Help and Advice

Information, help, advice and useful links for registered childminders.

The Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS)

This lays down the standards for children’s development, learning and care from birth to five years old. All registered (Ofsted or childminder agency) early-years providers must follow the EYFS.

The EYFS framework is the core document for all professionals working in the early years. As such it means that regardless of the setting, a child benefits from the same statutory commitments and principles supporting their learning and development.

It applies to all children in early-years provision, encompassing those with special educational needs and disabilities.

There are three sections in the framework – learning and development requirements, assessment, and safeguarding and welfare requirements.

Learning and development
All registered providers must follow the EYFS and its four over-arching principles:

    • every child is a unique child, who is constantly learning and can be resilient, capable, confident and self-assured;
    • children learn to be strong and independent through positive relationships;
    • children learn and develop well in enabling environments, in which their experiences respond to their individual needs and there is a strong partnership between practitioners and parents and/or carers; and
    • children develop and learn in different ways and at different rates.

      There are seven areas of learning and development each with a set of early-learning goals. Three of these are prime areas:

    • communication and language
    • physical development
    • personal, social and emotional development

      The remaining four are specific areas through which the three prime areas are applied:

    • literacy
    • mathematics
    • understanding the world
    • expressive arts and design

      Assessment
      A child’s progress against the EYFS is measured when they are two-to-three years old by their early-years practitioner or a health visitor and again when they are five years old and at school when the Early Years Foundation Stage Profile (EYFSP) is produced to mark the end of this stage.

Safeguarding and welfare
This third section covers the steps that early-years providers must take to keep the children they care for safe and to promote their welfare.

It covers not just child protection but also adult:child ratios, food and drink , health and medicines, accidents and injuries, special needs, safety and suitability of premises, suitable people, disqualification, complaints, qualifications, training, support and skills. There is more information in our Safeguarding section below.

Other useful links
Ofsted’s early years inspection handbook contains guidance for inspectors under the common inspection framework and so is a useful tool for childminders.

The government’s website for providers and parents on early years.
Early years website for Northern Ireland.
Early years website for Scotland.
Early years website for Wales.

Safeguarding

The meaning of safeguarding in reference to children and young people goes beyond child protection. It is a term relating to the action taken to promote the welfare of children and protect them from harm. Safeguarding is the responsibility of us all, not just the childcare sector.

It is defined by government as:

  • protecting children from maltreatment
  • preventing impairment of children’s health and development
  • ensuring that children grow up in circumstances consistent with the provision of safe and effective care and
  • taking action to enable all children to have the best outcomes
     

Remember, having safeguards in place as a childminder not only protects and promotes the welfare of the children you mind, it also enhances the confidence of their parents and carers and can help protect you too.

The documents and resources that you need are:

  • The Statutory Framework for the Early Years & Foundation Stage. Section 3 has details of the safeguarding and welfare requirements. 
  • The Prevent Duty of the Counter-Terrorism and Security Act 2015.
  • Working Together to Safeguard Children. This lengthy government document has specific sections for the childcare and early years sectors and clearly explains both important terminology and the role of different agencies such as Local Safeguarding Children Boards (LSCB) and Local Authority Designated Officer (Lado).
  • Inspecting Safeguarding in Early Years, Education & Skills Settings. This guidance from Ofsted sets out the points inspectors consider when inspecting safeguarding in early years under the common inspection framework and so is a useful tool for childminders, and other settings, to ensure their knowledge and application of safeguarding policy and procedures are up to scratch.

    Policies and training

    Although it is not a blanket mandatory requirement for childminders in England to have safeguarding training or a formal written policy, there is in Northern Ireland for example, it is most certainly good practice to have both and may well be required by your local authority if you are going to provide funded places.

    There are many sample policies and templates available online and from local authorities and LSCBs that can be edited to reflect a childminder’s particular setting.

    Here are some useful links:
    Twinkl
    Safeguarding Sheffield
    Early years Safeguarding and child protection policy
    Minding Kids

    Check with your LSCB for safeguarding training as some will provide this free of charge for childminders. As with most training courses, you will be required to do a refresher course every three years so that it remains current.

    There are also many online course providers. Some examples are here:
    Child Protection Company
    Every child safe

Tax and National Insurance

As a childminder, you are most likely to be self-employed and so you must register your business with Her Majesty’s Revenue & Customs (HMRC). There is plenty of help and guidance available from HMRC and other sources about what your duties are and how to fulfil them.

For example, there are free online webinars specifically for childminders in which you can participate from your own tablet or smartphone. They usually run monthly and are led by HMRC staff and include time for childminders to ask questions online. Topics covered include completing your tax return but also details about National Insurance, keeping your business records and expenses. You can find out more here.

