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Spotlight On NNEB Childminder Rachel Gadd

Awarded Outstanding by Ofsted
Gold Standard NNEB

December 2019

NNEB Rachel Gadd is a Childminders, she is an Outstanding Ofsted achiever and has kindly agreed to an interview by Karen Carter NNEB.


Hi Rachel


Congratulations on receiving “Outstanding” for your second Ofsted inspection under the new EIF (The Education Inspection Framework) and for allowing us to interview you.


Please tell us about your place of work, your job title and how long you have been working in your current role?

Thanks for inviting me to be interviewed.

When I was just 16 I started working at my local village preschool when I was on study leave from school for my O’ Levels and CSEs. I trained as an NNEB in 1988 – 90 and have worked in Early Years provision ever since. Post qualification, I worked as a private nanny for a couple of years, then became a nursery nurse at a private day nursery in 1992, where I quickly climbed to deputy manager, then manager by 1998.

I continued in private nurseries for several years until I left and had my son, who is now almost 18. When he was two and a half, he started preschool and I began working as a preschool deputy to enable me to have school holidays free to spend time with him. Once he started school I moved to a struggling village preschool as a manager to take on the seemingly impossible task of increasing numbers so as to create a financially viable setting. Within 12 months this was a task complete and I remained there until my son began secondary school at which point I wanted to try something new.

I was tired of dealing with staffing issues after 20+ years in management and was ready for a quieter life, so I registered as a Childminder in 2014 and haven’t looked back since.

I love my life and my setting, I love the closeness I have with the children in my care and their families and I love that I am using my NNEB training, my skills and original love of my job to provide a wonderfully fulfilling setting for those who choose me as their Early Years provider.


Why did you decide to work in childcare and what have you enjoyed about it the most?

I decided to work in childcare after my older cousin, whom I adored, completed the NNEB training 8 years before me. She used to be my babysitter and would show me things she had created at college, talk to me about how lovely it was learning her work in her placements and how much she enjoyed helping younger children to learn and achieve new skills. This became my sole focus at the age of 8 right up until I left school to go to college myself.

What do I enjoy the most? Such a difficult question to answer, I love all aspects of my role, I really love singing, creative and outdoor play, I love piquing the children’s curiosity and watching them explore new and exciting things in the world around them. I love to support children in becoming confident and school ready young learners, who with the raw wonder of childhood develop a natural passion for discovery.


What part of the NNEB training do you feel most benefit you and which part did you enjoy the most?

On reflection, I think the placements were the most beneficial part of my NNEB experience. Really seeing how other adults in the sector worked with the children they cared for, getting a bit of working experience whilst also receiving the underpinning knowledge of early childhood development at college. Some days and placements were more difficult than others, my first Longitudinal study was with a family with a brand new baby (number three in the family) who was born with Cystic Fibrosis, this was a shock to everyone and at 16, I found it too difficult to work alongside them and change families.

I particularly enjoyed the psychology lessons – it’s an area I’m still interested in now – and I remember very much looking forward to our weekly lesson at college.


How was the Ofsted inspection and what is your opinion on the new EIF?

I was inspected only 5 weeks into the new EIF, I was incredibly nervous about the day, but really needn’t have been! The inspector was very nice, totally reassuring and as soon as she walked through my door I knew I’d be OK throughout the inspection process.

I pulled out all my NNEB training, the skills and expertise I’ve gained since qualifying and talked to her continuously about my passion for getting it right for the children in my care.

The inspector didn’t ask to view my paperwork, but I offered her some to look at during times when I was busy with the children.

She asked the usual safeguarding questions, but mostly she observed my work and her report reflects this extremely accurately. I was thrilled to receive an ‘outstanding’ grading, the first time in 30 years I’ve achieved it. I felt it was the most natural feeling inspection I have ever experienced and was able to settle easily into my daily rhythm.

I love the new EIF, I truly believe it enables us to show off our settings to their highest standards, it gives us the opportunity to explain our own knowledge of what we are doing for each child and why. An opportunity to really showcase ourselves and our settings.


If you could talk to a politician or policymaker in government, what advice would you give them about how early childhood education and care and inspections could be improved?

I’d advise them that first and foremost we need to extend the years of play-based learning for children, I’d encourage them to look at Scandinavian models of education and let our British children follow a similar approach. Give them time to get their brains and bodies fully synchronized before we force them to sit up straight and still at tables, barely able to focus for more than 5 minutes, let alone hold a pencil securely. Give them more years of the play and practice for learning their bodies and brains need before the tables even enter the classrooms. Also ensure that the sector is funded appropriately, pay providers the amount it costs to offer parents their ‘free’ hours. Or make it clearer to parents that their hours are subsidized and not actually free.

I do feel that an improvement in inspections is already happening, any inspection will be stressful, but I do feel strongly that, unless it’s an inspection from a safeguarding concern, settings should receive a few days’ notice. This will give managers time to put the staff at ease, inform parents properly and give everyone the opportunity to ensure their setting is the best it can be on inspection day – In my experience, staff under pressure do not always work to their best ability and being able to prepare properly will reduce stress in many cases.



What makes you optimistic about the future of early childhood education and care and what do you think are the biggest challenges for working in the profession?

Positive changes in provision are happening, more and more providers are becoming increasingly aware of (and educated about the need for) early childhood wellbeing within the setting provision. The introduction of forest Schools, Forest Childcare, The Curiosity Approach and In The Moment Planning, for example, are all benefitting children’s mental health at a young age by ensuring their true holistic needs are being nurtured and met from their very earliest experiences away from their parents. Staff are being trained to increasingly higher standards and the bar is continuously rising in manager expectations of their staff.

My main concern is the level of disregard early childhood provision receives from non-providers. We are a massively important workforce, yet we are continuously undervalued, underpaid and expectations on our services increase year after year. The lack of appropriate funding is slowly killing us and one by one settings are closing at what seems an alarming rate.

More needs to be done to improve our status within society.

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Photos courtesy of Rachel Gadd NNEB

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