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CHILDMINDERS & PARENTS - step this way.......opinions needed on OFSTED and their paperwork and inconsistancies!!

322 replies

bloodsuckingLOONEY · 19/10/2007 22:36

A lot of us on here have moaned away about OFSTED and how they are getting worse and worse. Good childminders all over the country are quitting because they've had enough of the endless paperwork, training etc etc.

I want to get as many opinions as possible and send this thread to OFSTED as I feel very strongly about all this (yeah, yeah, probably hormones but still, felt like this before!)

So.....if you're a childminder....tell me what you think - I know a lot have said but please put on this thread.

Parents - what's more important to you....that we care for your little ones in a home environment, show them love and attention, play with them, take them out in the community etc etc or that we make sure you sign the attendance register, put posters all round the house, have 'wash your hands' signs in the toilet and 'no smoking' signs on all walls of the house, spend time writing endless observations as we go through the day etc etc.

I could have put it a lot better than that but I'm really tired, my eyes are getting blurred! I was going to wait until I was fresh tomorrow but I thought I'd strike whilst I feel so strongly!

ALSO....CHILDMINDERS.....what do you think of the INSPECTORS/INSPECTIONS? Fed up with them all saying different things and making you not know where on earth you stand? Fed up with some inspectors saying they'll never give out an 'Outstanding' grade just because that's them? Fed up with phoning up and being told one thing just to get into trouble for that info not being correct?

Give me all your thoughts as I really do want to send this to OFSTED but we need LOTS of you to come forward!!

Thanks, I'm off for my dinner now

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obabadabobba · 20/10/2007 14:49

I have used three childminders for ds1 not for 6 years though, the first was pre ofsted the second and third were fully ofsteded.
they were both great, the first was like ds' second mum, she adored him. I was confident in her ability and trusted her wholeheartedly. then we moved area and ds went to the second cm, It was a rushed decision, I met her afew times before we signed contracts, her paperwork was impecable, I imagine that she ticked all of ofsteds boxes but I had a bad gut feeling about her which I, insanly, ignored. things went very wrong after the first day and I removed him on day 2. (long long story that involved my ds being left in bed at lunchtime where he smeared poo from his nappy up the walls... this was so incredibly out of character, my ds loved his sleep and would always wake up and call out to be got out of bed in the afternoon, and he had NEVER gone near his nappy contents before that or after that, so I am horrified to think what had happened that day. she was very p'eed off that it had happened (?!)
there were other things that were very strange about her but her crudentials seemed perfect.
we then moved again to the third cm, she was very mumsmy and warm and cuddly and playful, her kitchen was alway a tip (that I ccould see, no need to go in there) the mindees seemed to be very included in her whole family (grandma and all!) so I was very happy with her and in fact she became a friend.

so as a parent, if I needed to look again for a childminder I would deliberatly NOT take the ofsted inspection into account, I would go on my instinct and references and reputation where possible.


ps, the 'under 8's officer' sounds ideal. why change?

bloodsuckingLOONEY · 20/10/2007 14:57

Oh....our first PARENT point of view - thanks so much for that. I'm so sorry you had a bad experience but am pleased it didn't put you off childminders all together. Thanks for taking the time

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obabadabobba · 20/10/2007 15:11

well, it can't have put me off that much because after ds2 I decided not to return to work and so became a cm

so here is my cm perspective...
my first inspection was booked to the exact time slot, 10am thurs! I told her that I didn't have any children that day as I was going on mat leave and only had emergency or as and when mindees, she asked me if I could arrange for them to come that morning!!!

the whole thing was completly staged. I had almost preped the kids and rehursed it (selected the very well mannered and less-challenging kids)
I was so so nervous and stressed about being inspected, it was all I could do, I know I am a fantasically good childminder, I have rediculously high standards but the whole excersize (inspection) was a set up, I was super super organised, I had activities that I knew would tick boxes rather than doing the sorts of things we normally do (we have a vaige structure for the day and just seeing where the day takes us -my moto is that every day is an adventure)
If I wasn't so stressed then I might have had the confidence to let her see it how it really is but in reality she sat on the sofa and typed on her laptop for 2 hours then left. there is no way she could have got a real feel for the type of childcare I offer.
I got all round good for my first and she wrote a wonderful report, but, I felt like I had cheated, but not just that, I would rather have shown her the real ins and outs of our day.
it made me realise all the more that you can learn what ofsted need to see and you can jolly well act it out!

a good friend found an outstanding cm, she lasted the 6 month contract but it was traumatic for the whole family. she certainly was not an outstanding childcarer.

ThePrisoner · 20/10/2007 15:15 out, watch out - ThePrisoner is about ... where shall I start?

bloodsuckingLOONEY · 20/10/2007 15:15

Very interesting!

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bloodsuckingLOONEY · 20/10/2007 15:16

Oh.....TP......I LOVE YOU.....I just KNEW you wouldn't be able to resist

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ThePrisoner · 20/10/2007 15:25

Just for starters, thought I would cut/paste what I wrote once before - it does a general summing up. It was in answer to an old thread about wanting honest opinions about what Ofsted really wanted.

