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Staff To Child Ratios


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I work in an unusual setting but hope your expertise may help me.

 

I work for a holiday company that has children's Creches & Clubs in some of their overseas locations - France, Italy, Turkey etc.

 

We work to OFSTED standards and as such we work to OFSTED ratios.

 

However, the company feels that we can operate with a minimum of 2 staff even in settings where we are looking after children from 6 months to 10 years.

 

I feel that they have misunderstood the OFSTED regulations.

 

With a minimum of 2 staff we have to work from 9 - 5.30 without a break as the children need to be supervised by 2 staff - surely it is illegal to work so many hours without a break?

 

Also, if children are sleeping this means that the other member of staff cannot take the other children out as there should be a minimum of 2 staff with the children.

 

Can someone clear up what this minimum of 2 staff on duty means exactly? Does it mean that if there are 3 children under 2 in the creche room they should be supervised by 2 members of staff even though the ratio is 1 to 3 for this age group??

 

Most of our units are the same building with different rooms for the under 5's and over 5's. Can one member of staff be in the creche room and one in the club room?? Or do you need a minimum of 2 staff in each room??

 

Hope someone can help!!

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hi Orange

I cant really help you as I am not familiar with the adult-staff ratios but I am sure that you are right to be concerned about the way you are being asked to work. As a parent I wouldnt be happy leaving my child in a place with the ratio you describe. Fortunately they are now too big to leave like that and unfortunately when they weren't they would never stay anyway! :o

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Thanks - this is how the staff interpret the ratios too.

 

As we have separate rooms for the different age groups the minimum staff in each room should be 2 - not 2 in the building.

 

Do you think OFSTED would give me a statement to this effect to give to my employer?

 

Also, any tips about shift lengths - aren't I right in saying that we should get a break from the children of at least 20 minutes?? Working from 9-5.30 without a break must be illegal!!

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I second what hali has said, with bells on! It is downright DANGEROUS to be on your own with a group of children, this practice led to a huge row at my last setting, where I was Deputy Manager and Health and Safety Officer, but could not get through to senior management the gravity of the situation. I left in the end, as it was compromising my reputation.

I don't know if you'd get any joy from Ofsted, but by all means try - let us know how you get on. I agree the standards and guidance are a bit 'woolly' there.

You certainly do need a break!! At my Day Nursery the staff do an 8 hour shift, with a 45 minute lunchbreak at either 11.45, 12.30 or 1.15, depending on their start time. Shifts cover the period 7.15 - 6.30, although children are only in the building from 7.30 - 6.15. Obviously the 'extra' is for opening up and locking up!

 

Any help?

 

Sue :D

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I believe that if you are working for longer than 3 hours per session you are entitled to one break of fifteen minutes - although that might be 3.5 hours. Employment law also guarantees you a minimum break for lunch though I have never heard of any employer so stupid as to consider not giving a lunch break to people working with children so I don't know the legal minimum. 45 minutes is the usual time and this requires much higher staffing levels than the basic paper requirements. I think you should point out to your employers the inadvisability of them breaking the law in this regard since it would hardly be good publicity for their child care arrangements and if the worst happened and there was an accident your direct line manager would be held responsible. You should put your concerns in writing and make sure you keep a copy. Have you considered union membership as they will give you advice about this and let you know your rights?

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Hi Orange -

I'm pretty sure Androyd is right. Quite apart from the childcare issue, your environmental safety needs protection, which means you shouldn't work longer than a specified time without a break of a minimum specified length.

 

I was just having a quick search to see if I could find those specifics, but I can't lay my hands on them for the moment. Since you're in Greece, even though your employers claim to be following Ofsted requirements with respect to childcare, I don't know if they are bound by UK health and safety/environmental regulations though. It would be worth finding that out before you start trying to change things.

 

But no-one should be working in those conditions with childcare. Firstly, constant attention to children is exhausting. Secondly, the children themselves aren't going to get the best you can offer.

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In Greece this season but could be in Italy next year!

 

Company regulations are the same wherever we work.

 

I will take up with OFSTED when in UK and then put my worry in writing to my manager. As you say, he would be responsible for breach of safety due to these bad working conditions.

 

Thanks so much for all your advice - so pleased I found this site!!

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They are out to make a lot of money and seem to have no idea of staff ratio etc,what the others have said is correct.Half the staff must be trained to a level 3 and have kept up to date with courses ie child protection every two years,first aid every three years.All staff are encouraged to attend courses on all the six areas of learning.

For your own sake and the childrens please speak to the boss.

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The law now states that you are entitled to a 20 min break if you work for 6 hrs continuosly.

Although do other countries have different rules?

 

As an employer i give 1 hour lunch breaks as well as 2 x 15 min breaks(for a 9 hour day). To be honest as the staff are not paid for their LUNCH breaks i would like them to take as long as possible! :o

 

Ofsted will probably just direct you to the standards and say follow them, the whole book can be seen as a grey area and unfortunatley in my experience they are never that willing to clarify any part of it. xD

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Any idea where I could find that law about 20 minute breaks after 6 hours work?

 

Even though we work in different resorts around the world we are governed by UK employment law.

 

Thanks again for everyone's help on this

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Hi Orange -

The DTI is the governmental department responsible for workplace regulations. If you go to this page on the DTI website, you'll find the specification for the 20 minute rest break entitlement (for over 6 hours work).

 

They also have guidance on how to approach your employer and secure these rights. It's always worth trying to engage constructively with your employers rather than confronting them, but if this fails, there is advice it would be a good idea to read through.

 

Let us know how you get on. :)

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dont the parents question the adult child ratio?

it is one of the first questions parents ask me when I take on a new child,

what kind of parents are they?

are they more interested in getting the kids off their hands than ensuring than they are adequatly supervised?

 

the only way that 2 staff could look after a mixed age group would be if in a large room with a low barrier or partition to allow the younger children to be kept seperate if necessary, I have worked in creches that have been set up like that but they have only been 2 or 3 hour sessions at the most,

 

I hope you sort your problems out soon and remember there are other jobs maybe you should consider different employment.

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Thanks Steve - can't believe that in 2 days I've found the answers to all my problems!! This site is GREAT!! Thanks for the link - I also found the TUC 'WORKSMART' pages had the same info. You may have noticed that I have deleted my location!! Really want to stay anonymous on this as I work for a large mass market company.

 

Alison - the ratios are correct as usually all the children are in one large room as you describe and the sessions are 4 hours long. It's the staff working conditions that are being abused. In our facilities with 2 rooms we have had 4-5 members of staff but the company has questioned whether so many staff are needed!! In the units that are only 1 room and have few bookings the company thinks that 2 staff is sufficient (keeping to the ratios) however this makes for 9 hour days without a break if there are children who stay all day.

 

Thanks for everyone's help - I'm now in a better position to negotiate!!

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morning orange,

 

sorry I miss read the situation about staff ratios

 

but Im glad to hear that your finding the answers to your problems and I hope you manage to negotiate your breaks with your employer.

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