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DfE childminder guidance contradicts Ofsted inspection plans

DfE childminder guidance contradicts Ofsted inspection plans

Childminders who join an agency will not be able to register with Ofsted in order to retain their individual inspection rating, the Department for Education has confirmed.

The DfE’s step-by-step guide to childminder agencies states that individuals can “only be registered with one agency or Ofsted at any one time”.

The guidance contradicts Ofsted’s proposed inspection framework, published in May, which said childminders who joined an agency would still have the option of registering with and being inspected by the regulatory body, prompting the early years sector to warn about potential safeguarding issues.The DfE document, published last Friday, gives detail on how agencies, which come into force today, will be inspected.As part of an agency’s inspection, Ofsted will visit a sample of its registered childminders' homes in order to assess the quality of support being provided by the agency.The visits will contribute to an agency’s overall rating, but the individual childminders will not be graded by the inspectorate or receive their own reports.The guidance states that agencies should be prepared for an inspection at “any time after registration” but that Education Secretary Nicky Morgan is yet to outline how often agencies will be inspected.In addition, the document shows that agencies will be responsible for quality assuring its registered childminders.The guidance states that agencies must conduct at least two visits, including an unannounced one, to each childminder’s home during their first year of registration.

After the first year, agencies will be required to visit each childminder at least once a year unless there are safeguarding concerns.The guidance also shows that agencies will be required to compile a report of the visit, providing copies to the relevant childminder and the parents of any child being cared for by them.However, agencies will not be required to share the reports with parents considering a registered childminder as a prospective carer for their child. Neil Leitch, chief executive of the Pre-school Learning Alliance, said he has serious concerns about the plans.

He said: "Plans for Ofsted to inspect a sample of registered childminders as part of agency inspections provide little reassurance, as the aim of such visits will be to assess the quality of support being offered by the agency, not the quality of care being provided by the childminder."We strongly believe that a more robust approach to the inspection and quality assurance is needed to ensure that child safety and wellbeing is not placed at risk."

Ofsted also published its framework for the regulation of childminder agencies on Friday.

 

Story courtesy of CYP

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