Making representations against Ofsted's intention to cancel a childminder's registration – a case study
Simon White was instructed to represent K, a childminder. The Childcare Act 2006 requires that any person providing early years childminding (for children from birth to age five) must be registered with the regulator OFSTED (Office for Standards in Education, Children’s Services and Skills).
The Early Years Foundation Stage statutory framework (EYFS) sets the standards that all the early years providers must meet. All applicants must demonstrate that they meet all the safeguarding and welfare and the learning and development requirements of the EYFS. They must also ensure that every person looking after children on the premises where childcare is provided is suitable to look after young children and ensure that every person living or working on the premises where and when childcare is provided is suitable to be in regular contact with young children. All early years providers will receive inspections from OFSTED to ensure that they are meeting the minimum standards. The Childcare Act confers powers upon OFSTED to cancel the registration of a registered person if it appears to him that that person has failed to comply with the requirements of EYFS.
If OFSTED propose to cancel a person's registration, they must give the registered person notice of their intention to do so together with the reasons. That person then has the opportunity to object, by making representations, either orally or written. Those objections will be considered by OFSTED who will then give notice of their decision of whether to confirm their intention and cancel the registration or not.
In this case, OFSTED had received information that K had allegedly committed a shoplifting offence whilst looking after minded children. It was suggested that she had not immediately notified the parents of her minded children and she had not notified the event to OFSTED, as she was required to do. As a result, OFSTED felt that she was no longer a suitable person to be a childminder.
K, who had been childminding since 2011, consulted Simon White. The effect of her registration being cancelled would have been the loss of her livelihood, the obvious damage to her reputation and a disqualification from working in childminding and childcare.
Simon White took full details from K in relation to the incident, her history as a childminder and considered her previous inspection history. He then made forceful written representations on behalf of K objecting to OFSTED's intention to cancel her registration. The representations took issue with the information reported to OFSTED about the incident and set out in full K's account of what had happened. He submitted that given her previous inspection history, the evidence in relation to the shoplifting allegation and K's account of what had happened, that she remained a suitable person to be a childminder. References from supportive parents were also submitted.
Having considered the written representations, OFSTED accepted that the allegation of shoplifting was unsubstantiated and considering all the matters put forward, they felt that there was not sufficient grounds to cancel K's registration. K's objections were therefore upheld and her registration allowed to continue.
Simon White works in Blake Morgan's business regulatory team and specialises in representing childminders, children's nurseries and children's homes in enforcement action being taken by Ofsted in England and the Care and Social Services Inspectorate in Wales.