The latest Childcare Provider and Inspections report from Ofsted, published today, points to the continued decline in childminders with a fall of 1.6% in the last quarter. Over 11,000 childminders have left the early years sector since the end of the previous inspection cycle (31 August 2012).
While the overarching number of early years places offered by providers registered with Ofsted has remained stable, the number of places offered by childminders is 8% (almost 23,000) lower than it was in August 2012.
The sector as a whole reflects a growth in the high proportion of good or outstanding provision, but since August 2015, while the amount of non-domestic providers has continued to rise, the proportion of childminders judged good or outstanding has fallen.
Commenting on the figures, Liz Bayram, Chief Executive of the Professional Association for Childcare and Early Years, said:
“It is extremely concerning to see the continued decline in the number of registered childminders, particularly given how critical the government has said they will be to delivering the 30 hours offer. We know that childminder agencies are not the answer, and we need urgent action to attract childminders into the sector and to encourage those already working in the profession to stay.
“The sector has made huge progress over the last few years, yet the steady increase in number of good and outstanding settings that we have seen is now under threat. Childminders have done as much as they can, but with the dramatic erosion of local authority support for training and development, the fact that funding levels have been frozen and the discrepancies surrounding re-inspection, it was inevitable that we would see this unfortunate dip in the number of good or outstanding childminders. There is only so much that childminders can do on their own and we urge government to address this through its much-anticipated workforce development strategy to ensure that childminders have more support for training and development.
“PACEY has also continued to raise with government and Ofsted the need for a level playing field for re-inspection. Childminders and childcare on domestic premises have to wait for the next inspection cycle for their re-inspection if they receive a 'requires improvement' grade. This can mean that their re-inspection is some years away. Non-domestic settings such as nurseries and pre-schools, on the other hand, are guaranteed a re-inspection within 12 months. How can childminder settings be expected to maintain the necessary high standards of quality childcare when their support is at an all-time low?
“With so much uncertainty in the sector and the added country-wide concerns of Brexit, this continued lack of support for childminders means they will struggle to stay in business, and families will then miss out on the childcare support they so desperately need to return to work and give their children a great start.”