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Vicky Ford dismisses concerns about falling numbers of providers

By Rachel LawlerVicky Ford children families minister childminder closures

The Alliance has criticised the children and families minister’s comments in the House of Commons, after she dismissed concerns about the falling numbers of early years providers as “largely driven by childminders and carers”.

Vicky Ford, children and families minister, was speaking in response to a question from Labour’s shadow minister for the early years Tulip Siddiq, who raised concerns about the falling numbers of childcare providers registered with Ofsted.

Siddiq stated that the number of registered childcare providers has fallen by a further 500 since June 2021.

"Childminders and carers"
Ford responded by acknowledging that Ofsted data from March 2021 shows a “4% dip in the number of childcare providers since 31 August” but added that this is “largely a fall driven by childminders and carers, not nursery settings”.

Ford added that “sufficiency” is the “key measure” and said that the government had not had any reports of issues with this since early years provers reopened in June 2020.

Critical childminders
Neil Leitch, chief executive of the Alliance, commented: “Childminders are an absolutely critical part of the early years sector: they are experienced, Ofsted-registered educational professionals who provide quality, flexible care and education in line with the Early Years Foundation Stage.

“To hear the children and families minister so casually dismiss the closure of thousands of childminders - and falsely imply that what they provide is just ‘care’, rather than education - is both insulting and infuriating. The level of disrespect shown to this vital part of the sector simply cannot continue.

“Over recent years, we have seen more than a quarter of childminding professionals leave the early years. If this was happening in any other part of the educational sector, there would be an outcry – so why is it any different for childminders?

“It’s high time ministers understood that care and education delivered by an educational professional in a home environment is of no less value that that delivered in a nursery, pre-school - or, for that matter, a school or college - and gave childminders the respect and recognition they, like their early years colleagues, deserve."

Find out more
See the exchange between Ford and Siddiq in full