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Outoor Freeflow Staff Ratios


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We have free-flow in our Preschool where children constantly have access to the outdoor space. However, during colder weather some staff are reluctant to go outside with the children and it can often end up with one staff being outside with 16 plus children, while two staff are inside with 8 or less!

 

I raised concerns about this but was told that as it was freeflow then all that mattered was that there were three staff covering 24 children - inside/outside being viewed as the one area i.e Preschool. It would seem to be that with 3/4 year olds you need to be able to see the children you are in charge of - does any one know the ruling on this?

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HI,

 

I would say you need to keep your ratios within the areas that the children are using, so if 8 are in you need the 1 member of staff depending on age and if 16 are out you need the two members of staff out. If there are worries with the coldness etc with staff why dont they take it in turn.... say 20mins to half an hour each.

 

 

040

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Hi saturnpa, what an interesting question and I am afraid I don't know the answer. The logical thing to do is for one staff member to move from inside to outside depending on where the majority of the children are. Thats what we do but its much easier for us because we have 5 staff. I have staff who are always cold but our hall is dark and so it is often colder inside than outside (especially if the sun is out!). Will be interested to know if there is a 'rule'. mrsW

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I have recently had a conversation with our school advisor (who is also an early years specialist) about this! After checking with other people in her team, she advised that the indoor and outdoor areas are seen as 'the setting/provision', so there is no need for children to be supervised at all times while outdoors as the ratios are for the provision. However, we did agree that we need to use our common sense and risk assessment - i.e. alter staffing depending on where most of children are. There doesn't seem to be any 'rule' as such - it is down to the setting to decide. I think it also depends on what is happening, for example, if an adult is doing a focused activity/focused obs etc indoors , it does help to have a 'room manager' to support children involved in CI play but if only 8 children in I think the other adults would be ok outside!

 

Hope that makes sense and helps

Green Hippo

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Although there may not be a 'rule' as such - I'm sure this would be covered under 'effective deployment of staff' which I would understand to mean more staff where the majortiy of children are?

 

xx

Edited by louby loo
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hi everyone

 

we used to have a band system where children could only go outside if they had a band...i.e. 8 bands and 1 memeber of staff and at busier times we had 16 bands and 2 memebers of staff. but recently our development officer has advised us that we do not need to stay with in ratios outside as long as the member of staff can cope whether they are inside or outside. we usually take it turn to go outside and we always ask each other if we would like to swop. we work to minimum ratios so sometimes 1 member of staff ends up with 1 child inside who refuses to go out and the other member of staff has 15 children outside.

 

hope this helps!!!

 

puj xx

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we use a rota system for indoors and outdoors so all staff have equal time in and out -

number 1 goes out for first thirty minutes

number 2 goes out for second thirty minutes -

however if during the first thirty minutes the number of children outside exceeds 6 then person 2 also goes outside - this is repeated for second thirty minutes when person 1 would go outside if more than 6 children outside.

this is repeated with person 3 and 4 for second hour or so

if was really cold weather we make it for shorter periods of time.

this ensures all adults go outside - and in the summer when everyone wants to be outside ensures the same person is not left insode all the time.

funny how those that dont want to be outsiode when its cold are usually the first ones out when the sun shines!!!!!!

hope that makes sense x

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Hi

 

Have read everyones comments with interest. We have free flow play inside and out all session, all weathers, rain, snow, you name it. Staff were reluctant at first but I have made it a condition of working in the setting that it`s an "outdoor job" so they have to come prepared. some reluctance at first but now they have got on board, investing in thermals, wellingtons etc.

 

A good idea i picked up recently was that going outside should be included in the job description as with the new curriculum it is a requirement for all settings to access the outdoors. Good idea I thought - always better to let everyone know what you expect of them up front.

 

Sally

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Hi

 

Have read everyones comments with interest. We have free flow play inside and out all session, all weathers, rain, snow, you name it. Staff were reluctant at first but I have made it a condition of working in the setting that it`s an "outdoor job" so they have to come prepared. some reluctance at first but now they have got on board, investing in thermals, wellingtons etc.

 

A good idea i picked up recently was that going outside should be included in the job description as with the new curriculum it is a requirement for all settings to access the outdoors. Good idea I thought - always better to let everyone know what you expect of them up front.

 

Sally

thats a great idea SallyQ. It's not mentioned on our job descriptions, hope the rest of the staff don't notice tomorrow!!! mrsW.x

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Hi - we work it as follows - one member of staff outside for one hour, change over so another member of staff is outsdie for another hour etc - if more than 8 children go outside then another member of staff goes outside as well - I feel that staff should be deployed where the children are regardless of what is going on inside - little point of loads of kids outside and no staff - we try on these occasions to bring the next steps that were goiing on inside and transfer them to outside - hope this helps, we do encourage staff to play games outside with children in colder wheather such "whats the time Mr Wolf/ ring games etc to keep warm" - and I love being outside even if it is cold - great obs. Dot :o

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At our pre-school the children are in and out constantly so we bought some walkie talkies (from Maplin but I did see them in Tesco £20ish) and the staffmember outside is then capable of instant contact with the staff inside if there's a problem. We did a detailed risk assessment and felt this was ok. Obviously though, if most of the children are outside then there will be more staff outside. It's a good point to update contracts, thanks for that!

