Thinking of becoming a childminder in the UK? Childminding can be a really rewarding and fulfilling career choice. We’ve got you covered with the ultimate guide to getting started.
What is a childminder?
Even if you’ve heard of childminding before, the role is easily confused with nursery work and nannying. If you’re just starting your journey towards becoming a childminder, you’ll want a clear understanding of the role.
Childminders are self-employed and usually work from their own homes. Every childminder in the UK needs to be registered, either with Ofsted or an Ofsted-approved childminder agency. And, to secure your registration, you have to have a background check, a reference check, and be checked with social services. This strict vetting process is to ensure the children in your care are safe.
Childminders are a hugely popular form of childcare. Sitting somewhere in between nannies and nurseries, the small adult-to-child ratio and personalised setting make childminders really desirable to parents. If you become a childminder, you’ll find no shortage of families in need of your services.
Are you a parent looking for childminders in London? Read our guide here.
What traits and skills do childminders need?
The biggest thing you need to have to be a successful childminder is a genuine interest in children! You’ll be spending all your working hours with tiny humans, so it’s essential that you enjoy their company and are passionate about their development.
The basic requirements to become a childminder are:
- To be over 18.
- To have a home environment you can use – it doesn’t need to be big but you do need permission from anyone else who lives there and your landlord, if you rent.
- You and anyone you live with that is over 16 will be DBS checked, so anything on a criminal record will come to light.
- You need to be fit and well enough to work with children, confirmed by a health declaration from your GP.
Some of the other key skills you need to be a great childminder:
- Plenty of patience.
- Generally good organisational and administrative skills – although at Koru Kids we help our childminders with all the paperwork.
- An interest in early years education and child-rearing philosophies.
- Being adaptable and flexible when it comes to your home environment and space.
- Effective communication skills with people of all ages and backgrounds.
What is Ofsted?
Ofsted is the Office for Standards in Education, Children’s Services and Skills, and it is a Government department. They don’t just oversee childminders; they are responsible for inspecting educational services across all age groups and sectors (including schools).
Ofsted vs Childminder Agencies
If you’ve decided to become a registered childminder, you have two options – you can register as a childminder directly with Ofsted, or register as a childminder through an accredited agency. Koru Kids are an Ofsted-registered childminder agency. This means we have the statutory power to carry out inspections and manage our childminders to the required legal standards.
Is registering with Ofsted better?
Many childminders find dealing directly with Ofsted difficult and stressful. If you choose to register with them, you’ll need to:
- Arrange your own DBS checks and your own training. This includes paediatric first aid, safeguarding, the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS), food hygiene and working with children with special educational needs or disabilities. This will cost several hundred pounds.
- Get your home ready. You’ll need to take out professional childminder insurance, purchase equipment and toys and make it safe for young children. This again could cost several hundred pounds.
- Wait for approval. Once you’re ready to be inspected and you’ve submitted your application to Ofsted, you may need to wait a few months for a visit from one of their inspectors who can sign you off as a qualified childminder. You have no idea if you are good enough to pass until the day itself.
- Do your own paperwork. Before launching, you’ll need to put together a comprehensive set of policies, contracts and processes to make sure you stay compliant with Ofsted, the EYFS and to protect yourself. You’ll also need to pay for and register with the ICO (Information Commissioner’s Officer.
- Finally, you’re ready to go. Next step – find some children to look after. You’ll need to do your own marketing to reach local families.
What support does a childminding agency offer?
The difference when registering with an accredited childminder agency like Koru Kids is significant. A good childminding agency should make it as simple as possible for you to successfully qualify as a childminder and get your business up and running. Koru Kids offer:
- Free training and setup. Apart from your GP health check (which is ~£50) we cover all the costs of your training, insurance, DBS, ICO cover and local authority checks. This saves you up to £3000 in upfront costs.
- Thorough but friendly inspections. You’ll have a registration visit with one of our friendly team members as soon as you’ve completed our online training program.
- Fast turnaround. We can get you up and running in as little as 8 weeks.
- Help finding families. We market you to our database of 1000’s of families so you fill your spaces fast.
- Educational resources. We provide an activity bank of ideas and support planning week to week, based on a unique outdoor learning ethos and the EYFS.
- Help running your business. We help with things like tax, pensions, and business planning.
- Friendly, approachable service. As your business grows, you never need to deal with Ofsted yourself. No scary inspections!
What childminder courses do I need to complete?
You need to complete specific training courses to become a qualified childminder. Before you can register, you have to pass:
- Safeguarding training
- A childminding course that meets EYFS (and your local council’s) standards
- A paediatric-specific first aid course
- Additional training in food hygiene
If you’re looking for these yourself, there are a number of providers who offer standalone childcare courses. The content of the courses – and the cost – can vary wildly. Sifting through your options can be overwhelming.
