Meet the childminders - profiles and stories

All children are different. And so it's fortunate that all childminding settings are different, too!

Because childminders work in their own homes there will always be variety. And it's this variety that means that childminding is a flexible childcare choice, with parents able to choose childcare for their child in a small group in a home environment.

Some childminders work in cities, some provide care in rural villages. Some care for disabled children, some care for twins or triplets. Childminders are able to accomodate and support most families' childcare needs. Read more about these PACEY childminders.

Click the names below to expand our members' stories.

Meet Maisie Collin, Owner of Maisie Poppins Childcare from Hackney, London

Maisie Poppins Childcare Ltd operates a highly professional, multi award-winning childcare service. They are graded ‘Outstanding in All Areas’ by Ofsted, members of Hackney’s ‘excellence network’ and members of PACEY (Professional Association of Childcare & Early Years). Maisie operates a busy, home-based childcare service Monday to Friday for 1-4/5 year olds. 

Why are proud to work in childcare?

No matter how long you have been in the job, there is always more to learn. It is a real honour and very exciting to see how children progress, right in front of your eyes, directly from experiences you are facilitating.

You watch them grow and blossom in different ways and it is an amazing feeling to be a part of making that happen. One of the great benefits of working in home-based childcare is there is no commute. I also now work with my partner.

He gave up his job in the corporate sector to retrain in childcare and says he is the happiest he has ever been at work.

What’s the best thing about being a childminder?
Knowing you are positively impacting the long term brain development of children which will last long after we are in their lives

...and the most challenging?
Juggling childcare and business demands

Which three words best sum up your childcare setting? 
Holistic, fun, nurturing

How did you get started in the childcare sector?
I have always worked professionally with children and families in differing settings at different levels since I was 19, I am 41 now 

If you could go back to when you started as a childcare professional and give yourself one piece of advice, what would it be? 

Live in the moment with the children and have fun while educating   

What do you wish other people outside of the childcare sector understood about the profession?
How much good childcare matters long term, parents are often so focused on outcomes at school they forget that the child who turns up at school will be the child built from their experiences in their early years

If you were in charge of national childcare policy for a day what would you change?
I would create a national shift in attitudes toward childcare based on evidence from research, particularly neuroscience that would enable growth and respect for the sector in many ways, Protection of public and community spaces for development of childcare in urbanised areas would be key as would central aspects of the Scandinavian model. 

What do you consider to be the best aspect of PACEY membership? 
Comradery, solidarity and security

Which is your favourite - messy play, storytime or outdoor fun?
Forest School Sessions in nature

What's your never-fails, the-children-always-love-it activity?
Hide and seek in the garden and baking 

Nursery World Awards:
Best Newcomer of the Year 2014
Shortlisted for Childminder of the Year in 2015 and 2016

Meet Jennie and Steve Brown, retired childminders from Wiltshire

Childminding couple Jennie and Steve Brown from Wiltshire have a combined 51-year career in childcare.

Now retired, the married couple were dedicated PACEY members throughout their careers and looked after an estimated 100 children between them.

Before they went off on their retirement we asked Steve some questions to help give childminders like you an insight into what a wonderful, rewarding and educational experience childcare can be.

Plus, discover how to bag an outstanding Ofsted grade, failsafe activities to enjoy with the children, and top tips for new childcarers.

1. What first inspired you to become childcarers?

Jennie had grown up in a large family of three brothers and two sisters. Jennie being the eldest girl spent a great deal of time caring for her siblings and babysitting as a teenager.

After we married and had our own children I was employed as a police officer working shifts, Jennie had a desire to work but didn’t want to leave our children so she thought she could combine our family and her love of children by childminding.

She went on the appropriate courses and she started out as a childminder registered with social services in those days - 1978 - with me assisting her on my rest days. We think that set the ball in motion for the future as we both enjoyed it so much and working together was fun.

2. What’s changed the most since you began your career?

In those early days regulation was sparse and there seemed to be little support. Today there is a great support network with local authorities and PACEY. There is constant opportunity for development and qualifications within organisations, along with local groups that allow the free exchange of ideas among like-minded workers. All this put together allows the childcare professional to provide the highest standards.

