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OFSTED are refusing to let me retract my I have a leg to stand on?

(25 Posts)
sydenhamhiller Wed 27-Mar-13 14:28:45

This is a long one, sorry, but would love some advice.

I 'resigned' from being a CM last March. But when I called Ofsted, they explained that I could be inactive for 3 years, while a resignation meant I would have to apply from scratch if I changed my mind. I stopped CMing as I was going to have DC3 in June, and while I was not planning to return to CMing, I decided I might as well keep on the 'inactive' list.

I called up last week to ask a question about the annual registration fee. It took me about 15 minutes of re-dialling to get through to a human representative: I kept pressing button options that directed me to the website, and then hung up on me.

I finally got through to someone, and they took me through the usual security questions. They said 'Oh you're still on maternity leave - how old is your baby now?'. I replied that she was 8 months old. And then I got a lecture about how I was required to inform them about my baby within 15 days of her birth. I was extremely taken aback. I explained that as I was inactive and not childminding, I didn't see how I had to inform Ofsted until/ if I went back to childminding. I was told it was a safeguarding issue, how otherwise would they know to send her a CRB check when she turned 16?

I must admit, I think baby-caused sleep deprivation, and general annoyance with Ofsted caused me temporary irrationality at this point. I've never ever resigned (or flounced!). I said that I could not work with such a Big Brother-led, high handed organisation, how did I go about resigning? The man said "You can just tell me over the phone." So I said "I resign." He said "If you do, you'll have to start from scratch if you change your mind."

At this point, I know I should not burn bridges, but (foolishly) thought "I am not backing down in front of him now". So I said, fine, I resign. Three and half hours later, I'd had my cooling off period, realised it was silly to close down an option, and I sent an email saying "I resigned verbally in haste and error, please could I retract". And I have been told no. There is no way of appealing this decision, I can complain to Ofsted, but that's it.

I have a horrible feeling this serves me right for - for the first time ever - not backing down, and doing the sensible thing.

I've been in touch with my London borough CM adviser: she said she has never heard of the 15 days-post-birth rule, and that this all seems very high-handed and that I should complain.

Any tips/ advice? (I know, I know, I should not have said 'I resign'...)


nannynick Wed 27-Mar-13 16:10:18

Put in a complaint via email and send a letter, making a complaint against procedure - specifically the resign procedure, which should not be actioned until they have your returned registration certificate. Worth a try as I think the old procedure was that to resign you had to send in your certificate.

sydenhamhiller Wed 27-Mar-13 20:41:35

Thanks Nanny Nick!

Brownowlahi Wed 27-Mar-13 20:49:26

I've never heard of this either and I've had two extra children while being a childminder. I would see it that if your not working as you are on maternity leave you have other things to worry about. I was never even told I could be inactive. I had to keep paying etc even though I wasn't working. I'd make a complaint.

PhyllisDoris Wed 27-Mar-13 20:53:08

I would have thought they should have asked for your resignation in writing, and not actioned anything at all on a verbal resignation.

looneytune Wed 27-Mar-13 21:06:57

Well I've never heard of that requirement so I'm pleased you posted! I am on maternity leave as expecting ds3 and I also don't plan to return but want to keep my option open. I never expected to have to do anything other that pay the renewal fee when it's due, as te new certificates don't mention our own children etc. any more. I've just emailed them to ask what I need to do now I'm on maternity leave as from past experience, you can't rely on what 1 person there says! I'll let you know what they come back with.

As for you being unable to retract your resignation, I would definitely complain (I've had a massive run in with them in the past and after a 6 month battle with them, they dropped everything I wanted them to so I always tell people not to be scared of them and definitely challenge things!). Also ask to see a copy of their procedure for resignations and that procedure about the 15 days - I also would have thought resigning involved returning the certificate!

Good luck with it, I don't have a good opinion of Ofsted tbh. Let us know how you get on, in the meantime I'll let you know how they reply to my email.


looneytune Wed 27-Mar-13 21:08:19

x'd post with the others.......I agree that I'd be surprised a verbal resignation would have been enough, usually they want a bloomin signature for everything else!

