Be Kind, Be Courteous and Remember Your Manners

Last week, I spent a morning with staff from two nurseries talking about pedagogy.  Kindness and what it means was central to the discussion on social and emotional well-being.  It’s quite the topic of the month with the Duchess of Cambridge saying it was more important to be kind soldier flowerand compassionate than to excel at sport or Maths. Blimey, I bet that made a few politicians choke!  Mrs May talks about creating an inclusive society and the British Values requirements were introduced, albeit in a clumsy method, to provoke a conversation about democracy, rule of law, tolerance and mutual respect. They might have been better understood if we had used the words of kindness, compassion and courtesy which I believe are the underpinning behaviours.

In a city as crowded as London, we need to dig deep into our ability to be kind and courteous. Call me old fashioned but in a very mixed city we need some common rules to make life easy and reduce the dirty looks and kissing of teeth.

Old person tube

So confused are people as to what are the common rules of courtesy in this modern world, that 10,000 have written to Debrett’s for guidance on social manners. Questions like :

  • Should I kiss a client on the first meeting?
  • Should I give up my seat on the tube?
  • Can I begin to eat before everyone else has been served?
  • Why must I remember to put my knife and fork together at the end of the meal?

As early years’ teachers, we need to practice kindness and courtesy so that the children imitate our behaviour. Unless we teach them they may never understand that it is polite to wait for all of our friends to be served lunch so we can all start eating together, or that putting your knives and forks together is the sign you are finished so waiters can remove your plate without any inconvenience or confusion.

'After you' said Miss Manners. 'Oh you first' insisted Mrs Etiquette.

Much inconsiderate behaviour is often not a deliberate provocation but thoughtlessness and ignorance and not understanding the subtlety of the societal rules. We all have our particular bugbears. For example, which of these really make you spit fire (in no particular order)

  • Answering the phone when purchasing an item at the check outs (is the checkout person invisible?)
  • Walking slowly on a busy thoroughfare looking at your phone (yes it may be the map but walk on the inside, don’t wander about all over the pavement!)
  • Applying make-up on the train (do I pay a train fare to be in someone’s bathroom?)
  • Smelly food and confined areas such as the train carriage
  • Dogs on the train seats
  • Barging in front of you in the queue
  • Dropping litter (especially when the bin is right next to you)
  • Just standing on a discarded free paper and not picking it up and sticking it on the carriage rack

Of course, we all have wonderful positive examples of good manners and joyful moments. I have had many incidents of people spontaneously being kind and courteous, last week a young woman must have seen my tired face and offered me her train seat, I enjoy regular chats at the checkout of my local Sainsbury’s, have had helpful customers suggest how I cook fish, add nutmeg to liven up spinach lasagne and explain whether to use crème fraiche or cream.

The Spanish guide to politeness

The Spanish guide to politeness

Last week, one of our nursery managers was getting on a crowded tube at Green Park when she spotted one of the nursery children squeeze on further down the carriage with his Dad.  Next thing she heard the TfL conductor announce “Good Morning Oscar”.  Later, his father explained that as daily commuters to nursery since he was six months old, the staff have gotten to know him and look out for him and welcome him over the the speaker system when they see him.  How lovely we thought. Our manager was so touched by that, she said it gave her a warm feeling all day.

Courtesy, compassion and kindness are interwoven and can be taught and replicated. If you are in doubt about what to do and you can’t find your nearest Debrett’s, just step into their shoes and be nice. Manners and common courtesy are 99% common sense and 1% kindness. People with good manners treat people with respect and remember that no one, no matter how busy, powerful or self- important is above that.

“May you never lay your head down
Without a hand to hold;
May you never make your bed out in the cold.
You’re just like a good close sister to me,
And you know that I love you true”

Become an Early Years Teacher and Beat the Robots

I recently read a piece about the growth of artificial intelligence and the impact it will have on existing jobs, whether the driverless car or the extension of computer controlled decision-making.

The Birth of Artificial Intelligence

I can’t understand the rush into such an inhumane world.  Why do we want more automated services, more self-service machines that go wrong and more advice services which is simply a computer talking at you?

This week I wanted to check a simple fact with Ofsted, so I rang the helpline, which took me to a selection of options and when I finally got to the section I needed, it referred me to the website!

