Welcome to PACEY’s regular policy update, which provides a summary of the latest policy developments in England and Wales concerning childcare and early years, and how we are representing your views to key decision makers.
Introducing PACEY to the new minister
As we reported in last month’s policy blog, 2018 has unexpectedly brought us a new minister with responsibility for childcare and early years. Nadhim Zahawi MP was officially confirmed as Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Children and Families in early February. PACEY sent him a letter outlining our key policy priorities shortly after he took office, and we were one of the first early years organisation to speak to him on the phone. We look forward to meeting with the new minister shortly to discuss issues such as sustainable funding for the 30 hour entitlement and overturning the ban on childminders providing funded places to related children.
Ofsted to scrap the SEF
Ofsted has announced that from 1st April, it will be removing the self-evaluation form (SEF) from its website. The decision was made after a private consultation with early years leaders through the National Consultative Forum, of which PACEY is a member. The aim of the removal 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 guidance on self-evaluation. We are currently asking members whether they would use a self-reflection template produced by PACEY – do make sure you have your say.
Evidence to childcare inquiries
PACEY has recently 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 stress the need for sustainable funding for the 30 hour entitlement, and an end to unnecessary red tape and delayed payments. We also call 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.
30 hours update
The Department for Education (DfE) has released the latest statistics on the number of 30 hours childcare codes issued and validated for the spring term 2018. The percentage of validated codes for the spring term is now 92%, up from 82% last month, indicating that a majority of parents who have applied for a 30 hour place have received one. However, there are still wide variations by region and local authority, with the lowest validation rates in London at 86% across all London authorities. Providers are being encouraged to remind parents to revalidate their codes and reconfirm their eligibility in good time. For all 30 hour-related queries, visit our spotlight page.
This last month has seen the development of a number of key areas relevant to the childcare and early years sector in Wales, especially for registered childminders.
Childminders and related children in Wales
PACEY Cymru previously reported that the Welsh Government had changed the guidance around childminders being able to access Childcare Offer funding for related children who are not resident with them. We have taken work forward in relation to this, and have been lobbying for a change in guidance or legislation to be considered in order to support continuity of care for children and sustainably of childminding settings, amongst other points.
PACEY Cymru have written to the Minister for Children and Social Care to raise our concerns about the change and to highlight its impact on members; you can read the letter here. Once a response is received, and further discussions held, we will update this page. Claire Protheroe, Direct Services Manager (Wales) for PACEY Cymru has also had a meeting with senior civil servants from the Welsh Government to call for a change in their position. They have promised to look into it further, and any evidence or case studies we can gather will be used to support our lobbying work in Wales.
Are you affected, or will you be affected by this change? Are you personally unaffected, but still have a view as a registered childminder? PACEY Cymru have produced a short survey to support our lobbying work in Wales – please fill out it out and have your say.
New qualification framework
Following previous news stories on the development of a new suite of qualifications for childcare and early years in Wales, there have been a number of engagement events held over the last few months to support the development of course content and to ensure their suitability for the sector. PACEY Cymru has had a prominent role in this work to date. Alongside this, PACEY Cymru are represented on a complimentary working group that will develop a new Induction Framework for the sector.
CIW and DBS charges
Following consultation with the sector, CIW have now confirmed that from January 2018, it will no longer accept DBS renewal applications more than three months before a current certificate reaches three years old, and from 1 April 2018, providers will be required to pay the DBS fee (currently £44) if you are registering, re-registering or need a new DBS check. The checks will then be managed online by a third-party service which will process DBS application on behalf of providers.
When the third-party service is introduced, an administration fee will be charged. However, if you register with the DBS Update Service there will be a transitional arrangement. This will effectively fund your £13 subscription to the DBS Update Service for the first year.
Childminders who are not already on the DBS Update Service and need a DBS check cannot presently request DBS checks directly, and need to use a licensing body (such as CIW) for this. The third party service CIW propose to put in place will enable providers in that position to apply for a check and benefit from the speed and efficiency of an online service. PACEY Cymru believes that this will increase financial burdens on settings, and we will be monitoring the impact of this change. The changes do bring CIW into line with other UK regulators (for example Ofsted) who already use a third party service to administer DBS checks.