Remember that secret consultation I wrote about back in April – just about the time Champagne Nurseries, Lemonade Funding was started? Well it seems it’s been followed up by a secret response – well almost Secret Response! Despite the fact I’m subscribed to about everything I can find on the gov.uk site, I only found out about this on Facebook – the same way as the original consultation. Considering this consultation and its response is talking about better information and communication with the sector on many aspects, the irony of not being informed about the response, despite being one of the 250 people who responded, has not passed me by! But with such a small response overall – what has taken so long? Well let’s see what is says…
The response has been broken down into main categories – inspections; Local authority: planning & support; paperwork; guidance; learning and development and workforce skills and then makes comment on other areas – legislative changes , funding (nothing new), VAT, DBS, Business Rates, DBS checks and ratios. There were some interesting responses made on many of these areas and it’s worth a read, but it is the government action that is of more interest to me…
And whilst they say all the responses will ‘form part of our ongoing discussions and engagement with the childcare sector’,which is very non-committal, they do encouragingly recognise that there are ‘areas that can be improved’. There is a clear message that LA’s and providers need to be working better together and that a ‘clearer and more standardised approach’ should help with this. They have laid out some specific actions that they will take that may well prove useful to us:
- A ‘myth-buster’ document to help with the many discrepancies we all hear about in the inspection process. Due out in April 2017 it will also attempt to include clear descriptions of regulatory and non-regulatory processes and bring more clarity on the qualification and training requirements, especially in relation to LA and Ofsted discrepancies. Clearer guidance on supporting paperwork required to meet the EYFS across various aspects including EHC plans, Ofsted inspections and EYPP is also aimed for. Fingers crossed we do get something worthwhile in this document.
- An, as yet not clear, ‘earned recognition’ for ‘group-based’ provision and smaller settings when being inspected by Ofsted – April 2017. This will indeed be an interesting read.
- A re-visit of the ‘paid-for inspections’ agenda (the first we have heard of this since it was first introduced)
- New LA Statutory Guidance will now come in March 2017 (with additional guidance what can/cannot be included in provider agreements)
- Further discussions on discrepancies in planning laws vs expansion needs within LA’s
- A new Model Agreement, with standard clauses to support more consistency, will be here in January 2017 – which I shall be scrutinising with many others I am sure
- Publish a response on the GCSE’s in February 2017
- Review requirements for refresher training for First Aid
- Develop an on-line business support for training (which I guess is what we have seen the start off with the sustainable business information – and I’ve even applied to join the directory – so watch this space)
- Investigate further duplication by LA’s of work that is not under their remit e.g Ofsted requirements
- Make all this new guidance user-friendly! But more importantly – inform us what has changed when guidance is updated
- Provide us with at least a term’s notice of any changes and aspire to make this 12 months by September 2018.
Another irony of these new documents is that it comes alongside some respondents citing that one of the problems is the constant change of documentation! With something new coming out every few months this is indeed a burden we have to manage. However it was also interesting to see this has be calculated and recorded in monetary terms, alongside all the main categories, so what it takes us in time and therefore cost as a median across all sectors.
Nothing much they are going to do about business rates – citing all the things in place at present – none of which helps those of us whose rates are over £15,000. VAT will also see little being done – or does ‘engaging’ with other bodies to identify any flexibility show us a glimmer of hope? DBS is an ‘understandable frustration’ but that’s it. However, some unexpected outcomes are – the review of music and mini-bus licensing by July 2017, a review of the EYFS and Independent Schools overlap and further review of ‘multiple regulation’ requirements.
And finally two things that are in the last paragraph which I find myself questioning the motive for – both planned for April 2017
- Examine flexibilities in ratios with the EYFS and the current legal framework
- Develop an on-line diagnostic tool to help providers model staffing levels, in line with ratio requirements, for different levels of occupancy
Are there some greater changes afoot? – only time will tell!!
Happy Christmas everyone!
About the author: Tricia Wellings
Her passion for and knowledge of owning and running a nursery group and the issues within the sector that affect them is second to none. She continues to keep herself updated through regular meetings with PVI groups, Local Authorities, Ofsted Big Conversation and Conferences.
You can find our more about Tricia on her website www.triciawellings.co.uk