HMRC has also developed an online course for childminders, which you can follow anytime at your own pace by clicking here.

And HMRC has its own YouTube channel with further videos helpful to small-business operators.

National Insurance
As a self-employed person, you are responsible for paying your own tax and National Insurance contributions.

If you're self-employed you usually have to pay Class 2 National Insurance contributions. And if you have annual profits over a certain level, then you also need to pay Class 4 contributions. There are also exemptions. Learn about class 2 contributions and class 4 contributions.

Expenses and profits
Useful information for childminders about expenses and profits is available in HMRC’s document BIM52751 available hereWe have summarised the most important points below:

Profits from childminding are usually chargeable to Income Tax as trade profits, although some occasional childminders’ profits may be chargeable as miscellaneous income.

HMRC has agreed with childminder organisations the expenses that will be allowed as deductions from childminding income.

Childminders may calculate their expenses using the agreement if they wish, or they may calculate their profits on the normal basis if they wish to do so. Since April 2013, simplified expenses rules offer a further alternative method of calculating certain expenses. 

Keeping records
It is important to keep a cashbook and attendance register to record income and outgoings. In calculating any taxable profits, HMRC allows deductions from childminding income for expenses which are reasonable in amount and which are directly attributable to childminding. Receipts are not required for items that cost less than £10. Receipts are required if a number of smaller items are purchased at one time and the total cost is £10 or more. 

There is further useful information here about the records you need to keep as self-employed business.

Household expenditure
The agreement is based on the hours that childminders work and not on the number of children they care for. A childminder looking after a child on a full-time basis for 40 or more hours each week is entitled to claim the full time proportion of expenses.

See HMRC’s table below:

Hours Worked % of heating and lighting costs % of water rates, council tax and rent
10 8% 2%
15 12% 4%
20 17% 5%
25 21% 6%
30 25% 7%
35 29% 9%
40 (full time) 33% 10%

The full time figures shown in the table should be scaled down depending on hours worked.

Wear and tear of household furnishings
A deduction of 10% of total childminding income may be made to cover the wear and tear of furniture and household items. This is intended to include household items which are not used wholly and exclusively in childminding. 

Food and drink
Reasonable estimates for these for minded children are acceptable and receipts are not required.

Car expenses
Where appropriate, childminders can use the simplified expenses mileage rates, or the actual cost of car expenses for childminding purposes can be claimed instead.

Other costs
Toys, outings, books, safety equipment, stationery, travel fares, membership fees or subscriptions to a childminding organisation, public liability insurance premiums and the actual cost of telephone use for childminding purposes.

Grants
Grants received by childminders to help them to start up their businesses or to meet capital or running costs should be dealt with following normal principles. There is more information here. If a grant is received before the business begins to trade, it is not a trade receipt. A start up grant may reduce the amount of pre-trading expenditure on which relief is available. Get more information here.

Childcare grants

Update

The Department for Education (DfE) has relaunched its Childcare Business Grant Scheme to help with the costs of setting up a childminder business or Childminder Agency (CMA) in England.

Newly registered childminders and CMAs can apply for grants of £500 to £1000, if they are planning to offer the Government’s 30-hour free childcare places.

A new and revised scheme is expected to be launched in the near future. Further updates will be provided as soon as possible. 

There are three types of grants available as follows.

1. £500 grant for an early years childminder or childcare provider on domestic premises.

2. £1000 grant for an early years childminder or childcare provider on domestic premises of children with special educational needs and disability (SEND).

3. £1000 grant for a CMA.

The scheme is only open to newly registered businesses which have registered with Ofsted or a CMA within the last 12 months. From 1 May 2017, a newly registered business will be one registered with Ofsted or a CMA within the last three months.

Eligibility requirements include the following.

• Being a childminder or childcare provider on domestic premises or a CMA operating in England.

• Being registered with Ofsted or a CMA on the Early Years Register and be able to provide a copy of your registration certificate.

• Being a new business which has either started trading within 12 months of the registration date on their Ofsted/CMA certificate (this will reduce to three months from 1 May) or is due to start trading within the next six months.

• Planning to offer the 30 hours’ funded childcare entitlement.

• CMAs directly encouraging and supporting registered childminders or providers to offer the 30 hours’ funded childcare entitlement, either themselves or in partnership with other providers.

• Spending the grant on costs directly related to setting up the childminding business and retaining proof of how the grant was spent.

• Not having received a grant under the Childcare Business Grant Scheme before unless now applying as a CMA.

• Not being a private nursery, after-school club or other type of provider.

