The Childminder Connection, as EYFS Continues to Unravel

This week, data showing a disturbing and consistent trend of decline in the number of registered childminders have precipitated a spate of media stories speculating about the link between this decline and the impending EYFS – e.g. in Nursery World magazine, the Daily Mail, and in the Daily Telegraph. In addition, a feature on BBC Radio 4’s Woman’s Hour on 16 May (listen again here)
has precipitated a cascade of postings on the Woman’s Hour messageboard.

These reports are entirely consistent with our own experience at Open EYE, with many childminders having contacted us over recent months, some in despair, about the unnecessary over-bureaucratisation of the EYFS, and their intention to give up their childminding careers altogether.

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16 Responses to The Childminder Connection, as EYFS Continues to Unravel

  1. hazel Dumbleton says:

    I have decided to resign as a childminder due to the ongoing pressures of running a business and legislative requirements removing all the enjoyment from what was previously a rewarding job. This decision has not been lightly made as I have studied for an honours degree in Professional Studies in Learning and Development and could complete an EYP Status in December of this year.

  2. Pat Adams says:

    As a childminder of nearly 21 years experience, I have reluctantly come to the decision that, unless I or the children I care for can gain exemption from the EYFS (as provided for by section 46 of The Childcare Act 2006), I will also be resigning as a childminder.

    Are you listening Mr Balls and Mrs Hughes? No? I didn’t think so.

  3. Stephanie Wallis says:

    When will those incompetant idiots who run our country open their eyes and see
    (even better admit) that the EYFS is already failing in practice in schools and is
    causing childminders to give up in droves. I am a childminder (currently very stressed out) and its not the children its the legal requirement to do unnceccarry paperwork and the uncertainty about my future. On the one hande I have 18 pages of specific legal requirements that my training officer couldnt inerpret herself on the other
    NCMA encourage us to be putting sticky notes on children’s work, if this will be enough for an OFSTED inspection then I would like to hear this FROM OFSTED THEMSELVES, THEY CALL ME “OVER ANXIOUS” BUT CLEARLY LOOKING AT THE NUMBERS LEAVING CHILDMINDIMNG I AM NOT THE ONLY CHILDMINDER
    WHO HATES THE EYFS AND IS SICK OF BEING TOLD HOW WONDERFUL IT IS
    AND HOW IT PROMOTES REGISTERED CHILDMINDING, BLATENT LIE BY GOV.UK

  4. Elaine Greenwood-Hyde says:

    I do wonder if it is the intention of goverment to get rid of all independent childcare in favour of state run institutions, except where that childcare is a clone of state run ‘care’. As well as the EYFS pressure Childminders are seeing work stolen from them by heavily subsidised institutional childcare and in our area under 2s will soon get free nursery places. I do not believe a nursery is a good place for under 3s.

    There is less and less variation in childcare. With a national curriculum from birth no child will grow into adulthood knowing anything but the same things as every other child as determined by the state/whichever goverment happens to be in power. Does this not scare anyone?

    The volume of paperwork generated by the EYFS is huge, extremely bureacratic and highly prescriptive. Having to keep in mind what to put in the paperwork, looking for things the child is doing to put in the paperwork and all the time while caring for children can only harm the relationship with a child.

    If a parent does not want their child to be subject to the EYFS where do they go for childcare? Where is the choice for parents?

  5. carol hume says:

    i too am very stressed. i love my job and i am having serious doubts as too whether to continue. i have been looking at all the extra paper work and i have to ask, when am i supposed to do it all ??? when the children are here, after they’ve gone home ?? what about my own children, when will they get my time and attention???? i have 50+ contact hours per week i.e 10+ hours per day. once the children go i have my own family, cleaning, tidying, and house to run. i would like a life other than work but i don’t think i will be getting one now all this pointless paper work is coming in. the parents i have don’t want me spending my time doing it they want me to spend the time playing with their children not writing notes and creating planning, and who is going to pay me for all the hours i spend on the paperwork? not the parents! i don’t have a team of 10 behind me. its just me, me who writes everything, me who does my own tax books, me who wipes bottoms, me who’s too tired at night to speak to my husband, JUST ME. i don’t get to go home after work. the EYFS is a joke and the paperwork pointless, parents don’t want it, children don’t need it, we shouldn’t be doing it.
    trust your childcare professionals, we are doing a great job and we don’t need to put it on paper to prove it, just take a look at the children in out care they are happy, healthy, learning and achieving leave us alone.