3. Why did you choose PACEY?

Back in the old days, of course, it was NCMA! It was a network of ideas, advice and resources at the end of the telephone. If you had an issue and could not resolve it, somebody was there with the answer.

PACEY also has a ready supply of resources covering all the documentation that was needed to work efficiently and professionally. So why not become a member? It’s well worth it, and of course today it doesn’t just cater for the childminder but includes all childcare professionals.

4. What have the children taught you over the years?

You realise in those early years of childcare that every child is an individual and that no two are alike in their needs or requirements.

Taking this on board you learn that to understand the children that you care for requires patience and the ability to listen to the child. Even a non-talker communicates through expression and mood.

5. What have you found the most rewarding?

We think that the most rewarding aspect of childcare is watching the child in your care that arrives as a little baby grow and become a person in their own right; who has views and expectations within the setting.

They continue to develop into teenagers and then young men and women who even now stop in the street and acknowledge you with fond memories of their childhood with you, and even come to us to care for their own offspring. Then you know that you got it right.

6. What has been your proudest moment throughout your childcare careers?

We think that the proudest moment in our childcare experience was back in 2005 when we had our first Ofsted inspection under the new regime. We both attained an outstanding grade in our own right only to follow that again in 2009 when we were graded outstanding.

7. What tips and advice would you give to someone looking to get into childcare?

The greatest tip that we could offer a childcare professional is to get to know the children; to understand their needs and to form a connection with the child so that they feel comfortable with you. Also to make that same connection with the parents of the child.

8. What has been the best advice anyone has given you?

We think the greatest advice we were given was to listen to the child and give them time to express themselves.

9. Over the years you’ve been rated outstanding by Ofsted twice, what tips would you give to anyone looking to achieve an outstanding rating from Ofsted?

Advice in relation to a forthcoming Ofsted inspection is as follows: preparation, documentation, and relax - it’s your home or nursery. Present yourself with pride and confidence in the knowledge that you’re unique and provide a wonderful happy service.

10. What’s your failsafe activity to enjoy with the children in your setting?

Give children water and they’re in their element. In the summer water play is outdoors but when the weather changes that’s not a bar. The water tray is picked up, brought indoors in the playroom, set on an absorbent material, wellies on and play begins.

It’s only water and mops up. It also saves on the cleaning as it is being done during play!

Continuing with water what better on a cold wet day than donning the wellies and waterproofs and setting off to the forest where there are huge puddles, the bigger the better.

The children love to run, jump and splash. At the end a quick change of clothes and home. They’re so worn out the younger ones are in sleep mode in no time. A win-win situation.

11.What’s the hardest part about working in childcare?

We think that the hardest part of childcare is letting them go after they have outgrown the setting. But as we have already said we have always had a special bond with children in our care and remain in contact even after they have moved hundreds of miles away.

12.What’s the best part about working in childcare?

Seeing the children grow up and become confident, well mannered and respectful of others and their feelings. Also the knowledge that we have given the children our everything to achieve those goals.

13. Parting words of wisdom:

We believe that all this is achievable by people working together, as in our case we have had each other for support. It’s about developing  a unique relationship and understanding of the children and not being afraid to recognise each other’s self attributes or shortcomings and to offer compliments where it is deserved. For example if it has been a particularly good day pat each other on the back and say well done, or if working on your own say to yourself that was good.

Meet Terzzene Bourne, a childminder in Cheshire

1.  What's the best thing about being a childcare professional?

Watching and sharing in a child's development; seeing them excel and flourish and knowing that you have influenced and helped them.

2. ...and the most challenging?

One of the most challenging aspects of being a childcare professional is encouraging positive behaviour and maintaining calm even during the worst tantrums.

3.  Which three words best sum up your childcare setting?

Crafty, Fun, Laughter

4.  How did you get started in childcare?

My childcare journey started when I volunteered at local preschool.

5.  If you could go back to when you started, what piece of advice would you give yourself?

Make sure every day is fun!

6.  What do you wish others outside the profession understood about childcare?

The amount of paperwork involved.

