The Childcare Checklist – Choosing your childcare

A new checklist for parents trying to decide which nursery or child minder to use was published on Tuesday

The checklist published by the Day Care Trust is based on research funded by the Nuffield Foundation and carried out together with Oxford University. It compares Ofsted inspections with other assessments such as the Early Childhood Environment Rating Scale (ECERS).

The guide recommends parents not to go on Ofsted reports alone and gives advice on other criteria to consider when choosing child day care. The guidelines for England, assert that the inspection watchdog’s grading system is “too broad” to provide a detailed measure of quality in childcare. They attribute this to Ofsted using the same basic grading system for childcare as they do for schools. The report claims that some establishments judged by Ofsted as “outstanding” were rated lower on the ECERS and Infant Toddler Environment Rating Scale (ITERS).

Informing your Decision 

It highlights that it found most parents felt Ofsted reports lacked the information they needed to make an informed decision about choosing the right childcare establishment for them and their child.

Anand Shukla, Chief Executive of Daycare Trust, said: “There is overwhelming evidence that investing in high quality childcare in the formative years of a child’s life can make the biggest difference to their life chances, but as this research proves parents are not currently equipped to make informed choices on quality.”

Ofsted’s grading system divides Nurseries and child minders into four grades: outstanding, good, satisfactory and poor. This, according to the Daycare Trust report does not give the level of detail a parent needs when choosing childcare. It goes on to suggest that the inspections carried out by local authorities often use international grading systems which are more precise and stringent than Ofsted’s.

Ofsted – the Benefits

However, The guide goes onto say that by choosing childcare which is registered with Ofsted, parents know that the childcare provider has been approved to care for children.

In a statement Ofsted said: “We agree with the report that a full picture of quality comes from consideration of a range of measures, including Ofsted inspections.

Top Tips

The guide by Day Care Trust called, “How to Find High Quality Childcare,” suggests parents should always visit different nurseries and child minders when making a decision on where to send their children. It goes on to suggests that, “Recommendations from other parents can be helpful, but it is important to remember that everyone is different and what suits their child will not necessarily suit yours,”

The checklist suggests ways in which you can ensure you pick the right place for you including first impressions, costs, staff ratios and what happens in an emergency.

It’s suggested questions for carers are;

  • How well qualified are staff?
  • What is the daily routine?
  • What if my child is unhappy?
  • Will my child’s culture be reflected?
  • Can I get involved?
  • How will I hear about my child’s progress?
  • What about emergencies?
  • What if I am late picking up?
  • What is the food like?
  • What about special needs?
  • Where do children sleep or rest?
  • Can I afford the cost?

Check out the Day Care Trust website for more information.


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