  6. Mo Newland says:

    I agree with Elaine above – nobody will have a choice.
    There are obviously plenty of childminders like carol who are doing an amazing job within existing registration. The powers that be have no idea how ordinary people live and have to manage. Childminders are ordinary people, not rich folk volunteering to do charity work.they have to make a living.
    I manage an after school club, run by a committee of working parents. We are endeavouring to keep costs manageable – but numbers attending are a real issue. We closed our breakfast club because there is not the demand to be viable, now we all have level 3 qualifications and our wages are more than the after school club income can subsidise.
    We too must implement the EYFS, have local government breathing down our neck, and spending more and more time on PAPERWORK!

    Where is the extra money coming from?

    Raised fees, which in turn is against what we set out to do – provide affordable childcare for children, out of school hours for working parents.

  7. C. Thompson says:

    EYFS I believe has been put together by some young, very inexperienced individuals, sitting in nice warm offices, with a day full of adult company.
    The group of people who thought up this scheme are so obviously not used to dealing with young children on a day to day basis – and I would strongly doubt, even have a child of their own between them. If they do, then my guess would be that that child is in childcare for the vast majority of the parent’s working week, and that they have little do with them.
    As a childminder of over 6 years, and mum to 4 children of my own, childminding and running your own business these days and in the light of the forthcoming EYFS, has become a nightmare.
    As nursery staff, you have separate staff to care for the under 2’s, over 2’s etc, staff to deal with the meal time side of care, nutrition, staff around to deal with the children whilst other staff can deal with all the ridiculous and unneccessary amount of paperwork.
    EYFS is extremely unfair on the Childminding portion of childcare in particular.

    We are a one man band, trying desperately to take on the whole package. Caring for several different age groups, alone, at any one time. Two 3 year olds together is great when carrying out activities, usually, with guidance, they can operate fairly well together – and what do you do with the crawling 13 month old who is with you at the same time, there are no other members of staff to watch them and provide for their safety, as in other settings.

    We are now expected to watch the children for half an hour or so, assessing them, and then write up lengthy assessments on each and every child in our care under the age of almost 6 years, approximately fortnightly or monthly for every single child – that is on top of the DAILY REPORT of course for each child – details of what they have done, what they have eaten and not eaten, had to drink, toilet information, sleep information, any problems, and now these detailed observations and assessments to add to the pressure.

    When do we do this? – while the children are with us – or are we supposed to be caring for them, or has that been forgotten? We have to deal with snack times, mealtimes and cooking, cleaning up for them and after them, activities – and cleaning up after that, morning school runs, nursery pick up runs at 11.20 am, then the 3.15 pm pick up, then after school children in your home.

    We have to fit in sleep times for little ones, again much easier in other settings who have staff assigned to the younger members – and then, as if that wasn’t bad enough – we are supposed to have these poor children OUTDOORS for around 50% of their time with us REGARDLESS OF RAIN OR SHINE?!!!! We are already out 3 times per working day carrying out the compulsary school and nursery and playgroup pickups. But apparently, being ‘outdoors’ does not constitute the daily school run, nor does your garden count – so where on earth are we supposed to take them – and more importantly WHEN – do we omit a snack time in order to fit in the daily outdoor quota? Does OFSTED realise just how long it takes to organise getting 3 pre-schoolers out. 3 sets of coats, hats, shoes, the battles we have to referee in order to keep the peace, then there is the toilet trip before setting out of course, 3 lots of that, 3 lots of handwashing and drying, who is going to go first etc etc, oh, and of course, if you are caring for lets say 2 toddlers and a baby, then there will more than likely be a nappy to deal with before you set off also. All of that, 3 times a day as it stands …. and to have to take them outdoors AGAIN is just unrealistic, not enough hours in the day. Some part of this care is going to have to give – probably activites because we cannot cut back on safety, or school runs, or mealtimes can we.

