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CMs overwhelmed with ofsted paperwork - would you take part in an e-petition

(52 Posts)
taffy101 Mon 22-Jun-09 19:37:44

Hi, I am a parent of two who has always used childminders and been very happy with them. Recently my lovely CM quit (under 5's work)due to pressures of paperwork
I have found a new wonderful childminder but she is totally unhappy with the paperwork too (and other ridiculous rules that she has to adhere to).

I wrote to Ofsted to express my despair at this situation and that CMs were quitting in droves because of it etc
I got a fairly bland reply saying it is to comply with the childcare act/early years foundation and all early years settings have to comply with this.

I thought maybe we should try and lobby the government to remove childminders from this act due to them not being an educational establishment and parents not wanting their pre-schoolers to be in an educational establishment but want relaxed home environment etc
Has anyone already tried an e-petition on the number10.gov.uk site?
If not, I am thinking of starting one. What do you think? Do you agree with my sentiments? Would you put your name on it?

Thanks for reading my waffle!

ThePrisoner Mon 22-Jun-09 19:52:45

I was told recently by someone involved with training/networks for childminders that "nobody complains in writing to Ofsted so they don't know that CMs are upset." hmm

I am sick to death of paperwork at the moment, and am sick to death of people telling me that it makes me more professional. It is slowly trashing my personal life. sad

However, I do not want to rock the boat and put any of that in writing to Ofsted as I do not want any kind of black mark on my file. I would also not have a big argument with an Ofsted inspector during my inspection.

I would put my name to an e-petition (could I sign it as ThePrisoner??!)

Katisha Mon 22-Jun-09 19:56:39

I would sign it. I have a childminder and every year panic that she is going to jack it in as she gets so stressed about her stupid Ofsted inspection.

Ofsted are NOT interested in what parents want though and are only interested in imposing their own blanket policies and generally using sledehammers to crack nuts.

They will only be satisfied when there is no difference whatsoever between childminders and nurseries thus removing all parental choice in the matter altogether.

<And breathe.>

taffy101 Mon 22-Jun-09 19:59:53

Great to get your feedback. I thought it would be better a mum starting a petition rather than a CM as I realise that it would put you in awkward position with ofsted. I knew ofsted would fob me off with my letter, but I felt that had to have no excuse - they couldn't say no one had complained. I will discuss this with my current CM and ask her for advice on how to word the petition.

Many thanks. I look forward to more opionons!

taffy101 Mon 22-Jun-09 20:01:22

Katisha - agree on the parental choice thing - i will include that, as it is removing choice. If enough people put their name on the petition they cannot simply ignore it

Taffy, it's not waffle. I've been a cm for 4years and have made the difficult decision to give up since the intro of EYFS. I've used cms myself for my eldest children and chose them because of the friendly, caring home-from-home environment they provided. My children were happy, had fun and I'm still in touch with my cm all these years later.

Now, however, we are required to provide the same education as nurseries and primary schools and the fun has been taken out of it. If I wanted to be a primary school teacher I would have done so - and got paid a hell of a lot more than I get paid now sad.

I am under so much pressure to 'prove' to Ofsted that I can do my job properly when I know that I am because I have happy children and happy parents.. I have a 3-drawer filing cabinet full of files - plus 2 shelves on my bookcase. My house looks like a nursery and my family life and relationship with dp is suffering because I have to do the paperwork and training in my own time.

I don't think anyone realised the impact EYFS would have on childminders - I know several bloody good ones who have given up and another couple who are thinking about it.

It's really good to hear a parent's pperspective on this - I just feel like a failure and a total whingebag when people get me started on the subject. Anyone out there who still thinks that childminders are 'glorified babysitters' who plonk kids on front of tv and drink tea/read mags all day [someone said that to me only last week shock]- spend a day with a cm and see just what we have to do now.

If you get a petition set up, send me the link - will sign like a shot smile

taffy101 Mon 22-Jun-09 20:08:20

As soon as I set up the petition I will put a link on this thread!

I am so sad that all CMs are under this pressure. You are all pillars of your community and bring children of same ages to local toddler groups and other events our children would miss out on due their parents being in work! I think you are all worth your weight in gold grin

It also means cms may be more reluctant to offer care for fewer hours per week, because we have to have the same obs/assessments files in place for children we have 8 hrs a week - and I have 2 of those at the moment - as those we have full-time. Again, reducing parental choice. I know that I wouldn't have taken my children on if had known what was ahead.

IMO Ofsted won't listen, they aren't interested. I lost my recent appeal against my inspection judgement [a separate thread that I won't detail here] and that contributed to my decision to give up. I was a branch manager in a former life and didn't have the pressure and stress that I have now. Oh, and I got paid to do training in works time.....

Taffy - go girl smile

Katisha Mon 22-Jun-09 21:12:39

Here are the reasons I chose a childminder over a nursery (and I accept that for some a nursery is exactly what they want.)
a. The CM is a motherly type of 20 years experience. She is firm but fair and knows children.
b. I wanted a home from home atmosphere with leisurely trips to the swings and the shops, much as they would get normally at home.
c. It is flexible and she is not desperate to get away on the dot of 6 if my train is delayed.
d. She could do flexible working patterns.
e. The children would form a relationship with one person, and I was happy that they should form this attachment. More like real family.