7.  If you were in charge of national childcare policy for a day, what would you change?

If I was in charge of national childcare policy for a day, I would look at the emphasis on EYFS guidelines.

8. What do you consider to be the best aspect of PACEY membership?

The best part of PACEY membership for me is the insurance and discount on the childminding contracts.

9.  Which is your favourite - messy play, storytime or outdoor fun?

Messy play

10. What's your never-fails, the-children-always-love-it activity?

Water play

Meet Joana Smith, Childminder and PACEY Local facilitator in Croydon, Surrey

Why are proud to work in childcare?

The reward is in knowing that I have made a difference in families’ lives and been a support to my colleagues. Childcare has also enabled me to look after my own children while running a small business. I have built close relationships and become a second family to the children. I have also provided support to help parents and the children as they transition to their next early years setting and help them settle in well.

Through PACEY Local, I organise meetings and training for other childcare professionals. I have found my work incredibly rewarding, providing peer-to-peer support, encouraging and demonstrating good practice and providing practical support too.

Meet Jenni Matthews, a childminder in Kent

1. What's the best thing about being a childcare professional?

It has to be seeing my mindees flourish in my care and feeling that I’ve played an important role in helping them to reach their early learning goals. For me, it is essential that my children are happy and secure; that they feel a sense of belonging at my setting and that I provide loving and supportive care. 

2. ...and the most challenging? 
As one of life’s worriers the most challenging aspect of childminding has to be the worry of whether or not I’m doing things ‘right’. I’m forever self-evaluating my performance and questioning my judgements. I ask myself questions like: ‘have I dealt with the situation correctly?’ and ‘could I have done things better?’. Providing an outstanding provision was an important goal and now achieved I’m always working to ensure that I maintain it. 

3. Which three words best sum up your childcare setting?
Honest, patient, focussed.

4. How did you get started in childcare?
Like many graduates after experiencing the hype of graduation day I felt disheartened when faced with difficulty finding work.

By chance I became acquainted with an experienced childminder who kindly offered me work experience at their setting.

I must admit initially I had a rather uninformed view of childminding, and as a 22-year-old with no children of my own I hadn’t considered home-based childcare as a credible profession. However, after the work experience my notions of childminding were completely overturned and from then on I realised the potential childcare could offer as a profession. 

5. If you could go back to when you started, what piece of advice would you give yourself?
If I could go back to my registration I would tell myself to think carefully about the service I intended to provide. As a newly registered childminder I was very eager to begin building my business. I agreed to work very long hours and meet certain requirements that in the long run would prove too demanding. Ultimately this had a negative impact on my motivation. I very quickly learnt that it’s just as important for the family to suit the childminder, as it is for the childminder to suit the family. 

6. What do you wish others outside the profession understood about childcare?
When you consider all the elements involved in providing good quality childcare and the amount of work that’s required to run a successful childcare business, is childcare really that expensive? When parents seek ‘only the best’ for their child and request organic eating, one-to-one care, exciting day trips and educational visits it never ceases to amaze me when they then expect it at an unreasonably discounted price. 

7. If you were in charge of national childcare policy for a day, what would you change?
I think that the policy announced last year by childcare minister Elizabeth Truss that deregulating childminders will make the profession more desirable to prospective childminders is uninformed and ill-advised.

It's clear to see that childminders (especially PACEY members) want to be recognised for their outstanding level of professionalism. If I were in charge of national childcare policy for a day I would keep the rules and regulations surrounding childcare rigorous and ditch any ideas of deregulating childminders. Cutting corners cannot be an option where children are involved which I believe deregulation will only encourage. 

8. What do you consider to be the best aspect of PACEY membership?
What I enjoy most from my PACEY membership is being seen as a childcare professional. Being a PACEY member helps me to feel included, valued and recognised for my hard work. I have no doubt that the support I’ve received from PACEY has had a positive impact on my business and my general attitude towards the profession. 

9. Which is your favourite - messy play, story-time or outdoor fun?
My absolute favourite time with the children is when they’re simply given the opportunity to be children, and I have a moment to appreciate it.

Rolling down hills and jumping in muddy puddles I can see how the children thrive from just being outdoors and having fun in a loving and caring environment. I want my children to enjoy their childhood and leave the setting with memories they’ll cherish forever. 

