Are we undermining the professionalism of a nannies role by lack of valid training ?

I have completed my DET ( Diploma in Education and Teaching) through Canterbury Christchurch University.  Our last piece of work was to look at how Government has influenced our specialism and the effect it has had.  I was surprised by the results of my research and here it is.

I wonder why we care so little about the training of nannies when the role is a huge responsibility caring for children so young and vulnerable.  There is a skill to being a nanny with looking after the children well being in so many ways, emotionally, intellectually, health, and socially.  It take understanding and planning which is how training helps a nanny develop the skills.  Training companies also have a responsibility to offer valid and supportive training.  To cover the 6 common core skills it takes time.  This piece was written with passion for our career, care about how young children are cared for and hope that this will be read and seen that training can be advantageous if delivered with the outcome to be of value to the learners.

Discuss the impact of recent initiatives on your professional practice and specialist areas with reference to policy documents and supporting literature.

 

 

Childcare is very dear to my heart having trained and worked as a professional nanny.  I continued my career running a nanny agency for 25 years, at first the criteria to join the nanny agency you would have to be trained as a nanny. Over time it was impossible to continue demanding this level of standard. Legally nannies do not have to gain any training and so from a business point it was not sustainable to only register trained nannies.  Due to changes by the government helping with childcare fees a new opportunity became available for me to deliver training, so nannies could become Ofsted registered.

 

For this essay I am looking at policies made by the Government and recommendations along with the role of Ofsted and home childcare registration.   How education policies and government intervention has impacted on our profession, shaped our training, the hopes, and the managerialism of the delivery by training providers.  In addition, looking at how our training compares with others globally.

 

Ofsted commenced in 1992 to provide inspection for child services including schools, day nurseries and childcare establishments.  In 2008 home childcare was also included, and this meant that nannies needed to have formal training before becoming registered. (Sarah Moncrieff, 2018)

(Legislation.gov.uk, 2018) The Childcare Act 2006 defined childcare as “any form of care for a child including education or any other supervised activity. Most childcare providers caring for children under eight years old must register with Ofsted unless the law says they do not need to. Ofsted register childcare providers on two registers”. Nannies do not have to register unless the parents are able to gain Tax-Free Childcare or childcare vouchers.

 

Nannies in the UK do not have to been trained. However, the government changed this with the introduction of the approved childcare register training had to cover 6 common core skills.  This training needed to be completed to obtain registration meaning families could apply for help with childcare costs.  The skills and knowledge included in the Common Core have been divided into six key areas and the training is very specific (Nationalarchives.gov.uk, 2018)

I have written a programme specifically to cover this training requirement and in 2011 this was endorsed by CACHE.  My hope was that the training would become mandatory to ensure that those working as nannies who care for our most vulnerable in society would need to complete training.  I believed this was possible due to the government policy on childcare costs being introduced with the stipulation it had to be through ofsted regulation that stated training was essential and standards were to be met.

 

Childcare and how children are cared for is global and regarded differently in various countries.  I have looked at those whom are quite closely connected to us including Europe to look at nanny training.  In America it had been the tradition that people employed babysitters or au pairs, but the trend changed in the late 1980’s mainly due to difficulties of gaining work permits and parents perspective of what constitutes a nanny.  This article is confirmed in the New York times (Georgia Dullea. 2018) Ranks of American nannies are growing, it highlights that they are gaining diplomas and will be professional not dissimilar to our Norland nannies, many going onto higher and specialised training from there. Europe was very interesting, it is informal childcare that takes place this is confirmed in the (Rand Report 2011. P 11-12) which looked at Caring for children in Europe:  It stated in the report:

 

“Childminders play a vital role only in Romania where, virtually every child is cared for in this way. However, childminders do not have a formal childcare status, resulting in the low rate of formal childcare use in Romania. In the Netherlands and Portugal, childminders care for a minority of children (around 10 per cent), but they do not play a significant role in any other Member State. Informal childcare can play a vital role in enabling families, women, to enter or remain in the labour market. It can also have positive socio-economic impacts, since it can facilitate intergenerational relationships, build social capital and provide support for parents”.

 

So, whilst countries such as America, New Zealand and the Uk offer in depth training opportunities many European countries do not as they still rely on informal childcare normally family first or childcare as described above.  What will be interesting to the childcare profession is if the strategy report 2020 as discussed later changes this view.  Global training is not available and that is why British trained nannies are still sought after and highly regarded.