Courtesy of Justin Boyd @

Courtesy of Justin Boyd @

Irritated, I found myself on the Gov UK website , a site which is like a busy aisle in TKMaxx, everything is squashed on a clothes rail and it takes determination and persistence to filter out anything of interest. Is this the life we want?

How can we therefore guarantee a career which won’t be overtaken by robots?   Become an Early Years Teacher. Children will always need adults to help them learn and develop. There is no greater honour than contributing to the development of the next generation.

Next week the Nursery World Show will celebrate all things Early Years. It’s an opportunity to celebrate what we do and how we do it.  A good show provides networking, CPD opportunities, and recruitment. I always attend to do all of the above and this year we have a big LEYF presence. We have created a nursery space with the help of Community Playthings where visitors can sit and chat and enjoy pedagogical conversations with each other.  We have also persuaded David Neil our chef from Brixton nursery to do a cooking demonstration and Gary Simpson one half of our Learning and Development team to present on the Live Stage. It’s one of the top CPD opportunities as the best way to learn is to teach others!

The opportunity to talk, connect and celebrate the humanity of our roles is critical. In this mad rush to reduce human connection, we as a sector need to do the opposite.  If you get a chance to attend a show or be part of an exhibition, take a LEYF out of our book! Make it a time for a bigger conversation, new learning and a public celebration that robots and drones have no place in our world.

Devo, Beautiful World

Doing business by doing good : A Social Enterprise’s most valuable asset is hope

It’s hard to get a feel of what is going on with the Government at the moment. Communication is muffled and it feels like we are watching a foreign psychological thriller without the subtitles.


Scene from psychological thriller The Third Man

The Prime Minister has said some great things about social inclusion but the feeling on the ground does not comfortably align to her rhetoric.  What we see are Children’s Centres closing, cuts to support services, no advisory staff in local authorities and cuts to social services.  The
brexitBrexit strategy has been described as hard, soft and clean but again on the ground it feels stained and in need of a good wash before its clean enough for any of us to wear.  In the world of education, our minister Caroline Dinenage remains completely silent on the workforce strategy despite us meeting her in October to explain the recruitment crisis and despite a very powerful response from the sector to the November consultation on the sector qualification, not a word has been heard.

I was therefore very pleased to listen to Lord Victor Adebowale, newly appointed Chair of Social Enterprise UK, on which I am proud to be a Board member.  He gave a short but generous acceptance speech at the AGM thanking the outgoing Chair Clare Dove and unlike President Trump was magnanimous and kind about the work that Clare has led over her ten years as Chair. His overall message was positive. He reminded us that even in our darkest hours we must hold on to the view that social enterprise and the social entrepreneurship movement is driving a big change and can help reshape our current established pattern of business behaviour because we can show that we are doing business by doing good.

The positive uplift was reaffirmed the next day when one of the LEYF Area Managers sent me her progress on the action research she is doing with nursery managers about kindness. We are celebrating Random Acts of Kindness Day at nurseries, to encourage the spirit of generosity. The Kidogochildren are reaffirming kindness and courtesy in the nursery as well as donating to Food Banks and charity shops, supporting a partner social enterprise called Kidogo in Kenya and extending our multi-generational relationships especially with the old.

The sense of hope was energising.  It took me back to a great exhibition by Anselm Keifer at the White Cube Gallery. Two paintings transfixed me but gave me hope. The first painted destruction.

Detritis Walhalla

Anselm Keifer Rorate, Photo Charles Duprat White Cube Gallery

The second provided hope.  My husband looked at me in bemusement, Hope? Is this not about death and destruction?  However, while I am no art critic, I like art that makes me feel. This gave me hope and right now we need to try and find hope everywhere.

“Life is very short and what we have to do must be done in the now”

We began the year of 2017 with the sad news of the second untimely death of another of our much loved young staff members.  Telling the organisation about his death was my first duty of 2017 and it quickly put things into perspective. It also made me realise the power of the workplace community and how it can scaffold and support during miserable times.

The first indicator of support was the ability of staff to talk openly and kindly to each other about death and their personal responses to it, raising very deep feelings, bringing up memories, focusing people on the transitory nature of time and making us think about our own mortality.   I take an Irish approach to death which is to grieve in whatever way feels right but most importantly to celebrate that the person lived and contributed something to your life.  In essence, don’t be reluctant to say their name, remember them openly and describe how they touched your life.

