look at page 15 of the report) Just TWENTY childminders took part – yes TWENTY

Broken down by area as follows
East Midlands 4
London 2
South East 5
South West 4
North East 1
North West 3
West Midlands 1

For goodness sake – that it is not representative of the childminders in this country – it is a minute number of childminders and can not possible represent the views of the many different areas, types of practice, local issues, diversity of population – in fact it can only represent the views of those few individuals.

My views as an individual are well known – but I don’t consider my view is representative of the entire childminding community.

When I went to a meeting at the Department for Education with Ms. Truss – I took about 200 letters with me from childminders from all over the country – 200 different opinions – and many of them covering the subjects discussed as part of this research survey (scroll down to page 42 and Appendix A where there is a ‘Interview topic guide’ which covers the questions to be asked)

That is TEN TIMES the number of views – as an alternative method – these 200 people could have been contacted to ask their opinion – as they clearly were interested in expressing their opinions – and without the incentive / thank you of a £20 voucher.

I have personally taken part in a number of telephone surveys and have filled in lots of consultations – for free, in my own time and without any benefit to myself – other than being able to express my opinion. Why was it felt necessary to give out vouchers – and does doing so change the make up of the type of respondents?

So – just in my opinion – what has been gained from carrying out this research?

NOTHING really – the information was already in the public domain, and so has no purpose. It has not explore new areas, or sought the views of sufficient numbers of childminders. It has not reached any conclusions that had not already been reached and expressed by many before. I can not see how this research report will inform changes to future policy or practice, because nothing new has been stated.

So, as far as I am concerned – I was right to be concerned about the methods used within this aspect of the SEED project – and I consider it to be a complete waste of time and money – and as the money came from the Government – that is my money and your money.

Who do I blame?

The childminders taking part – NO – they just answered the questions asked

The people carrying out the study – YES – in part, as researchers they should have examined the information already available, and they should have ensure the number of childminders taking part was representative of the childminding community. However, I do not know what criteria or restraints were in in place – and so can not really hold those who carried out the research responsible – without knowing the criteria and restraints.

4 Children and the other partners in this project – YES – If you take on a Government funded project such as SEED – it should be robust, and fit for purpose with a clear knowledge of what information is out there, what needs looking at in more detail, what needs to be verified, and a clear knowledge of the market / sector / product that researching

The Department for Education – YES – if going to spend public money on research or consultation, it must be fit for purpose and must provide ‘value for money’ including impact of future policy and practice, that will benefit the public/ society as a whole. It should not just state what was already known – so there are many questions in my head about why this research was carried out – and actually what was / is the intended purpose of carrying out this research?

Post Script
Some childminders have contacted me to say that they have recently (in December) had visits from 4Children, as part of the SEED project.

This is part of the bigger project of visiting all types of settings and is a long term study, following 2 years old through settings and mapping their experience and learning.

Therefore these visits are a separate part of the study – however in my opinion – it makes even less sense (and even more of a waste of money to do the separate phone interviews – as those childminders being visited as part of bigger research project could have been asked these questions.

Posted December 20, 2014 by psw260259 in My thoughts on current childcare issues

One response to “SEED research – and in particular the bit that covers the views and experiences of childminders

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  1. Pingback: Study of Early Education and Development (SEED): Study of the quality of childminder provision in England | Penny's Place Childminding

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