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
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
'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.