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Pearls Of Wisdom Needed Urgently Please


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I started my job as manager for a small struggling pre-school in June,had the first half term to see what needed doing then holiday to prepare BUT sod's law decided that I'd be quite poorly instead so have gone back to work with a list of must do stuff that seems to be getting longer by the minute.

In no particular order I need to:write SEF!!do short term planning for this term-started it but lost the will to live, next steps for my key children, change rota to accomodate committee's demands to cut costs but also try and stay in ratios, prepare for imminent OFSTED inspection-yikes, oh and boost the number of children coming in otherwise they'll shut us down.This is just big stuff I can think of obviously there is day to day stuff that needs doing too.

Am just feeling there is so much to do and no time to do it especially when I am included in ratios at all times and have to do majority of work at home where I feel guilty as have 2 children and hubby and house,not to mention cats,that all need attention.

Please please tell me this is do-able without losing my mind. Just don't know where to start really and am starting to regret having taken the job!! :o

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Is there someone e.g. chair, committee member, chair, deputy, who could take on any of this? Perhaps someone could work with you to look at the rota.


You are looking at it all at once. Take one bite sized chunk, tackle it and don't think about the rest. Start with the thing you know you can finish most quickly and easily


If you are doing loads of evaluation and reflection you don't have to have it recorded in you SEF yet. Just be in a position to tell Ofsted what you are doing and why.


Make sure others know how you feel - the last thing they'll want is you deciding you can't cope and leaving!

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I would never leave. I took the job on knowing that it would be hard but am getting very little support from the committee. The setting hadn't had a manager for over a year before I started so the committee members were doing more than they assumed they would have to so now I'm there they are leaving me to it. They are all of a "certain age" and just don't seem to be that interested in any of it, in fact it seemed to me at first that they were quite happy to let it run down. Because of that managerless year the staff are all quite disillusioned and morale is quite low-I am trying to change things for the better little by little as I don't want to alienate any of them but I suppose change for some people is not a good thing.

You are right though I am looking at it on the whole and should cut it down into bite size chunks...I am trying to get the staff more involved with the planning but there's really only one who is happy to do something to help out.

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i agree with upsy daisy -take it in small chunks - work out what your key children will need with regard to next steps -i think your short term planning could follow settling in and all about me and my family as you get to know the children and they get to know you - that will give you a few weeks to settle in.

could you ask someone to help you with the rota - perhaps there is a committee member that is a little more willing than others?

talk to the committee or chair explain the situation and that you need their help and support at this moment and that as you set things up and work things out you will need them less and less -but it is important for them at the moment to support you .

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when I started as manager of my struggling preschool I tried to do everything at once and it was hard we muddled through but since I learnt to delegate and alot more gets done and the staff are more understanding of the volume of work there is in running a preschool.


Rome wasnt built in a day so avoid trying to change too much at once its tempting to say out with the old in with the new but dont do it!!!!! its like trying to decorate every room in you house at the same time its harder to supervise and difficult to monitor that each change it implimented and understood properly


you cannt do everything and stay sain, so unless you are being paid extra hours to take work home, dont, keep homework to a minimum. All the staff should be pitching in to get the jobs done, if you all work together as a team and each did a little something it takes the presure off you.

if you have time do a skills audit of your staff find out what interests and talents they have so that you can pool their abilities and make the most of them in the future. Also, using the strengths and skills of the staff will pay off in building the team, if you let them know that you appreciate that they are capable they will feel more valued, if you try to do everything yourself you could be seen as controlling and that sends a message to the staff you dont value their skills.


So for the time being I would write the to-do-list in an action plan format ready to show Ofsted just in case they turn up before you have been able to impliment everything so they know what you've already identified and plan to change and then hold a staff meeting discuss the action plan and DELEGATE!!!!! (what needs doing, whose going to do it, how and when).


Dont panick about your formal ofsted SEF if you can demonstrat to Ofsted that you are evaluating your setting and planning for improvements (the action plan will help to demonstrate this) they are not going to tell you off if you sef is not 100% finished when they come, SEF is an ongoing working document so its probably always going to be a work in progress there will be somthing you will want to update or change, just do what you can


good luck

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with regard to needing new children - make simple posters put around locally - ask parents if they would put a poster up somewhere they take their children eg toddler groups, gym or swimming lessons, library , health clinics.

also lttle flyers which can be placed at these places inviting parents to visit you.

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don't forget to ask those parents with cars to put a little advert in their back windows too. And yes, get your staff on board with the jobs to do.If they all want the group to carry on, then, ok, what are their strengths?? Use them! Flyers in Libraries, dentists;local newsagents, free magazines/newspapers might do an article about you;health visitor could let parents know you have spaces;colleges.............students often need places for their children while they study;and don't forget Open days................yes, on a Saturday too, or have a 'stay and play' sessionI know it's hard to give up a saturday on top of everything else, but if it brings in even one or two new children, it's worth it. good luck

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its awful isnt it when there is just so much to do, you really have my sympathy, have been ther minus the problem of numbers. 5 years on there is still always loads to do.


Make the top of your list an action plan to put into place all the things that need doing, that way if Ofsted show they can see that you are working towards these goals


also put you job list on your long term plan it then places the jobs into smaller more achievable chunks


Do you have to key work ? I dont as i found i could not do this all ( we are pack away, church hall)


Nearly all my work was done in my own time and without this it would not have got done, this is not right but for me to achieve what we have achieved was a necessary evil


delegate some work out, i am really bad at this but have got better as the years have gone on


we have moved forward and always revisit and review where we are and what we do


I wish you luck and hugs

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dont give up - im living proof (as are others) that you can turn it around. I started as a pre school manger 10 years ago and brought the nursery up from nothing to outstanding last year - its a great feeling and worth the hard work - did the 1st 5 years plus on my own and eventually with the staff then a good committee came along that helped also.


good luck xxx :o

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Thanks everyone for your excellent advice..have actually thought it all through and it is do-able as long as I keep sight of everything.

Have completed Next Steps for all my key children..being a Key Person as well as manager is a pain but at least I'm hands-on and can see the progress the children are making.

Have put my foot down regarding staffing and am winning that particular battle at the moment so am feeling slightly smug!!

Long term planning is done and dusted and am doing short term planning on a 2 weekly scale feeding in observations my staff make.

SEF still not done but am getting little nuggets of inspiration in the shower every morning so hopefully can put this all down on paper.

And as for bringing work home..not doing it anymore simple as that..have earmarked 2 afternoons a week where all I am doing is my paperwork so I don't have to bring it home and if I do do any extra-like weekend just gone where I spent day gardening and other things all day Saturday- well am taking time off during the week where staffing levels allow it so this week am looking forward to Wednesday and Thursday afternoons off!!


Thanks again for taking the time to reply to me..think it all just overwhelmed and couldn't see the woods for the trees. Though I daresay will be back soon for more advice especially as Ofsted inspection is looming!!

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