Childminders’ Unsustainable Workload Levels: Update (5 October)

Childminders’ Unsustainable Workload Levels: Update (5 October)
SCMA continues to lead on this important issue nationally and continues to be very active on our members’ behalf.

Much activity has been taking place behind the scenes recently (in addition to our earlier work involved in getting this on to the national agenda reported in the latest issue of Childminding magazine for members):

  • We would like to thank our 14 elected Board Members (representing members from Orkney to Dumfries and all points in between) who participated in an SCMA virtual focus group last night to provide Scottish Government officials with an opportunity to hear of the practical impact that excessive bureaucracy is having on childminders’ workloads. Like you, our Board Members are also practicing childminders working extended days, but they felt it important to make more time to inform this area. SCMA captured the discussion and will be producing a report based on this to feed into national discussion.
  • SCMA led much of the discussion in a recent national meeting to oversee the implementation of the Scottish Government’s Action Plan on Childminding, given our earlier role in successfully advocating for the need for the Action Plan and informing its development. As a result of which, it was agreed that reducing bureaucracy will be one of the main priorities within the group’s workload in coming months, and the SCMA focus group will feed into this process. SCMA also successfully argued that the membership of the group overseeing the Action Plan should include the Care Inspectorate and the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities (COSLA) from whom it will be important to achieve buy-in if we are to make progress in this area. As a result, membership of this group is now being expanded.
  • SCMA’s Chief Executive, Graeme McAlister, recently met with Clare Haughey, Minister for Children and Young People.  He pressed the importance of tackling this issue and discussed the range of work which SCMA will be leading on and contributing to within our new three-year strategy, Changing the Narrative, which was launched in May to promote recovery, strengthen childminding, support families and increase choice. Much work, including to develop a more sustainable childminding workforce to reduce the pressures which have been causing childminders to leave our workforce, and to increase the value attached to childminding, is underway. 
  • Thanks also to those of you who responded to our recent survey on ELC. We really appreciated this at a time when you are all so busy. This captured a range of rich data on the impact that delivering funded hours has had on childminders’ workloads. Preliminary analysis of this data is underway and we will share our findings with members when publishing our ELC Audit and survey results.
  • Last week, our team also engaged further with the consultation process for Education Reform (including the removal of the inspection function from Education Scotland) - and we will also be making a further detailed evidence-based submission in response to the latest consultation. 
Following SCMA’s submission to the independent expert group on Education Reform about the levels of bureaucracy at the beginning of September, we shared this with the Scottish Government, Care Inspectorate and a range of stakeholders. Since then, it has been encouraging to see a range of other organisations within the childcare sector becoming much more interested in this issue - and the levels of bureaucracy associated with childminding and other childcare practice has worked its way on to the agenda of several sectoral meetings.

While the issues are more pronounced in childminding, due to the majority of you being sole workers and being disproportionately affected by the layering on of additional standards, frameworks and documentation requirements; bureaucracy is clearly also having a negative impact on other providers, including nurseries, where staff are also struggling. This is an issue which will not go away, is getting worse, requires a strategic response and SCMA will continue to lead discussion on this important issue.  

We will keep members updated about this.