The Childcare Business Grant Scheme is funded by the DfE with a fixed amount of funding available. The scheme is due to end by 31 March 2018, or sooner if all funds have been exhausted.

Further information about the scheme is available here.

OFSTED

The Office for Standards in Education, Children’s Services & Skills (Ofsted) is a non-ministerial government department. It inspects and regulates services that care for children and young people, and services providing education and skills for learners of all ages. These include childminders and childminder agencies.

You can subscribe here to receive email updates from Ofsted to ensure you always have all its latest documentation. 

If you are a childminder registered with Ofsted rather than with a childminder agency, then you will be inspected by Ofsted to make sure you are meeting the requirements for safety, learning and development. If you don’t meet these requirements, you’ll be told what you need to do to improve and when you need to improve by.

The information below is a summary of what is available from Ofsted.

Childcare Register

As a childminder registered only on the Childcare Register you could be inspected at any time. After the inspection you will receive a letter telling you whether you’ve met the requirements or not.

This result will be published online for a year on Ofsted’s website here.

As a childminder registered on both the Childcare Register and the Early Years Register, then you will be inspected for both registers at the same time.

You can find out more about the inspections and how to prepare for them by reading Ofsted’s guidance here.

Early Years Register

As a childminder listed solely on the Early Years Register, you will usually be inspected within two-and-a-half years (30 months) of your registration and again at least once in every inspection cycle.

The current Early Years inspection cycle finishes on 31 July 2016.

A childminder will also be inspected if someone reports concerns about the care that childminder is providing.

Notice of an inspection

Childminders get a call up to five days before an inspection to check which days they work and if there will be children present. The childminder will be told what time the inspection will start but not which day it will start.

A childminder can also be inspected without warning. This is usually if Ofsted has concerns about the care the childminder provides.

Preparing for an inspection

Childminders have to tell the parents of their minded children that an inspection is going to take place.

It is also a good idea to complete an online self-evaluation form (SEF) via the Government Gateway account you set up at registration here.

Or download a PDF here.

During the inspection visit

The inspector is trying to find out about the quality of learning and teaching the childminder provides so will carry out the following;

  • observe the children at play
  • talk to the childminder and the children
  • observe how the childminder and the children interact
  • check the children’s levels of understanding and if they take part in learning
  • talk to the childminder about the children’s knowledge, skills and abilities
  • observe care routines and how the childminder uses them to support children’s personal development
  • evaluate the childminder’s knowledge of the early-years curriculum


At the end of the visit, the inspector gives the childminder feedback and explains what needs to be done to improve, if necessary.

After the inspection visit 

Ofsted sends out a report with the childminder’s grade. The grades are Grade 1 – outstanding, Grade 2 – good, Grade 3 - requires improvement and Grade 4 – inadequate. The report also includes detail on how to do better if there is anything that the childminder can improve upon.

The inspection report is published online here within 10 working days of it being sent out.

Childminders must give a copy of the report to the parents of their minded children and to anyone else who asks for one.

More information on judgements and further action such as complaining about an inspection is available from Ofsted here

Notifying Ofsted of changes 

Childminders need to make sure they keep Ofsted up-to-date with any changes, notifying in advance where possible, but within 14 days of a change at the most. It is an offence not to notify Ofsted of changes to your premises, your contact details, staff or adults living on your premises or your working hours. It is easiest to use Ofsted Online.

There is a full list of changes that must be reported on pp31-32 of the Statutory Framework for the Early Years Foundation Stage.

More details reporting accidents and incidents can be found here.

Other useful links

More information on the early years inspection and how to prepare for it can be found Ofsted’s Early Years Inspection Handbook here and the common inspection framework here. And some examples of good practice in early years from Ofsted here.

Many local authorities have good resources to help their childminders achieve outstanding grades such as Childminding UK.

Nutrition

The Safeguarding and Welfare Requirements of the Statutory Framework for the Early Years Foundation Stage include a section on food and drink at items 3.47-3.49.

The section states that where children are provided with meals, snacks and drinks, they must be healthy, balanced and nutritious. The main points are summarised below:

3.47. Before a child starts at the setting the childminder must obtain information about any special dietary requirements, preferences and food allergies that the child has, and any special health requirements. Fresh drinking water must be available and accessible at all times. Childminders must record and act on information from parents and carers about a child's dietary needs.

3.48. Childminders must have an area that is adequately equipped and with suitable facilities to prepare hygienically healthy meals, snacks and drinks for children as necessary. If necessary these should include suitable sterilisation equipment for babies’ feeds. Childminders must be confident that those responsible for preparing and handling food are competent to do so.