    And all of this for what, £3.00 an hour, £3.50 at a push – and that of course is top rate, all of the childrens meal, snacks, drinks, materials for craft activities, new toys and games, all has to come out of this minimal fee.

    We do not have accountants to deal with all our tax commitments – we do not have cooks to deal with feeding the children – we do not have secretaries to print out all the reams of necessary documentation for each day’s daily assessments and monthly observations – let alone loading the hundreds and hundreds of photograph for evidence each month onto our personal computers. We do not have printer paper provided for us, although we are obliged to use this evidence now, and printer paper does not come cheap.

    Goodness knows, NO WONDER CURRENT CHILDMINDERS, WHO HAVE BEEN DOING THIS JOB FOR YEARS, ARE NOW QUITTING IN DROVES, they have seen the light and are choosing to return to normal, and much less demanding careers – for much higher reward. Such a shame, I once LOVED working with children., and the sad thing is, I work with 9 sets of parents altogether, and not one of them has had much positive to say so far on the preaching of EYFS. Very sad. They all wish I had more time to spend with their children.

    I have actively reduced my numbers now in preparation for September when EYFS kicks in. I currently had 6 part time children under 6 years (the cut off point for all of this documentation and paperwork for young children is “the 31st of August following their 5th birthday” which again is so unfair on us because many of these children are by then away to full time school and we, as childminders, may only have that child for an hour or two a day a week after school hours – and yet, we are still required to assess them and document for them in the same way.
    I now have 4 per week, and have increased my after school provision to cover the shortfall financially. I feel it is the only way to maintain sanity – I feel that there is precious little time left for my own 4 children, as many evenings now are spent completing files and forms. Not fair on them.

    There are not 72 hours in each day, and as a one man band, to do all of this together as the entire package – is realistically impossible. I feel so very disillusioned.

  8. Adele Berry says:

    I’m currently in the process of registering as a childminder and all this EYFS does sound scary but if so many childminders are thinking of leaving then it’s a shame.
    The ones left will be in great demand and then maybe we will all be able to raise our rates to cover the extra work.
    Either that or childminders will have to band together and become nurseries as that is what the government seem to want.

  9. I have read all the comments posted on this sight and I also feel like throwing in the towel. I have had 25 years retail experiance, then 10 years in childcare. I have never been so confused with policies and proceedures. My families do not want to me to involved in observing and docummenting in so much depth. What is wrong with “learning stories” these “diaries” show what the child can do/has done during their day.I too work 45 hours a week, then i turn to my own family and household chores. The only training sessions I am able to attend are weekends when this surely is family time, evenings are out as the courses start at a time when I still have children in my care. Who do we contact to say NO MORE we managed before EYFS we can manage again when it is gone and forgotten

  10. Sian says:

    I am currently attending my pre-registration course to become a childminder.
    (I am also lucky enough to have 7 years post qualification working with children)
    All of my knowledge and experience plus the writing of policies and procedures and now the new EYFS is crammed into this 8 week course (2 hours each week)
    This is absolutely craziness!
    I can already see the numbers in our class falling each week.
    No wonder childminders to-be and existing minders are quitting- with working as a Manager of a EYFS setting, having a baby and toddler, house and partner to attend to I feel like quitting before I’ve even started!

