Childminders are cross! By Sarah Neville

25th October 2017

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Last time I wrote about how childminders are feeling for this Childcare Expo blog I talked about our feelings of frustration with so many challenges for us to resolve and problems for us to deal with while working on our own, in our homes, with little or no Local Authority support. I received so many positive comments about the blog that I was heartened to believe we really can make a difference if we all work together!

Now however, quite frankly, childminders have gone from being frustrated to being cross. Did you hear about the recent meeting between… oh lots of people including the Pre-school Learning Alliance, members of the Champagne Nurseries Lemonade Funding group, Tracy Brabin (Shadow Minister, Education) and Robert Goodwill (Minister of State at the Department for Education)?

I saw a clip from said meeting which is being shared widely on social media and it has left me and many of my colleagues cross – and very disappointed in the current Government and its policies towards the thousands of frustrated, hard working, well qualified and dedicated childminders.

Robert Goodwill, speaking to a member of the Champagne Nurseries Lemonade Funding group, first said that parents should ‘shop around’ to find the deal that suits them with regard to the funding … my initial thought is: where does that leave the children and continuity of care, attachment, sense of belonging and all those other important key person relationships we promote in the early years?

Mr Goodwill then said, and I quote, many nurseries are ‘doing a deal’ where ‘the Childminder is filling the gap when the nursery isn’t in session’. I have 23+ years of experience in early years, 3 Ofsted outstanding grades, an early years degree, a wealth of knowledge and I am totally dedicated to the children in my care and this Government Minister tells me I am only good for ‘filling the gaps’ when their nursery cannot offer the child an extended place or holiday cover.

I am a professional with equal status to any other early years professional: I have done the training – crikey I have delivered the training! I have jumped through the Ofsted hoops and ticked every Department for Education box I can to make sure my service is the best it can possibly be and I know the majority of my childminder colleagues stand with me on this. To be told I am useful only to offer wrap around care for a few hours to children who are … what … getting a better education in nursery – is that what he is suggesting? To be told that by an official at the top of the Department for Education, is truly shocking and has left me wondering what on earth they are trying to do to us.

Haven’t they noticed childminders are leaving in their droves? Don’t they think that maybe, just maybe, they should be bolstering us and offering us targeted support rather than calling us plugs for a gap? First we had Elizabeth Truss who tried to herd us into totally unworkable agencies, then we had to deal with Sir Michael Wilshaw at Ofsted who put us down at every turn and now we have Mr Goodwill who seems to think we are useful only to drop off and collect children from nursery!

We are truly thankful to those who support us – we need you all more than ever! This needs to be resolved – and quickly – before we lose any more amazing practitioners. Perhaps an apology for such a demeaning comment would go a little way towards easing our angst. Is anyone holding their breath with me?

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