In 2016 lots of the people who touched my life, however tentatively, died. David Bowie was my first teenage fascination, Alan Rickman had a voice that made me think of Christmas, Terry Wogan, reminded me of hilarious evenings listening to his commentary about the Eurovision, Famous people died 2016Ronnie Corbett from the Two Ronnies and Victoria Wood, great favourites in our house and the doleful tones of Leonard Cohen kept me company from my late teens. Last year I also lost my lovely friend Dave Perry who died suddenly leaving me very distressed and mournful.

This year, we cannot predict who will die and leave us bereft but we do know it will happen to someone.  I have been listening to many TED talks on death and grief and the message is consistent, talking and sharing is the healthiest way of dealing with the unbearable.  2017 must therefore start with a strong intention and every effort to build as much resilience and kindness in the organisation as possible so we can be the sort of community that can help each other as we face grief.


Take the Christmas Quiz and See if You Can Remember Anything From 2016!

Many of you have broken up this weekend (or broken down!) and the rest of us continue to work flat out until Christmas Eve (another reason to support nurseries designed to ensure parents can work!). So put on a red hat, sing along to the tune of Mariah Carey’ s greatest Christmas hit while pretending to be the Eggheads and do this quiz at your last staff meeting of the year!

June1 June2 June3




Questions Answers
1 Which Member of Parliament said in her maiden speech ‘I’m the only member of the house who at the age of 16 and pregnant was told ‘I wouldn’t amount to anything’’. a. Angela Rayner
b. Tracy Brabin
c. Heidi Allen
2 What percentage of school children in year six are now clinically obese? a. 19.8%
b. 24.7%
c. 29.8%
3 What % of nurseries are rated ‘Good’ by Ofsted? a. 86%
b. 91%
c. 95%
4 Who was the charming Breakfast TV presenter who interviewed Gill Jones from Ofsted this year? a. Charlie Stayt
b. Ben Shepard
c. Piers Morgan
5 How many local authorities are piloting 30 hours of free childcare before the national roll-out in September 2017? a. 8
b. 10
c. 25
6 Which charity went into administration in August? a. Kids Company
b. 4Children
c. Care Leavers Foundation
 7 What policy is causing the sector to have a recruitment crisis? a. GCSE A to C Maths and English
b. Certificate in Child Development
c. Functional Skills
 8 If Santa was traveling at 650 miles a second, how many homes would he need to visit to deliver all the world’s gifts? (Hope you have your GCSE Maths!) a. 756 per second
b. 822 per second
c. 1915 per second
 9 Who refused to back the appointment of Amanda Spielman as the New Ofsted Chief Inspector? (They did the same to Anne Longfield when appointed Children’s Commissioner) a.  Sir Michael Wiltshire
b. Education Select Committee
c.  Justine Greening
 10 In August the DfE promised that from 2018, local authorities will need to pass what minimum proportion of Government childcare funding to the early years providers as part of plans for a national funding formula? a. 72%
b. 89.5%
c. 95%

Bonus Question: Name these old favourites (take that whatever way you like!)

June 2June 1June 3June 4








Happy Christmas! Prepare yourself for more chaos and confusion in 2017!


Answers : 1 (a) 2 (a) 3 (b) 4 (c) 5 (a) 6 (b) 7 (a) 8 (b) 9 (b) 10 (b)

The London Challenge Roundtable

Last week, I began the week with a challenge to the security at City Hall. Arriving for a meeting with the Mayor’s Education Advisor, I popped my bag onto the security x-ray machine. As it went through, the security guard asked me to explain the strange items at the bottom.  Baffled, Kitchen drawI looked intently at an orange and blue x-ray image. It meant nothing to me until prompted by the guard, at which point I realised it was two packets of dinner knives I had bought from Poundland to restock our depleted kitchen drawer at Central Office.

Luckily , they had a sense of humour and they allowed me to proceed which is just as well as I was back at City Hall on Friday for a Roundtable, led by Deputy Mayor for Education and Childcare, Joanne McCartney,  to examine how we do more to address London’s Childcare Challenge, something I have already written about.

