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An open letter to Sir Michael Wilshaw

Ofsted chief Sir Michael Wilshaw told the Evening Standard his views around education and improving the lot of children – particularly those from deprived backgrounds.

One of the solutions he suggests is a major expansion of school-based nurseries. “If we are going to do something radical to promote social mobility, it’s too late by the time these youngsters are 11 or 16. With poor families now getting 15 hours free provision of childcare, the Government should try to ensure they go to a school-based nursery, not the local childminder.”

This comment has understandably sparked debate across social media with many PACEY followers upset by his statement.

In response to his comments we’d like to present an open letter:

Dear Sir,

We were highly disappointed to read Sir Michael Wilshaw’s comments (3.9) encouraging the Government to divert free childcare allocation away from local childminders in favour of school-based nurseries.

Childminders make a fantastic contribution to the learning outcomes of young children, and thousands of families rely on their invaluable support. Mr Wilshaw’s views seem at odds with his own inspectors, with Ofsted’s data showing that the majority of childminders offer high quality care for children, with 78 per cent rated good and outstanding at their most recent inspection.

Whilst there is of course good practice across all settings, not all school-based nurseries can offer the right flexibility and environment for children and parents. All children are different and it is vital that parents are able to exercise a flexible choice when choosing the right childcare setting for their family.

Instead of focusing on an expansion of school-based nurseries, we would like to see more support for home-based settings to help them invest in quality staff and grow their businesses further.

Victoria Flint

Head of Communications

Professional Association for Childcare and Early Years

We are looking forward to engaging him in conversation about the true contribution that childminders make.

UPDATE: Following a positive meeting with Ofsted and having read our letter, Sir Michael Wilshaw has agreed to meet our childminder members. We are pleased that our views have been heard and we will keep you informed on the development of the meeting.