I just love their inconsistencies, their inability to answer a straight question, their ridiculous demands ... I love having 18 individual hand towels to wash each week, I love giving parents endless bits of paper to sign asking for permission for yet another stupid thing, I love worrying about whether or not I should/shouldn't have plasters in my first-aid box, I love the sheer panic of having too many mindees for 5 minutes because one of the parents is late collecting, I love having to register my home as a food premises, I love dictating to parents that they should only provide healthy food otherwise I'll get a slap from Ofsted, I love looking at my watch the minute children arrive so that I can record the exact minute I was/was not responsible for them, and I love spending my evenings and weekends doing paperwork and courses.

And I love having to think of the way of phrasing sentences and taking photos to put in a huge portfolio, and trying to link it all up with their Standards, Birth to Three, Foundation stage or the Nobel Peace Prize just so that I can prove to Ofsted that I'm probably OK to look after children.

bloodsuckingLOONEY · 20/10/2007 15:35

I remember that at the time and ROFL!!!! It's soooo crazy isn't it!!

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obabadabobba · 20/10/2007 15:37

here here tp

I love it!

bloodsuckingLOONEY · 20/10/2007 15:39

Honestly......I can't WAIT to send this to OFSTED. Ok, my hormones are all over the place at the moment but I'm sure I STILL would have felt this strongly about it!!

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obabadabobba · 20/10/2007 15:41

good work bsloon, lets hope they take notice eh?

bloodsuckingLOONEY · 20/10/2007 15:41

Probably not as they don't have 'tick boxes' for this sort of complaint I doubt!

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ThePrisoner · 20/10/2007 15:42

I know that my sarcasm probably isn't very helpful to this thread, but I'm afraid I've done another cut/paste. Again, it was in answer to a question as to whether parents knew what their CM did ...

If I asked my minding parents what a CM does, they would definitely say (very tongue-in-cheek and very much full of sarcasm-ThePrisoner-style) that what I actually do is log the exact hours their child has arrived; write down all the existing injuries the child has; gets parent to sign permission form for medicine they might need during the day ... and this is before they even set foot through the front door.

I then do a full safety assessment of my sitting room (in case anything dangerous has happened without me noticing in the few minutes it took me to answer the front door); quickly put out all my individual hand towels so that the children can wash/dry their hands before handling any nuclear-washed toys (obviously done in my own time); quickly test the smoke alarm and do an emergency house evacuation; sterilise all the children before sitting down to a free-range, organic breakfast; put on protective gloves, mask and gown to change any nappies (out of sight of any other minded children to protect their privacy) but quickly read my Health and Safety Policy/permission forms to see if I'm allowed to apply nappy cream to that particular mindee (but make mental note to phone parents in advance next time to ensure that I have used the correct brand of cream); check I have written permission to leave house with mindees to walk to toddler group ... oh, you get the picture ... I'm sure that I pencilled in a couple of minutes of quality play time somewhere in the day ...

My head hurts ... (but can't remember where the aspirin is because I treble-locked it in a fire-and-waterproof box and left it in a vault somewhere) ...

I will now move on to more sensible ideas.

bloodsuckingLOONEY · 20/10/2007 15:44

OH TP - I've just read out the first one to my hubby and reminded him why I miss you so much - it's your style, it CRACKS me up as it's all SO TRUE!!

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obabadabobba · 20/10/2007 15:46


bloodsuckingLOONEY · 20/10/2007 15:53

Just posted a link in the parenting section as I think 'chat' is too busy and I can't keep bumping up forever. Fingers crossed we'll get more feedback from parents

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Katisha · 20/10/2007 16:01

OK I'm a parent and have used childminders for over 7 years. When my CM had her last Ofsted I was terrified that it would tip her over the edge and that she would retire - she must be in her late 50s. The paperwork was ridiculous and so was the pressure.

The reason I have her as my CM is that all the children in her care are like a little extended family, a gang of all ages who really look out for each other. My two (8 and 6) are disappointed if they are NOT going there after school.

If I wanted a formal learning environment I would have chosen a nursery. What I actually wanted was an informal family environment for them where they were loved. She is often seen around the town taking the little ones for long slow walks where they watch things at a child's pace and learn as they go along. I hate the idea of her having any sort of curriculum or set of educational targets. I am one of those who thinks we start formal education too early in this country as it is.

Anyway - the Ofsted inspector sat behind motionless behind her laptop and then afterwards said she was cold. (The kids weren't - they move about..) My CM was told off for not having any racially mixed toys...It's as if they are looking for problems. And so for this she was given a "good" and not an "excellent" which really depressed her as she is the most conscientious of people. And as I said earlier, there is so much paperwork...

Anyway the parents rallied round with chocs and flowers and her son who is a trainee teacher helped her to come up with the right management-speak language for the forms. And she is still working. But frankly I wouldn't blame her if she just jacked it in.

