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Get the facts on childminder myths in England

Myth: Childminders are unqualified babysitters who know nothing about child development

Fact: Childminders in England are early years professionals who are required to demonstrate an in-depth understanding of the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) curriculum before they can become registered by Ofsted. This is generally gained through completion of a home-based childcare course.

A majority of childminders – 69% – go on to gain a full level 3 early years or childcare qualification. Furthermore, almost 10% have a degree-level early years qualification. In addition, most childminders regularly undertake continuing professional development (CPD) to ensure their practice is up-to-date. A recent PACEY survey found that a majority of childminders had undertaken specialist training on special educational needs (SEN); speech and language training; and allergens and nutrition. Only 2% reported not doing any CPD in the past year.

Myth: Childminders aren't regulated and don't need to be registered with Ofsted 

Fact: In England, anyone who provides childcare for children under 8 on domestic premises for more than two hours a day for payment or reward is required to register by law as a childminder with Ofsted, or more than three hours if you are only looking after a friends' children. All childminders in England need to be registered with Ofsted and will be subject to regular inspections. They are also expected to follow a number of regulations. The vast majority of registered childminders – 94% – have been graded ‘Good’ or ‘Outstanding’ by Ofsted.

As a condition of registration, they must:

  • be assessed by Ofsted on their suitability to provide childcare, and, if they are caring for children under 5, to deliver the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) curriculum
  • hold a current paediatric first aid certificate
  • undergo a Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) check (along with everyone else they live or work with over 16) and sign up to the update service
  • have a doctor certify they are physically and mentally capable of caring for children
  • have appropriate public liability insurance (PLI) in place
  • have the written permission of their landlord if they are in rented accommodation
  • have their premises inspected by Ofsted to ensure those parts used for childcare are safe, secure and suitable for their purpose
  • be monitored by Ofsted through regular inspections.

Myth: Childminders in England don't offer funded hours (15 or 30 hours and Tax-Free childcare)

Fact: Most registered childminders in England can offer funded hours for eligible 2-, 3-, and 4-year-olds, and around half do so at the moment. The only requirement is an Ofsted grade of ‘Good’ or ‘Outstanding’.

Eligible parents can then register to get funded hours with their childminder and may use their funded hours with a combination of a childminder plus another setting, for example a pre-school or a nursery.

Do you have any more questions on early years funded hours?

Myth: Childminders can look after as many children as they want at any one time

Fact: For childminders in England, the maximum number of children that can be cared for by a childminder, including the childminders’ own children and any others they are responsible for, is strictly limited depending on the age of the children and the space available to:

  • no more than three under 5, including no more than one child under 12 months (with allowances for siblings).
  • no more than six children under 8 years

When childminders in England receive their first visit from Ofsted, they will be expected to demonstrate that they have made their decision on how many children they should have, based on the EYFS. If they have one or more assistants, they can care for more children, but this is still strictly regulated.

Myth: Childminders sit around and watch TV all day

Fact: Childminders in England are required to deliver the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) to all children under school age in their care, and will have a daily routine in place to ensure children’s learning and development needs are being met. This includes a range of stimulating activities, including creative play, messy play, outdoor play, reading, storytelling, role play and music. Childminders may take children on regular trips; depending on the hours a child attends a setting; and participate in groups and activities within the local area. 

Myth: Children won't learn or be 'school ready' with a childminder

Fact: Childminders are experienced and equipped at preparing children for school, delivering the same early years framework (England) as all other early years’ providers and reception teachers. They will also have good links and relationships with their local schools. 

In addition, many children approaching school age attend both a sessional group setting (for example a pre-school or nursery school) and a childminding setting. Childminders offer flexibility with higher adult: child ratios, unique learning environments in a variety of sizes meaning children access a highly personalised experience, meeting specific learning and development needs, including school readiness.

The latest SEED study found that childminders had a particularly positive impact on young children's cognitive development, verbal ability and behaviour. 

Myth: Childminding is only for women

Fact: Although the childcare and early years sector as a whole is dominated by women, an increasing number of men are choosing to become registered childminders. Many of these are fathers who see childminding as a career option that allows them a better work-life balance and the chance to be their own boss.

Many families value male childminders as positive male role models for their children and it is also not uncommon to see couples working as co-childminders, running their childminding business together.

Myth: Childminders don't work with other people within the community

Fact: Childminders are keen to regularly develop partnerships with a range of professionals that support children’s learning and development, including teachers, pre-school and nursery school staff, speech and language therapists, health visitors, social workers, Special Educational Needs Co-ordinators (SENCOs), and medical staff such as GPs and nurses.

Our Building Blocks 2017 report stated that sixty per cent of respondents do this which is an increase from 43 per cent in our 2015 report.

Myth: My child won't socialise enough if they are with a childminder

Fact: Childminders are well integrated into their local community giving all children, including siblings, access to a wide variety of opportunities. Much like a parent, a childminder has the flexibility to mix children in a variety of environments and age groups. For example, this could be at a local toddler group, play parks, local schools or simply, interacting with other children at the library. Being exposed to these opportunities gives children a solid foundation of resources growing lifelong social skills.

Have you encountered any other myths that you feel need busting? Please comment down below and we will answer your questions!

Take a look at our previous myth-busting blog.

Bernadette Thomas
Childcare has been my sole employment for 40 years next year. I have seen children become parents and grandparents. It has been a pleasure to educate so many children. Times have changed but all children are a pleasure. I have gained a degree and various other courses throughout my career, and have letters after my name but the best part was the pleasure the children showed me, running into my arms, as I returned in September after being closed for 6 mths. Best career ever.
16/09/2020 11:21:47

Hi I have been a reg Ofsted Childminder for over 14 years. I follow the early years foundation requirements and do a very good job. The children have around me learn so much through play and some are getting ready for school.i am pride of the achievements from home based childcare.
23/05/2017 17:10:59

Lisa Davies
This is also true, with tweaks for us childminders in Wales, and probably also Scotland and elsewhere.
13/05/2017 16:19:35

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