  11. Margaret O'Donnell says:

    I’ve been a registered childminder for 27 years. I’m currently doing a degree in early years care and education. I don’t know where to begin with EYFS. I’m almost sure I’ll be downgraded when Mrs OFSTED comes to call (which could be any day now). I have started individual note books for my children but as they play together a lot of the information is duplicated from book to book. I have always taken pictures and have a really good rapport with all my parents. I don’t really see why everything has to be written down as my parents know what’s going on as I speak to them each night. We go out most days to various Toddler groups and also go shopping. Constant checking if a child fits into this or that developmental age to stage box undermines looking at the child as an individual. (and I thought this was the aim of EYFS?) I have a list of 69 things to check against so how is this not a check list? I have all the policies and a diary that states when the children arrive and leave, also birthdays etc. When is someone going to listen? CHILDREN NEED TO BE ALLOWED TO DEVELOP AT THEIR OWN PACE, BE LOVED, HAVE FUN, BE VERY VERY SILLY, AND HAVE AS LITTLE PRESSURE AS POSSIBLE IN A WARM, LOVING FRIENDLY ENVIRONMENT!!!!!!! THEY DO NOT NEED TO BE BROUGHT UP BY EXPERTS!!!!!!!!!

    THE BIGGEST AND MOST IMPORTANT EXPERT A CHILD WILL ENCOUNTER IS THEIR PARENT!!!!!!!!!

    However, I sadly believe that in the next 10 to 20 years, nursery education for children little more than babies will be compulsory and that parents and carers like childminders who provide care similar to a parent will be seen as not EXPERT enough to bring up children. HOW VERY VERY SAD!!!!!!! PLEASE SOMEBODY GIVE CHILDREN BACK TO THEIR PARENTS AND HOMEBASED CHILD CARERS. CHILDREN NEED CUDDLES AND FUN NOT TICKLISTS, FORM FILLING AND OBSERVATION. My children were raised at home. They’ve all done well and I’m very proud of all four of them. They will shortly have 4 outstanding degrees between them.

    • Mary Filipowicz says:

      I completely agree with you! I have 5 of my own children aged 28, 26, 21, 14 and 10 and I started childminding in 1985. I am only minding part-time now for one family but my paperwork is minimal and will not satisfy Ofsted. I tried working in a nursery but felt the stress level was too high… Yes, children develop best in a home-based setting with a calm, patient adult and some interaction with other children, enjoying themselves and having fun. How can you be spontaneous and follow what the children want to do (often on a 5 minute basis) if you have to write down what you have planned for the day?

  12. Anna Wells says:

    I used to be a childminder until I realised that all of the other childminders working in my area were in it for the coffee mornings and the gossip and not for the love of children or the rewards in watching them develop because of you.
    I now work in a nursery earning far much more and completing a degree in early years. I haven’t done the EYFS training but have been supported by my manager who has, it’s not too different to the Birth to Three framework and have found it really simple to pick up. I think the EYFS is a necessary and exciting framework, it not only records the childs development but can also show where the child needs to develop so that you can plan for this area/ work with other agencies to address this.
    Childminders choose to work from home, normally to avoid paying childcare costs for their own, but they still manage to find enough time in their day to moan about the workload. Most jobs people do involve a work load, its a fact of life. People who go out to work still have to go home and do the housework and study/exercise/relax, so you’re not alone. It takes a few minutes to jot down something you have just observed a child do, while they are playing. Children do not need constant adult interaction, and if this is what is being implied then you are possibly hindering the childs development. Once you have the observation, it just needs filing in the relevant section. Once you have worked with the EYFS framework, you will get to know it inside out so it won’t even take that long.
    Childminders also have a small number of children under five in their care anyway, I really think its a case of being afraid of the unknown and not being able to adapt to change. I have 9 key children to write termly reviews for, obviously I get time out of the room to do this but if I had three I could complete them in one evening.
    My girls both use a childminder, she is not giving up because of EYFS, and we are working together to complete my youngest’s file. It’s not a problem. I love having a written record of her development that I can take to her key worker when she begins pre school and show evidence of what she has done.
    If you’re not a strong enough practitioner to take on changes in the childcare sector, you shouldn’t be in it in the first place.