Victoria2002 Wed 27-Mar-13 21:46:41

Dealing with ofsted always makes my mood nosedive so I totally sympathise. Fingers crossed you come across someone there with common sense so you can keep your options open.

fraktion Thu 28-Mar-13 01:31:57

My query would be how they could confirm it really was you over the phone. A verbal resignation shouldn't be sufficient.

Definitely write and ask for a copy of their procedure and, if it is that way, complain that it's inappropriate.

sydenhamhiller Thu 28-Mar-13 11:00:41

Aw, guys <wipes tear from eyes>, thanks.
Thought I would mainly get "well you shouldn't have resigned then", so really appreciate the sympathy...
Think something is up, because the 'representative' called me on mobile/ phone everyday until Tuesday, and I finally wrote and said, thanks for your message, but I prefer to communicate in writing so there ate no further misunderstandings. And then he emailed back and said nothing to say, if you're not happy, here's the complaints procedure.
Then why did he keep calling me? Hmmmm.

I loved childminding, was pretty lucky with most kids and most parents, but my dealings with Ofsted are what make me want to do anything else!
looneytunes good luck, and do post back about how you get on!

MrAnchovy Thu 28-Mar-13 11:53:11

A couple of facts, one which may help you and one which won't.

First the bad news - it is Ofsted procedure to accept resignations by telephone as stated in the Guide to registration on the Early Years Register: childminder.

But there is no longer any requirement to notify the birth of a child - there is a requirement to notify when a child living with you turns 16 as stated in Records, policies and notification requirements of the Early Years Register so the person you spoke to was wrong both in fact and in the explanation for that fact.

Goldmandra Thu 28-Mar-13 14:21:50

Just as an aside I called them to put my registration on hold a couple of weeks ago. I was told that I still had to play registration fees, keep my insurance and first aid up to date and submit to a registration if my inspector chose to do one. I pointed out that this meant that being inactive actually made no difference and I might as well resign.

Well you'd have thought she was on commission for collecting resignations! She asked me if i was going to resign and did I want to do it there and then. She was positively encouraging me!

Do they have some hidden agenda to cut childminder numbers maybe? I found it quite disturbing. She sounded most disappointed when I said in no uncertain terms that I would get back to them when I had made a firm decision.

nannynick Thu 28-Mar-13 16:26:46

Making it easier to resign, encouraging people to do so... hmm, maybe they are just awaiting the day when they no longer regulate childminders and just regulate the childminder agencies (whatever those turn out to be).

BoysAreLikeDogs Thu 28-Mar-13 16:29:11

hmm cynical me thinks you are onto summat Nick and Goldm.

nannynick Thu 28-Mar-13 16:50:51

Just thought of something... as they now allow people to resign by phone, there is nothing to stop someone displaying a registration certificate that is not valid. In the past (may be quite distant past, been a long time now since I worked there) the certificate had to be sent back. You would hope that no one would resign and then continue minding but you never know what someone may do.

Goldmandra Thu 28-Mar-13 17:04:14

Good point. I think that is a very likely scenario and one it would be very hard to police.

BoysAreLikeDogs Thu 28-Mar-13 17:06:01

yes indeed

sydenhamhiller Thu 28-Mar-13 17:15:14

goldmandra that's exactly how I felt - like they wanted me to resign. Which is strange, as in my neck of SE London there is a real shortage of childcare, and many childminders work 'unregistered'.
Well, somehow, I don't think I'll get anywhere, and I don't think I'll CM again, but so sometimes you've gotta take on the bullies...

Goldmandra Thu 28-Mar-13 19:39:49

sydenham I can't help feeling that you're the victim of some sort of hidden agenda.

Have you contacted the NCMA?

looneytune Thu 28-Mar-13 20:43:50

All sounds odd to me! This is the response I got today - funny enough they didn't confirm my question about informing them when the baby is born so I asked this bit again, waiting to hear back. The way it's all worded below, it really makes me think they are trying to get rid of childminders!:

In response to your enquiry providers may choose to remain registered even when they are not caring for children. These are mainly childminders but some group care, such as holiday playschemes also choose to remain registered when not operating. We refer to such provision as having ‘no children on roll’.

