In the UK, the role of a childminder offers a career path that requires certain professional qualifications and a continued commitment to learning. There's no quick, informal entry into the role. Anyone working for more than two hours a day, and working for reward (ie. payment or in return for other services) must register with their local authority and will be subject to OFSTED inspections to ensure the quality of your childcare provision.
There are no qualifications required before you can apply to register as a childminder, but you must undertake certain training before you are allowed to operate, and you will have to gain a paediatric first aid certificate.
In addition to having to train for the role, if you operate from your own home then you must also work to make your home suitable for bringing other children inside. You will need to buy toys, safety equipment and you must buy insurance to cover your services. You are not required to make your entire house safe for children, but you must secure any areas where children will be, including routes to bathrooms.
Some local authorities offer grants to help with the start-up costs of becoming a childminder so see if you're eligible for help.
If you are considering becoming a childminder then contact your local authority as early as possible. Entry into the profession isn't necessarily rapid, so the sooner you register your interest, the sooner you can comply with the requirements and start your business.
A review has stated that nursery and childminding targets should be scaled back to allow teachers and carers more time actually teaching the children. Carers are spending so much time on paperwork that they are not spending enough time with the children, inspiring, guiding and helping them.
Dame Clare Tickell, co-author of the report, said that the Early Years Foundation Stage has helped boost standards, but it has also become too focused with meeting targets. The review calls for the EYFS to be radically changed thus reducing the number of goals for under fives from 69 to just 17.
It was said that the current scheme is "cumbersome, repetitive and unnecessarily bureaucratic." Christine Blower, general secretary of the National Union of Teachers (NUT), said the changes would be "a victory for common sense".
It points out that:
- children develop at different rates
- play is vital
- literacy and numeracy can often be taught in too formal a way which may not be productive
Instead, general checks should take place including:
- seeing if a child can negotiate space and objects around them
- communicate their needs (food, drink)
- learn new words and use them
These along with the health visitor checks at age 2 would indicate any educational needs. The report also states that everyone working with under fives should have, at least, A levels, thus ensuring a high quality workforce.
We'll have to wait and see the repercussions!
The Government has announced that childcare arrangements made between friends will no longer be legally required to be Ofsted registered and inspected. The Children's Minster, Dawn Primarolo said the rule change would be confirmed in April this year which will mean that friends who share the childcare of each other's children won't have to answer to Ofsted, as if they were professional childcare settings such as childminders or nurseries.
Ms Primarolo claimed she was pleased with the result as it ensured "hardworking parents are not penalised for supporting their friends with unpaid childcare."
The confusion arose when two policewomen, Leanne Shepherd and Lucy Jarrett from Buckinghamshire, who worked on a part time basis, looked after each other's children when they were not working. It was a friendly, non-financial arrangement which meant both women could work without worrying about the the costs of childcare. They simply shared the childcare. Ofsted were told about the arrangement and they decreed the women should register as childminders which included all the professional training, checks, inspections and guidelines that professional childminders have to go through.
This daft situation arose when a piece of ill-planned legislation was introduced in 2006 which required anyone looking after children for 'reward', excluding between 6pm and 2am, on more than 14 occasions a year, and who was not related to the children, were deemed to be offering childcare services and were therefore subject to childcare control. In this case, Ofsted interpreted the fact that by swapping childcare between themselves in order to allow them to return to work, the two police mothers in question were therefore gaining 'reward' and therefore were subject to the legislation. Whilst the 2006 Childcare Act is generally an important piece of legislation aimed at protecting children whilst in the custody of professional carers, it gave no credence to informal arrangements between friends.
The amendment to the Childcare Act 2006 will change the guidelines offered by Ofsted which will detail when childcare is deemed "formal" and thus within their remit.
The proposed changes were put to parents, child carers and children's organisations in a consultation last December 2009. The majority of those consulted replied in favour of the amendments. Public outcry and a petition on the No. 10 website made clear the people's feeling on the matter!