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Exceptions to usual childminding ratios: PACEY's view

PACEY’s publication of our confirmation from the Department for Education (DfE) about acceptable variations of childminding ratios in light of 30 hours, has provoked a strong response on social media.

A number of PACEY members identified early on that the exception in 3.42 of the EYFS could be interpreted to apply to three-year-olds attending a school nursery full-time. We have been working for several months to confirm with the DfE and Ofsted what the rules actually are so that we can provide as much clarity as possible for our members.

Susanna Kalitowski, Policy and Research Manager, comments:

"Recent reports that the DfE has clarified to PACEY how childminders can vary their ratios when working in partnership with schools should not be seen as an indication that ratios may change in the future. Ofsted have always allowed childminders to vary their ratios for short periods of time, based on their professional judgment. The Early Years Statutory Framework (EYFS), like Ofsted’s National Standards before it, explicitly states that exceptions to the ratios can be made, for example when a childminder is caring for sibling babies, the childminder’s own baby, or when  providing wraparound care for a four or five year-old attending nursery school full time."

"In all cases, the childminder must be confident and able to demonstrate that the individual needs of all children are being met. This flexibility recognises childminders’ ability to make decisions that are in the best interest of the children in their care and the value of continuity of care. It is a departure for the Department for Education to confirm that this exception also applies to three-year-olds attending school-based provision full-time, though the total number of children being cared for at any one time still cannot exceed six per childminder. This also recognises that many childminders are now working with assistants or in partnership with other childminders."

"PACEY supports childminders' right to determine whether to vary their ratios in strictly limited cases based on their experience, professionalism and expertise. This is based on PACEY strong commitment to the existing childminding ratios, which have been in place since the 1970s, which always should guide childminders’ decisions and Ofsted judgements."

30 hours has been a challenging and divisive policy for the sector since its announcement. PACEY has and will continue to be a childminder champion, supporting the individual childminder as well as the rest of the early years sector.