CASE STUDY | "My Learning Journey" from Childminder Susannah Knox

CASE STUDY | "My Learning Journey" from Childminder Susannah Knox

Susannah Knox: Professional Childminder for 15 years 

Starting Out…
I started childminding in 2007 and like many childminders, I didn’t come from a childcare background.  Indeed, I have done a variety of jobs over the years, including assessing and training young people with special training needs as well as retail management. 

Childminders come from all different backgrounds and previous professions, which gives us lots of valuable life experience, but I was aware of gaps in my knowledge regarding professional childminding – and knew I needed to fix this. 

There were specific courses I knew I wanted to undertake to help address any gaps, such as SCMA’s The Business Side of Childminding and the Childminding Induction Support Programme.   

Developing Needs… 
Childminding has changed a great deal over the years and as I have become more experienced and more aware I have sought out more knowledge that could help improve my childminding practice. I came to realise it wasn’t so much about the certificate, but about the quality and relevance of the training, how I would use this in my practice and improve my service. 

Childminders work long hours – I knew I needed to access Continuous Professional Learning, (CPL), which could work around childminding and family commitments.  It was important to me that CPL was specific to childminding settings and relevant to my practice.  

SVQ3 Social Services (Children and Young People) Qualification 
With the introduction of 1140 ELC hours, I knew I would want to offer parents the option to use their funded ELC within my setting, so I decided to undertake the SVQ3 Social Services (Children and Young People) qualification.   

This was quite daunting initially as I hadn’t been in any type of formal education for nearly 20 years. I have to say I loved it, although the work was hard at times it made me assess my practice and understand why I do things in a particular way within my service and how I could improve it. 

The Child Development Unit of the SVQ opened my eyes to Social Learning Theorists such as Albert Bandura. While this sounds a bit scary – but I think many childminders would recognise much of what they already do in their practice as being part of Social Learning Theory. 

For example, Bandura talks about how behaviour is learned from the environment; childminders would recognise this as children following by example and can be linked to everyday scenarios in childminding practice, from encouraging healthy eating habits to good communication skills. This aspect of Social Learning Theory has also helped me in my practice to start conversations with parents about learned behaviours and leading by example.  

On-Going Learning 
Professional childminders are expected to undertake a minimum of 12 hours of CPL a year, but to be honest I’ve never found 12 hours enough as there’s so many learning opportunities available. I find myself undertaking courses but also reading books and watching videos online and then reflecting on how this could help improve my practice.  

I am always thinking about the type of training I want to access and what would benefit my childminding setting – and I think that this is a really key part of CPL. It’s not ‘one size fits all’. Childminders provide a bespoke service for children and their families – that’s part of our unique offering, and it’s up to each of us individually to decide what would benefit our own practice and the children we work with.  

For example, I have decided to undertake a Sign Language course to increase the range of skills and learning I can provide.  I have also found the SCMA STEM courses excellent and regularly use the skills and knowledge I learned within my practice - and the children love the experiments. 

Next Steps 
I believe that additional CPL training has reinforced my confidence and helps me to demonstrate that I’m offering a great service, ensuring my mindees receive the best possible start in life. It’s not a ‘tick box’ exercise and I always undertake CPL thinking about how I can turn the theory into practice. 

I know that it is extremely hard to find additional time, childminders are often overwhelmed with paperwork and are incredibly busy people, but undertaking CPL is extremely important in helping uphold professional standards – after all, improving practice and achieving the best possible outcomes for children is what makes childminding such a high-quality service. 

Top Tips! 

  1. Break it down – the options can be a little overwhelming, but decide what course would give your service, children and their families ‘added value’ and go for it! One of the best courses I could recommend is SCMA’s Realising the Ambition as a starting point.
  2. Buddy up! It can be difficult for childminders to decide which course to do.  Most employers lead and guide employees through courses to ensure they are up-to-speed with CPL and childminders, as lone workers, don’t always have this support.  I regularly discuss CPL courses with childminding colleagues when undertaking e-Learning to share information and talk about what we’ve learned and how it can be transferred into practice. SCMA’s interactive and virtual courses also provide the opportunity to share practice with colleagues, discuss, reflect and learn from each other.  This support makes me feel part of a team and really helps to motivate me!
  3. CPL doesn’t have to cost the earth. There are a whole range of courses out there, many of which are inexpensive. SCMA offers a wide range of online e-Learning, from Child Protection in a Childminding Setting to Child Development – for just £25 each. Scottish Government also offers a wide range of free training modules.
  4. Shout about it! Childminders deserve to be recognised for their professionalism – always make sure you shout about your CPL – it’s part of your bespoke childminding service.
  5. Update your Learning Log on the SCMA Membership Dashboard – it’s a really easy way of keeping track of your CPL 

Still not sure? Call the Learn with SCMA team on 01786 445377 to have a chat about your Continuous Professional Learning (CPL) needs or visit to find out more.