View Full Version : Finding out more about what it will mean to stay independent

22-03-2013, 12:34 PM
A lot of questions are being asked about childminders and staying independent on this thread -


Remember, you can pose your questions about agencies and independent childminders directly to the Department for Education -

The email address is - ministers@education.gsi.gov.uk

Here are just a few of my questions :D

Ms Truss is pressing on with her plans for childminder agencies even though the vast majority of established Ofsted registered childminders do not want them and most childminders are well served by their local Family information Service or other groups.
Please can you explain why this is still happening?

Independent childminders have not been given any information from the Government about our future status. We all have lots of questions about what type of support we will receive, how we will be supported, where we will access training when our LAs are disbanded etc. A lot of effort seems to be going into setting up these agencies but we appear to have been completely forgotten.
Please let us know when more information will be forthcoming.

Ms Truss says she has met with the National Children’s Bureau, the National Childminding Association and the Pre-school Learning Alliance...
The National Children’s Bureau are not in favour of agencies - http://www.ncb.org.uk/media/895040/c_f_bill_commons_ncb_secondreading_final.pdf
The NCMA - now PACEY - completely disagree with her plans and have refused to join in with any further consultation because of this. They have also made several statements making it clear that their members ‘overwhelmingly rejected the proposal to establish childminder agencies’ and that they have ‘consistently raised concerns with the minister about the planned introduction of the agency model’. They go on to talk about how agencies will ‘damage the future sustainability of childminding, undermine parental confidence and cause confusion’
Nursery World Magazine (11-24 Feb 2013)
Neil Leitch of the Pre-school Learning Alliance stated ‘We question why the Government would create another layer of bureaucracy that may see parents and childminders pay more while also duplicating the work of several organisations already in existence.’
Ms Truss also said recently she worked with My Family Care - but they have described her in less than glowing terms in their blog -
New Childcare Minister Liz Truss | Mad, Bad and Dangerous to Know! (http://www.myfamilycare.co.uk/news/blog/new-childcare-minister-liz-truss-mad-bad-and-dangerous-to-know.html)

Can you please explain why Ms Truss is not listening to those with whom say says she has consulted?

Childminders are very concerned about which companies might enquire to run agencies and their reasoning behind wanting to get involved. We would like to find out more about the type of companies which are setting up. For example, Frequently Asked Questions - At Home Childcare, Nottingham (http://www.athomechildcare.co.uk/childcare/faqs.html) intends to charge parents a quarterly membership fee of £55 = £220 per year.
They will have to be self sustaining as the Government does not intend to fund them. How does the Government anticipate that this will this lower childcare costs for families?

As the agency model is self funding it will be necessary for agencies to register a lot of new childminders online to pay back the cost of setting up the agency - especially as the majority of established childminders are not in favour of joining agencies.
This will make established childminders even more unsustainable because of all the newly created competition, especially in areas of the country where childminders are already struggling to find work - coupled with the fact that nurseries and pre-schools will all have their ratios increased soon because Ms Truss is ignoring petitions and representations from such eminent early years figures as Cathy Nutbrown on this issue as well -
• Petition against ratios changes - www.keepratiosdown.co.uk
• Cathy Nutbrown’s report - Nutbrown slams 'More Great Childcare' plans | Nursery World (http://www.nurseryworld.co.uk/news/1175154/Nutbrown-slams-More-Great-Childcare-plans/)
• Childcare Champions - Questions galore on More Great Childcare | Childcare Champions (http://www.childcarechampions.com/questions-galore-on-more-great-childcare/)
• Christie & Co - Government (http://www.christie.com/blog/governments-childcare-reform-proposals-risk-quality-and-outcomes-and-could-create-two-tier-market/)
• Gov Today - Why ratio changes are the thin end of the wedge | Children & Young People (http://www.govtoday.co.uk/education/39-children-young-people/14882-why-ratio-changes-are-the-thin-end-of-the-wedge)
... and many, many more.

Please can you explain why Ms Truss is not listening to those who elected her?

Will you consider proving that Ms Truss is indeed listening to what childminders are saying and stop these plans before so many local services are dismantled that independent childminders are left with no further support? For example -
• Stockport childminders - no training directory
• Cheshire East childminders - losing a support coordinator
• Croydon Council blasted for removing support - Croydon council blasted for changes to childminder support | Children & Young People Now (http://www.cypnow.co.uk/cyp/news/1071822/croydon-council-blasted-changes-childminder-support)
• Cheshire West and Chester - no support
... and many more.

This article states what childminders already know - that good quality Local Authority support improves outcomes for childminders and children -
Childminders are most likely to achieve quality practice under LA support structure | Nursery World (http://www.nurseryworld.co.uk/news/1172144/Childminders-likely-achieve-quality-practice-LA-support-structure/)

There is likely to be a 4 tier system very soon -
1. Agency childminders
2. Independent childminders
3. UNREGISTERED childminders
4. Independent childminders who belong to an agency
Does this not worry the Government?
Does Ms Truss not recognise that this will be harmful for children, cause potential safeguarding nightmare scenarios and confuse and be concerning to parents?