  13. Arthur Adams says:

    Anna Wells appears to have a very jaundiced view of childminders, but, as she is now working in a nursery (the competition), her views cannot be entirely unbiased.
    She tells us that childminders are only in it for the gossip and do the job to avoid paying childcare costs themselves. However, if she looked around some of the on-line forums she would see that many of the childminders who are complaining have 15, 20 or even more years of experience. The children of these childminders must surely have grown up by now and the childminders themselves cannot just be in it for the gossip if they have been in the job for that long. The usual response to that argument is to say that because those childminders are 40+ they are too old to adapt, but, in my experience, this is not the case. Instead, they are complaining because they can’t see how the administrative requirements of the EYFS will improve what they have been doing for years.
    Because childminders usually work on their own with a small number of children why do they need to write as much as the EYFS expects of them? Why do they need to make written plans of what they will be doing next week or next month with that child? If a child has managed to put on his own shoes for the first time, childminders know that the next thing to do is to help and encourage the child to fasten their shoes. They do not need to write that down. Similarly, why do they need to record the progress of that child? A good childminder can see how a child is progressing and will communicate this verbally with the parents on a daily basis. As long as the child is developing at a reasonable rate and is not showing any signs of handicap that should be sufficient and the childminder should be trusted to ensure that that is happening.
    The real reason for all of the written records is for them to act as an audit trail for Ofstedwho cannot possibly hope to gain a good knowledge of the childminder in a 4 hour inspection every 3 years, but, as we saw in the Baby P case, paperwork does not tell the whole story.
    Childminders also work long hours. A 50 hour week is not uncommon when some children arrive early and others leave late and all of this without any real break or lunch hour away from the children. Anna Wells says that other people work full time and still have things to do around the house when they get home, but so do childminders. Many childminders are now finding that as well as the housework they are also having to do additional work just to keep up with the EYFS requirements and that this is being done at the expense of their own family. Ironically, this is fine within the EYFS because a childminder’s own children are not being minded for reward and, therefore, fall outside the scope of the EYFS.
    It is perhaps revealing that Anna Wells hasn’t mentioned the parents once. Does she think that a parent’s opinions about the way their child is cared for count for nothing? Many parents are also opposed to the EYFS, but, because of its statutory nature can do nothing about it other than applying for exemption for their child.
    Finally, Anna Wells tells us that she uses the services of a childminder herself so they can’t be all that bad, can they?

  14. S Smith says:

    No wonder Anna left childminding. It is clear from her slightly worrying and odd idea of childminding, that she felt unable to cope in the world of self employment, preferring to abandon ship (and that is even BEFORE EYFS took hold) and enter the world of nursery care. In this environment of course, she will never have to be alone, always working alongside several other members of staff as a team, in which case, however many children are assigned to you, we all know only too well, with extra pairs of hands, and eyes, is a lot easier – and responsibilities shared. Some people cope alone, and others don’t.

    It is also blatantly clear that had Anna actually put herself through the rigors of EYFS training, then she would fully appreciate just how much paperwork and extra pointless demands are now made on childminders, who, as we are all only too aware, are required to deliver single handedly.

    There is no way you can suggest that ‘childminding in line with EYFS is a breeze’ if you have not childminded within these guidelines, and expect to be taken seriously.

    I wonder which area Anna is from?? You would be hard pressed to find one childminder around here who sits and has ‘coffee mornings’ – and how odd that she still sends her own children to a childminder …. rather than a nursery?

    EYFS promotes relationships with child, childcarer – and parents – which in my opinion is vital. Just how ironic is this however when the best childminders communicate freely, regularly and in depth with each child’s parent(s). We have done this for years – a very obvious, and necessary part of the job, why then must every little thing now be written down – and who does it benefit, not the parents that’s for sure, they prefer verbal information, I have had this said to me several times already, it is just yet more wasted time.

    Nursery workers may have stretches of between 8 am to early evening with the children. As a childminder, our day is interjected with many home to nursery/school, and return journeys.

    At present, I am out 4 times per day – at 9 am, 11.15 am, 1 pm and 3.20 pm. This is to drop off and collect morning school and nursery children, then back out to swap afternoon nursery children then return to pick them up and collect all after schoolers.

