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Hello everyone, hope you can help me

 

I have just taken over as a supervisor of a Pre-school in September. I enjoy this new postion...except....THE PAPERWORK. It is mounting up and I have very little time to do this, often it's at home.

 

Calling various people, sorting out courses, children's fees, staff wages, calculating how many children will be funded, showing new parents around the school, talking with parent at the beggining and end of the day, I am also a keyworker to 6 children and I find it difficult to record their progress as I do not know the children as well as when I was working as a Deputy, due to more time being spent in the office.

 

I do get another member of staff to come in whilst I have a paper work day. But it is not enough. Oh! I don't know, maybe cos its new. How do others in the same position juggle it?

 

Angie

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Hi angie, I have exactly the same problems, although I do have a management committee for some things, more and more is coming my way as the committee numbers dwindle. xD There are no easy solutions, but I am trying to prioritise and finish one thing before I start another. I've kind of taken a deep breath and although I know the work needs doing, I'm not beating myself up about it. It will get done, but not NOW. Take a look at the work you need to do, decide whats most important i.e. there are set dates when the head count for the NEG needs to be in, do these jobs first, childrens fee's can be done at the start of term, tell parents all money has to be paid in advance. Delegate if possible, but only to people you can rely on or you'll give yourself another headache chasing them up, and dont be afraid to tell people 'I'm sorry I cant do that this week'. The last thing you want is stress and no life. Our staff book their own courses (after we've decided what needs doing) and tell me when they are going to be out, they also arrange their own cover. I have 11 children in my keygroup, i take quick notes about the ones I dont know and try to fit in time at a focused activity. I also changed the planning to such an easy format that I dont have to spend hours writing, although I do still have to check other staff are working to it! At the end of the day, so long as the children are happy and safe, the rest gets done as I've got time.

I've been reading a book lately 'leadership in early childhood' by Jillian Rodd. Thats been useful just sorry I cant give you a quick fix :o:D

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Hi Angie - Good to hear from you again! :)

 

It would be useful to hear what sort of setting you're in - are you the supervisor of a private pre-school or a voluntary (or state sector)? Is there an owner or a committee? If an owner do they take any part in either the day to day activities or the management of the pre-school?

 

How many children are there and how many staff?

 

The one thing you can't do is keep taking stuff onto your own shoulders. You've probably heard the old analogy of everyone in an organisation walking round with the same number of monkeys on their shoulders, each one representing a problem or a burden. Every now and then a monkey is exchanged between people as responsibilities are accepted or shifted to someone else. Sometimes, one person seems to find that he or she is accepting more monkeys than they are giving away. Slowly the grins on the other people get wider, while the loser in the monkey battle starts staggering until they eventually collapse under the weight of the monkeys!

 

So the trick is to start re-distributing some of your monkeys - easier said than done!

 

This could take many forms:

  • Delegating, as Rea has said - either by for example losing responsibility for keyworkers and parcelling them out to the other staff (depends how many staff you've got), or getting staff to show parents round the school (depends on how much you can rely on your staff) or whatever.
     
  • Negotiating more non-contact time with your own manager (depends who that is - committee, private owner or whatever).
     
  • During staff meetings, discussing new jobs that you know need to be done, but not necessarily taking responsibility for doing it yourself. Again, depending on the quality of your staff, you might find that there are some who would relish a new role or responsibility. (You said that you used to be a deputy - presumably you have one now?)

Let us know a few more details about your setup, and we'll see what others have to suggest. Don't let your enjoyment of your new role be spoiled by carrying to many monkeys on your shoulders! :)

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I love seeing all the jobs as monkeys, cant stand the little critters so that will make off loading easier. :D

Angie, I hope I didnt sound too cavalier about it all. I'm actually looking for the inspiration/enthusiasm at the moment that will keep me in the job, so I'm probably just a depressive verging on the manic at the moment :o:D

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Hi Angie,

 

I used to do that job some years back, can well remember how difficult it got with those darned monkeys swinging every which way!!!

 

Eventually, the midnight oil ran out, as did my husband's patience so I was forced to accept that although I was pretty sensational (!! xD ), other people were capable, too and as I had 3 deputies(!!) maybe it was time I offloaded some. So I did! The group didn't collapse, Grant was received, fees came in, planning was done (well, and kept to, because they had more input) Ofsted went well and my husband and I stopped arguing! Incidentally, I started enjoying the job again.

 

I started off by holding a Staff meeting, at which we discussed all the important jobs, with an open furum on suggestions for strategies for handling them, which resulted in some changes which made life easier. Then I threw the jobs out for grabs, knowing that no one would volunteer for something they disliked or didn't fancy! Obviously it wasn't quite that simple, and there were teething problems, but eventually they all got ironed out (the probs, not the teeth :o ). The staff seemed to enjoy the new responsibilities, becoming very proud of 'their' area, ensuring it was done properly and well - the equipment storage was never so tidy!