10. What's your never-fails, the-children-always-love-it activity?
It's got to be gardening. It truly is a ‘tick all boxes’ exercise for all ages in the EYFS. From learning to recognise and name the leaf, stem and root of a flowering plant and understanding that seeds need light and water to grow, to exploring the sensory quality of materials and enjoying fresh air and our natural environment, all children benefit from the activity.

Gardening is not just potting a plant and letting it grow. It’s an opportunity for children to explore, investigate and question. 

Meet Claire Chapman, Childminder and PACEY Local facilitator based in Cardiff, Wales

Why are proud to work in childcare?

I love my role as a childminder because it fits in with busy family life and is rewarding, challenging and fulfilling. I’ve been able to run a successful business and work full time while bringing up my own children.

I’ve gained lots of knowledge along the way, which has helped both my own family and children that I mind. I’ve also been able to gain valuable qualifications. What I love most of all about my role is seeing the children grow and progress – and every day is fun!

Meet Rick Knight, a childminder in Bath

1. What's the best thing about being a childcare professional?
I enjoy watching the children grow and mature in my setting, knowing that I have contributed to their learning and development. I genuinely care about the progress and welfare of each child and I strive to provide the best possible environment for them to achieve and thrive.

2. ...and the most challenging?
All of my family, friends and work parents have been supportive of me being a male childminder so I have nothing bad to say about this side of my work.

Trying to keep up with legislation updates e.g. Ofsted. I have found being admin on The Childminding Forum and Independent Childminders Facebook group has helped me enormously.

3. Which three words best sum up your childcare setting?
Fun, stimulating, caring

4. How did you get started in childcare?
I used to be a civil engineer, but wasn't enjoying my job so I ended up looking after my son and my wife went back to work. It was meeting other childminders at toddler groups that convinced me that I would enjoy being a childminder.

5. If you could go back to when you started, what piece of advice would you give yourself?
Not to panic at the start when I was looking for enquiries. Once you get going and get noticed in the local community more enquiries come.

6. What do you wish others outside the profession understood about childcare?
To be a registered childminder you have to attend courses, write policies and procedures, risk assess your home and outings, follow the Early Years Foundations Stage, and undertake observations and assessments and so on.

7. If you were in charge of national childcare policy for a day, what would you change?
I would ensure that childminders get more recognition for the excellent work they do. I often read articles which don't even mention childminders which is wrong because we do the same job as other childcare settings.

8. What do you consider to be the best aspect of PACEY membership? 
I appreciate PACEY's continued support and campaigning on childminder's behalf for the good of our profession.

9. Which is your favourite - messy play, storytime or outdoor fun?
We love all three but we especially like outdoor fun, in the woods, at the farm, the park, on outings and so on.

10.What's your never-fails, the-children-always-love-it activity?
Painting. On paper, on cardboard boxes anything. The children love it and show their creative side.

Meet Rebecca Lihou, Childminder of the Year 2016 from Yeovil, Somerset

Rebecca Lihou was Nursery World’s Childminder of the Year 2016 after being recognised for her outstanding setting and commitment to ‘nurturing the whole family to promote children’s happiness in response to an increasingly busy and stressful world’.

Rebecca is based in Yeovil, Somerset and her setting currently looks after 17 children between the ages of 8 months to 9 years. Previously working as a catering manager, Rebecca became a childminder after the birth of her son.

She started her business on her own and recruited an assistant for more support after her son was diagnosed with brittle bones. She now works alongside one co-minder and employs two assistants.

One of the Nursery World judges described Rebecca as an ambassador for the profession and was impressed at the excellent evidence of her positive impact on the lives of others.

Going above and beyond

Parents have described her as ‘more than just a childminder’ because of her personal touches. These can range from providing supportive cups of tea to a complimentary day or transport at a time of great need.

This approach is particularly valued in the deprived area she serves in Somerset, five days a week, 48 weeks of the year. She also balances her career with studying for a degree in early years and holding network meetings, while looking after her own two children.

