Have you noticed?

OFFICE for Standards in Education inspections for childminders are as variable as for schools. Within a fairly prescriptive framework, there seems to be plenty of scope for individual bees in regulation bonnets.

We older minders huddle together at toddler groups comparing our hot flushes and mood-swings and asking "how was it for you?"

One minder alerts us all to racial equality issues, only for the next victim to find her black dolls unremarked, but door and window locks pronounced inadequate. The next house, barricaded like Fort Knox, is visited by an inspector pernickety about paperwork or outdoor play equipment.

My lady was charming, efficient and professional. So was I. We got on splendidly. She was very complimentary about my provision and practice and the children were delightful as always.

But I have to Go On A Course. We all do - all of us who have been minding since long before pre-registration courses were invented. Every Tuesday evening for seven weeks: an Introduction to Childcare Practice. I think we get on to egg-sucking by week four.

So this weekend I have to finish the annual report to parents, list my correspondence for the next school governors' meeting and start my course assignments.

Perhaps I should get a proper job.

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