Ofsted has refreshed its online registration system for Early Years settings across the UK, instigating a digital shift to help address the decline in the number of childcare workers.
Government figures show that the industry has lost 24,200 childminders in just 10 years, representing a loss of more than 40%. On top of this, research from Yoopies forecasts that the childminding profession could become extinct by 2036 should this downward trend continue.
Ofsted hopes its new system has simplified the registration system without having to alter the required documents or training. New, digital-friendly features include:
– Online guidance during the registration process, rather than FAQs on a separate site
– Improved clarity with regards to forms and registration names – eg. confusing jargon will be replaced with more transparent language
– Applicants can apply via their phone rather than a Government Gateway, and Ofsted had promised to maintain direct email communication
– The registration process has been streamlined and sped up, with applicants now being able to declare information about their home on the same registration form
– Upon completing registration, future childminders will now be able to pay instantly, rather that waiting to be invoiced
Historically marred by an absence of clarity and a considerable lack of centralised guidance concerning the documents and training required, it’s no surprise that the last decade has seen so few childminders join the profession, as the application process is so off-putting.
Ofsted has reported that between 85-95% of people who took part in the pilot service rated it very high, hinting that the move towards a digital registration process could help bolster childminder numbers, and by extension ensure the industry upholds a range of affordable childcare options for families.
So far, Ofsted has done little to promote the changes to the registration process, making it hard to overthrow the public’s negative perception of the industry. There is little information concerning the changes on the Ofsted website and updates are only easily accessible via their Facebook page.
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