What I don't want :
1. A "curriculum". My CM goes with the flow and if they are tired or ill they just lie on the sofa or play quietly. If they are boisterousthey go to the park. It is child-led.
2. I don't need to see "No Smoking" signs or "Please wash your hands" signs in her house.
3. Registers, accident books, menu plans, lesson plans, written-up reports about hand-eye co-ordination and god knows what. She writes stuff in the diary if necessary. We TALK. If she notices something about a DC she TELLS me. She doesn't need to put it in writing for me - only for bloody OFSTED.

I could go on. I just basically want a safe, caring family atmospehere with cuddles and laughter. Ofsted says I should want a fully fledged nursery with a curriculum and reports and records.

I honestly feel Ofsted won't rest till all childminders give up because they didn't go into it to become teachers and nurseries can take over the job. OK so there are a few bad apples in the CM world, but this has been a total over-reaction and I believe the nanny state wants to see all our children in state-run nurseries where they all do the same things and boxes can be ticked.

I already feel my parental choice about the type of non-regimented childcare I want is being eroded because the government doesn't appear to agree with me.

Apologies to nurseries, by the way, I am not saying they are bad. Just that they are different and that we should be allowed to distinguish and choose between styles of childcare.

LoveMyGirls Mon 22-Jun-09 21:23:52

There are just only so many hours in the day, I will soon be working from 7.30am to 6pm 5 days a week paperwork and training is to be done on top of those hours, I have my own young children, df and my family and friends. I love my job but there is seriously not enough hours in the day by the time my mindees have gone home, I've got my own dc's in bed, cleaned up the rest of the mess it's time to have my dinner and I am ready for my bed, the only way i can get to training courses on time is if my dp helps out even more so then he doesn't get to sit own until 9pm after leaving the house before 8am himself it's just so unfair. I spend at least 1 week of my "holiday" per year trying to catch up on things like my accounts/ deep cleaning/ touching up paintwork etc. I would give up but there is nothing else I would enjoy doing as much as this job and I would hardly see my dc's sad sad This is before I even start on where to find the time to do the EYFS paperwork and written risk assessments.

squirrel42 Mon 22-Jun-09 22:55:13

Not taking particular sides at all, but just pointing out that the ethos of EYFS is that it's supposed to be child-led. You can introduce the concept of colours and different shapes while sticking tissue paper onto cards, playing with balls or going for a walk in the park - whatever suits you and the particular child. Fine having to record that Johnny can do X and Y is overkill, but no one is saying you have to give toddlers worksheets and force them to learn by rote.

Plus nowhere in the regulations does it say you need no smoking or handwash signs. You must have a no smoking policy in your house, but you don't necessarily need a sign, and children need to be encouraged to wash their hands but you can do this verbally. If an Inspector or EY coordinator tells you otherwise, ask them where it's written down that you have to.

While I'm on the subject you might want to direct the petition to the DCSF (essentially the government) since they are the ones who write the legislation - Ofsted just have to enforce it.

Booh Mon 22-Jun-09 23:06:27

Ok here is my view

It is 11pm, and I should be in bed as I start work at 7.30am tomorrow.

What am I doing here, well I am having five mins break as I have been doing EYFS paperwork since 7pm...........and I only have two children to do it for.

It is taking me hours and hours and I am only doing just enough.

NONE of my parents are remotely interested, one is a teacher and thinks its totally wrong.

My husband is in dispare as there is always so much to do.........daily diary, temps in the kitchen, news letters, observations, planning, risk assesments, I have to do a fire drill this week.....more paperwork.

I have totally had enough, I am very well educated and am struggling, I have no idea how childminders cope who have any problem with learning etc

Arfa Mon 22-Jun-09 23:20:20

I would sign it and so would my wife (a CM). While you're on the No 10 petitions site you may also like to look at this petition which is asking for Ofsted to be abolished (from a teacher's point of view although we think it can all equally apply to CMs). We know, of course, that Ofsted won't be abolished, but if enough people sign the petition it may make the government think about the way they work. This posting on the Surestart forum is also quite amusing.

Meanwhile, you may like to have a look at this story from The Guardian. The last comment, I think, reflects what most parents, like Katisha, really want.

nannynick Mon 22-Jun-09 23:20:53

>I got a fairly bland reply saying it is to comply with the childcare act/early years foundation and all early years settings have to comply with this.

Ofsted are right... they are just the enforcer. A petition needs to be directed at DCSF. It would also help if it had backing from several MPs. So if you disagree with EYFS then write to your MP, they are your local representative.

What would you want changed though? If you can find something specific in the legislation and/or EYFS Framework, then I feel it would be better to campaign for a change to be made to that particular thing.

