Brett Wigdortz OBE

Brett Wigdortz OBE, Chief Executive Officer

17 June 2024

Earlier this month we held our annual Community Inset Day for tiney childminders - a brilliant time for us to gather and particularly well timed given the announcement of the General Election and the crucial topic of the future of childcare. Those of our childminders who gathered at County Hall were able to get an exclusive early look at the two main parties’ views of childminders through direct-to-tiney speeches recorded for us by Early Years Minister, David Johnston MP (Conservatives) and his Shadow, Helen Hayes MP (Labour). A summary video of the event is shown below:

We are not allowed to share their speeches publicly, but to summarise what they said at the event:

The Early Years Minister, David Johnston highlighted the critical role of childminders in early education and childcare. He praised their unique position in the sector and the importance of their professional development at events such as the Inset day being run by tiney. Johnston discussed the government's childcare reforms, including the new funding entitlements and investments in wraparound care for primary school children. He said that he believed childminding was a core part of the future of childcare, especially due to the value parents place on the flexibility and quality they provided.

We then heard from his Shadow, Helen Hayes, who focused on the critical importance of early years in children’s development, noting that early education significantly impacts Britain’s ability to close the attainment gap. She also praised the indispensable role of childminders, who care for over 160,000 children across England, and tiney who has been by far the largest recruiter of childminders over the past year. Yet, she also recognised the challenges the early years sector faces, including the recent loss of many Ofsted childminders and gaps in provision for children with disabilities and low-income families. Finally, she also underscored Labour's promise to build a modern childcare system that supports families from the end of parental leave to the end of primary school, ensuring higher standards and better availability, if elected. She promised that a Labour government would collaborate closely with childminders, putting the ambition for children at the heart of their efforts.

Now that the parties’ manifestos have been officially released, we can examine what they mean for childminding going forwards.

On the positive side, both parties are committed to expanding childcare in the coming months and years. The conservative manifesto is clear “We are delivering the largest ever expansion of childcare in history” while Labour also confirmed that they would sign up to the Government’s policy to offer 30 hours of free childcare a week to parents of children aged nine months and over, starting next year.

It is predicted that as a result of this, childcare demand will increase by at least a sixth for nurseries and childminders over the next two years and the hourly rates for under 3s will increase by between 30-40% on average, all of which is very good news for the tiney community and their future income levels no matter who the next Prime Minister is!

Getting down to the details, though, the differences between the two parties start to appear. It is clear that the Conservatives’ goal for increasing childcare is to help more parents back to work and to improve national productivity. Their manifesto goes into detail on “helping parents access” good childcare and wraparound care - there is less of a focus on children’s development and school readiness.

Labour, on the other hand, seem much more focused on helping children get “school ready” with more of a focus on EYFS and regulated childcare, which again could bode well for expansion of high quality childminding, such as tiney early years educators who are supported in their professional development and EYFS activities and tracking, as well as nurseries.

Beyond this, though, Labour’s manifesto is very bare bones (only 159 words in total on early years education, parental leave and children in care combined!) A friend of mine, who is senior in the Labour party, wrote to me > “What matters is what happens - I suspect this manifesto is even more irrelevant than most!”

While they don’t mention childminding in their manifesto, they do refer to “opening an additional 3,000 nurseries through upgrading space in primary schools.” As the Guardian wrote last week, Labour “would need to recruit 40,000 more staff by next September to fulfil its pledge” - yet there is no funding mentioned in the manifesto on how to recruit and find those staff! This is where childminding has to be the solution!

There are over 200,000 childminders in France and at the turn of the century there were 100,000 in England , yet there are only 25,000 operating in England now - there’s no reason this can’t massively grow!

We’ve seen this at tiney where over 1,000 amazing childminders are currently working with 5,000 children providing outstanding early years education and care (something a little birdie has told me Ofsted might say something about next week…read about it in my next blog post….)

Here's why childminding has to be a major part of this solution post-election:

  • Childminders are well-trained & regulated
  • They deliver excellent early years education, following the EYFS curriculum and preparing children for school and life
  • They work from home, offering flexibility & lower overheads yet higher income for practitioners
  • They are 12% cheaper for parents on average

Elsewhere, nurseries are burdened by escalating costs and grappling with a recruitment crisis. And the number of childminders registered directly with Ofsted is in free fall - they've lost over 30,000 in the last ten years.

At tiney, we've shown that well-trained, properly supported and empowered childminders can be recruited and retained (and earn a professional income while being cost effective for government and parents). They are a critical component of the early years solution. The next Government must not overlook them!

Have a great election day!

Brett Wigdortz OBE profile img

Brett Wigdortz OBE

Chief Executive Officer

Founder and former CEO of Teach First and Co-Founder of Teach For All and the Fair Education Alliance. Brett’s lifelong mission is to help every child access an excellent education. He wants to support childcare professionals and parents to focus on this goal from a child’s earliest years.

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