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Staff Working Alone


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Hi

 

Are staff aloud to work in a room by themselves if they are still within there ratio. Or would Ofsted come down on us like a ton of bricks!!!

 

Personally i think ofsted would have a heart attack, but i need to prove this to the owners. Currently none of our staff are in this situation, but our numbers are increasing and children are moving to new rooms because of birthdays and therefore we need to reoraganise our staff. I personally feel that there should be two members of staff in each room, no matter whether under ratio or not. I am fighting to get the owners to agree we need another memebr of staff so we have two in a room at least.

 

Please can someone tell me where i can find the proof i need, (EYFS folder????) to show no matter whether under ratio, if the room is in use by children you need two or more staff.

 

Oh and another thing i should tell you is that it is the baby room and the door onto that is cut in half like a stable door that is always closed but leads onto preschool room. So owner will say that preschool staff can see in room. but preschool staff can only see in room if they are looking, which meansthey would not be watching there own children!!

 

I just need to know i am right, so then i know i will fight this to the end and stick to my ground, as they say!! xD

 

Thanks in advance if i dont get to later! :o

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I've just done a search of the practice guidance and statutory framework and can't find any specific mention of whether there needs to be two members of staff in the room at all times even if they are under ratio. However, both documents talk about staffing levels needing to be sufficient to promote children's safe supervision, so I guess Ofsted could reasonably say having only one member of staff in a room was unsatisfactory.

 

If I were in charge of working out staffing ratios I woudl ask questions such as what would happen if a member of staff working alone needed to attend to a child's toileting needs, administer first aid, answer the telephone etc? How would a member of staff working alone successfully evacuate the children in the room in the event of an emergency?

 

I agree with you, there needs to be two adults in a room as a minimum and I would certainly not be happy working alone with a group of children - even if there were staff in an adjacent room in an emergency situation I wouldn't feel confident that I would be able to attract their attention. And anyway asking them to come and help might compromise ratios in their room too!

 

Would be interested to hear the views of your (or any) local authority advisory team on this one!

 

Good luck - let us know what happens.

 

Maz

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When I worked in a LA setting I was left alone during lunch breaks, I would have 3 SEN chidlren and 5 3-5 year olds, therefore in ratio. We were inspected and of course the lovely lady was there over lunch in our room. She felt I coped ok as my main function was to prevent a child on ASD from climbing on everything and throwing everything, the kids had a great time taking to the O lady while I moved around the room containing the damage!!! She did not mention the fact that I was alone for 45 mins. I didn't have to answer the phone, if I needed the loo it was considered bad management not to have gone before being left alone, but we did have panick buttons in the rooms so if I did need help I pressed it and everyone who could came running.

Now I am in a different setting and in charge we do not have 1 in a room regardless of ratios unless someone is in the loo with a child or in the loo themselves which is never ofr very long.

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So, it's a baby room - max of three children, you say it has a half door leading directly to another room. I think you'd have to have to see a floorplan layout to make an informed decision.

Although not good working practice to be alone you can understand the finanical implications of 2 adults with 3 babies (mind you think of the wonderful care they'd have)

 

xxx

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Appendix 2 tells you the deatiled info re ratios. it does mention about 2 staff being present in the setting but not in the room?

Yes, it does mention that a minimum of two people need to be in the setting at all times - just not spefically in each room. Personally I think owners/committees should read 'room' for 'setting' just to be on the safe side... But then I think each room should have one 'spare' member of staff to cover continengies/emergencies too - and I guess most full day care owners would say this would put them out of business! :o

 

Maz

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At my setting we have two ajoining rooms and an outdoor area. We have 6 members of staff per day and are split 2 per area. However if a member of staff is off sick then we are down to 5 members of staff. Although we are never under ratio in this situation we do have to have a member of staff working on there own in a room.

 

This situation also happens when most of the children are playing outside, we send more adults out for safety so again people will be in a room on their own. If you need to assist a child in toileting/first aid etc, we just call out for back up.

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This situation also happens when most of the children are playing outside, we send more adults out for safety so again people will be in a room on their own. If you need to assist a child in toileting/first aid etc, we just call out for back up.

All sounds reasonable when you put it like that - depends on how easy your back up can be called, and how your staff know where each other are during the session. I guess for Ofsted's purposes it depends whether you can demonstrate that your systems work, and that children are safe during these periods.

