As Covid as taken away the opportunity to give an acceptance speech for our Leading Trailblazer in Childcare Award at an event, this blog gives a flavour of what I would have said instead.
So, when you read this blog, imagine the @HCC team up on stage with the spotlight on us, dressed in our glamour rags and beaming with full smiles…
@Home Childcare being the recipient of the 2020 Midlands Enterprise Award for Leading Trailblazers in Childcare has coincided with our 5th birthday as an Ofsted Childminder. Time has certainly flown, and what a year 2020 has been. It will be remembered as a surreal, challenging year that tested our resilience. Winning the award confirmed what we already know, the important work we do is trailblazing because of its positive impact the childminders we serve are having on children; so, to be recognised for it in a prestigious competition is amazing. We are truly thrilled to receive this accolade.
Winning the award prompted reflection about the reasons why we registered as an Ofsted childminder agency in the first place. At the time, it was a natural progression for our ten-year-old company in 2015. @Home Childcare was founded in 2005 as a solution for parents needing flexible, responsive childcare for parents to fit in with their working hours. The accredited training provision soon followed. Being able to offer funded qualifications was a boon back then. And, it still can be view as an another string to our bow as, to date, we are the only Ofsted agency who upskills childminders’ confidence and knowledge in the early years by offering government funded early years educator level 2 and 3 qualifications to aid their professional fulfilment.
Since 2018, we have also been able to fund the pre-registration training which has also been a massive boost as it allowed us to fully implement our social mission. As a community interest company, our social intent is to empower suitable people to fulfil their dream of setting up and running a high-quality childcare service at home. This is our passion, why we love doing what we do! We want to help people to grow and develop sustainable childcare businesses that children will enjoy and thrive in.
Part of our vision is for parents to recognise that home settings are great place for children to get the best start in life. That is why we are doing all that we can to shout about the important work of high-quality home-based childcare. Childminders’ settings are where it is all happening because there’s so much young children can gain from being cared in small ratios by one consistent key person in, what is essentially, a family home. Childminders deliver the same Early Years Foundation Stage outcomes as nurseries, pre-schools and nursery schools. The difference is the place of learning are home environments which they arrange as nurturing and stimulating spaces for children to flourish.
We believe our pioneering work represents a quiet revolution. It is a revolution because the quiet work we are doing is having a massive impact. Childminders are reaping the rewards of being members of quality assured networks where, as an alternative to registering with Ofsted, they can benefit from having their regulator, as well as support and training, all under-one-roof. It’s an all-in-one-solution, thus our mantra, why have the stress of a D.I.Y approach to starting up a childminder business, when you can get intensive full support to be a part of a professional community that provides start-up support, personal mentors, annual inspections and on-going training?
So, with our 5 years’ experience of being a trailblazing Ofsted agency, what is really like running one, and what is my wish for 2021?
It is an honour working with our registered childminders. This multi-faceted role of Ofsted agencies is both rewarding and humbling because you are on a journey with the childminder from start-up and training, through to registration and then the early days of their home-based provision when they begin to learn the lessons needed to grow and develop their businesses. And all while we are constantly monitoring the quality of our registered members’ care and education and assessing what is it like being a child in one of their settings. Ofsted agencies are instrumental in ensuring quality outcomes for children. If you are interested in hearing from our registered educators, take a look at our Celebration Home Early Educators page to watch some of their videos.
My wish for 2021 is for the wider sector and parents to recognise what Ofsted childminder agencies have to offer. Our unique role of providing support and regulation is a powerful and effective way of driving up quality of home settings. We are a positive force for change in the early years, so let 2021 be the year that Ofsted childminder agencies come into their own.