Welcome to PACEY’s regular policy update. This month, we have taken a look back on 2018 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.
2018 began with a bang, with an early January cabinet reshuffle leading to a major shake-up at the Department for Education (DfE). Damian Hinds MP became the education secretary and Nadhim Zahawi MP the minister for children and families, with responsibility for early years and childcare (among other things). PACEY’s policy priorities in England at the start of 2018 were long-term sustainable funding for 30 hours ‘free’ childcare; better career progression opportunities for all practitioners; and an end to the ban on childminders providing funded places to related children. These remain our key priorities at the end of the year too.
January brought changes in Wales with CSSIW’s name change to Care Inspectorate Wales (CIW) coming into force. PACEY Cymru’s policy priorities in Wales at the start of 2018 were around the expansion of the pilot for the Childcare Offer for Wales. The planned changes to the qualification landscape in Wales were also high on the agenda and PACEY Cymru continued to contribute to the ambitious direction of these.
PACEY submitted evidence to two inquiries on childcare, and the 30 hour entitlement in particular from the London Assembly Economy Committee and the House of Commons Treasury Committee. In both submissions we stressed the need for sustainable funding for the 30 hour entitlement, and an end to unnecessary red tape and delayed payments. We also called for more support for childminders to start-up, improve and grow their businesses, and active championing of childminding by government and local authorities to increase parental awareness. PACEY’s evidence was quoted extensively in a report from the House of Commons Treasury Committee, which called for increased funding for providers and more childcare support for parents over 20 in training.
Issues were raised in relation to the position of childminders to be able to draw down Childcare Offer funding for related children in their care in Wales. PACEY Cymru lobbied hard on this issue with Welsh Government and the Minister with evidence and case studies provided to support our position.
To prepare members for the removal of Ofsted’s self-evaluation form (SEF) from its website in April, we published a PACEY SEF template. Members can find their download in MyPACEY and non-members can purchase it in the shop. The purpose of the scrapping of the SEF is to reduce the burden on early years providers. However, providers will still be expected to discuss their evaluation of their setting with Ofsted inspectors, who will ask about the quality of care and activities, and how well the setting is meeting the learning needs of all children. PACEY will continue to support members to do this through regular guidance on self-evaluation.
PACEY Cymru shared updates on changes to DBS processes in Wales. This included links to frequently asked questions and guidance following joint work between CIW and PACEY Cymru to ensure clarity on position. We also shared information on CIW’s plans to publish childminder reports in Wales. This follows engagement between PACEY Cymru and CIW and findings from CIW’s SASS where the publication of childminder reports had support from childminding settings.
PACEY teamed up with Voice, the union for education professionals, to survey course leaders and current and former students about early years graduate qualifications. Our research found widespread agreement that Early Years Teacher Status is not working. We called on the Government to take urgent action to improve the pay and status of Early Years Teachers.
Following our previous work in 2017 PACEY Cymru published refresh of our work linked to childminder de-registrations in Wales given the continued decline in the overall number of childminders. Our research was well received by Welsh Government to evidence sustainability and highlight the need for further support to the sector.
From 25th May 2018, data protection rules changed with the introduction of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). To help support the sector, PACEY produced a range of easy-to-use resources. These include sample policies, factsheets, templates, support videos and FAQs.
Claire Protheroe, National Manager for Wales for PACEY Cymru gave evidence to the Welsh Assembly's Children, Young People and Education Committee at the Senedd on the Childcare Funding (Wales) Bill. Claire was part of a panel made up of Cwlwm partners to share their views and respond to questioning from Assembly Members (AM's) on the Bill
This Bill was specifically around the eligibility model but PACEY Cymru and Cwlwm partners used the consultation and the session to raise other areas of interest linked to the Childcare Offer for Wales including the current issues facing registered childminders around accessing funded for related children.
New research from our Building Blocks survey highlighted that tens of thousands of registered childminders in England are missing out on vital income because they are not permitted to offer free places to any related children. This is contrast to their colleagues in nurseries and pre-schools in England – and other childminders in Wales. Around 38 per cent of childminders in England surveyed currently have at least one child in their setting related to them. A slightly higher proportion of childminders – 40 per cent – said it was likely that a related child will attend their setting in the future.
PACEY is urging all affected childminders and their families in England to write to their MP and the minister for childcare, Nadhim Zahawi MP, to share their personal experience of this ban, and ask the Government to overturn it. Download our template letter, media pack and read our case studies at pacey.org.uk/related-children.
PACEY Cymru were delighted to share, following lobbying work noted previously, that Welsh Government confirmed a change in policy for the Childcare Offer to allow registered childminders to receive funding for the care of a child who is also a relative but who does not live with them.