Ofsted should leave well alone and the government should stop trying to institutionalise small children. Let us keep the choice of informal childcare. Yes OK there have to be safeguards but let's exercise some common sense here. They are childminders not penpushers.

bloodsuckingLOONEY · 20/10/2007 16:11

Katisha - that just about sums up what I hear all the time from parents. How awful that YOU as a parent were worried in case it was the last straw and made your CM quit. I must say sometimes I feel like jacking it all in, I'm totally fed up with it all!! How lovely that you all got chocs etc to cheer her up, I nearly cried when I read that (I'm hormonal!), how lovely. put the last bit so well, I couldn't agree more. And this is me talking as a parent of a 4 year old here, not as a childminder. They are trying to turn us into nurseries and it's not what people want!!

Thanks for your time, much appreciated

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ThePrisoner · 20/10/2007 16:27

To follow on what ayla said about Ofsted doing spot-checks - in my capacity as a CM county committee member, I have asked inspectors this very question.

At one particular gathering, an Ofsted inspector actually asked us to suggest any ways in which we thought the inspection process could be made easier. I suggested doing spot-checks - basically to see what we were really like (as opposed to the mad sort-out/spring-clean we all do when an inspection is looming) - and that mutually agreed, pre-arranged visits to check paperwork, planning etc. could be done.

We were told that this was "not possible" and would "waste the inspector's time" as this was unworkable.

There are around 100 CMs in my town so, if one CM is out for a spot-check, the next one is less than 5 mins drive away at most. We can't all possibly be out all at the same time.

I had 3 toddlers here during my last inspection, and their behaviour deteriorated during the hours the inspector was here. We are told to continue as we would normally do, but it really isn't possible - you either have to ignore the inspector or ignore the children. I've previously said to inspectors that being around for 2/3/4 hours is detrimental to the care we offer, but have been told that it's only once every 3 years, so shouldn't be a problem.

My network co-ordinator manages to do spot-checks on all the network CMs, who are spread further afield in the county, it is not rocket science.

Katisha · 20/10/2007 18:02

To follow on, I have just found an email I sent to the Sunday Times after all this - it didn't get published, but I showed it to my CM anyway.

Re Review Section, 5th March 2006. P.8. "Well children, have you met your targets today?" by Jill Kirby.

Jill Kirby is absolutely right to say that the government seems determined to limit the freedom and judgment of schools, teachers, childminders and, above all, parents.

I have chosen to send my two children to an excellent and sought-after childminder of many years experience. I wanted a home environment with one carer who offered love and undivided attention. Last week she had her Ofsted inspection and was reduced to tears, pretty much ready to resign.

She has been found wanting on a variety of state-invented bureacracies which she can surely have no time to set up and implement without compromising the attention she gives the children. An example from the epic list of required procedures : my child played with the Duplo. As I understand it this is not good enough. The childminder should have a) planned and committed to paper that he should play with the Duplo that day, b) she should have written in a diary that this was to devlop his hand-eye co-ordination and c) the Duplo should have been briskly whisked back into its box as toys on the floor are a tripping hazard. Imagine the work-load implied by the number of different toys and activities in a typical day of a group of children!

If I had wanted my pre-school children to be in an environment of tests, targets and lesson plans I would perhaps have chosen a nursery. My greatest fear is that excellent childminders will give up because they do not have the time or inclination to conform with the barrage of one-size-fits-all regulations imposed by Ofsted , and my choice of childcare style will vanish. I suspect the government does indeed wish to impose the state-run kibbutzes Jill Kirby forsees.

LoveMyGirls · 20/10/2007 18:12

TP - I have so missed you, you should come back more often!!!!!!!!!!! Love your humour and common sense!!!

ThePrisoner · 20/10/2007 18:13

Katisha - the experience of your CM is exactly the sort of thing that we all hear about time and time again.

ThePrisoner · 20/10/2007 18:22

LoveMyGirls - I have been warned nicely (by my lovely network co-ordinator) to be very careful about demonstrating my "humour and common sense" during my inspection.

I have so much fun with my mindees and their parents, I hate having to "be" a different person during my inspection.

I really hope that nobody mentions that we eat blackberries straight off the bushes without washing them first. (Yes, I do have permission from the parents to do this, but daren't ask for it in writing, because I would be compromising the mindees' health and safety and Ofsted will fail me miserably).

bloodsuckingLOONEY · 20/10/2007 18:26

TP - we pick them and eat them off the bush and I don't have 'written' permission I'm a TERRIBLE childminder now aren't i!

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bloodsuckingLOONEY · 20/10/2007 18:29

I've copied and pasted this from the thread in 'chat':

By shoptilidrop on Sat 20-Oct-07 16:50:25:

wow, well i didnt read all the thread but did just want to say:
My dd goes to a wonderful cm and has done since she was 8 months old.
My cm is wonderful, she does all sorts of things with her and her house is far safer and cleaner than mine ever is.
3 years ago she had an outstanding report. just a few months ago she was inspected again,.and the report was not as good.
Basically for a few crappy reasons.
Its a load of rubbish, i know my daughters care is brilliant i do not see how putting up and extra sign stops her from getting outstanding.bloody stupid!

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