Welcome to PACEY’s regular policy update. This month, we have taken a look back on 2019 and key achievements in England and Wales concerning childcare and early years, how we have represented your views to key decision makers and plans for the future.
Back in January, the children and families minister for England at that time, Nadhim Zahawi MP spent the morning visiting a childminding setting in Hayes, in South East England. This was run by PACEY member and board member, Vicky Finn. Both Vicky and PACEY Chief Executive Liz took this opportunity to raise key issues facing childminders in England. January also saw Ofsted launch their Education inspection framework consultation. PACEY welcomed the improvements “as a commitment to reduce workload” and took this opportunity to discuss the changes that were taking place with our members in order to build a well-informed response.
In Wales, CIW confirmed that they were looking to move further systems and processes online over the next two years following ongoing work with the sector including PACEY Cymru. They also published a template for the Quality of Care Review for childcare and play providers to support providers in meeting CIW requirements. PACEY Cymru also published an update to the Quality of Care factsheet and the Policy and Procedure Guide for Wales to support those reviewing their service or preparing for inspection.
This is when PACEY first launched Together for Twos, a Department for Education in England funded project working with seven local authorities. Its aims were and continue to be to;
- Grow the number of disadvantaged families taking up the 2-year-old offer with childminders.
- Where appropriate grow the number of childminders offering the entitlement.
- Increase number of delivery partnerships between schools, nurseries and childminders in target areas.
As part of this project, we consulted members about our online resources. Your feedback, helped shape the final products which we made later in the year. This included providing practitioners support for working with parents on the Home Learning Environment. Members commented that the finished resources were “extremely relevant and supportive”, “easy to use” and they have some “great tips.” These resources have had an incredible reach with there being over 14,300 page views.
PACEY Cymru submitted a response to the Welsh Government on the Exceptions Order in Wales, where a person providing care would not be required to register. This included strong recommendations that the Order was amended to reflect the position that has been confirmed in relation to childminders caring for related children in Wales. We also shared our thoughts on care for children after 6pm and care for under two hours currently being exempt from registration.
This month saw some childminders offering a free hour or two to help combat smear test drops. The BBC quoted PACEY on the matter, reinforcing that “childminders should be applauded for their proactivity in offering a service where the ultimate aim is to save lives.”
Also this month, the Welsh Government provided guidance on queries raised by the sector about the rate paid for the Childcare Offer for Wales and additional charges that may be charged by settings to parents. The subject of additional charges and the interpretation of the associated guidance had been a topic of conversation for many months and continues to be an area that generates queries.
PACEY Cymru raised concerns with CIW this month in Wales around ongoing issues in relation to DBS checks and the barriers that are arising for many childminders specifically around the requirement to travel to a regional CIW office and the limited availability of appointments. PACEY Cymru continue to push for consistency and flexibility in relation to this on an ongoing basis.
This month, we continued the push to end the ban on childminders providing funded places to related children in England. Your help was central to this as many providers contacted their local MP about the issue. Thanks to effective lobbying from PACEY Cymru in 2018, childminders in Wales are now able to access the Childcare offer for non-resident related children. We are planning to continue to work to achieve the same in England soon and will be looking to raise this with the upcoming government in 2020.
In May, to continue voicing our members views across the sector, PACEY joined forces with other leading organisations in the early years sector in England to create the EYFS coalition. As part of this coalition we shared an EYFS specific survey with our members. This enabled the coalition to fully understand the sector’s opinion of and attitude towards the EYFS prior to the government consultation later in the year.
The Welsh Government published A Guide to Curriculum for Wales 2022 to give further information and guidance to providers on the new Curriculum for Wales 2022 that has been designed for all learners aged 3 to 16.
This month, we tackled two key member issues through sector initiatives. First, PACEY joined a number of organisations to write a letter to urge the government to address the early years funding shortfall in England which the Guardian reported on. Then, we joined an Ofsted and Department for Education sector advisory group to tackle excessive workload in the early years which we attended our first meeting on. PACEY commented that we “have been raising the issue of unnecessary paperwork for many years” and that we were “keen to explore with DfE and Ofsted how we can provide practitioners with advice and support on caring for their own well-being as well as the children in their care”.
Members’ views were sought on the Childcare Offer for Wales with a survey that generated a large number of responses and enabled us to share these with Welsh Government to influence change.
This month, PACEY began our research with the University of Plymouth to influence the future of childminding. A national survey was launched and the response was overwhelming, with many practitioners passionate about the ongoing decline. A big thanks to those who took part in our research, we will be releasing more information on this in 2020.
July also saw a change in government leading to Nadhim Zahawi MP being replaced by Kemi Badendoch MP as the minister for children and families in England. Lastly, the Department for Education in England launched a public consultation on proposed changes to early years fees paid to Ofsted which we started to engage with members about to gather our response which we submitted later in the year.