The lobbying work we undertook, supported by members in Wales and other partners, alongside the support from some key Assembly Members ensured a great outcome for childminders in Wales and will support improved emotional outcomes for children, parental choice of provision and childcare sustainability. We were pleased that Welsh Government listened to the strong views shared on this issue and recognised the vital role that childminders have in supporting the success of the childcare offer.
The DfE published pilot versions of the 'Statutory framework for the early years foundation stage' and 'Early years foundation stage profile 2018 handbook', which are being trialed in 24 Reception classes in England from September, along with draft Early Learning Goals (ELGs). The proposed changes are not final, and will be subject to a full public consultation in 2019. The final version of the EYFS Profile will not come into force until 2021. PACEY will be actively working to ensure members' views on the proposed revisions are shared with the DfE.
July brought confirmation on CIW’s implementation of published ratings from 2019. This follows the use of silent ratings shared during inspections in 2018. It will be important, in future, for providers to be able to demonstrate what they have changed or done differently as a consequence of the ratings received. Further information on CIW inspections can be found in the members’ area of the website. PACEY Cymru will be developing further guidance for members around improving quality.
September marked the first anniversary of the national rollout of the 30-hour early education and childcare entitlement. A flurry of reports were published to mark the occasion, including PACEY’s own Building Blocks survey, the Government’s independent evaluation of the scheme, and new research on take-up of all of the funded entitlements.
The first report from our 2018 Building Blocks survey focused on the impact of 30 hours on providers. Fifty-nine per cent of childminders and 88 per cent of group-based practitioners reported they are currently delivering funded places of some kind. However, 41 per cent of childminders and 46 per cent of group-based practitioners said they had experienced a decrease in their profits directly due to 30 hours. Nearly half of childminders (44 per cent) do not think it will be sustainable to offer 30 hours in the long term, and around a third plan to limit the number of funded places they offer in the future. Read the full report.
The independent evaluation of 30 hours, carried out by researchers at Frontier Economics and the University of East London, found similar results. A high proportion of providers delivering the funded entitlement were willing and able to offer the extended hours, but the financial impacts were mixed, with 39 percent reporting that there had been a reduction in their profit or surplus. The offer was not completely flexible or free for all parents with substantial proportions reporting restrictions on when they could use the hours or that they had to pay charges for additional items or activities. The uncertainty about parents’ future responses and the fact that two terms were not sufficient for providers to assess the financial impact of delivering the extended offer meant that some providers were waiting to see if delivering the extended hours will be financially viable in the long term. Read the full evaluation.
The findings from both reports reinforce the need for the Government to act on the recommendations PACEY has been making over the past year. In particular. It must urgently increase funding levels and establish a formal annual review, so that funding keeps pace with inflation; pay providers on a monthly basis as soon as possible; and ensure local authorities streamline their paperwork and remove unnecessary demands for additional documents and training. Childminders should also be permitted to deliver funded places to children related by blood or marriage, as long as they are not living at the same address.
PACEY Cymru published the findings from our Building Blocks survey in Wales. We made a series of recommendations outlining the key points to be considered- at a national and local level- by all those working with the sector. These are to ensure positive outcomes for the substantial public investment in the sector, and ensure access to high quality childcare and early education in Wales that meets the needs of children and their families.
England and Wales
The end of October saw the launch of our Childminding Myths Campaign. PACEY in England and Wales worked with the Northern Ireland Childminding Association (NICMA), Childminding Ireland and the Scottish Childminding Association (SCMA) to highlight the essential work that professional childminders deliver whilst busting myths and promoting key facts about their childcare services. The Childminding Myths campaign consists of a full colour brochure detailing specific myths together with the actual facts, and nine myth busting cards to be shared through social media to support the launch.
PACEY’s Policy and Research Manager, Susanna Kalitowski, met with the Shadow Early Years Minister, Tracy Brabin MP, to discuss our key policy priorities. At the top of the list was the issue of declining number of registered childminders, and the unfair ban on childminders providing funded places to related children. Tracy has expressed her strong support for our campaign to overturn the ban. The Labour Party has made a wide range of childcare and early years-related commitments at its party conference, including extending the 30 hour entitlement to all three- and four-year-olds, and eventually two-year-olds too. Labour has also pledged to raise the funding rate for providers to £7.35 per hour; raise qualification levels across the sector; and establish a national pay scale for all staff. PACEY’s Chief Executive, Liz Bayram, has welcomed the proposals, but highlighted the need for all these commitments to be properly funded, inviting Labour to ‘work collaboratively and constructively with the sector to ensure there is a workable and sustainable delivery plan for their proposals.’