At Koru Kids, we’ve broken down our training as follows:
- Safeguarding Training
- Early Years Foundation Stage Training
- Safe Sleep, Introduction to Food Hygiene and What To Expect At Your Pre-Registration Assessment Visit training (E-Learning). This goes above and beyond the minimum requirements, but we think they’re really important things to learn. Aside from being invaluable preparation for the job, we know parents expect childminders to be well qualified. We want you to be truly confident in your ability to help children thrive.
- Paediatric First Aid
Some of the basics you’ll cover in safeguarding training are:
- Becoming familiar with the ‘safeguarding spectrum’ and how children can be harmed
- Recognising and describing indicators of child abuse and neglect
- Understanding your role and responsibilities in safeguarding and promoting children’s welfare
- Knowing what to do if you are concerned about a child
- Knowing how to share concerns about another adult’s behaviour
Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) training
EYFS training will ensure you:
- Understand the principles of the EYFS and how they apply
- Know the learning and development requirements of children, applying a sequenced approach
- Identify appropriate activities for children at every age
- Properly prepare your home learning environment
Additional childminder courses
Koru Kids offer three modules of e-learning as part of our childminder training schedule:
- Safe Sleep Training will train you to safely facilitate sleeps and naps in your home
- Food Hygiene ensures you can safely prepare and deliver food for your children
- Pre-Registration Assessment Visit training takes you through the expectations for your at-home visit
Paediatric First Aid
Your final course, Paediatric First Aid training, is 12 hours in total – 6 hours in person and 6 hours online. The course covers choking, seizures, burns, bleeds and shock, meningitis, minor injuries and extreme temperatures.
The cost of all this training is covered by us, at a value of £3,000. Once you complete these training modules, you’ll be a qualified childminder. We call our Koru Kids childminders ‘Early Educators’, because there’s much more to childminding than just ‘minding’ kids.
How much does a childminder earn?
Childminder income varies, but the average (mean) hourly fees childminders charge across the UK (as of 2019) are:
- Children under 2 – £4.92
- Children aged 2 – £4.88
- Pre-schoolers (3-4 years) – £4.80
- School-age children – £4.84
Childminders in London, the South East and East of England typically charge more. As a Koru Kids childminder you will charge a minimum of £7.90 an hour, which is in line with the market and represents your added worth being part of a known and trusted brand.
Of course, it’s not just about the fees you charge. There are many factors that affect how much you can earn as a childminder. We think it’s easiest to think about your operation size and whether you look after your own children or not, which is an important factor.
Small Childminding Business
This applies to someone who works alone, caring for 2 pre-school children (under 5’s) all day, 4 days a week, alongside a toddler of your own. In this scenario you would earn £25,000 as a childminder with Koru Kids, with none of your own childcare costs to pay. If you work 5 days a week you could earn more.
Medium Childminding Business
If you work alone and don’t need to factor in your own kids, you will have the capacity to care for 3 pre-school children. If you take them all day, 4 days a week, you would earn £37,000 after our fees. Again, if you work full time you would earn more.
Large Childminding Business
If you’re willing to work with a childminding assistant, you can care for more children at a time. With 6 pre-school children attending all day, 4 days a week, you would earn £60,000. And, with that extra 5th day, you could earn more.
For context, job search engine Adzuna suggests that the average Childminder earnings are £25,100 per annum.
Childminder earnings and the legal limits
Essentially, although your earnings go up with each child that joins your setting, you’re restricted by the number of children you can fit in your home or domestic premises. The legal limit for the number of children you can look after in England is 6 children below 8 years old (and just 3 under 5 years old).
At Koru Kids, our childminders only look after under-5 year olds as we know that’s what parents prefer. As legally you can only look after 3 under 5’s, Koru Kids have a maximum ratio of 3 children to 1 adult. We believe that a small ratio is essential for providing attentive, individualised care.
To expand your business, as above, you can work with a childminding assistant. Anyone who works with 3 or more other childminders or assistants is classified as providing childcare on domestic premises and must register this with Ofsted. However, it’s great that you can even take on two assistants and still be registered with Koru Kids!
For more details on childminder earnings – and a handy calculator to help you work out your earning potential as a Koru Kids childminder – click here.
How do you set up your home for childminding?
If you’ve just started to think about becoming a childminder, your home setup may not have crossed your mind. However, providing a safe and suitable environment for children is essential.
Can a childminder work from a small house?
Your house doesn’t need to be huge to be suitable for childminding. Ofsted sets out clear guidance on the amount of space you need per child, and it’s surprisingly minimal.
