Meeting education minister Sam Gyimah

Published by Emma Lee-Potter in on Tuesday 25th November 2014

Sam Gyimah  2It’s not every day that you get the chance to chat to a government minister so I didn’t hang about when the Department for Education email arrived. I stuffed my belongings in a bag and dashed for the London train.

It turned out that childcare and education minster Sam Gyimah was keen to chat with a group of bloggers about their thoughts, hopes and concerns about childcare. Six of us were chosen, all parents and including Rainy Day Mum (the sixth most widely read Tots 100 blogger right now), the duo behind Creative Bus Stop (one of whom worked in TV, the other in advertising) and Cogita Ergo Mum (who used to work in a high-powered financial services job).

I’ve met a few politicians in my time but Sam Gyimah listened carefully and took notes as we aired our views. It helped the discussion a lot that he has a six-month-old son himself. Not only that, his wife is about to return to work after maternity leave so they are tackling the childcare conundrum themselves right now.

The other mums all had primary age children, which made me feel 103, but as they outlined the difficulties of finding good quality childcare that they could afford I realised that nothing much has changed in the years since I was in their position. One blogger explained how she’d put her career as a department head of a secondary school on hold because the cost of childcare didn’t make returning to work a viable proposition.

The meeting came four days ahead of Sam Gyimah’s speech to the Family and Childcare Trust’s annual conference (on November 25), when he explained that the government is spending £5 billion – rising to £6 billion – a year on childcare during the course of this parliament.

“But our commitment doesn’t end there,” he said. “We’re putting in even more money: almost another £1.5 billion to make sure that the families that need it most benefit from the government’s help to support their children. That’s why today marks the start of a major campaign by the Department for Education to do just that. By reaching out through Facebook, Twitter and family information services across the country, we’ll be showing parents exactly what government support for childcare means for them – the cash value of the hours their two, three and four-year-olds get for free.”

To read more about his speech, please go to the DfE website.

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