Over a cup of coffee in the FSF HQ kitchen ...\u00a0\n \n\n\n\tSo Tim, how did someone with an IT background find their way into a full time early years career?\n \n\n\n\tIt was my wife\u0027s fault! She\u00a0began childminding as a way to stay at home when our daughter was born. Parenthood came very naturally to me, so after being made redundant from an IT role, I joined my wife and we spent the next few years as co-childminders.\u00a0I felt very privileged\u00a0to be able to look after other people\u0027s children and it was a joy to be able to look after my own!\n \n\n\n\tChildminding is difficult isn\u0027t it? Using your own home as a base for your work poses particular challenges!\u00a0\n \n\n\n\tDefinitely. Although we weren\u0027t to start with,\u00a0we are now large for a childminder which takes up even more room in my home! Luckily I love what I do. When we started it was just me and my wife and it was a much smaller operation. Now,\u00a0we have gone to quite a grand scale! To accommodate this I had to make a rather large alteration to our home - I created\u00a0a dedicated space for play from what was the double garage. Other rooms in our home are still recognisable as \u0027family\u0027 rooms though - the garage on the other hand, not so much!!\n \n\n\n\tHow did your own children react to having others in their home, presumably using toys that they considered to be \u0027theirs\u0027?\n \n\n\n\tThere are pros and cons for my own children. When they were younger, it was like having friends round to play every day, and I was around to take and collect them from school allowing me to play a more active role in their childhood. As they have grown and now attend senior school, they never walk into an empty house and enjoy having people around. On the other hand, their bedrooms have cots in them and when they come in and need to relax, there is a lot going on. But they have grown up with this being the norm and are very accustomed to it.\u00a0 \n \n\n\n\tHow does it\u00a0work having more than one childminder working in the same space? Doesn\u0027t that make you \u0027childcare on domestic premises\u0027? Can you clarify the difference for me?\n \n\n\n\tThe EYFS allows for up to three childminders to work together, before being classified as Childcare on Domestic Premises. As a childminder, the ratios and some of the rules are different from Childcare on Domestic Premises, which is far more similar to being a nursery or preschool. Our small team consists of three registered childminders and two assistants. We have a maximum of three people working at any one time, looking after up to 9 early years children. We care for children from birth to school age and provide some wrap-around and school holiday care.\n \n\n\n\tSo we know a little bit about your provision now\u00a0but it must have been somewhat different when you were starting out?\n \n\n\n\tIndeed!\u00a0Initially, as a husband and wife team, I found myself taking care of the business \u2013 policies, procedures, invoicing, bookkeeping and accounts, etc. This gradually changed as I became more and more involved with the children and found a passion for observing and extending their play and watching their development. So to start with I wasn\u0027t much about the \u0027care and education\u0027 I was keeping the business going. It was pretty challenging\u00a0at\u00a0first! In order for both of us to be there, we needed to grow\u00a0quickly\u00a0to ensure that we were financially viable. Then there was the issue of making sure we were\u00a0conforming with requirements of registration and EYFS. There are a lot of policies and paperwork required that you may not expect with a small, home-based business - it certainly kept me on my toes!\u00a0\n \n\n\n\tSo what happened next?\u00a0\n \n\n\n\tOver time, we needed to evolve and expand to meet the demands of parents locally. This meant that we were evolving\u00a0from a small childminder into a fully-fledged early years setting. This happened quite naturally and growth was based on demand. It did mean though that I needed to look again at how we were using our family home for both business and personal circumstances. Creating dedicated facilities within the home environment was driven by the desire to give children the best possible experience, and not in an environment that is packed away at the end of each day. Then, my wife decided that early years was no longer for her and wanted\u00a0to step away from the\u00a0business ... it was at that point that I\u00a0really found the passion for what I do. This was a pivotal moment. I needed to make an important decision -\u00a0do we both do something new, or do I continue on my own? I did not want to abandon all that I had accomplished or the relationships that I had made with the children and their families. So, decision made, from this point on\u00a0I recruited skilled, experienced people to work with me and I returned to university, qualifying as an Early Years Teacher.\n \n\n\n\tYou\u0027ve had a lot of experience\u00a0as a childminder, what have been your highest \u0027highs\u0027 and your lowest \u0027lows\u0027? I know that in early years we can become overwhelmed by circumstances\u00a0that seem to conspire against\u00a0us - and then suddenly\u00a0something\u00a0amazing or funny happens ...\u00a0\n \n\n\n\tThe highs happen each and every day. It\u2019s the small things: a child who thinks they can\u2019t, realising they can. An overjoyed parent seeing what their child is achieving.\u00a0Seeing children grow and develop, often from very small babies right up to leaving for school. It is a hugely rewarding career and I am hugely privileged to share the children\u2019s achievements with them.\n \n\n\n\tThe lows? Dealing with safeguarding issues, parents who don\u2019t engage, inspections that don\u2019t go as well as you hope. These things can be heart breaking and demoralising but can always be turned into positives, helping to evaluate yourself and make a difference in children\u2019s lives.\n \n\n\n\tSo now that you are established, what are your main challenges?