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PACEY responds to childminder agency inspection consultation

Although the laws which enable the creation of childminder agencies were brought in earlier in March this year (as part of the new Children and Families Act), the regulations which will dictate specific features of the agency model are still in development. Today, PACEY has responded to Ofsted’s consultation on their proposals for inspecting childminder agencies. In the consultation, Ofsted suggested several key proposals of the agency inspection process, such as: 

  • Giving no notice to agencies before inspection;
  • Conserving the existing four-point scale and “overall effective” judgements currently used in childcare provider inspections;
  • Taking the evaluation of parents, childminders and the agency itself into consideration as part of the judgement;
  • Whether or not to publish the inspection judgements on the Ofsted website.

PACEY responded in full to each of the questions in the consultation, and for many of the questions PACEY also recommended actions for Ofsted to take to ensure minimum standards for agencies, to keep children safe and still enable childminders to deliver quality childcare.

Our recommendations for Ofsted include:

  • To state clearly in all of their communications regarding agencies that an agency inspection grade does not directly reflect the quality of care offered by individual childminders registered with the agency;
  • To call on Government to legally require agencies to publish their own judgements of individual childminders registered with that agency clearly, in the public domain;
  • To develop as quickly as possible a standardised toolkit for agency self-evaluation (similar to the existing self-evaluation form for early years providers);
  • To make all efforts to preserve childminder anonymity in their evaluation of agencies (should Ofsted decide to take those childminders’ evaluations into account);

Although PACEY feels that these recommendations would go some way to ensuring minimum standards for agencies, we feel that there is a still a fundamental disconnect between the agency model and the need to deliver, measure and continuously improve quality of care.

PACEY will continue to be the voice of its childminder members as Ofsted develops the agency inspection process, and will respond to the forthcoming consultation on agency regulations when the proposals for the regulations are released.

Please follow this link to see our response to the consultation in full.