Right now I think London’s childcare and education sector is lucky that Mayor Sadiq Khan is taking our work seriously.  He has no statutory duties but he is a powerful advocate for us and maybe he can help us get the public to understand just what it is we do. He certainly has embedded the idea that childcare is central to the life of the city.  The phrase childcare as part of our infrastructure was very much in evidence.


This is important given the research findings that both the Family and Childcare Trust (FCT) and IPPR shared at the meeting.  None of this was a surprise :

  • Childcare in London remains unaffordable and that’s a huge issue as London is full of JAM


  • Childcare costs in London are higher
  • Childcare staff are leaving London along with the other care marchingstaff from police to fire officers, railway staff to teachers
  • The higher the deprivation, the lower the quality (a point also made by the Social Mobility Sate of the Nation report last week)
  • Existing subsidies are too diffused to make a cumulative financial contribution
  • Universal threshold too low for expensive parts of London
  • Maternal employment is lower in London
  • Higher numbers of parents need atypical hours.
  •  The Early Years Pupil Premium (EYPP) is not taken up consistently
  • Supply is an issue as 50% of Local Authorities are short of places for two year olds

What to do and some solutions? We need many more, so you’re welcome to send in answers on a postcard, but in the meantime here are a few that were shared :

  • Better planning with more demands on Section 106 planning power
  • Co-locate existing spaces (aren’t they children centres?)
  • Make better use of devolved budgets
  • Double the EYPP and make it easier to access
  • New housing must include childcare as part of the initial planning design, not as an afterthought
  • Co-commission health and education (good luck!)


  • Use Transport For London (TfL) to advertise the message about the power of good quality
    early years education
  • Ensure nursery staff are considered “key workers” for housing
  • Reduce the business rates
  • Find some buildings we can use through the Community Asset Transfer legislation
  • Build more housing for key working staff to stop the drain of key staff leaving the city.
  • Provide reduced or subsidised travel for low paid key staff

But here are my top three :

  • Advertise across TFL for Early Years staff
  • Create special London keyworker Oyster Card deals
  • Identify brownfield sites in London and build studio flats for staff working in essential London services and give nursery staff priority status.

And finally, we need to work together. London’s businesses need to be more involved to  filter money, to train and develop our staff through Local Economic Partnerships. (LEPs). Sadiq is the chair of the London LEP.

Of course, ultimately what we need is for our Mayor and the Deputy Mayor to drive a campaign that brings alive the important role Early Years plays in contributing to the economic and social fabric of London.

Can We Top Trump’s Childcare Policies?


Last week the US electorate put two fingers up to the neoliberal establishment and voted in Donald Trump to be the next president of the USA. While I, along with many others, watched in silent fascination as this was played out, I was also preparing to meet two politicians who may have a greater say in our world.

On Thursday evening we held the annual Margaret Horn Debate. The subject was a debate about the challenge of childcare in London. We hosted the newly appointed Deputy Mayor for Education and Childcare for London, Joanne McCartney.  I was chuffed to have her there as this is the first time that we have a dedicated Mayor for education and childcare, so a pat on the back to Sadiq Khan who has included this in his manifesto. Joanne was joined by colleagues to look at the wider issues including family friendly work spaces, the role of fathers and the huge issue of child poverty in London. child poverty blogChild poverty merits a blog of its own, but clearly childcare has a role to play in reducing it. I am keen that we understand that childcare is part of London’s infrastructure, so the discussion needs to address the cost of affordable housing and transport for staff as well as childcare featuring as part of the city’s economic partnerships.

Joanne has begun a process of listening including organising a roundtable. This is a good start along with accepting the challenge to make London a beacon of excellence. I modestly pointed out that she has a good start as LEYF is the largest provider in London and has the highest number of Outstanding and Good Ofsted results despite the areas within which we work! However, the audience made it clear that patience was limited and the infrastructure of childcare itself such as funding, recruitment and quality improvement needed immediate attention.

Later that week , I met Tulip Siddiq MP who is the newly appointed Shadow Minister for Early Years Education.  Clearly Tulip is smart and interested in her brief, particularly as she is a new Mum. She is also launching a Taskforce to look at childcare especially as a lever out of poverty.  As a London MP she is also aware of the specifics of London, although of course she has the country wide brief.