 

That said, it does rather rely on the calibre of your staff, I was lucky to have some extremely capable, loyal and hard-working staff who blossomed with the extra responsibility. The group is still going, something of an achievement for a Committee-run Pre-school Playgroup in the current climate, and I've been gone some time now, so I wasn't exactly irreplacable!!

 

What I'm saying in a very long-winded way is you've got to move on this one, as much for your health as your sanity! Rea and Steve have made some good comments, I hope my contribution is as useful. Please fill us in with the details Steve suggested, it will help us come up with more pertinent suggestions.

 

Good luck!

 

Sue :D

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Hi Angie

I own and manage a pre-school so effectively do what you are doing now. The main thing is I don't have a keyworker group nor am I on the rota. It may seem in some ways that I don't actually work with the children but I have very close contact even so. I am on the premises every session and most of the time I spend in one of the main rooms either sorting out displays or doing some paper work. I still get chance to observe them and make notes of anything I think is important. I still do things like story every now and again and I always try to be involved when we are doing singing or gym, dance etc. But I do find that it takes the pressure off not being directly responsible for a group of children and not being on the rota.

I have an excellent staff team who are are well organised and keen to get involved. As the others have said if you can off load some of the work or get them involved working alongside you that would probably make lefe easier.

Linda

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i too do the same job and delegation can work, but you have to be able to rely on it to be done, some people are willing to try but scared of getting it wrong or feeling overwhelmed as you are probably feeling at times. if you suggest they try and help them as necessary it may be they enjoy the additional challenge. I have ensured that at least the deputy can take over from the majority of tasks, took time but she is now confident enough to do them all, in fact now all staff are willing to try, as they know I can help them when needed.

 

Staff sort out thier own training needs after we have discussed this together and arrange cover if needed, they also arrange their own cover for illness/change of shifts etc.

 

Visits by parents are managed by all staff, and only refered to me if there is a question they cannot answer.

 

I currently have 8 key children (one with special needs) and we all deal with the parents for our key children. This allows everyone to build a relationship with the parent as well as the child, they are always told that I am available if they want to speak to me but the staff are all now confident in this role and parents are happy with this too.

 

I get 1 day off site for paperwork and book work, took a lot of persuading that one I can tell you, but it works. (Oh for an office- I have an overflowing toy cupboard!!! ) (As you may guesss i work in a hall and pack away each day which is even more work) I do the accounts etc, which is unusual in a commitee setting, but I spent more time sorting our treasurers mistakes each term than it took to do them myself!! Plus we did have a problem with fee collection ( the treasurer did not pay any)

 

I love working with the children and work 7 sessions a week (we are open 9)doing story songs etc etc & am very hands on doing everything I expect the others to do, ( making snacks washing up, toileting, changing, moping floors etc.), and could not envisage being more observing than full hands on, even if this gives more time for paperwork.

 

we do have a high ratio of staff to children of 1;5 (not all can afford the luxury)which gives time during the session to do some of the paperwork while sitting at the drawing table , the children like to sit and try to copy or imitate what I am doing.

 

It is hard work and once organised in a way you find comfortable it does get easier. we all do it differently, and there is no easy formula, but it really does get easier. Sorry for the length but not easy to convey in short terms

 

Inge

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Hi again,

 

Good to see this thread developing, it's a knotty problem for a lot of folks. Despite what impressions I may give around the site, this kind of setting is where I started off, and, whilst being very happy in my current setting, it is really where my heart lies, even with all the hassle of clearing away and setting up everyday, getting parents to become involved, etc etc.

 

Long may you continue, and keep pegging away at the delegation thing!! :o

 

Sue :D

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hi

 

I manage a pre school also, do not do wages or invoices as we are a charity, i do have a keyworker group and used to be on the rota but am not any more so that i can do paperwork at school instead of all at home....i also never delegated but certainly do now to help me out and keep me sane... :D

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Wow! What a response.

 

I am so happy to be back. Okay, some details.

 

My setting is a Pre-school open 9.00 - 12.00. We work 8.45 - 12.45 (but more often it's about 8.20 - 2.00 for me. It is a Charity and is run by a committee. There is 1 deputy, 2 assistants 5 days a week, and 1 assistant 1 day a week to help support a 1-1 special needs child. She will be taken on full time in December (hopefully!) The person that I report to is an O.I.C (Officer In Charge). Which is a fully serving member of the R.A.F? He was abroad and I was not able to contact him for an entire month. This happens quite a lot. The treasurer is in the R.A.F. also, as is the building custodian, however I have been doing his job because he has been posted and a new one has not been appointed yet. Our fire extinguishers are out of date, exit signs need putting up etc. There were major issues I had to discuss with them and it is very difficult. These positions are secondary duties to them.

 

Currently, we have 22 children but this will rise to 26 (our legal limit) in the New Year. We admit children for 3 until they move onto school. I am included in the rota; therefore, if I take time out for paperwork I get cover to replace me. Unless I do this during circle time in the morning which is fitting in well apart from today when I had to talk to a parent and it went on for some time.

