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Perception Of A Nursery Questionnaire


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Ok bit of background here...

We are a small village nursery that take children from 2yrs until school age.

 

Since myself and the new owner took over the new nursery about 3years ago, we have done a LOT of work in bringing the nursery up to scratch.

At our last Ofsted inspection in May 2006 we achieved a Good rating.

 

We are however struggling with numbers at the moment, seems a common theme in this area, BUT we also have the added frustration of a number of parents who are putting their childrens names down for the state nursery in the next town, because it is (in one mums words 'a proper nursery').

I believe they do a lot more 'structured' work...worksheets, sitting children down at set times etc, whereas we have very much this year gone for the free flow, child led, which I know all nurseries are 'supposed' to be doing from Sept, but most of the parents WANT their children to be seen to be doing structured work.

 

We have held 2 parents evenings since hearing this comment, to try and ensure parents are aware of what we provide, but that is only any good if the parents concerned actually attend.

 

I do believe a lot of the problem is on appearance...we are set in a drab village hall, no display boards allowed on walls etc, horrid cream and brown paint work, nasty floral curtains etc, and we also have no outside playspace, although we do have a large hall soley for the use of large apparatus and bikes, and we also have the blessing of the local primary school to use their playground.

 

The state nursery is a purpose built building, much more pleasing cosmetically, and at its last Ofsted in 2007 achieved an Outstanding.

 

So we are a bit up against it, BUT following a parents evening this week, and also information from a parent that suggests a group of parents in the village are still recommending the other nursery, we have decided to take the bull by the horns and send out a followup questionnaire to the Parents Eve..in particular asking what perception they have of us versus the other one, and what they think the differences are.

 

I have a few questions in mind, but am having a bit of a mental blcok at the moment, and would appreciate any ideas you may have for questions to ask.

 

Many thanks in advance

Sam

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i'll be interested to see replies, we have the same problem.

i dont mind when parents visit both settings then decide, but its the parents who dont even come and visit who are the ones recommending the 'nursery'.

we once had a parent (who chose us) saying another parent (who hadn't even set foot in our door) told her that if her child came to us they would be the only one starting school who wouldn't be able to write her name!!

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i'll be interested to see replies, we have the same problem.

i dont mind when parents visit both settings then decide, but its the parents who dont even come and visit who are the ones recommending the 'nursery'.

we once had a parent (who chose us) saying another parent (who hadn't even set foot in our door) told her that if her child came to us they would be the only one starting school who wouldn't be able to write her name!!

 

Its so frustrating isn't it!

I just wonder how these nurseries are preparing parents for the EYFS change in September.

We have a number of parents who only think there child is achieving if they are doing formal 'work'...doesn't matter how often you explain etc.

Never mind the fact that at a parents assembly in school in Ocotber last year, the head actually stood there in front of the parents and said how impressed they were with the children that had come form the village nursery, how well they had settled etc etc.

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Hi there Sam, welcome to the forum, I hope you will find some useful advice here.

 

It must be very difficult especially when as you say the neighbouring nursery received an outstanding OFSTED. However, I do come across settings like yours , run in church halls, who have over many years built up a reputation despite there being other provision nearby. I'm sure there will be other members who have been throuhg this experience and come out the other side who will be able to offer good advice to you.

 

There are a number of reasons why some parents might opt for a school nursery, it may be worth checking if any of these apply to your area.

1. if a school is oversubscribed a belief that attending the nursery class will give them a better chance of getting that school for their child.

2. they may be able to attend full time.

3. They believe that attending a school nursery makes the transition to school easier, the children already know the school and probabaly the staff.

 

This is quite apart from an belief they have about perception (that the state nursery is 'better').

 

Ill now leave the way clear for the other members who have ore experience to give you the practical ideas...

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Hi there Sam, welcome to the forum, I hope you will find some useful advice here.

 

It must be very difficult especially when as you say the neighbouring nursery received an outstanding OFSTED. However, I do come across settings like yours , run in church halls, who have over many years built up a reputation despite there being other provision nearby. I'm sure there will be other members who have been throuhg this experience and come out the other side who will be able to offer good advice to you.

 

There are a number of reasons why some parents might opt for a school nursery, it may be worth checking if any of these apply to your area.

1. if a school is oversubscribed a belief that attending the nursery class will give them a better chance of getting that school for their child.

2. they may be able to attend full time.

3. They believe that attending a school nursery makes the transition to school easier, the children already know the school and probabaly the staff.

 

This is quite apart from an belief they have about perception (that the state nursery is 'better').