As with Joanne, I pointed out the impact of poor policy such as the recruitment crisis on early years education. This highlights inadequate funding but also the inability of politicians to relate the complexity of childcare as infrastructure to the public. The public need to understand the purpose of childcare, the state subsidy, the financial contribution and the power and trump populism toy storyimportance of childcare in evening out the widening disadvantage in Britain today. The Early Years sector has a fundamental role to play in social integration, bridging divides and including the marginalised at a time when the marginalised are increasingly turning to populist solutions (Brexit and Trump).

What does this look like in practice? Social integration is about more than mere words; our children spend time with the elderly, we give youth at risk work experience in our nurseries to give purpose and confidence, our settings get to know their local communities by being present outside of our nursery doors. This creates connections between divided peoples, in turn creates cultural capital and acts as a preventative measure against isolation and the myriad anti-social dangers that come with isolation.

This took me straight to Donald Trump.  Here is a man who had connected with the public, so watch this and see how he seduces the audience with promises of tax-reduced childcare including for those stay-at-home mums.

If Trump can teach us one thing, it could be how to influence the public to think the way you think and become your fans.  Even when he makes the baby cry, he makes his parents smile. So is there is a lesson here for our politicians?

Get the childcare message right and they might just win the day! !

Margaret Horn 2016 : The London Childcare Challenge

Margaret Horn

Margaret Horn

Every year during the November Global Enterprise Fortnight we host the Margaret Horn Debate to celebrate Social Enterprise Day. Margaret Horn was the first director of the charity that in 2008 become the social enterprise London Early Years Foundation (LEYF). I know very little about her, (despite our research) but I do know that she was a pupil of Octavia Hill, a woman I have always admired for her energy, ambition and social enterprise.


Last year we debated the importance of businesses being family friendly and it was a very popular theme and so therefore it seemed logical to continue the debate especially as we have a new London Mayor, Sadiq Khan (for those of you who have been sharing Sleeping Beauty’s glass box) who seems much more in touch with what needs to happen to support Londoners live well and work successfully. Certainly, during a visit to a LEYF nursery, our Mayor demonstrated a greater grasp that childcare is a crucial part of our city’s infrastructure, helping parents to work, improving children’s educational outcomes and helping narrow the achievement gap between disadvantaged children and their more affluent peers.


London has a lot of childcare challenges particularly if it is to provide the range of places. available to meet the number needed to put the number of children across our very diverse city.  We need to have sufficient staff to run the nurseries and provide the best service to all our children.  This is tricky as nurseries receive insufficient Government funding which is sorely felt in an expensive city where childcare costs are on average 23 per cent higher than the rest of England.  At LEYF we subsidise nearly 48% of places but that can’t be sustained given the increasing living costs and the difficulty of recruiting staff who can no longer afford to live in the city where housing costs are around 50% higher than the rest of the UK and transport costs overwhelming. I won’t comment on Southern, my local rail operator, just feel my pain.

When it comes to child poverty, 700,000 children living in London are below the poverty line, that is 37% of all children compared to 26% across the UK. Children in London are much more likely to live in poverty with 14 out of the top 20 local authorities with the highest rates of child poverty across the UK. Half of 0 to 19-year-olds in London (1.1. million) live in a family that receives tax credits. 640,000 children benefit from in-work tax credits. Poor children in London are less likely to be able to afford everyday items than those elsewhere in the country.

We need sufficient providers running sustainable services to offer the 15 funded hours childcare to local families, the Two Year Old offer as well as children with learning needs and disabilities.  That’s problematic as property costs in the city are exorbitant and there is no London funding for capital expenditure.  In a Huffington Post blog, I wrote in March this year, I raised the difficulties childcare providers face in London trying to keep childcare fees affordable when the Government subsidy still only meets half the cost of a place? I also commented on one of the many unintended consequences of poorly drafted Government policies which is resulting in the emergence of two-tier services with separate provision for those children on the ‘free offer.’

Finally, there also needs to be a bigger conversation with parents and the public about a wide range of issues such as what education for small children looks like in different settings, what that means for their children, limiting early and unnecessary transition to school and understanding why community nurseries are a good thing for children in London because they help create social capital by building local networks, reducing loneliness and nurturing community spirit.