 

Reading the government paper on (Www.gov.uk, 2018.p.37) unseen children we can see that due to the report by them it was recognised that:

“Children’s life chances are rooted firmly in their first five years A child’s early experience of learning and development, especially during their first five years of life, is a critical springboard to their future success in education, work and life. The quality of this early experience is shaped by many often-interrelated factors, notably the effects of socio-economic status, the impact of high quality early education and care, and the influence of ‘good parenting’”.

 

The idea behind the approved childcare registration was to ensure those caring for children in the home were trained and parents would gain childcare vouchers before deductions were taken from a PAYE salary saving on tax and national insurance payments.  This had a detrimental effect on those who were self-employed and as they were unable to access this scheme. So, in some respects initially was only for a section of society even if the needs of other parents were essential. In 2018 this all changed under the Conservative government who brought in new rulings, so it was accessible for all parents working.  This means that all can gain access to childcare should be trained and good quality.  Would this then mean that training identified would meet the needs of children and balance out the impact on early education and care. (Legislation.gov.uk, 2018) In the report every child matters the economic needs with childcare was mentioned in the green paper Every Child Matters’ (September 2003): “being healthy, staying safe, enjoying and achieving”, these notes refer to the Childcare Act 2006(c.21) which received Royal Assent on 11 July 2006 “making a positive contribution and achieving economic well-being”.  In addition,” local authorities have a duty to regularly assess demand for, and availability of, local childcare provision and to support local childcare providers with information, advice and training”. This should have transformed the world of nannies with training being offered to support this paper and achieve the hopes of the report to give children the best care from a very early age with any childcare option chosen by the parents.

However, whilst the intention and report laid out many aspects for professionals in this field the standard of training being offered is now diminishing. We had the situation that in the late 1990 many nannies were being employed without any qualifications, as the demand was great it was easy to gain employment so why would someone spend 2 years training as a NNEB when it was not requires. Ofsted then set a standard for basic requirements that would go some way to alleviate the lack of any training, but it was linked to childcare vouchers only so still not mandatory to everyone taking this career path.  This problem of how quality is defined is expressed by Gravells & Wallace (2015, p.125) say the “we operate increasingly in a consumer culture in which education and training provision is required to meet standards of quality demanded by the customer’”. There are new plans to come and this is being undertaken in the 2020 Strategy set out a plan to review the Common Core, looking at the six areas to make sure they are the right ones.  It will also review how to ensure everyone who works with children and young people is aware of and knows how to use the areas.  However, in doing this the strategy fails to set out standards for those of whom are delivering the training. Recommendation for Investing in Children (Europa EU, 2018) In February 2013, the European Commission adopted the Recommendation ‘Investing in Children—breaking the cycle of disadvantage’ as part of the Social Investment Package. The Recommendation provides guidance for EU Member States on how to tackle child poverty and social exclusion through measures such as

  • family support and benefits,
  • quality childcare

The access to training has been made very simple with no checks on the providers and over the past few years training is being compromised by profit and not the content of the training.  How this report may affect Britain remains to be seen due to the UK leaving the European union.  We could choose to adopt the findings or make our own decisions, but this could delay matters even further. Training in its present state varies, and I have identified this by searching various websites to back up this statement and many only offer short hours claiming to cover all 6 modules and this can also all be achieved via internet training, one provider is proud to state it takes 1-2 hours . As a trainer for the common core skills I know that it is impossible to learn the 6 areas within these given times. Training to work with children from 0-5 and become ofsted registered with 1-2 hours training without intervention for explanation for further learning does not portray quality childcare.  This current training does however enable the learner to gain a certificate to supply to ofsted and subsequently become registered which is of great concern to the quality and validity of training taking place.

What is good about the training is that it is inclusive and allows diversity as anyone to access this.  On line training can easily be completed by another person without knowledge and certificates are then gained without deeper understanding.  I feel this contravenes what was written in the report about raising standards in early years in every report. It also defies the meaning of training.

Politically the training for home care such as nannies was about providing financial support for parents to access to quality childcare.  Ofsted set the standard to be achieved to gain registration.  This intention was valid but, the profit and the lack of in depth training has now been the key to many companies offering training rather than taking on the need to have better quality of childcare.  This is not the only sector where enquiries on training led to the following statement

(Parliament.uk, 2018) While many independent training providers and further education colleges are providing excellent training, too much provision is poor. For example, Ofsted last year reported that 37% of apprenticeship providers were less than good.

