Today sees the publication of the latest report from the Study of Early Education and Development (SEED), a major government longitudinal study evaluating early education in England. Published by the University of Birkbeck and 4Children, the report focuses on the factors influencing the quality of childminder provision in England. It identifies three key factors distinguishing the quality of care provided by childminders:
- Participation in a quality improvement network, such as PACEY Local.
- Years of experience as a childminder
- High adult-to-child ratios
The research involved consultants carrying out observational visits and short interviews within 100 childminder settings, and noted PACEY Local as the second most significant provider of a quality support network, behind local authorities. It also references the PACEY website as a resource for childminders to support their work.
Liz Bayram, Chief Executive of the Professional Association for Childcare and Early Years, said: “We were encouraged to see the latest report from the Study of Early Education and Development (SEED) highlighting the important role played by childminders in providing high quality care to children.
“The study clearly demonstrates that commitment to personal development and training lies at the heart of good quality provision – and that belonging to a network or professional association has a large role to play in inspiring high quality care.
“Our own Building Blocks survey reveals a workforce that is highly motivated to develop their own professional skills because they know it’s good for the children in their care. However, we know that the majority of professional development is paid for by practitioners out of their own limited funds now that local authority support has been significantly reduced.
“We know that our members benefit from belonging to a professional association that can support them to develop at the time and pace that suits their busy working lives. It is fantastic to see the report recognising the benefits of belonging to networks, such as PACEY Local, our active network of childcare professionals across England and Wales.
“But what we need to see from the Government is a commitment to a clear workforce strategy that creates a clear and accessible pathway that encourages early years practitioners to progress through their careers. Childminders could be well placed to deliver the Government’s expanded free childcare offer, but only if the funding is sufficient to cover costs and if the other barriers that prevent childminders from offering free places are addressed. These include inflexible local authority payment procedures, red tape and the ban on claiming free early years education for related children in their care.
“Only through a combination of funding and professional development can we ensure a sector sufficiently robust to take on the challenges which this Government has set.”
Study of Early Education and Development (SEED): Study of the quality of childminder provision in England