Arfa Mon 22-Jun-09 23:30:02

The problem is that the ministers etc say that the only required document is the early years profile, which would normally be completed by the child's reception teacher. Unfortunately, try getting anything more than 'satisfactory' from an Ofsted inspector without all of the fully documented plans, observations etc. Ofsted are using all of the paperwork as an audit trail to prove to themselves that you are doing what you say you are doing instead of using their eyes to see how the children are behaving and how you are with them.

Summerfruit Tue 23-Jun-09 12:50:08

This thread made me depressed..I'm completely overwelmed by eyfs..I do my best but can't spend so many hours on it..I have 2 young children and DH and I are not getting on well because I think EYFS, I sleep EYFS, first thing in my mind is idea to demonstrate well that I understand EYFS and that I put it in pratice..I love the job as cm but it's all getting too much for me sad

taffy101 Tue 23-Jun-09 13:02:11

Lots of interesting input - thanks. Yeah I will direct the petition at the government - i realise ofsted is only the enforcer - they said as much in their letter to me.

I do need to do a bit of research on the EYF so I will sound like I know what I am going on about.

I was going to send a copy of my letter to ofsted to my local MP but he has stepped down due to expenses scandals! I did send a copy to a local councillor who has not given me any feedback. Need to research if we have a new MP yet!

Re audit trail and ticking boxes - totally agree. I could never be a CM, i have not got enough patience with (other people's) children, yet if I produced wonderful paperwork, ofsted would think I was good at the job! All boxes would be ticked but it would be a big fat lie!

taffy101 Tue 23-Jun-09 13:35:09

arfa, have read your links. V intersting article in guardian. I think our way of thinking is the majority - if enough people put their name to it, it surely cannot be ignored?

Have signed the ofsted petition too x

SammyK Tue 23-Jun-09 13:54:50

Overworkedandunderpaid I could have written your first post.

I no longer cm and it is like a weight has been lifted, my only worries now are keeping in touch with my old mindees (siblings who miss me and DS and aren't as settled with new cm), and finding a cm for DS in september as surprise surprise they appear to be hardly any about. hmm

I too would happily sign a petition, but as working cms I would advise caution after what looneytune went through after questioning ofsted on here. angry

Summerfruit Tue 23-Jun-09 14:08:38

What happened to Looneytune ?

Probably too busy doing paperwork....hmm

Nannynick, one thing I found that doesn't add up is that the EYFS profile assessment has to be completed by the main childcare provider by 30th June in the Reception year - usually the reception teacher - yet EYFS has to be followed [obs/assessments/etc] until 31st of August. WHY hmm. It serves no purpose after the profile assessment has been done.

And, as a cm, try getting together with a teacher to discuss progress/swap notes and obs etc as we're supposed to- it may happen in 'LaLa Land' but in the real world it's virtually impossible to do.

Taffy, if there's anything you want to know about EYFS please CAT me - after my recent appeal, have been through it with a fine tooth comb and know it inside out.

Katisha - you summed up the feeling of my parents exactly.

HerHonesty Tue 23-Jun-09 19:25:48

ok so i hear what all of you are saying ..

but any petition will be ingnored as I am afraid they will only say "well some sort of regulation is needed to protect children etc etc"

SO why dont you put forward proposals for a more effective way of regulation CM's? go a step further so you actually get a system that works for YOU, your parents and the chldren rather than one which is thought up by some clueless nupty in whitehall..

RosieGirl Tue 23-Jun-09 20:21:39

A certain amount of regulation is fine, but I feel it has gone way to far for childminders. I have written to the Government and OFSTED I also signed the Open-Eye campaign's petition, ALL have told me that there is no requirement for childminders to undertake extra paperwork, as this will be done at reception. But as I have said no-one seems to tell OFSTED who come down with such a heavy bloody hand all the time. I don't see why we can't have our "own" form of regulation, we are a brilliant unique type of childcare, totally unlike any other, why should we be judged alongside pre-schools and nursery's?

Sarah McCarthy-Fry, the schools minister, said: "It is nonsense to suggest that childminders are leaving the profession in droves as a result of the Early Years Foundation Stage. The EYFS is not a burden on childminders and most of them will be familiar with it because it's what they are already doing – helping children learn and develop through play."

I sent an E-mail to her suggesting otherwise, which was never replied to.

Arfa Tue 23-Jun-09 21:46:27

Some facts and figures about falling numbers of childminders:
The EYFS was announced early in 2007. The first quarterly figures of 2007, released in April, showed a net fall of 1,577 in the number of CMs. The following quarter it was 1,575 and so it goes on. There have now been 9 consecutive quarters of falling CM numbers with the biggest fall occurring in the first quarter after the EYFS was introduced. Last quarter showed a net fall of 1,014 and, sadly, I expect another fall to happen next quarter. The highest number of CMs since Ofsted took over was 72,700 in June 2204; there are now only 60,915 - a fall of 16.2%.

Even the NCMA are now starting to acknowledge the EYFS as a factor in the continued fall of CM numbers. Prevously, the NCMA claimed it was the recession (even though the falls started well before the recession) or that CM numbers always ebb and flow (even though they have only ebbed for the last 27 months). So if everybody else and the NCMA can see it, why can't Sarah McCarthy-Fry?

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