Source: the Small Business, Enterprise and Employment Act (England) 2015 here. The Act can be found here.
From 1st January all childminders will be transferred automatically to a single registration and if they then want to apply to register other settings they will be able to do so. The change is meant to encourage childminders to expand or open up new provision without having to make multiple applications every time – the intention is that it will offer parents more flexibility to extend their working day.
What needs to be in place?
- Permission must be gained from Ofsted to operate from non-domestic premises – but Ofsted will not necessarily visit if they are happy that the premises are appropriate and the provider is suitable. Ofsted will not charge a fee for this.
- Public liability insurance must be purchased.
- The Ofsted fee must be paid annually for each of the premises.
What are the rules?
The rules as we know them at the moment are -
- The premises must be safe and secure as detailed in the EYFS and Childcare Register.
- Adult-child ratios as detailed in the EYFS must be maintained – to run a large group such as an after school or holiday club, childminders will be able to register together and work as a team.
- Floor space requirements must be met for EYFS-aged children.
- The childminder must be able to show how much of their week they are working on each of their premises to evidence that they are not on the non-domestic premises for more than half the week.
- Ofsted will continue to inspect childminding settings – and a percentage of other settings will receive an inspection. If Ofsted are concerned about the management of one or all of the settings, they will have the power to shut down individual settings and / or the whole group of settings.
What happens if…
- You want to operate off the childminding premises (out of your home) for more than half your time..? In this instance you would need to re-register with Ofsted as ‘childcare on non-domestic premises’.
- You want to run an after school club and leave an assistant running your childminding provision..? In this scenario you would need to be very careful! Assistants can only work on their own for up to 2 hours a day (and must have a register to show this) and while they are unsupervised the childminder is responsible for their work. An Ofsted colleague has advised me that if an inspector visited when your assistant was in sole charge and noted that the childminder’s register showed they were regularly at their 2nd premises during this part of the day (often leaving the assistant in sole charge), Ofsted would question how this supported the care, learning and developmental needs of the childminded children.
- You want to open a premises which is not on school property eg in a hotel or scout hut..? In this scenario, it is likely that the Local Authority would need to be consulted because the premises must be suitable ie they will need to have D1 planning permission in place (permission to be used as premises suitable for children). However, the role of the LA is yet to be clarified by Ofsted.
- You work as a childminder for 20 hours a week and want to set up an after school club – does this mean that you will only be able to work 10 hours in the club because that is ‘half your time’..? This scenario is yet to be clarified by Ofsted.
- You set up a school holiday club and it runs for more than half the week..? Under the current rules you would only be able to work in the club for half the week which means you would need to employ staff to run it the other half of the week (maybe 2 or 3 childminders doing a job share). Careful records would need to be kept to show evidence of hours on the holiday club premises and hours working as a childminder. Things like breaks for meals and travel time between premises would also need to be considered.
- You set up the after school club and the school wants to take over..? According to a recent Nursery World magazine article this scenario is happening quite regularly. I suggest taking legal advice before entering into any arrangement which might mean you lose your business on the whim of a school head or governing body.
There is still a lot we do not know about these new rules - I will be asking Ofsted with my North West Ofsted Big Conversation hat on to find out more and asking for further clarification about the role of the LA, expectations during inspection, what 'half the week' really means etc...
If you have any further questions you would like me to take to Ofsted on your behalf, please message me or find me on the Independent Childminders Facebook group or Childminding Forum and ask me!