View Full Version : Response re my email to Ms Truss

01-03-2013, 02:09 PM
Dear Ms Hall

Thank you for your email of 6 February, addressed to the Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Education and Childcare, about the Department's proposed childcare reforms. As I am sure you will appreciate, the minister receives a large amount of correspondence and is unable to reply to each one personally. It is for this reason I have been asked to reply and I apologise for the delay in doing so.

It is really encouraging to hear about the breadth of your experience and qualifications you have achieved. It is always good to hear the views of childminders and other early education practitioners, particularly those as experienced as yourself.

You refer to an article ‘Why agencies will be good for us’. Elizabeth Truss’s article, ‘Why we are introducing childminder agencies’ was published in Nursery World on 5 February. You highlight a number of concerns and questions about Government plans for childminder agencies, which I will address below.

It will not be compulsory for childminders to join agencies. Many existing excellent childminders may wish to continue operating independently and individually registering with Ofsted. For these childminders there need not be any change, and they can continue to operate in the same way as they do now. If childminders join an agency, and later change their mind, they will be able to re-register with a different agency or register independently with Ofsted.

It is planned that agencies will be able to handle fees for childminders who join them and help to match children with childminders. Childminders will of course play a role in this matching process, as we realise it is vitally important that parents, children and childminders are all happy to work together to achieve the best outcomes for the child. Many childminders have told us they do not like chasing fees from parents and it is hoped that an agency system will relieve them of this burden if agencies take on this role.

Exact details of the employment and financial relationship between a childminder and their agency will be defined by the agency itself, and are likely to be contractually agreed between both parties. There is likely to be some variation between agencies, which allows childminders who opt to join an agency to choose one that best suits them. It is likely that some agencies will choose to employ childminders directly (which brings benefits such as paid leave and sick pay) whilst others will prefer for their childminders to remain self-employed (or some may offer both options).

On your questions around funding and inspection, we are working closely with Ofsted to consider how the inspection regime will work for agencies. The issues you raise around inspection and funding and how any transition for existing childminders moving into agencies will be managed, are being considered as part of that work. As you know, the minister has stated that she wants to make it easier for childminders to access free entitlement funding - agencies could play a role in helping with this but childminders who do not join agencies will still be able to access funding.

I note your comments about opposition to agencies and the question around those who agree with plans around agencies. It would be inappropriate for me to give specific details of individuals and organisations who are working with us to develop ideas around agencies. However, I can say that a working group of childcare professionals has been set up, which includes representative organisations and childminder networks, and is considering piloting and requirements for agencies.
We have also received a significant number of enquiries so far from individuals and organisations interested in running agencies, including individual childminders and childminder networks. We have also spoken to hundreds of childminders through a range of meetings and events throughout the last six months. We are now considering how best to further involve individual childminders. If you like to be involved in this work, please email Childminder.AGENCIES@education.gsi.gov.uk with your contact details and we will let you know about any events in your area.

Once again, thank you for writing and I hope the above information is hepful.

Your correspondence has been allocated reference number 2013/0009030. If you need to respond to us, please visit: www.education.gov.uk/contactus and quote your reference number.

As part of our commitment to improving the service we provide to our customers, we are interested in hearing your views and would welcome your comments via our website at: www.education.gov.uk/pcusurvey

Yours sincerely

Barbara Redican
Ministerial and Public Communications Division
Home - Welcome (http://www.education.gov.uk)

01-03-2013, 02:22 PM
That is a classic example of 'famous last words.'
Does anyone remember when the government in their infinite wisdom decided that it would be a good idea to have a central on-line register of childminders? :laughing:
The expression 'pigs ear' comes to mind.
It will be a disaster, a total unmitigated disaster.:laughing:

01-03-2013, 07:49 PM
Good to see they have everything decided and there will be continuity through the country! :thumbsup: :rolleyes:

01-03-2013, 09:06 PM
If they had spoken to 100's of childminders over the last 6 months, surely more members on hear would have posted about it. After all we cover a very large area.

01-03-2013, 09:11 PM
Its born to fail :panic:

hectors house
01-03-2013, 10:33 PM
Why do they have to change everything beyond recognition - why can't they just iron out problems in the way things are done now? Look at the disasters with Poll Tax, Child Tax Credits, and the money that was wasted trying to sort out the :censored:!

02-03-2013, 04:24 PM
And were the ones that have to suffer: (

02-03-2013, 04:34 PM
At least we are not getting generic responses, this is mine.

Dear Ms Walker

Thank you for your email of 16 February to Elizabeth Truss about the proposed childcare reforms. I hope you are able to appreciate the Minister receives a vast amount of correspondence and is unable to reply to each one personally. It is for this reason I have been asked to reply.

The Department want to enable the provision of more high quality childcare and childminders are an essential component of this.

There are superb childminders right across the country, but we know the current system is not working for many of them. It is needlessly complicated and burdensome, which has led to the number of childminders falling dramatically in the last twenty years. We want to tackle this worrying trend and encourage more talented people to enter the profession.

That is why we are introducing childminder agencies, which will offer a far simpler route into the job and help make sure that all childminders are treated on a par with nurseries in receiving Government funding. We are introducing legislation to allow childminders to join an agency if they wish, but no one will be compelled to change their practice. Childminders can continue to operate independently – agencies are not compulsory. Agencies will check prospective childminder’s premises, provide training and approve those who are good enough.

Agencies and independent childminders will be directly regulated by Ofsted. Once Ofsted approved, they will be able to offer funded provision for three and four-year-olds without the need to jump through additional hoops at local authority level. Where a childminder or an agency is judged by Ofsted to be “good” or “outstanding”, they will also be able to offer places for two-year-olds without the need for additional local authority approval.

This will reduce the burden on paperwork for many childminders, which are often additional requirements from local authorities that are not part of the Ofsted inspection process. These changes will mean that more money gets to the front line and that professionals are able to focus on their actual job – looking after children. It will also be a major step forward in allowing childminders to be treated on a par with nurseries.

We are also planning to allow professional childminders more flexibility. Within the existing overall limit of six, we are proposing that childminders can look after one additional child under the age of five. They will be able to use their own professional judgement about what works best for them and the children in their care. This will help in practical terms during changeover periods and if they need to briefly leave their premises.

Working in the early years is challenging but rewarding. These changes will help ensure that the contribution childminders make to young children’s development is recognised and valued. I would encourage you to read the full detail of our proposed reforms which are set out in More Great Childcare, published on 29 January 2013 and available at: http://tinyurl.com/az2psz6.

Your correspondence has been allocated reference number 2013/0011849. If you need to respond to us, please visit www.education.gov.uk/contactus and quote your reference number.

As part of our commitment to improving the service we provide to our customers, we are interested in hearing your views and would welcome your comments via our website at: www.education.gov.uk/pcusurvey

Yours sincerely

Kathryn Begley
Ministerial and Public Communications Division
Home - Welcome (http://www.education.gov.uk)