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Help - advice is needed, we are a pre-school community playgroup and rely on parent helpers to keep our ratios to the levels we believe are best for our children attending. Several of our parents this term are complaining that they are on rota duty to many times and wish to opt out. We base our rota duties on the number of times a child attends the setting per week. If their child attends 4 times a week, we ask the parent/carers to do 4 rota duty sessions per half term.

 

The main dispute is that we cannot allow unregistered children under 2 years into our 3/4 years of age sessions. As staff we need the support of the parent/carer to enable us to give our full attention to the children and younger siblings need constant supervision which their parent/carer cannot give them whilst helping us.

 

One option is to charge more per session to enable us to employ another member

of staff, but we are a community playgroup operating on a charitable basis and on a tight budget, so this is not really practical and some of our members could not

afford to pay more. So what so we do? . Some of our members work full time and are happy to pay a small fee to opt out of rota duty, pregnant mothers and those

with babies under 6 months are exempt and sometimes there are other more personal reasons for not joining in.

 

Any advice or personal experiences would be greatly appreciated.

Many Thanks. Susan.

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Hi Susan, we have a parent help rota too. We do find at times that it is really difficult to get people to help and have tried different strategies. We have now made a calender which we invite parents to put their name on telling us when they will be able to help. It does always seem to be the same few parents but they also have a copy of the ofsted letter we had earlier this year stating that 21/2 year olds could no longer be counted as 'rising threes' and therefore our ratio's would be affected, in this case we would shut for that session if there wasnt enough cover. It seems to of worked this term. In the past we have put it to parents that either they pay more for another member of staff or we reduce the number of children we take in (once the appropriate number of children in relation to the ratios have arrived then we lock the door not take children off the register) We also put it to them that it is their chance to see their child relating to different adults and children and also for them to have more understanding of what their child does and learns. I dont think there is an easy answer to this, I've struggled with it for 8 years and it never gets better. Good luck :D

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Hi we were in the same boat too, parents who helped were allowed to bring siblings in as longed as they signed to say they were their responsibility. But it was always the same parents and ours if all helped only had to do one session per half term.

 

With accreditation looming we had to employ another member of staff on mimium wage for ratios, so put it to the parents if they paid an extra £10 per half term i think their would only be a rota up for if parents wished to come and 'play'.

 

Needless to say this half term we have had 2 names put up!!!!!! :o

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Am I right in assuming this in particular relates to younger children who do not recieve the NEG, and it is their fees which be affected? (those recieving the grant it will only effect in the top up fees you may charge.)

 

We are a comminity charity etc too, and We gave up on parent rotas about 2 years ago, parents offer support in other ways, rather then as additional hands to achieve the correct child ratios. we found that so many parents worked part time or had siblings it was getting harder to get additional support from parents.

 

Also if a parent helper did not turn up or their child was ill the result was incorrect ratios anyway. we decided it was safer to employ staff then rely on parents for correct ratios.

 

we do not take under 3 and find parents who do pay are willing to pay a bit more, it is always cheaper than the local nursery charges. I have taken under 3 at other settings i have run and always charged for the care to enable employed staff, parent helpers were in addition to this.

 

we have tried a different tack, which actually worked, no complaints from anyone, we put up the fees to cover staff, then if a parent helped on a rota they got 1 free place for 2 sessions helping, we had 2 free sessions maximum per term. this gave those who wanted to the opportunity to earn free sessions and those who did not ended up paying more. Easier to set up than it sounds, bills were credited with the free sessions the following term.

 

Welcome to the forum,

Inge :D

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Inge, we used to give parents a reduced rate if they helped out but were told by the PLA that it could be seen as a wage and therefore complicate things with tax/NI if they had other work. :D

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hali,

most areas are not allowed to charge anything to the funded children at all except for top up care, as it is not a free or funded place if they have to pay for it. Funding supposed to be a completely free place, well for 2.5 hours at least.

 

As always every area different. our area was happy with free sessions! May have change in last year since we stopped though.

 

Inge

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Hi, many thanks all, you have certainly given us plenty to think about, we have struggled with this issue for 9 years now and perhaps it is time for a change.

We now have other ideas to work with. Once again. Thanks.

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hi susan.margaret - I think this is a universal problem for many pre-schools. When my children were at pre-school there was an emergency list of people who could be called on to be mothers help if the need arose. The pre-school has tried many tactics a lot of which have been mentioned here. I don't think they ever came up with a method that worked to their satisfaction. I visited the pre-school recently and there on the door was the same notice I had seen many a time asking for mothers help!

