AN outstanding school in Bolton has taken the care of children to another level by becoming the first in the country to launch a childminding agency.

St Bede Academy in Morris Green says opening the agency is a natural development for it, following on from the success of its nationally recognised wraparound care, which includes five nurseries and seven out-of-school-clubs.

And it has now enlisted its first childminder, Rihana Chishti.

Headteacher Jack Hatch said: "We understand not all parents would like a nursery or an after school club for their child and we feel through the agency we can offer our families all available option of high quality childcare.

"Rihana has been supported through the agency to receive her bespoke childminder training along with other CPD (continuing professional development ) opportunities and on hand support whenever needed.

"We are designed as a 'one stop shop' to provide quality childcare for parents along with effective support for both new and established childminders.”

St Bede Academy become the first in the country to register to launch its childminding agency under a new government initiative to support childminders with training and advice to provide parents with easy to quality childcare. It was one of two school taking part in the scheme, the rest were mostly local councils.

The school says the scheme is to provide parents with a variety of "outstanding" childcare options, and was already proving popular with "parents and children knocking on her door wanting childcare".

Mrs Chishti, who lives in Little Lever, with her family — husband Gulzar Patel, aged 30, Aila, aged five and Maaryah, aged one — said she signed up to the school's childminding agency because of the support network available to her, rather than simply going it alone, as well as the resources the could provide.

The 29-year-old decided to become a childminder so she could balance her family life with her work life.

"I was in youth work before and it was impossible to work around the unsociable hours, I had always wanted to go into childcare."

She added: "The school is at the top and I can learn from that.

"Having this support network gives you more reassurance."

For more information about the childminding agency contact agency manager Kimberley Dearden on 01942 661239 or email