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Have you noticed?

How times have changed. It is less than 15 years since our school opened and then a kiln room seemed essential to our creative ethos. We have just gutted it to make way for a state-of-the-art computer suite.

With the pound;40,000 that cost we could have reduced our deficit or employed more staff, but the money was earmarked for buildings improvements and computers and we are duly grateful. Our open-plan school has been steadily barricaded off to facilitate whole-class teaching and access to our once ever-open front door is controlled from the office. Children now need a security code to access their classrooms.

My world is changing too. After 30 years of raising children, I am now the proud possessor of a certificate in childcare practice. Under Ofsted, training is compulsory for childminders. Predictably, nothing on the course surprised us old hands except the requirement to write a 1,500-word essay.

We listened indulgently while the tutor explained the importance of play but began to lose the will to live when she got on to referencing each paragraph of our essays against criteria and annotating sources.

The intention is to raise the standard of childminders. The result may well be drastically to reduce their numbers.

Joan Dalton

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