Ofstead withdraws ‘intrusive’ guidance for childminders for disclosing depression

Ofstead withdrew guidance, suggesting that childminders should notify watchdogs if they have depression or bereaved after criticism that the requirement would be “intrusive.”

That guidance, which was first published on Wednesday, called for ofstead-registered childminders, nannies or day-care providers to report “any significant incident” that could affect their “suitability” to care for the children at the inspectorate. can affect.

Events listed include those that “increased anxiety, difficulty, or emotional problems (this may include bereavement, illness, or injury)”.

The Offstead guidance, which was withdrawn on Thursday, said: “You should report these critical events as soon as practicable, but in any case within 14 days from the date the incident occurred.

“If you fail to inform us you may commit a crime.”

Examples of health reasons where Offstead would need to be notified include “changes in mental health”, including depression or emotional issues, or “any other condition that causes anxiety, panic attacks, mood swings, or anger.”

Childcare providers were also instructed to let Ofstead know if they were receiving income support because of a new illness or health condition.

Speaking to the PA news agency before the guidance was removed, National Day Nursery Association spokesman Jonathan Broadberry said: “It’s a very comprehensive list, it’s a very intrusive and personal kind of information, and it’s information. Which people do not want to disclose.

“It’s very worrying because it’s quite unclear how far it will spread among employees working in these types of settings, and so you’re asking employers to get information from employees,” he said. said.

He added that “people would also be hung” in terms of guidance on committing crimes if the information was not disclosed.

A nursery owner based in the West Midlands who spoke to PA before the guidance was lifted said: “It’s the level of intrusion into my and my staff’s lives that I think is causing the most stress.

“What is Ofstead actually going to do with this information and how are they going to use it?”

He added that “the fact that they are asking specifically about mental health, which clearly has a lot of stigma attached to it” was of genuine concern, while questions about members of staff’s financial status “We’re absolutely crazy – that’s too intrusive”.

We welcome that this guideline has been withdrawn while it has been thoroughly reviewed.NDA chief executive Poornima Tanuku

On questions about mental health, the nursery owner, who wished to remain anonymous, said: “I can well imagine it’s just mental health being stigmatized and the staff going to suffer silently.”

The owner said that if Offstead was deemed a member of staff unfit to work with the children because of a health condition, he would have no choice but to sack him and feared it would lead to an employment tribunal. can.

The link to the guidance now says: “The information on this page has been removed because it was published in error.”

The watchdog has said the publication is now “under review”.

Cheryl Hadland of Topps Day Nursery in Dorset told PA: “I’m so glad they’ve got it back, obviously, because when I read it last night… I thought ‘Oh my god, what have they done? “

He said that nurseries have already submitted information regarding changes in managerial staff, safety issues and maintenance work along with COVID cases.

“We’ve already had to do a huge amount of notification, but it was really more than anything we’ve done thorough — to notify them every time that a member of staff is suffering from depression — would you? Can you imagine how it would be?

“In the middle of the Covid pandemic?

“I mean, just put us all down for this, thanks!”

“Say I had a miscarriage, and I didn’t tell them, how would they ever know?

“So it’s completely unenforceable, it’s also incredibly intrusive,” she said, noting that some providers had told her they would close their businesses since this guidance came out.

Purnima Tanuku, chief executive of the National Day Nursery Association (NDNA), said on Thursday: “We have had an urgent meeting with Ofstead regarding the guidance document where we have shared the concerns of the sector.

“We welcome that this guidance has been completely removed during the review.

“We understand that it will be clarified that the Guidance will apply only to a registered person whose suitability is verified by Ofstead at the time of registration.”

A spokesperson for Ofsted said: “We put together this guidance in response to a survey we conducted where early-year providers told us they wanted more clarity about the things they needed to know about to Offstead. Needs to be reported, such as an incident or health problem.

“There was nothing new in the guidance.

“Reporting to Ofstead has always been a requirement of the EYFS (Early Years Foundation Stage).

“However, we understand that the guidance has caused some confusion, so we have removed it when reviewing it to clarify.”