Agencies are supposed to be helping to bring down childcare costs for parents. How is that possible when they will be self funding? Is the expectation that the childminder will take a cut in income?
The majority of childminders already earn less than the minimum wage - and many are qualified to level 3, 4 and above.
How does the Government feel that these plans will support childminder morale and enhance the workforce with good quality childminders in the future? Ofsted themselves note that high quality early years providers raise outcomes for children.

I would like to be involved in further discussions about agencies because I am very concerned about them and I want them to stop. I have evidence that Ms Truss is only inviting those who agree with her plans to meetings -
Childminders claim childcare minister has barred them from her Twitter | Nursery World (http://www.nurseryworld.co.uk/news/rss/1169953/Childminders-claim-childcare-minister-barred-Twitter/)
Along with hundreds of childminders and other early years practitioners a childminder wrote ‘An analysis of More Great Childcare’ and sent Ms Truss and a number of her colleagues a copy - www.childmindinghelp.co.uk/mgc - and so far has only received a reply from the Labour leader Mr Milliband. Please explain why Ms Truss is ignoring childminders who write to her.
Ms Truss has also deleted childminders from her Twitter account -
Childminders claim Truss barred them from her Twitter account | Children & Young People Now (http://www.cypnow.co.uk/cyp/news/1076147/childminders-claim-truss-barred-twitter-account)

Is there any chance at all, given this evidence, that she will listen to my views?

Sue Gregory stated recently that childminders should not be required to deliver the education part of the EYFS - will this apply to independent childminders?
Ofsted | The report of Her Majesty's Chief Inspector of Education, Children's Services and Skills: Early years (http://www.ofsted.gov.uk/resources/report-of-her-majestys-chief-inspector-of-education-childrens-services-and-skills-early-years)

Ofsted have made it very clear that they do not want childminders within their remit - in a variety of different ways recently. How will individual inspections continue to benefit childminders in the future if Ofsted are going to continuously ‘nit pick’ for want of a better phrase during inspections?
You only need to look at some of the comments in Ofsted inspection reports to see what I am saying -
• The childminder needs a covered outside area before they will be graded outstanding... where is that in the EYFS?
• The childminder needs learning outcomes for each child every day - can you imagine that in a nursery inspection report!?!
• The childminder needs to put up posters to enhance a print rich environment - we work from our homes and lack of posters is often one of the reasons parents choose us for their children.

NCMA takes Ofsted to task over claims childminders 'not up to the job' | Nursery World (http://www.nurseryworld.co.uk/news/rss/1162939/NCMA-takes-Ofsted-task-claims-childminders-not-job/)
Ofsted comments outrage NCMA | Nursery World (http://www.nurseryworld.co.uk/news/rss/1163402/Ofsted-comments-outrage-NCMA/)
NCMA retaliates against Ofsted childminder criticism | Children & Young People Now (http://www.cypnow.co.uk/cyp/news/1075602/ncma-retaliates-ofsted-childminder-criticism)

How will independent childminders ensure that their inspections are fair and reflect their practice and experience? To whom will they go for support?

It was Ofsted’s own inspectors guidance document (pre-Sept 2012) which stated that newly registering childminders were unlikely to gain better than a satisfactory grade - which is like being told you cannot get an ‘A’ in an exam which you are taking for the first time!
We then had inspectors greeting childminders with the words ‘I don’t give childminders outstanding’ or ‘you are new so you’ll only get satisfactory’. Now they use this against us and tell us that we are not good enough or as Ms Truss puts it ‘lagging behind’ when this is not true.
How will independent childminders be protected from this type of blatant discrimination in the future?

Other questions being asked by childminders -
• How much will independent childminders have to pay for re-inspections?
• How does the Government intend to redress the obvious damage that will be done to outcomes for children when it makes changes to adult-child ratios?
• How can so many of Cathy Nutbrown’s suggestions be ignored or sidelined? She really did consult with as many people as possible before making her suggestions and is very highly respected.
• How will independent childminders access childcare vouchers?
• Will independent childminders still have access to funded children?
• How on earth can Ofsted be the ‘sole arbiters of quality’ when they clearly don’t want to regulate childminders any more?
• Who will independent childminders be able to turn to on a local level if they have a problem now all the FIS are being closed down or losing their budgets?
• Where does the Government anticipate that independent childminders find access to free, high quality training to enable them to retain and enhance their inspection grades?
• Where will independent childminders be able to go to find children (which doesn’t cost them a lot of money) if agencies are aggressively marketing for business for their newly registered childminders - and FIS and other local support websites are closed down?
• Will independent childminders still retain tax breaks as negotiated previously?

Send emails - write letters - let's get them focussed on those of us who want to stay independent :cheerleader::cheerleader:

22-03-2013, 01:10 PM
Do write in with your questions they will be forwarded to the right policy making dept
Whatever you do 'be constructive' and offer 'suggestions' not criticism...these guys are civil servants developing Ministers' policies not their own!..the two I have been in touch with for a year are truly 'nice' and understand our worries

I have found that a positive approach makes a huge difference and you will be listened to rather than your letter disregarded...hope this helps

24-03-2013, 04:11 PM
LOL! a short list of questions there sarah !!!!

i am sending and writing the same ... just waiting for replies!

24-03-2013, 05:42 PM
Flippin Eck Sarah! That's a comprehensive list!