    In between these short periods at home, I have to provide activities, which I have always done anyway – no difference there – but then spend time recording each activity and giving it the appropriate learning area colour-code or abbreviation – trying at the same time to ensure a variety of areas are provided each day, … while the little ones do what ….?

    I then need to cook, and clean up after meal and snack times, and of course before that, clean up after each (often very messy) creative activity.

    Then wham bam, we’re back out yet again, rain or shine, to walk back to school with tired afternoon children. There are times when they don’t know whether they are coming or going they are so young.

    The insensitive ‘housework comment’ Anna gave just proved to emphasise how much easier it is to be employed as a nursery worker. Nursery workers go out to work – and their houses remain exactly the same as they left them in the morning.

    Yes, childminders all have housework to deal with at the end of each working day – we cannot possibly do it whilst minding under 5’s. Imagine if an iron was to fall and permanently damage a child in your care …. Imagine if a child choked whilst you were upstairs putting your ironing away, or cleaning windows …. It is an impossibility. No self respecting child carer would so much as consider taking the risk.

    Yes, employees in other jobs all have to come home to their housework too – of course they do, but Anna obviously has not thought about the fact that whilst your house is full of under 5’s, and then before and after school children too, the housework and dirt becomes 4 fold.

    As Arthur (comment above) says, we get no lunch break away from our working enviroment, and this is 5 times a week. We have to do our paperwork each day – whilst the children are with us, as daily reports in conjunction with the early years framework are to all be completed to entirity and signed, and timed, as each child leaves your property.

    All the additional assessment and observation work has to be done in the evenings taking up valuable time from the needs of our own children, which is wrong.

    Anna says she needs to do a termly assessment for each child, and that she has 9 children to review. For us, one TERMLY assessment would be fine. Once every 12 weeks or so, not a problem, however many or few we had.

    As childminders, we may ONLY have 3 children under 5 years ‘together at any one time’ – but, we can easily have 6 or 7 part timers on our books each week who come on different days or overlap each other (still within the allowed ratios) on certain days.

    If Anna had attended an EYFS training course, then she would be aware that (as far as the NCMA EYFS training is concerned) childminders are required to assess each child under 5, a minimum of between once a fortnight and once a month. Now with say 6 or 7 part timers, that is an awful lot of paperwork and photography on monthly, or fortnightly basis.

    The photography alone for so many children is a nightmare. I have no doubt that nursery staff are required to provide photographic evidence as we are, but the printer inks and photographic quality inkjet paper doesn’t come cheap, and doesn’t come out of their pockets does it. If this is a requirement, we all feel it provided as it is within other settings.

    I have two under 5-s out of the 4 currently in my care, who shy away now from the camera, they don’t like to feel that they are being made to perform, and I have to try my best to catch them when they are not aware, otherwise they cover their faces – this surely is wrong, why should they be subjected to that.

    I think we all need to put our prices up – we are paid below the minimum wage. Yes, you can say that by taking on 3 children at the same time (if the opportunity presents itself that is – you can’t have parents swapping and changing their working hours just so that you can take 3 children together), but it is 3 times the craft materials, 3 times snacks, drinks, any treats, 3 times the meals and of course, 3 times the wear and tear on your house, furniture, items and toys, which occasionally are damaged by other people’s children. So, by the time you take all of this into consideration, no, it is barely worth it.

    Many of us cannot take 3 together anyway as our own young child(ren) still count within our numbers ratio.

    Incidentally, I wonder if Anna noticed what time of day some of these letters came through. She mentioned that we ‘still find the time in our day to moan about the workload’. Mmmmmm, have a good look at the above letters, look at the times they were submitted, a couple after midnight – one well after midnight, there is one teatime, no doubt when charges have left, and most telling, the majority were written throughout the month of August, when most parents are taking their annual summer holiday, and childminders can actually grab a little time to themselves.

    I think an awful lot of genuine, hardworking, self respecting childminders, will have felt very sad and very disappointed with Anna’s comments.

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