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Hi Susan, :)

 

Obviously we're a playgroup in the minority then. Parents are made aware of the fact that taking their turn on the duty rota is not optional (unless pregnant or with young baby). The committee operates the rota and as far as I am aware no-one has ever complained. xD Perhaps we've just been lucky. :o

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preschools and parent helpers..... :o

 

we used to operate the same kind of system but mums seem to be less keen to help we also found that parent helpers were great but the behaviour of that parents child during the session would be a nightmare and it became a bigger problem than working with minimum staff.

 

I would say that if parents start with a clear rule of what is expected when they take on a place then there are few arguments and complaints where as if there are any changes to rules or any signs of flexibility thats when the compliants start to emerge (though I am sure someone will tell me otherwise?)

 

we now only have parent helpers in on emergences and pure desperation I would love to encourage parents to get involved more but the stress during the session is too much and like many of you say its always the same parents who help and I dont like them to feel that they are being taken advantage of or feel they are paying for a service that they are not recieveing equally to others.

 

I think if money is tight then the one option is volunteers such as NVQ students who have already achieved level 2 and need a placement for level 3 they are qualified and can be counted in the adult ratio (subject to CRB and OFSTED clearances) and also they are getting something back by completeing their NVQ, if after 12 months they find a perminant paid job elswhere then phone the colleges and ask for another level 3 student

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How do those of you who have parent helpers manage with confidentiality? I have got three children with special needs who all have a 1:1 helper. One parent is absolutely adament that she wants nobody to know about her child until she is ready to tell people (he is already diagnosed on the Autistic spectrum). I recently lost marks in my Quality Assurance because I do not have a parent helper rota. Do you get the parents to sign a confidentiality policy? It is a fact of life that parents gossip. How do you manage?

Kaybee

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Oh kaybee, thats a difficult one, not least because of the particular parent concerned.

We had an induction policy brought into play very recently in my last school and anybody coming on to the premises for any length of time had to read and sign. One of the issues was confidentiality but at the end of the day, you can only trust. We as a staff had to be particularly aware that if there were vistiors in our staffroom we needed to be just a little cautious about what we talked about! It was also interesting how many times the conversation was a little risky when there were others present if only from a letting off steam moment!

We also had a staff social when the "odd" names some children had came up, problem was the mother of one such child was now on staff and present. Slip ups can happen very easily!

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There's a bit in out blurb about confidentiality but at the end of the day people gossip and there's nothing you can do about it. I find it particularly difficult as I am on my own (although hopefully not for much longer :D ) with a parent run committee. I am meant to share my planning etc with them and involve them in the day to day running of the group yet these are the parents of the children at the group - where's the confidentiality in that?? :o I do sympathise with your position Kaybee and there's no easy answer. However, you'll probably find that the other parents have already picked up on this child's problems and are gossiping about it. In some respects it is better that they know what is wrong and can understand any behaviour problems rather that speculating amongst themselves. Obviously if the mum doesn't want this then there's nothing you can do though.

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  • 1 month later...

Hi, our chair was worried about whether or not parents can be included in the ratio's, if each one helps only once or twice a term. I've just phoned Ofsted who didnt know but directed me to EYDCP who have just said 'NO', only students on long term placements and who are considered competent. We've included parents for years and have really relyed on them. Chair will not be amused :o:D

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I suppose the word "Regular" comes from standard 2.7 on staffing ratios. Just fished it out it says:-

 

The minimum staffing ratios are

1:3 children under 2,

1:4 children aged 2,

1:8 children 3-8.

These ratios include any children of staff or volunteers. REGULAR volunteers can be taken into account in the normal staffing ratios but students on short term placements are not

 

Depends what the word regular is taken to mean.......

Sorry I don't think that made it any clearer did it.

Carolyn

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Thats what I thought bubblejack, but EYDCP have today said not, she even checked and phoned me back. As for Ofsted, they didnt know and told me to phone EYPDC. It will make it very awkward for us until we can get another member of staff and then come September they may not be needed due to lower numbers. It would be helpful if it was in black and white what 'regular' meant, our parents help 'regularly' once or twice each 1/2 term. :D

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another thought, Are your "regular" parent helpers CRB checked? If counted on ratio then do they have the same responsibilities as other staff?

 

Peggy

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