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At our pre-school the children are in and out constantly so we bought some walkie talkies (from Maplin but I did see them in Tesco £20ish) and the staffmember outside is then capable of instant contact with the staff inside if there's a problem. We did a detailed risk assessment and felt this was ok. Obviously though, if most of the children are outside then there will be more staff outside. It's a good point to update contracts, thanks for that!

I love the walkie-talkie idea - this would be really good for our setting - must visit Tescos at the weekend!!!

 

Sunnyday

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They're excellent - we've had ours for a few years, got them from Amazon I think. We had a fantatstic time talking to a fishing boat in the Solway Firth last summer when we'd tuned to a different wavelength.

 

Retrospectively we wondered whether parents could tap in and 'eavesdrop' too, but as we never say inappropriate things over the talkies they shouldn't hear anything untoward. It does make you aware of who might tune in though

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They're excellent - we've had ours for a few years, got them from Amazon I think. We had a fantatstic time talking to a fishing boat in the Solway Firth last summer when we'd tuned to a different wavelength.

 

Retrospectively we wondered whether parents could tap in and 'eavesdrop' too, but as we never say inappropriate things over the talkies they shouldn't hear anything untoward. It does make you aware of who might tune in though

Oh - good tip - I would never have thought about that!

 

Sunnyday

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HI,

This seems to be bringing about a lot of discussion but im not sure im in the right discussion area, but here goes.

I am trying to address the issue of staff being deployed outside during free-flow, it is something we are working on but have hit a lot of reluctance. I know the curriculum offered has to include the outside and planning for it as much as the indoors, but staff are very reluctant to go outside, I have suggested the thermals and wellies concept, but 1 staff is stating that they are willing to go outside as long as they are paid if they are off ill becuase of being out in the cold, this is an area that would be open to abuse as anytime they were off, they would state it was down to being outside. Although when we had the snow all staff were happy to go out and experience building snowmen and snowballs with no complaints as we had hot chocolate when we came in to warm up. Does anyone know if working outside is covered by the Health & Safety Act and how to enforce this? All staff are going to be present when the teacher support service comes out next week and just hoping she has ways to overcome this, and the staff are more likely to take it on board when it comes from her rather than me although at meetings it was raised that I am not making these things up.

x

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HI,

This seems to be bringing about a lot of discussion but im not sure im in the right discussion area, but here goes.

I am trying to address the issue of staff being deployed outside during free-flow, it is something we are working on but have hit a lot of reluctance. I know the curriculum offered has to include the outside and planning for it as much as the indoors, but staff are very reluctant to go outside, I have suggested the thermals and wellies concept, but 1 staff is stating that they are willing to go outside as long as they are paid if they are off ill becuase of being out in the cold, this is an area that would be open to abuse as anytime they were off, they would state it was down to being outside. Although when we had the snow all staff were happy to go out and experience building snowmen and snowballs with no complaints as we had hot chocolate when we came in to warm up. Does anyone know if working outside is covered by the Health & Safety Act and how to enforce this? All staff are going to be present when the teacher support service comes out next week and just hoping she has ways to overcome this, and the staff are more likely to take it on board when it comes from her rather than me although at meetings it was raised that I am not making these things up.

x

Hmmm - have they read their copies of the E.Y.F.S.

 

Sunnyday

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you dont become ill from going outside in the cold !!!!

 

we have free flow and you must be careful on ratio's

 

also just to add a point if your key child chooses to be outside all morning how will reluctant staff move those children on if they are not outside observing and scaffolding learning!

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I think my reply would be As with any ilness, if you can prove it was caused by something here at the setting, thn you will be paid. Proof would have to be a Drs cert and I cant see any Dr signing one to say an illness had been caught becuase they were outside.

But going by the above everytime staff were off sick with heavy colds or S&D that was doing the rounds, they would have to be paid as well?

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i find it very difficult as i teach in a reception class there is only 2 of us for 30 kids and some days just me staff ratios isnt something i could change buut i have ensured that we have waterproofs and and hats etc provided so no complaints about being outside

 

what about other reception teachers with limited adults what do you do?

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we have a difficult time with this 'freeflow' ....i wish we could get consistant advice on this.....we we're pulled up at last ofsted inspection as 10 children were outside with 2 adults having a story ..so not even running around, one adult took a child in to go through to the toilet, at feedback ofsted inspector said this shouldn't have happened even though door was open at time ! i told her that we'd had advice from our early years advisor who said it was acceptable and that children had to be within sight or sound (which is a bit daft as all staff could stand inside and look out the window to see and hear them !)

 

we also had a situation last week where only one child wanted to be indoors, i had 3 staff out with 22, 1 staff in doing freetime/assessment records so i had to supervise child (supposed to be supernumary - thats a laugh) as i didnt want only 2 outside with 22 children....whoever sits in these offices and comes up with daft ideas should come in and try it in practice first especially where you run in a setting where the toilets are through a corridor and the outdoors is not accessed straight from the playroom.

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