 

 

I just feel really bogged down at the moment. However, I've got to say that I posted this in the morning and now it is just after 7 in the evening I feel a wee bit more motivated and positive for tomorrow.

 

I've got to say something though I really miss being with the children and listening to the funny wee thing they say. Observing a child getting into the group that they have had some issues with and being accepted by them, the child that puts their hand up for the first time during circle time and gets up to tell or show something for the first time. I could go on but I'm getting sentimental. The job is a challange and I'm managing relatively well but the paper work is mounting up. I guess I'm reflecting and evaluating the changes that have taken place between a deputy position and now, as supervisor.

 

Thank you so much for everyones imput. It's given me much to think over. Steve, it gave me a giggle thinking of all those monkeys being thrown about the place. Thank you

 

Angie

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I am owner / manager of a pre-school (5 days a week 6.5 hrs a day).

I am very much like Inge, do the "paperwork" but try to be hands on as much as possible.

My staff abilities range from my deputy/ SENCO very experienced, 1 just achieved level 3, 1 studying level 3, 2 studying level 2 and last but not least 1 registered disabled with learning difficulties who is half way through a basic skills course who has had ten years experience within playgroups ( she was a volunteer at her last group for 9 years- exploited).

 

I digress....

All the staff have a diary each where they are expected to plan their time regarding observations, record keeping/keywork, training etc... this I collect and write on a weekly sheet. They also all share the Curriculum planning, they have a play area each which is planned 2 weeks in advance. They all identify childrens achievement and next step on a laminated board which I type up every 2 weeks, they use this to inform their planning ( plus the theme plus the educational focus for the week ie: maths Aspect 2.

 

One thing I have introduced to eleviate time is that I ask parents to pay fees via Standing Order, cheque, BACS and last resort cash.

Cheque payers are asked to write post dated cheques for the whole term ( either weekly or monthly payment amounts)

 

I now only collect fees from 3 parents on a weekly basis, thus saving time because I'm not collecting fees on a daily basis. I have access to the business account on my home computor so can check all other payments have gone in. This has also reduced the number of times I have to do the banking.

 

My work has been greatly reduced because before I used to do all the planning, then spend time explaining it to everyone, then evaluating it etc etc. Collecting and recording fees everyday.... Now my main task is to type up all the staffs planning, info they need for planning (next steps) and check the business account re: fees.

 

I also ensure I only spend a maximum of 2 hrs (per day) working at home.

Hope these tips helps.

 

Peggy

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As I understand it, the committee are the management team. Would it not be beneficial to all concerned that the committee were available all the time and made up of parents that use the setting on a daily basis. I dont know much about your setting but if the committee can possibly be away a lot, couldnt they be changed? You do need more backup than this, although saying that, my committee might just as well be in the RAF for all I see them!

Just a thought :D

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Thanks for the advice and support. I feel a bit powerless when I can't get in touch with them, however it can't really be helped. If they are told to go to wherever they have no choice whatsoever. As for changing the committee to parents... The forces in general are not very good at changing their TRADITIONS.

 

Another problem I have is that we accept children of RAF families first as it is a private pre-school and is run and maintained by them. We have a large list of civilian children on the waiting list and we do accept them into the pre-school. However, I never know when a family is going to get posted in. I have a balancing act on my hands as there is always pressure from above to get children in. (max 26). It's difficult. However, I'm probably no busier or stressed than everyone on this forum.

 

It's good to share. Thanks.

 

Angie

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Angie, I sympathise and fully understand the problems you are having. I ran a playgoup in an Army base for 4 years, same problems - absent chair/management, treasurer always seemed to be away and parents who needed a lot of support for a lot of the time ( 1st Gulf War then and most husbands away).

 

It is not easy , particularly with postings etc. we had to restrict out civilian intake to a maximum number (ours was 25% of number registered for) to allow for this constnt changing of children and always had one space empty for emergencies.

 

I was lucky in that I had the 'ear' of the RSM and his wife who had a child with us , and managed to use this contact to get things done, it worked for me and managed to get things rolling along. ( I also got the Padre involved but he was good with the children and very young, an unusual situation but useful at that difficult time for parents and children)

 

we did try for a committee of parents but as they came and went so frequently it didnt work, we would find ourselves without anyone quite suddenly. It was not just the dislike for change.

 

The upside was that i had a source of financial support from the charity works of the base I was on and managed to get a grant most years for something we wanted. we also were lucky to have the use of the transport and managed visits by tanks, ambulances, etc etc for the children. ( Our santa did a parachute drop one year in the field opposite our hall. Lots of excitement)

 

It does give you a bit of freedom to set up as you would like and not constantly ask commitees for every bit of expenditure, staffing and everything else they are supposed to oversee, but dont always. I used to make the decisions and tell them what I had done when I could find them!!

 

But paperwork is one area you will have to work out and orgnise to how you find easier, please do delegate and teach others, it does work.

 

Inge

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