The Welsh Government published the report on the review of the National Minimum Standards (NMS) in July. It involved analysis of the relationship between Regulations and the NMS, engagement with stakeholders across the childcare and play sector and examination of the approaches adopted by other UK administrations to assessing the standard of childcare and play provision. The review also considered the relationship between CIW’s Inspection Framework and the quality schemes operated by individual local authorities and the childcare and play organisations. Work is ongoing in relation to how this report will impact on changes and what it means to providers.
PACEY Cymru worked tirelessly this month to support the resolution of issues in relation to the Childcare at Home Voluntary Approval scheme. Changes to this over the summer impacted significantly on nannies in Wales with the sudden suspension of the scheme meaning that no new nannies could gain approval and existing nannies on the scheme could not receive their updated annual approval. Following ongoing lobbying from PACEY Cymru and partnership work with Welsh Government the issues were resolved and the scheme was reinstated.
Following our submission of our response on the call for evidence on the Exceptions Order in Wales in February, Welsh Government published an associated report in relation to the Order and it was promising to see the views of PACEY Cymru and the wider sector taken seriously. A full consultation on the Order is due to take place in 2020.
This was a busy month policy wise. The Government announced a £66 million increase in spending for early years education in England which PACEY recognised “as a start” but reinforced that “the sector needs more“ so that “providers can deliver the high-quality places children and families deserve without risking their childcare businesses future sustainability”. It was then announced that Michelle Donelan MP would be providing maternity cover for Kemi Badendoch as the minister for Children and Families for England. Later in the month, it was confirmed that the current minister for schools and standards in England Nick Gibb MP would be taking on early education policy as part of his remit. Also this month, PACEY represented members’ views in another meeting for the Department for Education in England and Ofsted’s joint initiative to tackle excess workload in the early years. We then joined colleagues from across the sector and members from the Department for Education in England to discuss the newly published literature review and initial headlines from the practitioner survey as part of the EYFS coalition.
CIW confirmed that in early 2020 they will be asking childcare and play providers to use their online accounts to submit a Self-Assessment of Service Statement (SASS). This will enable CIW to gather and update information they hold on childcare and play services. In addition, providers will be asked to submit a quality of care review, describing their own assessment of the quality of care provided and explaining how they monitor their own performance. PACEY Cymru have been involved in the development of the SASS system and will be providing support for this in 2020.
In Wales, PACEY Cymru raised issues in relation to commercial waste requirements and charges being applied to childminding settings with the Minister and the impact on sustainability of these. Following a positive response, work is ongoing to resolve these issues across the country.
September also saw the launch of childcare grants to facilitate the creation of additional flexible childcare places in Wales. One of these was a start-up grant to encourage new childminders into the sector. The grant will offer some financial assistance to help with some of the costs associated with starting a childminding business. The other was a New Employees Grant to encourage the creation of new jobs across the childcare sector.
In October, government released its formal consultation on the changes proposed to the Early Years Foundation Stage Statutory Framework in England. We shared our joint response with members from the EYFS coalition and began to gather views to inform our own individual response ahead of the 31 January 2020 deadline.
First Minister for Wales, Mark Drakeford launched the Welsh Government’s plans for an Early Childhood Education and Care approach to create a single, high-quality, child-centred approach to early childhood education and care. These reforms of early years look to ensure children get the best possible start in life and will take place over the next 10 years.
Following support from PACEY Cymru and the Cwlwm consortium CIW confirmed to providers in Wales that they would be required to submit a Self-Assessment of Service Statement (SASS) to CIW through the online system in early 2020. PACEY Cymru were able to share messages with the sector to prepare them for this process.
PACEY attended the Education Policy Institute’s Understanding Child Poverty Conference. Here, we engaged in debates surrounding this important issue and gained a better understanding about how we can help our members support families going through this. After the announcement of the general election on 12 December we have been keeping track of all parties early years pledges and we also released our three key recommendations to politicians. We echoed members’ views by making it clear that children and families need high quality early education and childcare and that the professionals working in this sector need to be fully recognised and properly funded.
Member’s views were sought on the Childcare Offer for Wales hourly rate with a survey that generated a large number of responses and enabled us to share these with Welsh Government to influence change in relation to a wider review of the rate that is underway.
This month, PACEY Chief Executive and PACEY members spoke to ITV news about the decline in childminding and used this opportunity to highlight this valuable profession. December also has seen the announcement of a new government which PACEY has used to highlight our key policy recommendations. We hope that in the New Year we can continue to work together to push for a strategy for childcare which incorporates a sustainable funding plan as well as the recognition that early years professionals deserve.
Thank you again for all your support and hard work, please do also take a look at the festive blog PACEY have created where you can read more about everything we have achieved together outside the policy realm.