New figures show that Bristol’s childminders are the best they have ever been with 98% now rated as ‘good’ or ‘outstanding’ by OFSTED. This is up from 63% just four years ago and well above the national average of 89%.
Now in the top 20% of the country, across the city there are around 450 independent childminders who look after children under eight years old. And there’s room for more.
The council supports the city’s childminders with professional development, providing advice, information and suggestions for improvement to bring the standards up all across the city, and is encouraging more people to take up the profession.
Councillor Claire Hiscott, Cabinet Member for education and skills, said: “Bristol’s childminders have come a very long way over the past few years, and I’d like to thank the many individuals who work tirelessly to support Bristol’s children. As Learning City it’s important that we create environments where children want to learn from a young age, and we’re supporting our childminders so they can play their part in this. It can be a really rewarding career with lots of flexibility so we’re encouraging more people to think about becoming a childminder.”
As well as the hard work and dedication of the city’s childminders, the council has taken a proactive approach to ensuring cohesion across early years in the city. By linking up childminders with local children’s centre and having members of staff who go and visit childminders at home, the council has helped to ensure good ideas are shared and people learn new skills from one another. The ‘Bristol Standard’, introduced as a way for childminders to evaluate their own practices, has also contributed to the improving results.
Susie Horne is an outstanding childminder based in Bedminster. She said: “I’ve been a childminder for 15 years and started when my son was seven as I’ve always wanted to work with children and was keen to work flexible hours. It is the most rewarding thing to see children grow in confidence and find their love of learning. I really feel part of the early years community in Bristol and I call on the local children’s centre in Redcliffe for advice and ideas about how to best support the children I care for. Being a childminder has also benefitted my children enormously as they’ve made friends with kids of all different ages, which has been great for their development. I’d definitely recommend it.”
Lyn Pawsey, an outstanding childminder from Whitchurch, added: “Completing the Bristol Standard has really benefitted my practice and has been a very positive experience for me. Not only does it allow childminders to share ideas, problem solve, and keep up with changes in law, but it provides an easy way to record what I’m doing and the interests of each child. Working with children is my passion – and I love trying out new activities with the kids I look after.”
The council holds free information sessions for people considering becoming a childminder. To find out more and book a place please contact the Family Information Service on 0117 3574192.