 

Which is a bit worrying really when you consider how opinions and views differ from one inspector to the other! :o

 

Maz

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Our staff work in rooms alone we have 2 preschool rooms each with an average of six children in them and they also have a floater on the same floor who helps both rooms as and when they need support. Last time Ofsted came this was not a problem.

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I work in Pre-School!.One member begins their shift at 7am-they are on their own till 9am.Then 2 members of staff arein the room.one member of stafff does dinner.After 2:00 pm,I am on my own till the end ie 6.00 as the member of staff is in babies.Never really over-ratio some days i may have 9 or ten children on my own although I am able to shout the manager(as the office is connected to pre-school)for toileting needsor if i did fneed the toilet.It can be scaryif you are alone and a child has an accident.I'm used to it now.anyone else in a similar situation?

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I get the impression that there should be 2 staff available per room but obviously there are going to be times when staff need to leave the room for toileting etc so I dont think that there needs to be 2 staff in the room at all times.

 

now that we have free access between indoors and out its proving impossible to have 2 staff inboth areas at all times so we try to ensure that whereever the children are there are always the correct number of adults for the numbers of children. if there are only 3 children inside and the rest are outside then is seems a waste of a staff member having two staff inside and then a big group outside with just two staff.

 

I think that staff need to be sencible about leaving themselves at risk of being alone because of accidents and allegations but that doesnt mean that staff can never be left alone in a room, cover needs to be adequate that a second adult is available the instant assistance is needed.

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Have been thinking about this some more, and I think it probably also depends on how you define a 'room', too! I guess it is hard to fully understand how staffing ratios work when you don't know what a 'room' looks like and is laid out. Being on your own whilst in ratio is one thing, but being out of ratio is just asking for trouble! :o

 

Maz

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I know it is unlikely, but what happens if member of staff on their own becomes ill or passes out. How long until another member of staff notices? It is an impossible situation. Children are so important and their early years probably the most important and yet here we all are wanting to have enough staff and being unable to afford it. mrsW.

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I know it is unlikely, but what happens if member of staff on their own becomes ill or passes out. How long until another member of staff notices? It is an impossible situation. Children are so important and their early years probably the most important and yet here we all are wanting to have enough staff and being unable to afford it. mrsW.

I guess that is all part of the risk assessment mrsW, and what I meant by talking about how the room was organised. If rooms are small enough and close enough together to enable staff to clearly hear and see what is going on in the next room then I would be more relaxed about a member of staff working alone with an appropriately sized group of children. However if rooms are separated by a heavy fire door and there are no windows between one room and the next then I would worry about the safety of both children and staff working alone in those rooms.

 

That said, I know I am fortunate enough to be able to decide my own staffing ratios because ultimately their salary comes out of mine! I do understand that settings have financial pressures but as you say, safety of both children and staff must be our priority. Tricky balancing act isn't it?

 

Maz

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unfortunately ofsted are fine with one staff in aroom, we were inspected and had one staff to 6 children in pre.

i personally think its bad practice, but owner is scutinising the figures to make sure we are in ratio!!

the only thing ive read is that ofsted can pull you up if its difficult for staff to cope and therefore staff should be placed according to the mix of children, we have a few very boisterous boys in pre and i was working on 1:6 when the boys were in so i had 2 staff but have been shot down in flames by owner and have had to go back to 1:8, why it jumps from 1:4 then 1:8 is beyond me, if anything i think it should be 1:4 in Pre!!!!

but to answer your question ofsted are fine with it!

Edited by Guest
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I think Ofsted have to be fine with staff working on their own otherwise we childminders would all be put out of business.

 

In school holidays I can be alone with three under fives and three more under eights. I have often been alone with two babies during term time.

 

It's about taking reasonable precautions.

 

I have people who live close by who I can call in an emergency.

 

A staff member is no more likely to keel over than a parent who is at home in sole charge of these children.

 

I certainly don't feel that the children in my care are put at unacceptable risk.

 

It seems to me that a practitioner in a group setting who is alone in a room (within ratio) with a colleague within earshot is pretty well covered.

 

Having said that I do try not to go up to my numbers all of the time because I like to give them as much one to one as possible (and six under eights every day of the holidays is more than my sanity can take!)

 

What do those in group settings think of childminders ratios?

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