Childminders are frustrated… By Sarah Neville

27th September 2017

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You only have to look at the amount of colleagues who are leaving or thinking about leaving the profession to know that something isn’t right out here!

The vast majority of us work so hard to get things right and many of us have engaged with Ofsted through the Ofsted Big Conversation regional groups (the North West leads the way in this) to talk with Ofsted and to share our frustrations… and we really want to say, ‘Yes it’s making a difference’… but is it?

Here are just a few things that have happened recently which are adding to our frustration: we were told on the Ofsted Facebook page for Childminders (Childcare Registration) that we need to inform Ofsted when family members leave… we were told during an Ofsted Big conversation London meeting that we don’t need to inform Ofsted when family members leave; we are not allowed to look after related children when delivering the 15 or 30 hours funded sessions – but group providers can access funding for family members; we were told, after asking because it’s become confusing, that Ofsted no longer send out ‘suitability’ letters for childminder’s family members (but will continue to send them out for staff members) and then colleagues says their family member received a letter the week before!

And then there are the Department for Education proclamations which frustrate us even further. We were told recently that we can now change our ratios for early years children who are in 30 hours funded care in a school nursery – but Ofsted don’t have any answers when we ask follow-up questions and we really are not here to fetch and carry children – especially if we are supposed to squeeze in 3 hours of amazing teaching while preparing tea; the Department for Education has dismantled our local support networks and taken away most of the funding which means weekend training is rare as hen’s teeth and many of us have to attend statutory courses in the week – but assistants can only work unsupervised for up to 2 hours a day so we have to shut and lose a days’ pay while causing untold inconvenience for children and their families.

And then there’s the ongoing frustration with HMRC and Tax-Free Childcare! First, they put all our private details on their website and then they go on to mess up a lot of payments – and this is still ongoing; and the continuing muddle that is DBS checks for ‘home based’ providers… and I know I shouldn’t start sentences with ‘and’ but we are frustrated I tell you – frustrated!

We do have some people on our side – Pre-school Learning Alliance are doing a sterling job of supporting us and lobbying Ofsted, the Department for Education and HMRC for answers and we are truly grateful. This blog has been supportive, listening to and publishing our many and varied concerns over the months and the new Shadow Education Minister Tracy Brabin has made some useful noise on behalf of early years too.

However, what we need are answers now – not in a months’ time when the party conferences are finished! The Department for Education say they need us for their 30 hours funding to work … if we are really to believe that we need to start seeing rapid changes in how we are treated!

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