Rebecca tells us why she is proud to work in childcare…

“It is incredibly important to recognise the children and families I work with as they teach me to always try to do my best. They remind me the importance of kindness, play and laughter and make me proud to work in childcare.

“I am also incredibly proud to work in childcare because of the individuals who work, volunteer and support childcare. I have had the privilege of being part of the most talented and passionate sector.

Childcare professionals from all parts of the sector are hardworking, kind and extremely generous with their time and expertise.

“I have witnessed many early years professionals donate their free time to support each other, the families they work in partnership with, and the children they care for.

I am proud to be in a sector that shares a common goal to give every child and young person the best possible start in life, and to support every family on their journey.”

Nursery World Award
Childminder of the Year 2016

Meet Fiona Crossland, a childminder in Huddersfield

1. What’s the best thing about being a childminder? 
For me the best thing is being able to run my own business to suit the way I work and to meet the needs of the children who attend.

2. ...and the most challenging?
Keeping up with policy and legislation to ensure I am providing the best possible childcare in my setting. And the long working hours!!

3. Which three words best sum up your childcare setting?
Bright, loving, organised.

4. How did you get started in the childcare sector?
I needed an income that would pay the bills and reduce the need for childcare for my own two children.

5. If you could go back to when you started as a childcare professional and give yourself one piece of advice, what would it be?
To make sure I understood the EYFS, policy and legislation and have all my paperwork in place before taking on the first client.

6. What do you wish other people outside of the childcare sector understood about the profession?
This is a professional job which requires brain power, mediation skills, marketing skills, bookwork skills, childcare qualifications, patience, planning skills, observation skills, cookery skills and stamina for the long, hard hours of childcare with paperwork thrown in during the evenings and weekends. 

I work on average about 60 hours per week ensuring my basic business runs smoothly and then I study for a part-time degree in Early Childhood studies the remainder of the time!!

7. If you were in charge of national childcare policy for a day what would you change? 
I would remove the division between group settings and childminders. I would ensure that childminders were always mentioned in the same sentence as group provision when dictating policy and that childminders are placed under the same umbrella as group settings when training and information is provided.

8. What do you consider to be the best aspect of PACEY membership? 
The knowledge that there is a voice for childminders in the main and other lone and group providers that encourages the sector to speak up in the face of decisions for the sector which may not always be correct in practice.

9. Which is your favourite - messy play, storytime or outdoor fun?
Outdoor fun is my favourite as it can and does encompass the other two activities quite easily. We love fresh air, exercise and learning about everything in our environment, from birds singing in the trees to traffic cones! The outdoors certainly has the most to give to learning and development.

10. What’s your never-fails, the-children-always-love-it activity?  
The same as the above, Outdoor play in any shape or form, be it in the mud kitchen, at a playground, going to the market or supermarket, the post office, on a bus. The children always respond well to these activities and all seven areas of learning and development are met through this medium.

Meet Sue Asquith, a childminder in West Yorkshire

1. What’s the best thing about being a childminder? 
For me the best thing about being a childminder is the privilege of supporting children in their earliest years – at the same time I am able to support my own children and work for myself from home

2....and the most challenging? 
Meeting the individual needs of all the children all of the time – currently ranging from 10 months to 13 years old.

3. Which three words best sum up your childcare setting?
Quality, busy, professional

4. How did you get started in the childcare sector?
As a single parent at the time I wanted an income which also allowed me to be at home with my child.  I went on the Introduction to Childcare course locally and I have never looked back.

5. If you could go back to when you started as a childcare professional and give yourself one piece of advice, what would it be?
Be prepared to be very busy – learn all you can and be a good communicator – get your paperwork balance right – do what you need to do but not too much

6. What do you wish other people outside of the childcare sector understood about the profession?
The dedication and professionalism of childminders who do everything a nursery practitioner would do and more!

7. If you were in charge of national childcare policy for a day what would you change? 
Nationally childminders are often perceived as lower status childcare – even as people who care for children whilst nursery practitioners educate children!  I would make the vital role of a childminder more widely known and scrap the proposals for childminder agencies

8. What do you consider to be the best aspect of PACEY membership? 
The training and support. PACEY also works hard to keep the professionalism of childminders at the forefront. They challenge the Government when they plan for things like to change registration requirements for childminders. The latest Ofsted statistics indicate a rise in Good and Outstanding inspection outcomes at first quality inspection – this shows that the individual registration and inspection is driving up quality.

