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Running A Very Big Unit!


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Hi

Just wondered if anyone had some words of wisdom - I'm second week in to my job as teacher in charge of a foundation unit - we have 99 children in at a time - two reception classes and a 39 place nursery . We're seeing 138 in a day.

We had to bring in all of the new nursery children (about 40) in 3 days because of starting back late and the census day - so yesterday was a bit soul destroying!

I'm finding it tricky for a few reasons and could really do with some advice - my brain is frazzled and it's always good to get a different point of view!

- at the start and end of the session we're in key worker groups - but I'm sharing my space with a class of 30 rec children (partitioned off by some community playthings furniture but noise is horrendous). I have 20 nursery children on my own - the other 19 are the other side of the unit with 2 nursery nurses - there is nowhere else in the unit to put my group - already thought of that one. The poor Rec teacher is on her own too so we're struggling a bit.

- we are finding that the Rec children who have been in the unit for a year now are a bit cocky and are not being very good role models. Tidy up time is a free for all, with a lot of these children hiding in the toilets, chasing round the unit etc ,no matter how many times we stop them. It's built in the shape of a semi circle with partitions and keeping an eye on all the children is tricky. There are 5 members of staff by the way. We are finding that it's hard to play alongside the children because we're constantly tidying up, supervising the cafe style snack. changing children etc...

Sorry if that sounds like a rant - I just think there must be a better way! The children are lovely and the staff are bending over backwards to help but I'm a bit of a control freak and like things just right straight away!!!

Thanks in advance

jan

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Oh poor you, it sounds to me as if you have nowhere near enough staff. Only 5 adults and 99 children. I am presuming that three of you are teachers, but all the same you don't grow extra arms and legs do you! Do you have a covered outdoor area so that one of the groups could do their key worker time outside? That would help distribute the noise.

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Hi Janine

hope there are some plus points to the new job but Im not surprised that with only 5 members of staff that you have those problems. Another 2 TAs wouldnt go amiss would they, although I realise you are staffed correctly for school ratios.

Is there any way you can get some parent helpers in or even better appeal to your head for more staff? Otherwise I think I would be trying to stagger things a little more although that probably defeats the purpose of a unit?

How long has the unit been open?

Hope you can resolve this soon.

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It definitely seems like you need more staff. Your nursery children have 3 adults but your receptions staff are effectively alone with 30 children each, which whilst we know is within legal requirements, I do wonder if they would have been TAless if they had been separate classes?

I remember this being a bug bear in my FS unit says, that assumption that as a unit you need less staff, which of course you don't. It appears that gong back to the drawing board a bit might help you, because it cant be the best for the children in the circumstances you describe. Is there any way of pleading with your SMT to rethink the way you are working?

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janine

Make no wonder your harrassed, we are a unit that has 47 full timers and 24 p/t children each session.

95 in total and we too are feeling the strain. we have 4 staff.

Over the past 4 days we have had 30 new p/t children in and you dont have time to settle one group before another lot of new children are in the next day.

We are also finding the older ones are a bit wild and I think they know the teachers are harrssed with the new ones and are trying to get away with anything they can. It hasnt helped with the weather being so bad so the children havnt being able to go outdoors.

We also realised how well the others have settled since september as they at least know the routine (even if at the minute they arent doing it).

I think next week when the children are all in together they will quickly settle and things will look up.

I know this hasnt answered your question but just wanted to let you know its the same for other people and things will get easier.

Whever had the idea to make schools have all their new children in for the census obviously wasnt early years trained as it puts enourmous pressure , even on the children as they cannot possibly have a lot of attention, when you have 5 new ones on a session.

Things always get better

good luck :o

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I am in a foundation unit with about 35 children and we have 4 staff per session so it sounds as if you are really gettinga raw deal here. is there any scope for improving the ratio? it sounds pretty tough to me! Good luck.

Annabel

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thanks for all your messages of support - what a week!! No there's no scope for increasing staff because the head says we have enough. Just going to plod on! The most frustrating thing is finding time to actually play with the children or lead any adult-directed activities because we're trouble shooting all of the time. I'm hoping when the children are settled this will improve.

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I feel very sorry for you but I feel more sorry for the children and their first taste of 'education'. To attend such a huge unit with so few adults is outrageous and not what any of us working in early years want. With a ratio of 1:13 becoming the norm in a FSU this will become more common. I feel so angry that we are having to care for children in such large units with totally inappropriate staffing. You also mention that the reception childten's behaviour is slipping. I would think it would be difficult to meet any child's needs effectively. Sorry to be so negative but what are we doing to our children. Where the days of small playgoups with caring nurturing (albeit unqualified) adults who always had time for a cuddle or to listen really so bad.

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A ratio of 1 to 13 would give Janine another 3 adults and make life much better!

 

I think you might need to do some serious foot stamping, Janine. You are theoretically correctly staffed but in practise it is not in the best interests of the children or the staff to work like this.

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After my previous rant here is a more constructive suggestion. To support your plea for adequate staffing ask your head to spend some time observing in the unit to see what it is really like for a child to be in the unit. i.e. is a child really a unique child, is the unit really an enabling environment, can they learn and develop at their own rate through uninterrupted play opportunites and can they from positive relationships (i.e. loving and caring) with a key person? If the answer to these is no then.....

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