\n \n\n\n\tWorking as a man in a female dominated profession has presented its challenges. It is rare that I have found myself disadvantaged in this respect, but it is difficult attending courses, etc. and mixing when you are the only man in the room. Sometimes you are practically ignored, sometimes you are a novelty. Some parents actively seek out a male role model for their children, whereas some prefer their child\u0027s key person to be female. But without exception, the children have no concept of gender stereotypes. Obviously for my setting, financial sustainability is a constant challenge. The amount that parents pay for childcare is a huge hit from the salary of an average working parent. But the cost of providing the care is\u00a0not insubstantial. I have welcomed the government\u2019s commitment to funding early years education, although in its current form it does not cover the costs of providing the high-quality childcare that I strive to offer.\n \n\n\n\tThat\u0027s all pretty hard to take I know, so what keeps you going?\n \n\n\n\tThe children. Watching children develop, grow and achieve. Helping to extend their learning and sharing their successes. Watching a child\u2019s face light up as understanding dawns or when you see a child achieve\u00a0something they thought unachievable.\u00a0\n \n\n\n\tSo what does a \u0027typical\u0027 day look like for you?\n \n\n\n\t\t6:30am setting up for the day. Open the door at 7am. Breakfast and a chilled start to the day for the children arriving early.\n\t \n\t\n\t\tBy 9am, indoor and outdoor child led play.\u00a0\n\t \n\n\tSorry to interrupt you! What\u0027s the best \u0027adult led\u0027 activity you have done this week? Why did you plan it?\n \n\n\n\tThis week we have thought about Remembrance Sunday. We have made poppies out of our handprints and made them into a wreath. On Friday, we took the children to the local memorial and laid the wreath. We asked parents and grandparents to talk to their children about family and those no longer with us, and share this with us for us to talk about.\n \n\n\n\tWe have also started to think about Christmas! Yesterday, the children made a Christmas cake, measuring out ingredients, pouring, mixing, stirring and seeing their efforts bear fruit. We create pictorial ingredients and recipes so the children can follow the steps themselves.\n \n\n\n\tAnd in terms of child led? What are your mindees particularly \u0027into\u0027 at the moment?\n \n\n\n\tOne of the children came in this week having watched \u201cThe Good Dinosaur\u201d at home. She immediately found a tub full of dinosaurs on arrival and started playing with them. We took the opportunity to go out into the garden and find leaves, grass and sticks, so we could create a dinosaur world in a tough tray. Watching the other children choosing to engage in this and the ideas evolving is a joy to behold. We ended up with caves for the dinosaurs to live in and a pond for drinking and baths.\n \n\n\n\t\tSnacks throughout the day. Lunch at 12pm, dinner at 4.30pm.\n\t \n\t\n\t\tChildren will be encouraged to participate in specific adult initiated play as and when this is seen as useful to extending children\u2019s learning or to observe specific areas of development.\n\t \n\t\n\t\t6pm \u2013 collapse in a heap.\n\t \n\n\tWe\u00a0know you really well and we know how fulfilling you find your work and how keen you are to do your absolute best for the children in your care\u00a0- but how do you keep this level of enthusiasm up? Who inspires you?\n \n\n\n\tObviously the children are the biggest inspiration, having come to this later in my career I can honestly say that it\u2019s the most rewarding job ever! When I did my EYT qualification I learnt to watch and listen to other experienced early years professionals. So, I would say educators, especially those at the University of Brighton, have had a big influence on me and keep me motivated and excited about\u00a0what I do. I\u0027m always impressed at how much they know\u00a0and how this helps us understand\u00a0how children develop\u00a0and consequently how we can support them to achieve their potential. Similarly, I\u0027m so grateful for the way in which the team at Brighton\u00a0turned proficient child carer (me) into a truly skilled early years educator who can have\u00a0a real impact on the outcomes for\u00a0children. I\u0027m also inspired by the team at FSF HQ, their individual knowledge and skills are impressive and\u00a0when we all work together to make the FSF and Tapestry better\u00a0we are really quite something! It\u0027s exciting to be part of that!\n \n\n\n\tHa! Thanks Tim, we like working\u00a0with you too!\n \n\n\n\tSo looking to the future, what are your hopes and aspiration both for your setting and for the early years agenda as a whole?\n \n\n\n\tWell, in the first instance, I wish that\u00a0early years education was given the same status as the rest of the education system, we do rather seem to be an \u0027afterthought\u0027 yet all the research shows that investment and quality in early years sows the seeds of success for future generations. I wish there was enough money to do all the things we need to do - rather than just scraping by. This would mean enough money to pay staff a decent wage and to fund ongoing CPD. I\u0027d like there to be enough money to provide inspiring resources and environments\u00a0for children to thrive in. And then obviously, enough money to be able to pay for these things without putting prices up for parents.\u00a0I wish that there was more support available to settings from local authority and government regulators, with funding so scarce \u0027support\u0027 seems to be when something\u00a0has gone wrong, not when something needs celebrating\u00a0and\u00a0disseminating to other settings. I also\u00a0would like to see more onus put on educating our early years workforce, qualifying them to use their professional judgement, rather than relying on statements and predetermined behaviours to measure children\u2019s development.\u00a0\n \n\n\n\tThanks Tim, it\u0027s been interesting hearing\u00a0about your life away from us here at FSF... now that you\u0027ve finished chatting, could you possible get on with fixing Sue\u0027s computer?!\n \n\n\n\t[Tim rushes off, waving]\n \n\n\n\t\u00a0\n \n
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