This statement is clearly a warning about the demise of training providers and unfortunately nanny training needs to be addressed.  It is almost as though the training companies are only interested in the fees students pay and not the outcome or quality of training.  To enable many parents to work nannies are a choice or even necessity and this helps the economic climate of people being able to contribute to society in working and to government money that in turn supplies services for all to access.  This could also encourage those who do not have training in childcare enjoy the foundations of this profession and go onto further lifelong learning with qualifications.  Furthering education of this workforce and encouraging greater skills.

So, looking at the specialist subject I offer in nanny training we can discuss how the incentive and role of ofsted has shaped our professionalism in many ways:

Positive factors:

  • That the number of untrained nannies will fall due to the need to access help with childcare costs.
  • Basic understanding of childcare needs that provides a foundation and can be developed
  • Ofsted requires First aid and a DBS along with insurance which raises our professional standards
  • Ofsted are involved in the home child care profession and it is hoped standards will continue to be developed and stricter criteria are set.

Negative factors:

  • Companies are offering training without any checks but to attract numbers of student are cutting hours and costs of the course
  • These cuts are meaning that training is weak and will not correctly cover area that should be undertaken.
  • Parents are unaware of the level of training the nanny will have unless each one is research individually
  • Ofsted are accepting certificates from companies who are running courses that cannot cover the full aspect of training that should be delivered and most importantly the safety and wellbeing of the children

On reading reports on Education, it leads us to assume that when private companies become involved in education it can lead to this becoming a profit-making exercise under the disguise of offering a service that will educate and train personnel to a level of receiving certificates to embrace professionalism. But can we really validate this knowing that training is not standardised or even checked to ensure the quality of deliverance. (Foster,2005) Foster highlighted this in his reported and recommendations was made The Government should introduce compulsory return to business/industry refresher up-skilling weeks for all vocational lecturers.  Certainly, many offering the training are not specialist in childcare and this really mirrors what was reported by foster regarding training being offered.

 

So is there a way forward to standardise, promote and endorse training.  As with Day nurseries, schools and childminders Ofsted could set appropriate levels of training that needs to be met by private companies.  They should be inspected, and quality assurance would be easy by requesting information from the participants.  This would mean that private companies who deliberately deliver poor training, under the disguise of Ofsted registration would cease to operate.  Those wanting to train in the common core skills programme would be able to access companies that are scrutinised.  As with CACHE (Now NCFE) companies could pay to be a member and have their material checked.  Ofsted could set up a system where certificates are recorded through them rather than just via the private company once training is completed. I requested the numbers from Ofsted  regarding the registration of voluntary Home child carers and it was 10,825 and this is small compared to the numbers employed as stated in a BBC report (BBC.co.uk, 2018). 100,000.  Some of these will be fully trained and others working without any training.  There is a vast number whom choose not to take training, mainly because they don’t have to, and many are not willing to pay to undertake training at all.  I took 12 companies offering Common Core skills training and the average cost is £107.00.  Looking at an average salary of a nanny is equal to £492.00 gross per week  it seems reasonable cost for this training.

If Britain wishes to follow through the recommendations that every child matters, we need parents to be assured of the level of childcare they are receiving for their children.  The problem is that the training has become less not more.  The industry started well, however as with many educational training the commencement of valid and quality training is often taken over by the costs and profit and it is about taking money and ticking a box. Ofsted need to review this so that parents can trust those nannies who carry the approved childcare registration certificate. Training needs to be sufficient for understanding the core skills that are required to care for the safety of our children and their well being and emotional needs.  It would be advantageous if this would lead to further training within other transferable roles such as midwifery, nursery management and teaching so lifelong learning could be encouraged. This would raise our education standards in the UK giving a more skilled workforce with flexibility and transferable skills in an ever-changing society. After all Ofsted have made a significant move to register nannies.  If training was standardised and quality is checked this would be advantageous to the children who will be our future and support the government papers and some of the recommendation on childcare to children. For the profession in childcare especially nannies it is imperative to provide a high standard to meet the needs and not provide a service that is purely for gaining a certificate without any valid outcome.

(C) Margaret Cowell