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Committee Have Asked Us To Work With Minimum Staff


Guest MaryEMac
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Guest MaryEMac

Yesterday all the staff were asked to go to a meeting with the chair and treasurer. We were not told what the meeting was about. At the moment they are updating our contracts and had asked for what days and times we worked. For some sessions we use a rota so that we don't always work the same hours each week. For example on one week I might work all day monday, thursday and friday morning, yet the next week I could be working monday morning,weds morning, all day thursday and friday morning. I know, it's complicated but we know what is going on.

Anyway for the last 18 years or so we have worked to a ratio of 1:5, which is good with all the paperwork needed. We have 20 children per session in the mornings so we have 4 staff and a volunteer. In the afternoon we only have at the moment up to 12 children so we only use 2 staff and a volunteer. We have a lot of children due to start next term and there is a prospect that another local playgroup might close,( I have already had enquiries).

They are asking that we work nearer to the 1:8 ratio because of costs There are only 5 staff so it is not an enormous workforce. Their idea is that the volunteer will be the extra person but not included in the ratio. This would just about be possible if all the volunteers were good. 1 sent a message via a member of staff ,who she'd seen in the playground, that she wouldn't be in. She didn't even have the decency to let me know the day before so that I could get someone else in.

How can we have free flow indoor/outdoor play with only two staff, a possible vol and up to 18 children? Not to mention do observations.

Could any of you good people out there let me know your staffing levels and how many adult helpers/volunteers you have with you per session.

I'm sorry about the long post but my deputy asked me to post because I keep banging on about how great everone is on here.

 

Thanks for reading.

 

Mary

 

PS. In the next breath we were told to resource a new bigger photocopier and decide what new uniforms we want and they will pay for them. :oxD

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How can we have free flow indoor/outdoor play with only two staff, a possible vol and up to 18 children? Not to mention do observations.

 

Mary

 

 

You cannot manage all of that on 2 staff.. volunteer cannot be guaranteed or relied on , and with 18 you would be over ratio anyway... 16 children would be the max with 2 staff...

 

we worked 1:5 with all staff 'hands on' with a minimum of 3 staff most days, reason being that if a parent came in to enquire ratio immediately dropped as that staff member could no longer be counted as hands on with the children therefore not in ratio.. same for anyone going to do snack, we always also worried about a member of staff being injured, if the other had to deal with it no staff for children at all..

 

if there was 1 supernumary and 2 staff it is possible as lots of the paperwork would be relieved from the hands on staff...

 

 

It also allowed for the staff if ill not to worry too much , as we would still be in ratio if they could not attend.. not that this often happened.

 

That said we did tend to work to children's needs, like you only 5 of us, so flexible enough to discuss and know if extra staff were needed , our committee felt we knew how to staff better than they did and always wanted best ratio possible for their children so let us decide, providing money was there, when not they let us know and we worked accordingly,

 

It was just sometimes the mix of children which needed the extra or less staff and we adjusted to this need.

 

Inge

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I hope for your sanity and for legal reason you are talking about pre-school. We currently have 2 staff and 16 children, 1 staff permenant the other agency. In April we will have 20 children as that is all we are allowed in our space but this means we need 3 staff who will by then all be permenant, which inturn means better ratios for everyone.

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we work 1:6 ratio , as we have maximum of 24 children and have 4 staff - we are never ucky enough to have parent volunteers. i think you need to speak to your development worker and she will be aqble to help you with problem x

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so what do the committee expect you to do on days that the volunteer lets you down at the last minute?

 

will one of the committee members step in?

 

volunteers can count in the staff ratio for things like emergency staff sickness cover so that a setting doesnt have to close

 

are the volunteers just rota mums or are they fully vetted crb checked? I'm thinking when children have accidents are your volunteers cleared to handle the personal care of the children otherwise there is even more work left to the staff that the volunteers cannt help with

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Guest MaryEMac

Sorry folks, just re read my post. I meant to put , up to 16 children. We are concerned that, as has happened just recently, a child can need two staff to help after an incident. (She fell awkwardly and became unconsolable as she had only been with us for a short time.) Luckily no damage but that would have left the remaining children with the volunteer.

Will try and convince the chair that we will be flexible but if we feel that another member of staff is needed then they will be asked to come in.

A lot of the new children next term will be 2 yrs and 9 mths so that will affect the ratio. The chair doesn't seem to understand this however much I explain it. Don't get me wrong, she has been a good chair inasmuch as she has brought the playgroup into the 21st century but she has become obsessed with saving money. We don't earn mega bucks anyway :o

 

Mary

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Guest MaryEMac

Alison, all the volunteers are CRB checked. 1 has level 3 and volunteers to keep her hand in and the others are doing level 2 training. They are also on the committee.

 

Mary

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Hi

 

We work 1:6, max 18 for 3 year olds, 1:4 for 2 year olds. It is easier at this time of year as all are settled and know the routine. (Just had a good week as all outside enjoying the lovely weather).