The law requires us to inspect all providers on the Early Years Register regardless of whether they have children on roll or not. We normally defer inspections until providers have children but where this is not possible we have special arrangements in place for these inspections as we do not award grades. There is more information available in our publication Guidance for inspecting childminders and childcare settings with no children on roll or no children present at the time of inspection.

The law allows us to cancel the registration of childminders who have not cared for children for a period of more than three years. There is more information available in a factsheet: Cancelling the registration of childminders on the Early Years Register with no children on roll

Early Years Register

If you have no children on roll and are registered upon the Early Years Register we will usually defer your inspection until you have children on roll again. We will send you a letter asking you to tell us when you begin caring for children again. If it is towards the end of the cycle for inspection or you have been judged as inadequate at your last inspection, we will still inspect you even if you have no children on roll.

Childcare Register

If you are registered upon the Childcare Register we will not normally go ahead with the inspection if it was chosen as part of our random selection. We will go ahead with the inspection if it was scheduled as a result of a concern about your provision.

Cancelling the registration of childminders with no children on roll

On 1 September 2008 Ofsted gained the power to cancel the registration of childminders who have not cared for children for three continuous years. This power was first implemented in September 2011. This power does not extend to home childcarers or any other provider type.

Reapplying following cancellation of registration for no children on roll:

If Ofsted has cancelled the registration of a childminders for having no children on roll, the childminder is disqualified from any future registration. Ofsted has the power to waive disqualification in certain circumstances. Any childminder seeking to register again with Ofsted would need first to obtain a waiver of their disqualification before we could consider any application to register them. .

I was not looking after children but now I have started minding again

Providing you are still registered with us, you should call Ofsted to let us know you have started caring for children again on 0300 123 1231. We will consider whether we need to do anything further such as carry out an inspection. If you are a childminder we will note our system so that we do not continue to count towards the three year period after which their registration would be cancelled.

If the provider is no longer registered they must register again before they can care for children (providing that this is for a period or periods of more than two hours in any one day).

If you chose to remain registered the fee still needs to be paid.

Goldmandra Thu 28-Mar-13 21:54:20

Thank you looneytune. That is very interesting. I was told on the phone that I would still be inspected at the normal time and if I had no children I would be graded, at best, satisfactory even though I normally get good or outstanding.

I don't understand why having no children on roll for three years is considered such a bad thing that you can't be registered again. What's that about? I wanted to put my registration on hold while I am dealing with issues arising from my own children's SNs. It could easily take three years before I am able to mind again but if it does I won't be able to re-register. That is ridiculous!

I've spoken to Ofsted on many occasions since they took over inspecting childminders and I have never encountered the attitude I experienced on the phone last time. It was clear that I wasn't considered worth the breath it took to speak to me so I do have to assume that something is afoot.

I suppose more will become apparent in time sad

looneytune Tue 02-Apr-13 12:33:41

It's all crazy isn't it!

I've just had a reply to the bit about having to inform them and as I thought, you DON'T need to unless you start working with children. This is copied from their reply:

In response to your enquiry apologies for not replying to your email in full, you are required to notify us of a new baby before you begin looking after children.

Goldmandra Tue 02-Apr-13 14:11:20

Well that makes a lot more sense!

Are their helpline staff just on one big power trip?

MrAnchovy Tue 02-Apr-13 14:47:01

"In response to your enquiry apologies for not replying to your email in full, you are required to notify us of a new baby before you begin looking after children."

Really? Can they they point to where that requirement is stated in any current legislation or guidance - or communicated to childminders in any other way?

HSMMaCM Tue 02-Apr-13 16:07:24

DH was 'binned' for having no children onroll, but 3 yrs ago he was allowed to register again, which was very expensive and took 6 months. I would suggest anyone in this position takes a child on roll every so often, to prevent cancellation.

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