The indoor space requirements for childminders are:
- Children under two years: 3.5 square metres per child
- Two-year-olds: 2.5 square metres per child
- Children aged three to five years: 2.3 square metres per child
Your space limitations will affect how many children you can look after (and therefore how much you could earn). However, even a modest area can make an excellent setting if you equip it with suitable furniture and toys. Most homes are well within the requirements. There are lots of other considerations for your home, like safety requirements for appliances, controlled substances, food safety and more. You’ll need to ensure your childminding setup meets the legal requirements.
It’s worth noting that although the space requirements are quite minimal, parents want their children to be in a comfortable setting and usually prefer a garden. At Koru Kids we provide all our childminders with unique training in outdoor learning so they are equipped to spend half their time outside in wonderful local green spaces. This means parents look more favourably on a modest home.
For more information on measuring your space and checking its suitability, you can read our article here.
What equipment does a childminder need?
Your space needs to be clean, calm and professional.
Here’s what you might need:
- A welcome/greeting area with a peg rack and space for children’s belongings
- A noticeboard at your entrance to welcome parents and display information
- Space to play, with toys in containers that are at the right height for children to access
- Designated zones for different types of play
- A tuff tray, which is great for messy activities
- A suitable dining area, either a standard table with high chairs or a low table and chairs for the children
- Mattresses, beds or travel cots to provide a safe sleep space for naps
- A full first aid kit and fire blankets
- Tabards or wrist bands with the childrens’ names and numbers on to keep track of them when out and about
When it comes to play, Koru Kids strongly recommends toys and resources that encourage open-ended play and nurture curiosity. We suggest the following types of toys for childminders:
- Soft toys
- Wooden stacking rainbow
- Lacing beads
- Simple wooden peg puzzles
- Shape sorter
- Wooden blocks
- Shape stacker
- Cars & vehicles
- Musical instruments
- Small world – House/Garage/Transport/Farm
- Lock board
- Learning how to count table top
- Wooden people
Wooden toys are great for childminders because they are durable and encourage open-ended play. They’re also a more eco-friendly choice!
Koru Kids offer our new childminders a £500 interest free loan to help set up their space. You can read more about our business support here.
Managing your childminding business
As a self-employed worker, becoming a childminder means running your own mini business. So what do you need to consider?
How does a childminder find families?
Working as a childminder is the same as running any business – you’ll only succeed if you find the right customers. It can be daunting to think about finding families in your area. You might have questions like, ‘where do I start looking for families?’, ‘how can I market my childminding business?’, or ‘what happens when one of the children I care for leaves?’.
Many independent childminders rely on word of mouth in their local community to find families, or they might advertise by putting flyers at community centres and in local shops. While it’s true that top childminders are often in demand, this can still be a stressful way of running your business, especially if you have to fill a sudden or awkward gap. It’s not like a conventional job role – you can’t really Google “childminder jobs near me” and find work. You’re self-employed and it’s down to you to make sure your business succeeds. And, there’s a level of uncertainty to going it alone.
Marketing your childminding business
There are some things you can do to make your business more visible. You might want to:
- Set up a website, showcasing your setting and what you offer, with a contact page
- Set up associated social media pages (just be careful about sharing pictures of the children you care for – you must have their parent’s explicit consent)
- Pay for advertising on childcare websites or social media
- Have flyers printed and post them through letterboxes in the local area
- Set up Google My Business so you can be found on local searches
Choosing a pension when you’re self-employed can be difficult. We’ve partnered with Penfold to offer our childminders a simple, easy to manage pension service. You can read our full article on childminder pensions here.
Leaning on your childminding agency
If all of that marketing activity sounds scary (and potentially costly), that’s where childminding agencies come into their own. Koru Kids childminders specialise in pre-school childcare, which is what most families are looking for. The popularity and strong reputation of Koru Kids, and our existing network of parents across London, means we expect to be able to fill your places quickly once you launch. With thousands of parents already using our successful nanny service, we will promote your home nursery to fill your places quickly and keep them filled as you go on. So if you know a child will be leaving your setting soon, we will work with you to find the next family in need of your services each time.
Our expert panel of childcare professionals advise you every step of the way as you navigate setting up your business. We’ll give you all the policies, processes, forms and contracts that you need to open your home nursery straight away.
Once you’re up and running we strongly believe that all your energy and focus should be on the children you care for, and not the admin of running your business, so we look after invoicing parents, applying for government funding and ongoing training. And of course, rather than dealing with Ofsted for your follow-up inspections, instead you’ll get a visit from one of our friendly team. Everything we do is intended to help you, and the children you care for, to thrive – by taking away obstacles and complexity wherever we can.
Think something might be missing from our guide? Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org