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We're not afraid of inspection spectre

I WAS bemused to read your report about the "spectre" of a new early-years directorate "haunting" childminders (TES, April 28).

It seemed unnecessarily alarmist, since this is not the message received by the National Childminding Association, whose members represent nearly 60 per cent of all active registered childminders in England and Wales.

When the news of the change-over was announced last summer, childminders were obviously keen to know what was in store. No one likes change for the sake of it; and most childminders are parents with children in school, read the papers, and like the rest of the population, know about the bad press the Office for Standards in Education sometimes receives.

But as the details have emerged, so anxieties have abated. We know, for instance, that it is likely that the majority of current registration and inspection officers will continue to be employed under the new regime, doing broadly the same job. We know that the service is lkely to operate locally, through a regional structure.

We also know that OFSTED is working hard with organisations like ours to ensure that the process of registration and inspection, including the whole area of early learning goals, is organised in a realistic and appropriate way.

Our magazine recently ran an article about the changeover, and I invited our 40,000 members to tell me their concerns. To date, I have received just two replies both welcoming the system because of its emphasis on "national" standards and quality.

We shall continue to ensure that childminders' real concerns and priorities are heard. But with examples like the first highly successful joint-inspection at Hillfields to go on, our national executive committee (all of whom are working childminders) are confident that this group of grown-ups should have nothing to fear!

Gill Haynes

Chief executive

National Childminding Association

8 Masons Hill, Bromley, Kent

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