9. Which is your favourite - messy play, storytime or outdoor fun?
I do not have a favourite – It depends on my mood on the day and which children are present. I enjoy all the activities mentioned.

10. What’s your never-fails, the-children-always-love-it activity?
I like open ended play such as heuristic play or providing den covers etc. This way the end product is different each time and the children are learning, exploring and being creative.

Meet Karen and Vikki, childminders in Wales

1. What’s the best thing about being a childminder? 

We feel the best thing is definitely watching how the children in our care develop and grow and enjoying being part of their lives gives us great job satisfaction!

2....and the most challenging? 
We feel that trying to please everyone can be hard for example, the parents can have extremely high expectations which aren’t always easy to follow due to having other children in our care.

3. How did you get started in the childcare sector?

Karen (pictured far right) – After being career driven, I had my children and wanted a job that I could still work but also spend time with my family and be with them when needed.

Vikki (pictured right) – I had my own children and wanted to be home with them but also have a career and childminding was an ideal path to take!

4. If you could go back to when you started as a childcare professional and give yourself one piece of advice, what would it be?

Karen – I think it would be to “start as you mean to go on!”I think with experience I’m definitely a stronger business person now than I was when I started childminding and have learnt that I’m not able to accommodate everyone.

Vikki – To not be afraid of speaking up I you are unable to accommodate parents / carers.When I first started childminding I tried so hard to please everyone, often putting myself under great pressure to keep everyone happy. Over the years I have learnt that it’s ok to speak up and I think the parents / carers appreciate the honesty.

5. What do you wish other people outside of the childcare sector understood about the profession?
Karen – That childminding isn’t “babysitting” and there is a lengthy process together with legislation requirements that need to be completed and ultimately followed.

Vikki – I wish people understood that childminding isn’t an easy option and it doesn’t stop when the children leave at the end of the day.After work I then prepare resources and crafts for the next day as well as complete all the relevant paperwork and feel that this is not recognised.

6. If you were in charge of national childcare policy for a day what would you change? 
Karen – I would definitely change the number of children that we’re able to have in Swansea. I feel sometimes 6 older children doesn’t fulfil my ratios and it can be more difficult when asked to care for older siblings as parents don’t usually want to separate their children but current ratios are very restricting!

Vikki – I would slightly increase the ratios as I work with my partner who is also a registered childminder and depending on space and ages I feel that it would be acceptable as long as the care of the older children didn’t have an effect on the younger ones.

7. What do you consider to be the best aspect of PACEY membership? 
Definitely the resources available, free online training and support and also the advice available knowing we can contact the relevant department should we have a problem within our setting or just a general query.

8. Which is your favourite - messy play, storytime or outdoor fun?
Karen – Messy play! I love seeing the children’s faces when they’re doing messy play and feel sometime there’s not enough emphasis on children making a mess!

Vikki – Storytime!I love watching the children take the time to choose a book for us to read together, seeing the amazement and enthusiasm on their faces I also love hearing their interpretation of the story afterwards.

9. What’s your never-fails, the-children-always-love-it activity?
Definitely dancing and singing!

We met during the Level 3 Diploma in Homebased Childcare course about seven years ago and have remained good friends ever since.

We work together by providing constant support to each other, swapping ideas and comparing “best practice”. Having a support network whilst childminding is essential for us as it can become an isolated job working on our own. We regularly meet with the childminded children and visit our local amenities as well as attend local training and networking events to ensure that we constantly review our practice.

We need to be familiar with each other as we are each other’s emergency back-up childminders and therefore it is vital that the children feel comfortable with us should an accident or emergency occur.

We offer each other advice and support and believe that it is of massive benefit talking to another childminder who understands the role, who is therefore able to offer reassurance and guidance.

Our ultimate achievement together has been attending our graduation ceremony and receiving our Level 5 Certificate in Children’s Care Learning & Development (Advanced Practice).

 

 

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