This is a flavour of this year’s debate.

So, don’t lose hope. Join us for a lively discussion and debate with London’s first Deputy Mayor for Education and Childcare, Joanne McCartney alongside a panel of colleagues,  about how we can address the London Childcare Challenge together.

Sign up below for the Margaret Horn Debate on 10th November, 17.30 at the BT Centre, 81 Newgate Street (closest tube, St Pauls).



An Invitation to the 2016 Autumn London Big Ofsted Conversation


Dear Colleagues

It’s time for the next London OBC, please come. It’s long overdue.  We had planned the next one around our invitation to the new Chair of Ofsted David Hoare.  Having sorted the date, he could not come as unfortunately he had to resign ( having upset the Isle of Wight).  It’s a shame really because his language about the state of poverty in the Isle of Wight may have been clumsy and crass, I think his heart was in the right place. He was the first Ofsted Trustee in a long time who was considering how Ofsted could play its part in reducing child poverty.

However, we now have a date, a venue and an agenda.

When ?                                                  17th October

Where?                                                 Bain & Company, 40 The Strand, London

What Time?                                         14:00 – 17:00

How to Book?                                     Eventbrite link :                                                                                               conversation-greater-london-open-meeting-                                                                                             tickets-28217523372

Who is coming from Ofsted?            Gill Jones, Director

For those of you new to the OBC, everyone who runs a setting in London and beyond is welcome.  It’s a first come, first served approach.

The OBC was set up in 2013 initially by me but now run locally across the country by great Early Years colleagues.  It is our response to what had become a very toxic relationship between the sector and Ofsted.  We thought it better if we developed a means of having a good conversation to iron out our differences and make improvements.  After all, the best regulator and inspector has a mature and respectful relationship with those they inspect and regulate. The process has worked and we have a much better relationship with Ofsted because of this joint effort.  However, we need to keep the conversation going. Currently, the regions are led by volunteer chairs including but not exclusive:

Mandy Richardson (Cornwall)

Cheryl Hadland (South West) 

Ken McArthur (Yorkshire and Humber) 

Kate Peach (South East) 

Sarah McKenzie (South East) 

Linda Baston-Pitt (East of England) 

Jo Verill (North East) 

Jennie Johnson (North West) 

Jo Kinloch (North West) 

Kala Patel ( East Midlands)

Nazma Meah (West Midlands)

Every region runs its OBC slightly differently to take account needs and timings but we all do it on a voluntary basis. At our annual Chairs meeting we set the basic agenda for the year and then add issues as they arrive. I will add them below.

 October Meeting Business Agenda


  • Welcome
  • Reflections on ‘Unknown Children : Destined for Disadvantage’ report
  • Update on new Chair
  • Progress on Ofsted training inspectors
  • EYFS changes (nutrition)
  • British values review
  • Clarification on references (good practice / compliance)
  • Inspection for the 30 hours
  • Childminder agency update
  • Progress of Scrutiny Panels
  • Closing remarks

If you want to learn more about the structure of the OBC, its regionally driven goals and guide to Ofsted, go to

 Ofsted Actions from the Last OBC

These can be found at

They are as follows :

  • Ofsted to consider notification time of inspections at the next contractors and notification services meeting.
  • Ofsted to keep British Values on the OBC agenda
  • Ofsted to ensure that CMs be invited to join a panel given 47,000 cms are still registered with Ofsted
  • Scrutiny Panel Members attending OBC to add feedback to OBC website
  • Ofsted to review the wording of the Single Registration and consider maintaining the existing wording which work.
  • Ofsted to engage with the sector with regards to the setting of fees.
  • Ofsted will examine their role in this policy development paying attention to how this affects them as the sole arbiter of quality.  For discussion at next OBC
  • OBC members to actively engage and use OBC website as a useful central info point

 Regional Action (not addressed by the agenda):

1. The Revised Inspection Framework

Key Questions:

  • How will the same framework work in early years settings and schools if they have different regulatory systems?
  • When will all settings judged satisfactory be re-inspected?
  • How will Ofsted ensure a level playing field when inspecting two-year olds in schools vs early years settings
  • When will Ofsted be ready to run ‘paid for inspection’? Ofsted are currently awaiting sign-off from the DfE which sets the regulations for fee and framework?
  • How will the promise that from September 2015, everybody will be given a half-day notice of an inspection although Ofsted retain the right to unannounced inspections?
  • When will there be a Handbook for the revised framework?


