Maybe it was nothing to do with me, but Ofsted have just pulled back from the idea of charging parents for their CRB check if they want to volunteer to help run their local preschools. The ‘campaign’ as it was ended up being short and sweet (this was only Phase One). I know that childminders within our sector are also fighting the idea of agencies, and I thought it might be useful to pass on the steps I took. I don’t know what, if anything, proved to be the catalyst for the change of heart. I just hope that this is helpful as I think the early years sector is hugely valuable yet hugely undervalued. The #rewindonratios campaign highlighted just how passionate we are about our children. Many thanks to my Twitter friend @leoarnawrites for alerting me to the issue which is close to her heart as well.
1. Clarify the exact position by speaking several times to the government organisations involved. This required about 3 hours on the phone to Ofsted, the DBS and the DfE. Take notes as you speak and get at least a first name. They escalated me pretty quickly from the general helpline at Ofsted and I got a call back from someone who could actually try and do something.
2. Write a blog explaining what’s going on.
3. Tweet it to everyone.
4. Get a ‘freelance journalist’ on board (hey, that’s anyone who writes articles and gets paid for it, you don’t need some special licence). Contact as many news outlets as you can. I tried about 5 different ones likely to be sympathetic to the cause. The PSLA were happy to support me in the idea of the potential for an article if the issue didn’t get sorted out.
5. Contact the relevant press offices. In this case I spoke to the DfE to explain that I was writing an article, then emailed full details to them as asked.
6. Submit a Petition to the Government. You’re going to need 100,000 signatures, so realistically this is unlikely to succeed. Mine got rejected yesterday (apparently it wasn’t specific enough, despite saying ‘don’t charge volunteers’) but perhaps someone read it and it added to the whispers.
7. Contact organisations that are likely to support your cause. I was in regular touch with the Charities Commission, the NCVO and the PSLA. All were brilliantly supportive and all looked for ways to help me.
8. Find other ‘similar’ organisations within your sector that are ‘pet projects’ of the Government. Obviously I mentioned the ‘Big Society’ at every turn. I also contacted the Press Office at Teach First, asking them for information so I could compare the differing approaches taken by Government to small and large educational charities within the article.
9. Remember, all Governments worry about public opinion. Remind everyone you speak to that your cause is on behalf of hard working people, who are simply trying to support their local community and their local children.
And then, just as I was about to invent a hashtag I got a phone call. I can’t upload the letter as it’s marked private, but put simply, there will be no charges on volunteer committee members working at preschools, beyond an £8 admin fee. Hurrah!