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Staff meetings happen regularly in early years settings. Generally all staff are expected to attend these meetings but usually several people have jolly good reasons for not actually being there are any given time. These might include:

Toothache. Which comes on suddenly 5 minutes before the meeting is due to start and necessitates the immediate attention of a dentist. The toothache miraculously disappears by the next day, although if anyone remembers to ask about it the person will gladly hold their cheek and wince convincingly. (Unless they have forgotten what their excuse was in which case they will probably babble on about how their poor old aunt is feeling much better now and should be out of intensive care in a day or two).

Headaches. Brilliant these! No one can argue with the fact that it is very likely you DO actually have a blinding headache after spending the day with hoards of noisy children. Varieties of headaches can be described in copious detail - flashing lights, dull aches, pain over the eyes, stabbing pains all over (if the person describing their headache is particularly creative about types of pain, other staff will gather round taking notes for future use).

The Doctors Appointment. Staff can be as vague as they like about this and can infer it's rather personal and they would prefer not to discuss it. This leads to lengthy discussions by everyone else after they have left, which can get quite interesting sometimes.

The Sudden Emergency Phone Call. Very easy to set up now we have mobile phones. The call could be about a sick relative, an exploded washing machine, a partner who's managed to lock themselves out of the house/car... the list is endless. The phone call works best when the person has actually arrived at the meeting and is sitting with their diary open and pen poised looking really keen to get down to business. And of course they express bitter disappointment that they will have to rush off and miss the meeting. Extra points are scored if they remember to ask someone to kindly take notes for them.

Early years staff will have lots more examples.

The meeting itself takes place either at lunchtime or more usually at the end of the day. Meetings provide regular opportunities for everyone to come together to plan, discuss policy and practice, sort out diaries and timetables, have training sessions, discuss organisation and cover a million other important aspects relating to working with children in an early years setting.

Usually meetings take a little while to get started. It is likely that several people will wander off to make tea or coffee and search through cupboards for biscuits. Others need to go to the loo and may never return. And someone is always stuck on the phone having a detailed conversation with a speech therapist while the rest of the group sit waiting, getting more and more bored and annoyed thinking about all the other things that they could be doing during this wasted time.

After about half an hour things usually get going. In the business world meetings work best if there is an agenda but this never works in early years settings. Even if an agenda has been circulated to staff prior to the meeting no one will have had time to read it. So the first part of the meeting will be spent discussing why items are on or not on the agenda. By the time the agenda is sort of sorted everyone will have been at the meeting for nearly an hour. This is the point when the caretaker arrives to let everyone know he will be testing the alarms over the next 10 minutes and will need to clear the area within 15 minutes because the evening class is due to start and he needs to set up the lathes and spindles for creative woodwork.

So the remainder of the meeting is interspersed with loud ringing bells - which at least wakes up the people who have dozed off through boredom. Everyone hurriedly goes through diaries discussing possible options for times, dates and the agenda for the next meeting, none of which can be finalised because several people are missing. And so it goes on......

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