 

Ill now leave the way clear for the other members who have ore experience to give you the practical ideas...

 

Hi

thanks for your reply and welcome.

I think I should have added on my first post, that we are the village nursery that feed the village school, there is no state nursery attached, and also the state nursery in question, is a stand alone nursery, it does not feed any school.

Also our village school is not over subscribed.

I do think maybe the full time thing applied in the past, but we recently changed our registration from sessional day care to full day care, so we could offer the full time too if parents were interested.

 

We have always had a good reputation, it just seems that all it takes is for one parent to mention to another, and some parents not fully understanding how a nursery works, and suddenly there is a 'proper' nursery down the road.

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same here.....................we have our 'rising fives 'session running and it's exactly the same as the other group in the village, and yet, some of our parents have sent their children to that, because it's a PRESCHOOL..............so, I asked them what they think we are???Then we got various answers:

'oh, but they do worksheets down there'....I point out that they shouldn't be, and all the reasons why

'oh but they do PE'.........so do we

'oh but they teach them phonics'..................err, but so do we, all the time very day,letter sounds etc

'oh but THEY have a much bigger group, so the childen get used to a class size session'....ok, but what's wrong with giving them some more, individual attention???

'oh but they each them to write their names'................yes, they do, and they do so incorrectly (Capital letters?????????).we concentrate on letter shapes, using shaving foam, sand etc, all better in the long run, i think (and yes, if a child is interested, they can write their names...and many do, but some tell us that 'at the preschool, we write it THIS way'......so we try to undo the damage!

 

and then.....................a parent told me of a particularly nasty rumour the other group is spreading about me personally,probably slanderous,but which i can do nowt about, because how do you prove it...........but, this is apparantly putting some parents off coming in to have a look, due to this doing the rounds at the toddlers group, where many parents chat about which group to go to!!

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Much against my wishes the committee I worked with changed the name from playgroup to pre-school just because of parents misconceptions. It worked for some, not for others.

Parents seem to have lots of presure from other parents. There is always competition and comparisons are made.

I used to have quotes and facts and figures ready, but basically, the parents who want to leave will do so, and others will stay.

 

None of us have the opportunity to make a mistake with our children so we go for what we think is best, even after hearing all the facts. What if the facts are wrong and my child should be writing and doing worksheets, I'll be failing them if I send them somewhere these things dont happen in a way I can see.

 

I think all you can do is what you're already doing, inform and allay any fears.

Ask what they want for their children, I bet happiness is top of the list, if it isnt, ask them questions that make them thiink. Sometimes, being given facts isnt enough, people need to be abel to see for themselves why something happens a certain way.

 

Could you have a parents session where they take part in acticvitives with an explaination at the end of each explaining what has be learnt, experienced etc? Give them options, how would you like to learn something? By doing or by listening or by watching. Most people like to be actively involved in their own learning, you can then transfer this across to how children learn best.

 

Hope it goes well, but next year you might get parents who would rather tear their own arm off them send their child somewhere with formal work.

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same here.....................we have our 'rising fives 'session running and it's exactly the same as the other group in the village, and yet, some of our parents have sent their children to that, because it's a PRESCHOOL..............so, I asked them what they think we are???Then we got various answers:

'oh, but they do worksheets down there'....I point out that they shouldn't be, and all the reasons why

'oh but they do PE'.........so do we

'oh but they teach them phonics'..................err, but so do we, all the time very day,letter sounds etc

'oh but THEY have a much bigger group, so the childen get used to a class size session'....ok, but what's wrong with giving them some more, individual attention???

'oh but they each them to write their names'................yes, they do, and they do so incorrectly (Capital letters?????????).we concentrate on letter shapes, using shaving foam, sand etc, all better in the long run, i think (and yes, if a child is interested, they can write their names...and many do, but some tell us that 'at the preschool, we write it THIS way'......so we try to undo the damage!

 

and then.....................a parent told me of a particularly nasty rumour the other group is spreading about me personally,probably slanderous,but which i can do nowt about, because how do you prove it...........but, this is apparantly putting some parents off coming in to have a look, due to this doing the rounds at the toddlers group, where many parents chat about which group to go to!!

 

Thats not nice Narnia, and very below the belt, its hard enough keeping a nursery running sucessfully without those sort of tactics.

Is yours a big village?

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Hi Rea

 

that is on e of the things we are contemplating doing from Sept, changing our name to include the word pre-school.

Do you think it made a difference to your particular setting?

