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Staffing In Small Settings


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:oxD:( I manage a small nursery ,which is registered for 35 children from 0 to5 yrs.At quiet times ,particulary after we lose our pre school group to school ,there are occasions when members of staff work in a room alone . We always maintain our ratios but a new member of staff has been raised issues about working alone.I feel that in our profession there are always incidences when we may be alone with children but she has began to worry some of the staff with her comments.Does anyone else have these issues.I have spoken to our local advisors and they are fine they just stated that staff must have access to an internal phone which they have.
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I think it is preferable to work with someone for everyone's safety but having said that there are several things that need to be taken into account on your risk assessment - e.g. what happens if the member of staff fell very ill or they had an emergency, what procedures do you have in place - how will you monitor this, can they get hold of someone easily in the event of a child hurting themselves and they need help - what procedures do you have in place for when a member of staff is left on their own with children - etc etc yes I know childminders have the same issue but it is worth thinking about in the eventuality that something does go wrong - what will that person do or how will that person cope and how will they contact other staff etc etc. I think there might be a good argument for grouping children - the most you could ever have on their own would be 8 and that is a lot for one person. I personally dont think it is best practice as it could potentially cause problems and I am suprised that the advice has been given to say that it is ok - my understanding is that this should not happen but without my books in front of me I may just be thinking it - I am sure someone here will come along with the answer - personally I would not like to work on my own and this may be one of the gripes.

Nikki

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I have always been told on various courses that there should be a minimum of 2 staff on at all times even if its just for 3 children. However I have worked in various day nurseries/children's centres, one in particular at both ends of the day (ratios permiting) to have a mimimum of 3 staff on if needed luckly the rooms were next to each other.

 

I have also worked in setting where there was a room to each floor for example floor 1 under 15 months old, floor 2 15 months to 2 years and floor 3 2-5 years old. The setting always had one or two floting staff to answer both doors at both ends of the day. All staff came in on a staggered start, each floor had intercoms and we were only left on our own for very short periods for example pre school nappies if needed at the end of the day or to use the toliets.

 

Personally I would not like to work in a room on my own unless there is a staff member in the next room on the same floor or they have gone up/downstairs to change nappies/cover breaks.

 

 

Beth

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I have briefly been in the position where I was expected to work alone all day everyday because it was a new nursery and there were less than 8 pre-schoolers. The room was isolated from the rest of the building and there was no internal communication system. I had to either round up all my children and take the lot with me if I needed assistance (not good for play or learning) or stand at the internal door shouting!! (not very professional).

 

I did not stay there long, particularly after I was seriously expected to work (in the Holiday Club) alone with 10 children between the ages of 2 and 10.

 

Needless to say, I am in the 2 or more persons camp!

 

Sue

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I am also in the two staff camp I look at the fact that it is for the safety of staff and children if you where alone with a group of children what back up would you have if a allegation was made against you by a child or a child had an accident. Personally I would not want to be left alone what would happen if you fainted or collapsed how long would it be before someone discovered you??

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I had a similar issue to this when I wanted to split younger / older groups for certain times of the session. I have a large hall and smaller hall, next to each other. The split was for example at story time so that the older children were not disturbed by the younger ones, these were for periods of 10 - 15 mins max. The staff felt able to take the groups but were uncomfortable with being on their own, I was a floater between the two groups. I discussed this issue with Ofsted Inspectors during an inspection, their response was 'not really suitable' due to mainly issues of safe guarding staff against accusations. They suggested like Nikki to do a risk assessment, and it was also discussed that the National Standards do not say that this is not allowed. I'm not sure what the new EYFS states, which comes into force in Sept 08. However it seems that Inspectors would not look favourably on staff being alone with groups of children, even if ratio's are maintained. As we all know, Inspectors in each geographical area interpret the National Standards in different ways, so why not give Ofsted a call and see what they say.

 

After some consideration, although I felt it was a bit OTT, I personaly decided not to have staff in a room on their own. I also think you should take heed of how your own staff feel about this, obviously your new member of staff feels uncomfortable, either because of her own confidence levels or because she has been taught that this situation is not good practice.

 

Peggy

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II discussed this issue with Ofsted Inspectors during an inspection, their response was 'not really suitable' due to mainly issues of safe guarding staff against accusations. They suggested like Nikki to do a risk assessment, and it was also discussed that the National Standards do not say that this is not allowed.

 

I'm not sure what the new EYFS states, which comes into force in Sept 08. However it seems that Inspectors would not look favourably on staff being alone with groups of children, even if ratio's are maintained. As we all know, Inspectors in each geographical area interpret the National Standards in different ways, so why not give Ofsted a call and see what they say.

 

Peggy

 

 

The EYFS states under appendix 2 the ratios for the children to adult, and just states that there should "be at least 2 adults on duty in a setting at any time when children are present" (Statutory Framework for the EYFS, 2007, Page 49). This sounds very vage on detail especially when you could be in 2 different rooms with maybe 3 staff on.

 

Again we wil have to wait and see how Ofsted inspectors interpate(sp) the legistlation. :o

 

 

Beth

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Oh I cannot beleive it - a grey area - surely not!! Personally though I think it would be wise to work with two members of staff - it might be that you can group two groups together becuase I have read in the EYFS this is to be encouraged - not the exact words but were advocating mixing groups at times.

Nikki

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  • 2 weeks later...

In my pre-school we get around this by leaving the door open and always having a walkie talkie and not exceeding ratios. However like everything it depends on who you talk to. I have heard tell of an Ofsted inspector who marked down another pre-school who used walki talkies as they said although she was just outside and had a walkie talkie if she passed out she wouldn`t be able to use it and the children would be un-supervised untill someone inside noticed.

 

Like everything we do it`s impossiable to know exactly what you should do. We had an Ofsted inspection recently and were marked down as we display allergy details openly and she said this was a beach of confidentiality.

 

Who knows? It`s like trying to hit a moving target in this buisness!

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