 

It is difficult getting all the obs and assessments done plus everything else. The chair can't expect volunteer workers to be counted as regular staff. Sometimes you do need two people to deal with something and anyway if one person is dealing with a child, that only leaves one with the rest. I wouldn't accept this ratio, what expereince does the chair have of running a pre-school?

 

School Nursery's may have 1;13 but they have a whole host of people that they can call on in an emergency. Headteacher, caretaker etc.

 

Is a uniform / photocopier more important than people caring for the children?

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Alison, all the volunteers are CRB checked. 1 has level 3 and volunteers to keep her hand in and the others are doing level 2 training. They are also on the committee.

 

Mary

 

Ofsted would probably be ok with those volunteers being counted in the staff ratio

 

do staff have a contract stating how many hours they work in a week? I think if the committee havent already done so they need to check employment law about reducing paid staff hours to use volunteers ...

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We work, and have always done so with a 1:8 ratio, with 3 members of staff. We rarely have volunteers but on the odd occasion we might have students helping. We have 24 children per session.

 

It's not enough though and we've been asking for another staff member for sessions. Our children are aged 3 - 41/2 and I find the freeflow outdoors the most difficult to manage. One staff member inside, one outside and one flitting between the two is not really good......it's works but still doesn't feel right.

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We have 33 children on a Friday (only 4 2year olds) and we have 5 staff. I would love a sixth member of staff but I know there is no chance! Until the Government realise how hard it is to manage a Pre-School on the fees they pay, nothing will change. Didn't mean to moan, it just came out, sorry. mrsW.x

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I feel that this is a common issue with Committes. we have 20 children per morning and work with 4 staff this time of year. We if lucky enough might get a parent helper but theyare very thin on the ground.

 

I suspect that some of your issues are down to mixed age groups. We have I staff member for under 3s I try and only have 4 a session and then the rest of the staff are for over 3s.

 

Certainly I have been told by our outgoing Chair that I need to keep the wage cost down and my answer is that if she read her copy of EYFS she would know how much we have to do and it is not good for the chidlren or staff to work on bare minimums, and then I always make sure that staff get some pay for work they do at home.

 

I have a new Chair starting this week at long last and `m hoping that she will be more supportive to our cause,

 

Hope you get this sorted.

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i manage a day nursey and although the owner is a lovely guy hes pretty clueless!!!! hes also very money consious and want me to work with minimum ratio- our pre school room is only small with a maximum of 12, we usually have between 5 and 10 children but i always work on 1-6ratio, he needed a lot of convincing!!! the main thing i told him (which is in fact true) is that although ofsted say 1-8 they can when inspecting say 1-8 is insufficient if the staff are overworked and stressed due to the mix of children. i think that a jump from 1-4 to 1-8 is crazy!! just because a child turns 3 doesnt mean they are magicaly transformed into needed less attention!! (or behaving any better for that matter!!)

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Somewhere within the EYFS it states (cant rememeber exactly where now) it states the ratio's but also says they must be suficant to allow staff to converse with parents, cope with emergemcies etc.

How on earth can anyone expect you to manage with just 2 staff & that many children. What if there ws a real emergency and one of you had to go to hopital with a child? A volunteer is just that, someone who does something voluntary- they cannot be relied on, if they chose to they could ring that morning and say I dont want to come in today, hopefully mos people would have the decency not to but surely committee should realise this.

 

The more I read on this forum about committees the more i am convincrd they really shouldn't be running pre-schools. My group has alweays been committee run and apart from minor thngs I have obviously been very lucky with them over the years however there is no way I would allow a committee to dictate to me about the day to day running of the group or how few staff I could have. If they couldn't trust me to decide this myself then I wouldn't work for them.

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The more I read on this forum about committees the more i am convincrd they really shouldn't be running pre-schools. My group has alweays been committee run and apart from minor thngs I have obviously been very lucky with them over the years however there is no way I would allow a committee to dictate to me about the day to day running of the group or how few staff I could have. If they couldn't trust me to decide this myself then I wouldn't work for them.

 

here here!!!!! :o

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The more I read on this forum about committees the more i am convincrd they really shouldn't be running pre-schools. My group has alweays been committee run and apart from minor thngs I have obviously been very lucky with them over the years however there is no way I would allow a committee to dictate to me about the day to day running of the group or how few staff I could have. If they couldn't trust me to decide this myself then I wouldn't work for them.

 

 

here here!!!!! :o

 

 

a lot told in two words Hali

 

Inge

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When are they thinking about making these changes, I would think it prudent to consider the possible increase in numbers in September before reducing staffing levels.

I personally think in this case that the committee have shown to be working well with the staff, holding meetings to discuss their ideas rather than just going ahead and changing contracts.

