What is an independent childminder?
All childminders in England are self employed and registered with Ofsted, which is our governing body. We are all independently responsible for managing our own small businesses, advertising our vacancies, caring for and educating children on a day-to-day basis, preparing for Ofsted inspection, meeting the statutory requirements of the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS, 2012) and Childcare Registers, documenting children's learning and development, attending training to enhance our professional development - and doing everything else that is required of us by Ofsted and the Department for Education, to maintain our registration.
Over the last year or so, it has become clear that the Government, which is aiming to bring down the cost of childcare for parents, wants to change our status. Their opening gambit was to suggest that we were all deregulated from Ofsted control - however, that was met with a huge backlash so they changed tack. Instead of total deregulation, the Government are now planning a series of agencies across the country which will take over from Local Authority and other support networks and manage new childminders.
The Government says that established childminders can join these new childminder agencies if we wish - or we can remain independent of agency control and continue to operate our own small businesses, with individual Ofsted inspections and continued business autonomy.
The majority of established Ofsted registered childminders are telling us on the Childminding Forum that they want to remain independent... to continue providing the independent, self employed service they have successfully carved out for themselves in their local communities. They do not want to give an agency a percentage of their income (because agencies will be self funding) and they do not want to lose their individual Ofsted grading (because the agency will be graded, not the childminder).
There are many more arguments against agencies which you can read about in detail in the Childminding Forum's response to the Government's 'More Great Childcare' plan - More Great Childcare.pdf
The Childminding Forum recognises that independent childminders will need support. Local Authority networks are being disbanded and training opportunities are lessening; local Development Officers are losing their jobs; there is uncertainty and worry throughout the country.
We intend to provide that support here on our Independent Childminders website. Please let us know how we can help you.
If you would like to discuss this with other childminders there is also a section on the Childminding Forum for Independent Childminders