More Great Childcare

Posted by Dawn Heaps on Thursday, February 21, 2013
The current government recently released their proposals to improve childcare and reduce costs to parents in 'More Great Childcare'. Although the principals behind these proposals are honourable, the actual means by which the government plan to implement them are highly flawed and do not appear to be fit for purpose.

The plan to increase the ratios of childcare staff to children, by allowing more children to staff as long as they can demonstrate a certain level of qualification, does not provide those staff with the extra set of arms or eyes needed to safely care for and stimulate those extra children placed in their care. The asumption that in order to encourage children to have a desire to learn in areas such as maths and language requires a Maths or English GCSE grade C could exclude a large number of dedicated, loviing and caring professionals from inspiring the next generation. Do children under the age of five need a member of staff that understands algebra and academic essay writing to stimulate an interest in maths through grouping dinosaurs or a love of rhyme through reading books like 'Room on the Broom' or 'Hairy Maclairy'. What children in early years need is a secure attachment to a warm and responsive individual who can take the time to get to know them and their family, their interests and preferences, and utilises this knowledge to plan fun, play activities that promote a love of exploring and learning that sets them up for future educational success.

As for the governments plans to introduce child minder agencies as a means to increase child minder numbers by easing the processes of registration and the business requirements once registered, they are even more flawed. The processes in place in order to register as a child minder are there to ensure only those truly committed to delivering quality care to the next generation put in the time and effort to get through them. Those who have little understanding of the demanding nature of the profession or the importance of their role in educating as well as caring for children tend to leave the process, but is that a bad thing? Those child minders who come through the process come out of it with the knowledge they need to run their own businesses and the understanding of the EYFS (2012) that informs the educational needs of children in the early years. Many also through the process are linked to experienced child minders who can offer support and friendship that can help them build strong businesses and improve quality.

I, like many other child minders, do not believe that creating agencies will improve the profession for new or existing child minders. In fact it is more likely to create a two/three tier system, especially if some child minders are employed by the agency, as well as increasing costs to both child minders and parents. More Great Childcare talks about reducing parents costs and improving salaries for early years professionals but the agency model due to be trialed in September this year seems only set to increase costs and lower salaries.

Ms Truss needs to stop stating she has consulted with early years professionals when it is clear from the numbers against her proposals that she has only consulted with those in favour of her ideas. She also needs to admit to the fact that she is skimming the cream in the way she is quoting examples of practice from our european neighbours systems of childcare and acknowledge that these same systems also have faults and, in some cases these countries look to our own systems as good practice.

I want to reassure any parents considering using my child minding services that I will not increase my ratios just because the government tell me I can to the detriment of the quality care and education I provide.

Dawn x

About Me

I have a BA in Early Years. I also hold two professional degrees from my previous careers in Careers Guidance and Radiography. I do have Maths and English at 'O' Level Grade C - not that this better enables me to educate children but it is what the government seems to hold dear. I am an active member of the PACEY, a Lead Child Minder for Wigan Local Authority (supporting other child minders) and am accreditted on my local network to offer the early years entitlement. I love to learn and find it difficult to stop myself from taking on training and further education. But I hope my love of learning is passed on to all the children in my care as well as to my own daughter.