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Update on Children and Families Bill & Childminder Agencies

PACEY logoThe Children and Families Bill is now approaching its final stages in the House of Lords. Last week, the third day of the Report stage saw debates around the new special educational needs (SEN) regulations, including local authorities’ responsibilities and a call for a single appeals process. PACEY responded to the Government’s consultation on the new SEN regulations last month. You can read PACEY's response.

Today (Thursday 23rd January 2014) the Government has made two key announcements.

Firstly, the government has made a major amendment to the bill, responding to PACEY’s members’ concerns about how agencies will guarantee quality of care, not just quanity. The Government amendments will require Ofsted to report on the effectiveness of an agency in measuring the quality of care and education delivered by individuals registered with it.’

Responding to these amendments, Liz Bayram, PACEY Chief Executive, said:

“It is good news the government has now accepted PACEY’s view that Ofsted should assess how well a childminder agency (CMA) ensures the quality of the care and education delivered by any childminder on its books. To have simply relied on Ofsted's assessment of a CMA's leadership and management systems and its quality and standards of training and other services  to childminders would never have been enough to reassure parents.

We are still concerned about other aspects of CMAs and convinced a childminder's individual registration and inspection with Ofsted remains the best way to demonstrate quality to parents but this is progress.  PACEY wants to ensure that any childminder or parent who chooses to use an agency can find independent and impartial information on the quality of the care and education it provides for children. This amendment should make this a reality. We look forward to seeing Ofsted's proposals on how they will do this and we will continue to make sure that the views of our childminder members are heard.”

BBC News has reported on this story, too.

The final day of the Report stage is scheduled for Wednesday 29 January, and the topics for debate on this day include such important issues as inspection criteria of the proposed childminder agencies and changes to local authorities’ duty to measure the childcare provision in their area. PACEY will report on these issues following the debates at the end of the month.

Secondly, Ofsted has announced the long-awaited consultation on the Childminder Agency Inspection Framework

Ofsted proposes that:

  • there should be a judgement on the overall effectiveness of the childminder agency;
  • childminder agency inspection judgements should be made against the four point scale of outstanding, good, requires improvement and inadequate;
  • childminder agencies should have no notice of Ofsted inspections;
  • Ofsted inspectors should take into account the way in which childminder agencies use self-evaluation to improve;
  • inspection judgements should take into account the views of individual childminders and parents; and
  • inspection reports should be published on the Ofsted website.

PACEY will be analysing the consultation document and responding on behalf of its members. The document can be found here:  http://www.ofsted.gov.uk/resources/inspecting-childminder-agencies-consultation-document. We encourage members to look through this and respond themselves – it’s crucial that the government hears from individual professionals as well as from your professional association!