Update on Childminders’ Unsustainable Workload Levels

Update on Childminders’ Unsustainable Workload Levels

As members will be aware, SCMA has been very active in working to reduce childminders’ workload levels - which many of you have been reporting as being unsustainable. Recognising that there is no quick fix, and that this can’t be switched off overnight, we have been undertaking a series of actions to address this. 

Our latest action, earlier this week, took the form of making a detailed submission to an independent Expert Group about the impact that bureaucracy is having on our workforce. This stated that –

while Getting It Right For Every Child (GIRFEC) and Building the Ambition are firmly embedded in childminding practice, multiple other standards and frameworks have been layered on to support the expansion of ELC policy and this is having a disproportionate effect on the childminding workforce (predominantly sole workers who have to keep up with this unpaid, in their own time and without the support of managers, administrators and quality improvement officers as in nurseries);

given there has been a 22% decline in our workforce in the last five years, that 25% of childminders do not believe they will still be childminding in five years’ time and 26% are undecided, we have a potential workforce crisis on our hands if action is not taken now;

a number of organisations are reintroducing work delayed by the pandemic  (including ELC, the Quality Framework and refreshes of other existing frameworks). This is all happening at the same time, is uncoordinated, swamping childminders and creating the perfect storm;

it is not credible to continue with this level of paperwork – it is neither appropriate nor sustainable for sole workers. Continuing to do so could indicate those generating and overseeing this are out of touch with and detached from the practicalities and realities of current childminding practice. The experience of COVID, which should also inform learning, has also been that providers have been overloaded with a high volume of very detailed guidance and practice documents ranging from 40-140 pages. Without the intervention of SCMA and sectoral organisations supporting other childcare providers and providing the vital link between policy and practice to support implementation, many important measures would not have made it into practice

the replacement of the SQA and reform of Education Scotland, including removing their inspection function (the focus of the Expert Group’s work), presents an opportunity to reduce some of this bureaucracy by streamlining and simplifying inspection and having one, not two frameworks to follow.

Our submission can be downloaded at the bottom of this page. 
We have re-engaged and shared our submission with the Scottish Government and Care Inspectorate at a senior level, called on them to recognise the issues, to buy-in to this at a senior level, and to work with us in developing a multi-stakeholder response which will maintain quality assurance but with lighter touch, joined-up and more proportionate requirements on childminders. While we have all been busy responding to the many challenges presented by the pandemic, we also believe there is a need to inject some pace into this area.

This builds on our earlier actions aimed at addressing this problem including -

prior to COVID we had secured a Scottish Government commitment to fund independent research to be overseen jointly by the Scottish Government, Care Inspectorate and SCMA to inform future policy actions in this area. This was delayed by COVID, but is now underway with interviews  
undertaken by Ipsos/MORI over the summer and the research report expected by the end of this year ; 

our #TellSCMA survey last year, to which almost 1500 of you responded, found that the main reasons childminders had been leaving our workforce or were planning to do so in the next five years was the level of bureaucracy associated with childminding practice, followed by not being able to compete with the rapid scale of ELC nursery expansion;

we fed our findings into the Ipsos/MORI workforce research and also used this data to advocate for and secure the Scottish Government’s Action Plan on Childminding;

we launched our new strategy in May to promote recovery, strengthen childminding, support families and increase choice. Within our strategy is a key work strand on Workforce, Learning & Quality aimed at developing a more sustainable workforce (including taking action to address the issues which threaten this).

We will continue to act on this area to support members and will keep you updated.

Associated Document
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