3.49. Registered providers must notify Ofsted or the childminder agency with which they are registered of any food poisoning affecting two or more children cared for on the premises as soon as possible and within 14 days of the incident.

The full document is available here.

Food hygiene and the Food Standards Agency

The Food Standards Agency provides guidance specifically for childminders – including its Safer Food, Better Business for Childminders pack on what they need to know about food-safety and hygiene, depending on which part of the UK they are based in, on its website here.

Nutrition policy
It is not mandatory to have a written nutrition or food and drink policy, but it is an example of good practice and is helpful to the parents or carers of your minded children. There are plenty of good templates for such policies available online.

Here are some examples:

www.childmindinguk.com/pdfs/Free_resources/Suggestions_for_Nutrition_Policy-_childminder_prov.pdf
www.wigan.gov.uk/Docs/PDF/Business/Professionals/Childminders/Food-and-Drink-Policy-and-Procedure.pdf
www.bury.gov.uk/CHttpHandler.ashx?id=9663&p=0

Guidelines, resources and recipes
The Children’s Food Trust has a whole section of resources and guidance especially for childminders. These include:

Voluntary Food and Drink Guidelines for Early Years Settings in England – A Practical Guide

Promoting and Supporting Healthy Eating in EarlyYears Settings

Catering for Special Dietary Requirements

Producing and Sharing Allergen Information

And a host of age-appropriate recipes for nutritious main meals and snacks.

The trust also runs a training course for childminders.

There is also useful information and guidance in the Scottish government publication Nutritional Guidance for Early Years Food Choices for Children Aged 1-5 years in Early Education & Childcare Settings.
The NHS's Change4Life programme has plenty of resources and recipes including a downloadable cookbook for kids to make their own.

As a childminder you could get in touch with your local Public Health Nutrition team at your local NHS Trust to find out if there are any training courses on offer you could attend such as Tiny Cooks for cooking with children or children’s nutrition training.

www.maternal-and-early-years.org.uk/
www.wales.nhs.uk/sitesplus/888/page/44948
www.clch.nhs.uk/services/public-health-nutrition.aspx
www.nottinghamcitycare.nhs.uk/citycare/find-a-service/services-list/public-health-nutrition/ 

And further training on nutrition in children is available from many online providers, for example:

www.mnttraining.co.uk/training/ChildrensFoodSafetyandNutritionforEarlyYearsSettings/index.htm?b=c
https://sc2013.laserlearning.org/LLSC_CourseSelect.aspx

A day in the life of....

No two days are the same in childminding, but we asked Stephanie a childminder in Surrey to give us an idea of a typical day in her life.

6.30am. I get up and get myself ready and my son ready before my first minded child arrives at

7.45am. She is school age and sits and has breakfast and then we read stories, play trains or some other non-messy activity until

8.30am. when the pre-schoolers arrive, either one or two depending on the day of the week. Then we all set off for school either walking or on the train – it is just one stop.

9am. It all depends on the weather, but we might go out for the day straight from the school run. On a Thursday we go swimming because I only have my own child and one other, or on a Wednesday we might go to Rhyme Time, soft play or the park. That’s what I like – we don’t have to have a set routine.

12pm. In the summer we might go out for lunch and have a picnic or in the winter come back home for a hot meal. I let the children choose what they want to eat, within reason. We might have a pasta dish, soup or sausages and mash or they might want to make pitta pizzas and put their own toppings on. The children usually do quite a lot of the preparation with me; I don’t stop them playing, but if they want to help they do and we tidy up while the meal is cooking

After lunch they help clear up.

1pm. If we haven’t been out in the morning, we go out in the afternoon but if we are staying at home, it is time for free play. I have photos of activities we have done in a book and they choose from that what they want to do. Sometimes it’s messy play or musical instruments. I do a lot child-led activity and quite a lot of my ideas come from Montessori – for example if we are playing with Mega Bloks we talk about number, shape and colour. Throughout the day I write my observations on Post-It notes with the child’s name and date of birth and stick them in my diary. Then once a term, I go through and collate them all into their individual files.

2.30pm. We start walking to school which finishes at 3pm. It is about a mile and the baby goes in the buggy and the toddlers walk.  We might go to the park afterwards or stop and watch the trains on the way home. We usually arrive home by

4pm when the children have access to drawing materials and easy crafts so I don’t have to worry they will get covered in paint.

5pm is teatime. I don’t give the children any snacks between meals because I am very strong on oral health and I serve three meals a day. Tea is buffet style and lighter than lunch. We make lots of different sandwiches and on the side we have continental meats, cheese cubes, grapes, apples, carrots and so on. We all sit at the table together and talk about the day.

5.30pm parents start arriving and by

6pm everyone has gone home.