Here are some highlights from our work over the last 12 months. They demonstrate how we are working hard to support our members to deliver high quality childcare and early learning and continuing our call for improved status, reward and recognition for all childcare professionals.
Building Blocks: the state of the early years sector
At the beginning of the year we conducted an extensive piece of industry research. Our Building Blocks survey aimed to provide a detailed picture of the state of the childcare profession across England and to identify the main challenges you as childcare professionals are facing for the future. Our largest and most comprehensive survey to date, it involved over 2,600 registered childminders, nannies, nursery workers and managers as well as parents.
The results showed a workforce at tipping point – highly motivated by the work they do and relied upon by parents, but lack of funding, as well as the erosion of local authority support is putting significant pressure on childcare professionals. One fifth of childminders told us they were uncertain as to whether they would still be working in childcare in 12 months’ time.
The report received widespread media coverage and we have taken the findings throughout the corridors of Westminster to call on the new Government for adequate funding, a sector-wide strategy to support childcare professionals and greater recognition for the fantastic work that childcarers do every day to give children the best start in life.
Bringing Westminster to PACEY
We began the year determined to demonstrate to Government the fantastic work our members do every day to give the children they care for high quality early learning experiences. We’ve been delighted to welcome the Childcare Minister, Sam Gyimah MP, and other senior officials at the Department for Education to see our work in action.
Sam Gyimah visited PACEY members Kara Jewell and Lorraine Meehan in Portsmouth where he attended a session in the sensory room, and had the opportunity to observe their practice, and hear views on the challenges and joys of working in childcare.
We also took Helen Stephenson, Director of Early Years at the Department for Education, to meet members in Southend to showcase how well the local authority supports childminders and to share great examples of how childminders are working in partnership with nurseries, pre-schools and schools to deliver the free entitlement flexibly for families.
PACEY members were also invited to a celebratory reception at Lancaster House hosted by the Childcare Minister to thank them for their contribution to the sector.
Influencing the Childcare Bill
PACEY has been tirelessly representing your views in an intense few months of influencing following the announcement of the Government’s intention to double the free early years entitlement. It has been a critical time for PACEY to fly the flag for the childcare profession and to raise understanding and build respect for all the training, hard work and commitment that goes into childcare.
We met with peers in the House of Lords, members of the opposition, and Government officials to talk about your concerns – and PACEY members and trustees attended events up and down the country to contribute to the funding review. The funding uplift for the free entitlement was the Government’s recognition of the under-funding of the sector, and we are so proud of our members whose eloquence and aptitude clearly made policy makers sit up and listen. We still have more work to do to ensure that the Childcare Bill works for you – you will be hearing more from us in the New Year!
Support for childcare professionals
A key highlight of the Building Blocks survey was the need for the Government to do more to support childcare professionals and to help them progress throughout their careers. We were delighted that the Government responded to our call to action by removing GCSE entry requirements for Level 3 qualifications and early years apprenticeships in the summer. We also stepped up on our efforts to call for a workforce development strategy to support childcare professionals to progress throughout their careers.
We were invited to represent your views at a House of Lords event and were delighted that the Childcare Minister has committed to developing a workforce strategy during 2016. We will be publishing a paper outlining our ideas in the new year and will continue to meet with the Minister and his team to ensure that we see some real improvements next year to supporting early years professionals across every setting.
We’ve made over 25 hours of free training available to our members this year. Covering everything from Safeguarding to Schemas, our selection of online courses provide free knowledge and support on topics crucial to those working in early years development.
In the last six months our members have completed almost 10,000 of our online courses. Our e-learning facilities are also available to non-members for a small fee - check out the full list of training courses and continue your own professional development.
We were delighted to welcome over 200 PACEY members to our conferences held in London and York. They provided opportunities for our members to learn together, share experiences, take home new insights for their practice – and have a lot of fun. Our guests got to hear from high-profile speakers including Penny Tassoni, PACEY President and early years author; Andy Cope, trainer, author and happiness expert; and Gill Jones, Deputy Director Early Education at Ofsted.
Members can access the key conference resources, including slides from our keynote speakers, in MyPACEY.
Improving the transition to school
This summer our social media campaign, #readyforschool, gathered more than 100,000 supporters. We worked with Netmums and NUT to highlight the important role played by childcare providers in this vital transitional stage.