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I dont think it made any difference at all to be honest. The parents who wanted the state nursery still went there and others still came to us. Its worth a go, but it will take a couple of years for parents to see it at anything other than a playgroup though. Those parents who know it as a playgroup will still see it as such. Nothing else will be changing so it will be new parents who will be comparing the provision at the state nursery against the pre-school in the church hall. I'm afraid its the church hall that would need to change before any chnage in opinion occured. A purpose built building will always have a better image no matter what goes on inside.

Invite them in, show them what learning takes place and always big yourselves up in your literature.

At the moment ourwaiting list has 2 children on it, but letters about to go out to parents explain how 'as a well regarded pre-school we are struggling to find places for everyone so please be quick in registering your interest for September'!!

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Thats not nice Narnia, and very below the belt, its hard enough keeping a nursery running sucessfully without those sort of tactics.

Is yours a big village?

 

 

No, quite small, and that doesn't help matters,tbh...................we just about keep our heads above water,but it's a struggle sometimes.I honestly never say bad things about them, and wonder why they feel the need to 'fight dirty'

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This has given me much pause for reflection - mine is a small village group meeting in the village hall. I have both 'pre-school' and 'nursery' in the title of my group although I am seriously thinking of dropping the word 'nursery' since I think it gives a false expectation of what we're all about.

 

We work very hard to identify and explain the learning that goes on in our setting whilst children play - displays and children's special books contain photographs which are annotated either with an explanation of how a particular activity promotes children's learning/development, or the stepping stone the child's behaviour demonstrates. I'm sure our parents don't even read these captions now - but it does help demonstrate our 'learning through play' philosophy (and how it manifests itself in children's play) to prospective parents, fellow professionals etc.

 

Like you, narnia and harveykids, we come under pressure to explain why our children don't sit down at tables and 'do work', and I have become more skilled at telling visitors that this is not - and will never be - part of our practice. I quite assertively tell parents that if they want their child to engage in activities such as doing worksheets then our group will not provide what they need. But then I am getting more militant as I get older. :o

 

We have worked particularly hard at building up a good relationship with our main feeder school, which has beneficial spin offs in our relationships with our parents. Our nearest 'competitor' is supported by families in the village, however I take the view that people who want to pay extra for French and/or ballet lessons as part of their child's pre-school education and care are probably not going to subscribe to our ethos! I hope that doesn't sound judgemental: its not intended to be. That's what parental choice is all about, after all: we must respect the choices they make, even if we don't agree with them!

 

It will be interesting to see how the implementation of the EYFS will inform the debate about formal/play based learning in the early years: and how groups will justify making children sit down to do worksheets etc. Perhaps this is a good opportunity to gather people together and explain your ethos. Offering cheese and wine might help draw people in - but I think it is important existing parents are secure in their knowledge about what their child is experiencing with you. Word of mouth is a powerful marketing tool - certainly it accounts for most of our new children.

 

Good luck - its not easy is it?

 

Maz

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I work at a pre-school which is in a small village and we are community run. We feed in to the local school which is very small less than 50 kids.

 

We are lucky in that we had a new building in 2006 and are based in the school grounds so have access to all of their facilities.

 

I think our reputation is improving, our ofsted in 2006 was satisfactory (I was Assistant then and have recently been promoted).

 

We are near enough completely child led, we have one adult initiated activity per session and try to have a circle time activity whether its a story or a music session. We do not have work sheets either but do provide colouring sheets and dots to dots if the children want them but free access to paper of all shapes and sizes and colours.

 

We are being taken over by the primary school in Sept and I know our child led ethos will be under threat.

 

I really believe that the children are learning loads more than enough for their age through providing this service. Social skills are so important and to some parents this is exactly what they want for their children but I know some parents want their children educated. The treasurer said something snide to me the other day a new girl will be joining us in Sept leaving an outstanding pre-school where apparently she is already writing everyone in the families name (just turned three), she told the committe that she wants her to learn socials skills now. The treasurer was implying (I know this for a fact) that we offer no educational service what so ever. I believe that the children have the next 10 or so years to sit down learning let them play and discover and have fun whilst at pre-school.

 

I know the reception teacher has told me that the most important things she wants the children to be able to do when they start in Sept was to be able to toilet themselves and dress themselves, writing their names was not important.

 

Another thing to think about is what is the reputation of the village primary school like? This can have a massive impact on uptake at settings. Could you offer a facility for joint activities with the primary school so as all those joining in Sept could be getting to know the Reception children and other school children.

 

Have you given the parents a leaflet about the EYFS yet? This might put a few people straight. Could you get some temporary display boards which you could pack away at the end of the session?

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