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Margaret Hodge, minister for employment and equal opportunities today ...
Margaret Hodge, minister for employment and equal opportunities today

welcomed the positive response by the childcare and early years

sector to the consultation on the national standards for day care.

In the department's magazine Childcare Quarterly, published this

week, a number of organisations share their views.

Mrs Hodge said:

'The national standards will be a key element in the new regulation

and inspection system for the childcare sector that starts from next

summer. I am delighted that people in the childcare field recognise

this as a major step forward. The old system was continually under

fire from different quarters for being inconsistent and

unnecessarily complicated.

'We have tried to strike a sensible balance by proposing standards

that safeguard the welfare of children and avoid regulating on

matters that can be handled in a common sense way by parents and

responsible childcare workers. We are suggesting that in all

settings except for childminding smacking and smoking should not be

allowed. However as childminding is a more informal setting the

government shouldn't have to regulate on what people can and can't

do in their own homes. We are not promoting smacking or smoking and

of course childminders aren,t being forced to smack children if they

do not want to.

'There has been a lot of misunderstaning of our proposals and

scaremongering about what the Standards will mean. I am fully

confident that our proposal to ensure 50% of staff are trained to

NVQ Level 2 will raise standards in many areas bringing them up to

levels of qualification required by other Local Authorities. A sample

of current local standards shows that only 20 percent of authorities

require a qualification above this level. Everyone in charge of day

care settings will have to have an NVQ 3 or equivalent qualification

and the necessary skills and experience will be required of everyone

working with children.

'Our proposals are a minimum below which no provider may drop - they

are not guidance on best practice. The new inspection system is

designed to encourage everyone to aim higher. We are ploughing a lot

of money into raising quality across the childcare and early years


Welcoming the Standards, Anne Longfield, chief executive of Kid's

Club Network, said that they would ensure greater consistency; 'We

know that local authorities have varied in their implementation of

the Children Act. Some have not provided robust quality checks or

have not supported providers adequately in developing their quality.

Others have been over rigorous in their implementation of the

standards. The government's approach is one that Kid's Club Network

adopts in its own quality assurance scheme, Aiming High.

Liz McDermott from the Playgroup Network said:

'This new legislation is welcome, especially if it results in more

uniform interpretation of standards around the country. The

regulations and criteria have not introduced unrealistically

demanding requirements for playgroups and in many areas of the

country they are similar to existing inspection regimes. Many

playgroups already demonstrate good practice and will find the 14

standards reflect their performance.,

The Daycare Trust said: 'We welcome the Government's new regulatory

framework and the opportunity it will afford parents to expect a

consistent quality of care across the range of childcare settings'.

Other key organisations, including the National Childminding

Association and the National Day Nurseries Association, have

commented positively on many aspects of the standards.


The consultation period will end on 31 October and the

consultation pack is available by calling 0845 602 2260.

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