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Invest in quality

A new report, Sound Foundations, published by the Sutton Trust, has recommended that the Government should delay expanding free nursery provision for disadvantaged 2-year-olds until it can guarantee that they all have access to good quality places.

The Trust has published new research by Britain’s leading early years experts at Oxford University. Sandra Mathers, Kathy Sylva and Naomi Eisenstadt conclude that clear developmental benefits for the poorest children require good quality provision which is not yet available for all 92,000 2-year-olds taking up places at the moment.

Liz Bayram, PACEY Chief Executive, comments:

‘Children do best in high quality childcare, as this report highlights. As the professional association representing 35,000 childminders, nannies and nursery workers across England and Wales, PACEY knows more investment is needed to further develop the skills and knowledge of existing childcare professionals but also believes more can be done to involve greater numbers of high quality settings, especially childminders graded good and outstanding by Ofsted, in delivering free early education to disadvantaged two year olds.

‘Most good and outstanding childminders are still not accessing this funding, for a variety of different reasons. Whilst some barriers have been removed, local authorities need to do more to appropriately fund and engage with childminders and other childcare providers. Slowing down the expansion of free provision for two year olds is one option but PACEY believes that utilising the full capacity of the current workforce is a better first step.

‘We agree that it’s important for all childcare professionals, including childminders, to be well qualified. PACEY also believes there should be a greater focus on a childcare professionals’ ongoing professional development, so their practice remains up to date. Most childminders already hold a relevant Level Three qualification, without any regulatory requirement to do so. So reaching the report’s target of an additional 20,000 practitioners having completed additional qualifications is a realistic goal. This can be achieved by government investing in a workforce improvement strategy that not only looks to recruit more graduates into childcare but increases support for the current workforce to build their expertise.

‘To help further improve childminding standards, PACEY members have been calling for current regulations to be changed to require all childminders to pass their introductory course before they can register with Ofsted – as is required in Wales – and to require all childminders to achieve a relevant Level Three qualification within three years of registration.’

More details on the report, and sector reaction to it, is available here.