We secured DfE funding to launch a new project, Starting School Together, which aims to help improve children’s transition from childcare into school, focusing particularly on disadvantaged children, and children from BME communities. The first cohort of school starters are now coming to the end of their first term in Reception and the initial feedback is overwhelmingly positive.
Helping you understand the new Common Inspection Framework
For registered childcare professionals in England, things changed this year. From 1 September 2015, the inspection framework was revamped. Ofsted introduced the Common Inspection Framework (CIF), bringing together the inspection of different education, skills and early years settings.
The CIF aims to provide consistency and comparability in inspections across the whole education sector. PACEY was active in discussions throughout CIF development to ensure that the framework was applicable to early years settings. We were delighted that many of our recommendations were taken on board, including our recommendation for a focus on children’s wellbeing and happiness have been preserved as key inspection criteria. We hosted webinars on our website, in conjunction with Ofsted and Ofsted Big Conversation, to ensure that you knew what the changes meant.
We worked with an experienced Ofsted inspector to publish a new publication, ‘Common Inspection Framework, British Values and You’, to help childcare professionals use the new framework and, in particular, to understand the new requirement for embedding British values. Access quick links to all our Common Inspection Framework resources here.
Our re-designed website, which went live in May, remains your first port of call for everything you need to keep you up-to-date with the rapidly changing early years landscape. The improved navigation and design provide a more user-friendly experience and mean it’s easier than ever for you to find the latest news stories, opinion pieces and practical advice to apply in your setting.
Members also benefit from a new-look MyPACEY, the one-stop-shop for the entire range of fantastic benefits and resources. The digital account provides instant access to factsheets, practise guides, videos, online learning and more - all designed to support the delivery of high quality childcare and early learning. In addition, advances to our online services now mean that all of PACEY’s training and resources can now be accessed and completed through a smartphone or tablet.
Childcare Professional remains one of our most-loved member benefits, providing a quarterly round-up of highlights and in-depth interviews and features from across the sector.
In the summer we revealed the new, modern magazine design which was met with resounding applause. We also released both an Apple and Android app, allowing readers to access their copy through any tablet or smartphone. The interactive app allows you to click through instantly to read more online, download resources or share content on social media.
Early Minds Matter
It’s during the early years that the seeds of good mental health are sown. Our major new campaign, Early Minds Matter, was launched at our health and wellbeing conference in November and will raise awareness of young children’s emotional health.
We’ll be telling parents and professionals just why qualified childcare professionals have such an amazing role to play in growing healthy minds.
For more information visit our emotional health web pages and join us on social media using the hashtag #earlymindsmatter.
Local support, national coverage
We couldn’t achieve what we have without the fantastic work of our PACEY Local Facilitators - 62 volunteers run a wide range of peer-to-peer support, training and networking opportunities across the UK. If you’re interested in connecting with your local group, or would like to learn more about becoming a facilitator, visit our PACEY Local landing page.
A year of recognition and awards
Early years childcare providers across the board were recognised for their improvement in standards in the second Ofsted Early years report. The overwhelming majority – 85% – of early years registered providers are now ‘good’ or ‘outstanding’ according to Ofsted, an 18% rise in five years. In addition, a number of our members were honoured for the role they’ve played in delivering high quality care and learning:
- Ann Marie Corbett, Services to Children - British Empire Medal
- Sharon Collier, Childminder of the Year - Nursery World Awards
- Darren and Rebecca Elliott’s Kidspiration, Provision for 2-year olds - Nursery World Awards
- Sandy Evans, Services to Childminding - British Empire Medal
- Janice Jinks, Outstanding Contribution by a Foster Carer - Fostering Excellence Awards
We held our second graduation event to celebrate learners who have successfully completed the CACHE Level 3 Diploma for the Children and Young People’s Workforce. PACEY’s Chair, Jane Comeau, addressed the audience by highlighting the exceptional achievement they had made and recognised the hard work and dedication needed to complete the qualification.
By March 2016, over five hundred learners will have passed the Level 3 Diploma.
Congratulations to everyone on a phenomenal year!
These are just a few of our highlights from 2015. To read more about our work this year, visit our News and Views hub.