October saw the launch by Social Care Wales of the new All Wales Induction Framework for Early Years and Childcare. PACEY Cymru worked closely with Social Care Wales to ensure the framework is relevant for those who are not in an employed role (for example, registered childminders). Tthe induction framework is useful to support self-reflection on entry to the sector or following a change of role.
PACEY published the second report from our Building Blocks survey, Focus on the workforce. It analysed key issues affecting the childcare and early years practitioners, including job satisfaction, experience, qualifications and training, working conditions, finances and future plans. We found evidence of downward trend in qualifications levels for childminders, with an increase in those with no qualifications and a drop in those with a full Level 3. There is also a widening qualification and training gap between more experienced practitioners and those who joined the sector in the past eight years. The report makes a series of recommendations to government and local authorities revolving around three areas: ensuring the childcare entitlements are funded sustainably; improving qualification levels and career pathways; and raising awareness of childminders. PACEY’s Policy and Research Manager, Susanna Kalitowski, spoke about the findings at a panel debate on the workforce at the Nursery World Business Summit 2018.
The Welsh Government published the Foundation Phase Nursery provision: guidance for local authorities and PACEY Cymru approached each Local Authority in Wales to clearly understand their position on the funding in relation to this. We know historically that there have been barriers to childminders being able to access this funding and we are hoping that this new guidance leads to a change in position. This is an important time for this to be re-considered given the links between Foundation Phase funding and the Childcare Offer for Wales. We have had a small number of Local Authorities come back to us requesting to meet or for further information and will continue to promote the service that childminders specifically can offer around this.
Following the news in July around CIW and published ratings PACEY Cymru, alongside Cwlwm partners, sought the views of providers on the silent ratings they had received and the process for sharing these. The findings of this work were shared with CIW to support future direction.
The year came to a close with the bittersweet news from the Ofsted annual report that a record number of early years providers are now graded good or outstanding by Ofsted (95%), but there is no end in sight to the steady decline in the number of registered childminders, with the total drop since 2012 rising to 29%.
We were delighted that PACEY’s President, Penny Tassoni, was appointed to Ofsted’s new early years pedagogy and practice forum. PACEY is also a member of Ofsted’s other main stakeholder group, the early years regulators forum. Through these two influential groups, PACEY will be able to communicate our members’ priorities and ensure they are given as much support as possible – which will be vital in 2019 given the big changes coming to the sector.
A key development this month has been the election of the First Minister for Wales. Mark Drakeford has taken over from Carwyn Jones in the role. We will wait to see what changes this brings to the childcare and play landscape over coming months.
With huge relevance to the childcare and play sector in Wales Cwlwm are working with Welsh Government to gather the views of providers on the National Minimum Standards. A survey has just been launched on this and is open until February.
The Welsh Government also launched new Food and Nutrition Guidance for Childcare Providers in Wales. PACEY Cymru were a key partner in the development of this guidance and supported consultation with the sector around this earlier this year. The new standards and guidance includes accompanying menus and recipes for settings. It aims to support settings to meet the childcare regulations for food and drink, but to also help parents in being more aware of what settings offer their children and taking messages home on the healthy choices they have made.
Coming up in 2019
New Ofsted inspection framework
Ofsted will be changing the way it inspects schools, colleges, further education institutions and early years settings from September 2019, when the Common Inspection Framework (CIF) will be replaced with the Education Inspection Framework (EIF). It is proposing that the new EIF contain four judgements: 1) Quality of Education; 2) Personal development; 3) Behaviour and attitudes; and 4) Leadership and management. A draft is due to be published and put out for public consultation in early 2019.
PACEY will be liaising closely with Ofsted to ensure the new framework will be suitable for early years settings. Throughout the New Year, we will be consulting with our members on the proposed changes, and ensuring their views are represented to both Ofsted and the DfE.
Early years curriculum review
The DfE is currently piloting revised Early Learning Goals (ELGs) in 24 primary schools in England. In 2019, it will be undertaking a review of the early years curriculum, before publishing a revised Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) statutory framework and an update of non-statutory guidance in the autumn/winter. PACEY will be working closely with other sector bodies to undertake our own review of the EYFS – what works well and what could be improved. Stay tuned to our website and social media channels for more information and how you can be involved.
Our continued partnership work alongside Cwlwm partners and other key stakeholders in Wales including Welsh Government, CIW, Social Care Wales, Qualifications Wales and Local Authorities is key to successful support for the sector.
Much of our work in 2019 will continue to focus on the development and implementation of the new qualification framework in Wales which will be ready for delivery in September 2019. We will be working closely with CIW around the implementation of published ratings, publication of childminder reports and their continued move to online systems. We will be working closely with Welsh Government around changes to the National Minimum Standards.
The new curriculum which will be in place by September 2020 will also be a key area of focus alongside our continued work around the Foundation Phase.