Maybe the photocopier and new uniform is an ill thought out idea to, in some way, show the staff they are valued. It is a difficult balance to ensure financial viability and maintain staffing levels, especially if budgeting to the NEG.

May I suggest you discuss how you think these ratio's will work 'in practice', see if you can come up with any compromise to enable the committee to reduce staffing costs. For example, if afternoons are quieter could paperwork be done then, or maybe the committee could emply staff cover for say one hour a day to enable staff to have 'admin time out'.

I think it's positive that the volunteers are qualified, they too can feedback to committee the pressures of low staffing levels as they are (or will be) working them too.

If staffing levels are reduced then make clear to the volunteers the importance of notice if absent, up to now this has not been so important as it may not have reduced ratio's below the requirements.

Ask the committee to consider how safeguarding against allegations will be risk assesed if one adult is in a room on their own with children for extended lengths of time ie: when indoor/outdoor freeplay is in practice.

Do other risk assessments on the various scenario's when staff levels are lower.

Work with the committee to suggest other ways of 'saving money', at the end of the day, if a setting is not financially viable there will be no staff ratio's to consider.

Sorry, my thoughts are a bit 'all over the place' with my response, but basically working WITH the committee is much more beneficial for all than working against them.

 

Peggy

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Guest MaryEMac

Thanks for your thoughts everyone. At the moment it is working ok but trying to do free flow is difficult. We are quite close to a road and the play area has some hidey holes which means for child protection and safety we need 2 staff outside.

After Easter we have some new children starting who will be under 3 so that will be a lever to have more staff.

Our chair, bless her, has spent a session in the group as emergency cover but really didn't have a clue as to what was acceptable for the children to do. I don't think that she has any idea about what we have to do in every session with obs, and child initiated play etc etc.

Anyway there is a committee meeting next week which all the staff are going to and they are going to back me up when I explain about the need for staffing levels.

Peggy, Thank you for putting things so sensibly, it is a big help.

Thanks again,

 

Mary

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Thanks for your thoughts everyone. At the moment it is working ok but trying to do free flow is difficult. We are quite close to a road and the play area has some hidey holes which means for child protection and safety we need 2 staff outside.

After Easter we have some new children starting who will be under 3 so that will be a lever to have more staff.

Our chair, bless her, has spent a session in the group as emergency cover but really didn't have a clue as to what was acceptable for the children to do. I don't think that she has any idea about what we have to do in every session with obs, and child initiated play etc etc.

Anyway there is a committee meeting next week which all the staff are going to and they are going to back me up when I explain about the need for staffing levels.

Peggy, Thank you for putting things so sensibly, it is a big help.

Thanks again,

 

Mary

 

Just like to say you are not alone. A typical day for us is 4 under 3 yrs and 14 over 3yrs. We have 3 staff and have to set up put away etc. All working to min ratio. Its a nightmare. Lucky if we get any post it obs done never mind anything else. trying to ensure all kids are engaged (only 2 girls rest boys!!??) its really hard work and to be honest very stressful when you know that we just havent got the time to do the paperwork. But our pre-school is running at loss so no chance of extra staff although 6 months ago we appealed to comm they dont have the money to do it. we are no accepting children 2 yrs 2 months so you can imagine whats that like with only 3 staff!There are many of us in exactly th same situation. To be honest I dread OFSTED turning up.

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Now your chair has seen first hand what a session really means - can you sit down and share the job expectations on you from Ofsted etc.

She will have now seen and felt how difficult the job really is ( not all playing with sand).

Possibly a good time to look at job descriptions so the commitee agree which bits the volunteers are going to do.

 

Good luck

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We are committee run charity in a village hall. We are registered for 40 children a day but have reached an agreement with

the committee to keep to max of 32 a day with the ratio's 2 staff with 8 x 2yrs and 4 staff with 24 x 3/4 yrs

plus an additional member of staff two days a week to cover inclusion funding. Some days we find ourselves with only

19 - 26 children but our committee are happy to let staff use the time wisely by planning and updating profiles. They also

pay us to complete the children's profiles in addition to our working hours. By reading some of these posts I guess we

are very fortunate to be able to keep high ratio's in our setting. It has had a very positive effect on children's behaviour and

staff moral. :( We also have a 'kitchen queen' daily who washes up paint pots etc, makes staff drinks and prepares snack for the children and an administrator daily who takes the register and works out breakfast and lunch clubs. Just hope the 'chair' doesn't have the password to FSF to see how other settings operate and look at our costs! :oxD

 

dottyp

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  • 5 weeks later...

i wish i was lucky enough to have a ratio of 1-6 in my pre school room of a private day nursery!!!!!!! the proprietor works on ratio of 1-8 with 2 staff and 16 kids it money money money with her and spare staff that would be a luxury i would not have to do all my profiles at home then...

Good on you for sticking to your guns and asking for a better ratio of staff to children

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