2. Complaints

Key Questions:

  • How can a complaints process without independent arbitration be justified (power to overturn a decision as well as determining if complaints process has been followed)?
  • Has the drop in complaint-led inspections continued?
  • Has the reduction in the number of RI/inadequate judgements stabilised?
  • What has this meant for the sector with regards to provision, especially nurseries unable to take funded children?
  • How do we help childminders navigate the process of complaints?
  • How can we resolve the problem of the complaints document being so difficult to find on the Government website?
  • What happens to inspectors after it has been proven that they have not been truthful?
  • We need to collect quarterly statistical data on complaints completed, upheld and the outcomes

3. Calibre and Integrity of inspectors to ensure fair inspections.

Key Questions:

  • Can we have data about qualifications of ISP inspectors?
  • How are we collecting evidence and then challenging nonsense (minor issues and opinion issues causing inadequate evidence)
  • What will Ofsted do about conflicts of interest, for example, where inspectors are consultants or competitors in the same regions? They inspect and tout for business cash for questions.

 4. Childminding and Childminding inspection

 Key Questions:

  • What is happening about childminding agencies locally?
  • What are the numbers of childminders locally? Is this decreasing?

 Ofsted quality of care pic


Encouraging Women to the top

Are you a feminist from the 1970s ?

Did you look forward to reading the monthly Spare Rib?

Was your diary the Spare Rib diary?

Spare rib

Have posters by Claire Bretecher on your wall?

Claire Bretecher

Buy your books from Virago Press ?

Were you a member of the local Wimmin’s Group?

Ha, you laugh, what was all that about? What did we want: a job, a career, a voice, free childcare, equal pay?

Well, this week I attended a number of events about the same issues but with a 21st century twist. I was a guest at the @ForwardLadies awards lunch and was delighted to see my friend and fellow social entrepreneur Jenny Holloway from Fashion Enter win the Social Enterprise category.

The wonderful  Michelle Wright from Cause 4,  who invests in women becoming social entrepreneurs, received the Highly Commended place. The speech was given by Linda Plant who told her story from starting a hosiery stall aged 15  with her mother in Sheffield Market to her role on The Apprentice.

Earlier I met Servane Mouzan from Ogunte. Servane is a great supporter of women in social enterprise from across the world. She has built a Make a Wave, a series of incubator programmes to build a network of women social entrepreneurs across the world and is now building a means of helping women better understand the learning steps that leads to leadership transformation.

This is all timely for me as I prepare a presentation on Encouraging Women to the Top for the Australia’s Women in Business, Special Interests Group.

But why do we need to continue to push for women to get fully involved in business in 2016? Because gender balanced businesses are better all round. This is why I encourage men into childcare.

But it’s also about how women build a succession plan for more women. Paul Hastings’ Breaking the Glass Ceiling Report Cards continually proves the benefit of having women on Boards in terms of good business decisions and sustainability. A recent report in the Harvard Business Press by Sahil Raina (July 2016) found that the success of business growth and exit was much improved where women invested in other women. This is something we need to see much more.  On a big scale there are organisations like Women Moving Millions.  However, I count my membership on the CAN investment Board  as small progress given that we are in the unusual position of women constituting half of the Investment Board.

If you are a woman who also happens to be an entrepreneur or an aspiring entrepreneur, you could do worse than consider Linda Plant’s advice:

  • Have a vision
  • Walk before you can run
  • Recognise and take opportunities, they won’t come to you
  • Be sensible
  • Trust your instincts
  • Stay ahead of the game
  • See the future – be connected
  • Build a team
  • Stay passionate and driven
  • Remember that success doesn’t come with a banner

So, the state of play for women in business is that it has moved on since the 1970s but that was 40 years ago! I remember my children saying to me, “ Mummy,  we are doing history in school, we are studying the 60s”. My, did I feel old but perked up with the retort, “ ah modern history!”  Let’s avoid having a similar conversation with our granddaughters.