Improving Enforcement in Childcare - a consultation
There is a consultation over the next few weeks - it closes on 26th March 2013.
The consultation is here - Tell us about your experience in an area ‘in Focus’ | Focus on Enforcement
Read through the information and then click on ‘share your experience’ at the bottom.
This will take you to an online form which you can fill in - the form is very basic and you do not have to give your contact details.
You don't get questions - just an opportunity to talk about things that worry you ... and anything you think is positive.
Who can answer the consultation?
The consultation is open to childminders, nurseries and pre-schools - anyone who cares for early years children.
What is the consultation about?
The Government wants to know how well Ofsted are doing at regulating childminders.
They are not interested in how well the current legislation (EYFS, Childcare Register etc) works - the focus is on how well Ofsted enforcement (registration visits, inspections, dealing with complaints, producing informative factsheets etc) and Local Authority support is working.
Why has the consultation been set up?
It is linked closely to the ‘More Great Childcare’ plan from the Department for Education / Liz Truss.
There is more information here - Focus on Enforcement review: make your views heard about regulation | Nursery World.
Comments you might want to make -
Have a think about things you might want to mention before you start - because you just get a box to fill in rather than a series of questions.
You might discuss...
• How well do you think Ofsted deal with the registration process? Such as conducting pre-registration visits and necessary documentation.
• Do you think Ofsted are good at enforcing action? Such as checking that providers, including those who are not registered with Ofsted but may need to be, meet legal requirements for registration eg people who are working from their own homes for payment for more than 2 hours a day who have not registered as childminders
• Do Ofsted manage the enforcement process well? For example, taking action where requirements of registration are not met - including visiting early years providers after complaints have been made and following up on unsatisfactory inspection outcomes.
• How well do Ofsted manage the inspection process? Are Ofsted consistent during inspection? Be careful with this question - it might lead to Ms Truss saying that her agency model is justified because childminders want agencies, not Ofsted, to regulate them!
• How well do Ofsted target support to childminders who need it the most?
• Do you get good advice from Ofsted, local authority, advisors etc?
• Does advice you get from your local authority help you comply with the law? For example, have you been informed about registering as a food business, applying for planning permission if you care for more than 6 children under 8 at a time, registering with the Information Commissioners Office as a data handler etc?
• Do misunderstandings and misinterpretations of the law make your job harder?
• Do you feel that you are over-regulated? Do your Local Authority and Ofsted duplicate the advice they give you? For example, do your LA tell you to do things one way and Ofsted another. Be careful how you phrase comments if you choose to talk about this - because the Govt are looking to remove all LA support and make Ofsted the sole ‘arbiter of quality’ which will leave independent (non-agency) childminders unsupported if the ‘More Great Childcare’ plan goes ahead.
• Have you complained about eg the behaviour of an Ofsted inspector - and what was the outcome?
• How well does your local authority support you - and newly registering childminders?
• Do you think Ofsted and local authority requirements are excessive?
The review also wants ideas on how Ofsted can do their job better! They want you to share evidence of good practice so it can be used as a learning tool in the future.
Some important things to consider -
• The ‘More Great Childcare’ plan talks about Ofsted as the ‘sole arbiter of quality’. While we might agree that local authority support varies depending on where you live, do you want a situation where Ofsted are the only people you can call on for support?
• The plan talks about ‘moving from process to outcomes’. I think most childminders will agree that we focus on outcomes for children - the whole campaign against the ‘More Great Childcare’ plan is based around the risks to children’s outcomes if the plan goes ahead. What they are paving the way for here is making changes to eg the floor space requirements so they can fit more 2 year olds into small rooms.
• The ‘More Great Childcare’ plan talks about agencies delivering’ intensive support to childminders, with regular monitoring visits and training.’ Do you think that you need / want even more input into your provision than you already get from your local authority? The fear here is that agencies will be asking childminders to jump through even more unnecessary hoops so they can raise their own profiles with Ofsted. Or of course the opposite – agencies will take a fee and do very little to support childminders.
• There is a suggestion in one of the Govt documents (the Children and Families Bill) that newly registering childminders might only be able to register through agencies. If the results of this survey suggest that Local Authorities do not support newly registering childminders well and changes are made to the registration process - what effect do you think that will have?
• The ‘More Great Childcare document states that agencies will help remove barriers between home-based care and higher quality group provision” which suggests that home based childcare is not currently a high quality provision. The document also states that childminders ‘lag behind’ other providers - the majority of childminders take great exception to this statement and want to make their feelings known.