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Free Flow Provision?


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hello,

 

I've found my way onto this fab forum! I'm trying to bring in free flow provision in my setting but have come up against some opposition, certain members of the staff dont want to see change, and say it wont work, we are a small setting with upto 20 children a session but more often than not only have 12.

 

the staff feel we would have to do head counts every 5 mins as we would lose a child, this isn't possible as the outside areais totally enclosed and the comittee have spent a lot of money on the outside area just recently. we always have 3 members of staff on rota, whats the best way to manage the staff to ensure ratios and ensure safe guarding issues dont arise, we have a concern that with 1 in 1 out or mybe 2 out wht would happen when we had to cange a nappy or help out at the toliet.

 

is free flow a criteria for the new eyfs?

 

sorry if ive rambled on a bit.

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Ignore that last one - just re-read your post (sorry),

 

If you have three staff you could base one person inside, one outside and maybe have one to 'switch' in/outside to wherever they are required most?

 

Do you think that could work? Is it maybe worth getting staff and committee together and discussing these concepts so they are able to consider everything?

 

Spiral

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Hi there MK5698, welcome also to the forum, make yourself at home.

 

In the circumstance you describe I would say it depends on where your outdoor area is in relation to you indoor space as this will have a big impact on how practical free flow is (sometimes it just isn't possible or practical)

If your outdoor area is just there right outside the door, then you can easily do as Spiral suggests, 1 in 1 out and 1 float/managing toileting/mishaps etc.

If on the other hand your outdoor area is across a road, round the other side of the building, through the kitchen or generally not 'just there' then it probably isn't practical with the staffing you have.

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Perhaps you could send your staff to visit a setting where free flow is working well - it is hard to imagine how it could work if you feel challenged by change and are overly worried about health and safety! And of course there is the issue about staff not wanting to be outside too, although I know you haven't said this is an issue.

 

If your outdoor area is secure and there is absolutely no chance of children absconding without being noticed then having one member of staff outside and one inside with a third floating between the two would probably work well. In our setting our outside area is difficult to supervise because it is 'u' shaped so we always need two members of staff outside to monitor the two blind spots.

 

It is really a matter of keeping an eye on numbers outside and being prepared to move around so that you don't suddenly find that two people are outside with two children whilst the third staff member is indoors with the rest. We send our older children outside or inside with a message to say that another adult is needed if there is a problem, or we find that suddenly we are out of ratio.

 

Good luck - I'm not sure the EYFS says that free flow is a must, but it is certainly beneficial. Let us know how things go!

 

Maz

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I too think your staff should go see where the free flow is working well.

Often a prompt is needed so that change can be brought in.

 

We have an enclosed area, right outside the door but only 2 staff and we don't see this as a problem.

In fact it works very well.

 

As for EYFS I don't know if there is legislation but I am sure OFSTED would have something to say if they see you have an outdoor area not used adequately.

Where possible outdoors isn't something you do now for an odd 5/ 10 mins here or there and as your area is totaly enclosed I am not sure what issues your staff have!!

 

Good luck :o

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Good advice already.

 

Assuming there are no access issues and free flow is easily accessible then I definately think this change will be a positive one.

 

Maybe ask each staff to do a for and against list, with constructive reflections for each comment. This will help you to see what the specific barriers to this change may be. Also work together on a risk assessment with again constructive discussions on how to reduce each risk identified.

Again I don't know if freeflow is a must or should in the EYFS guidance, but maybe turn it around and think, if freeflow is not part of the routine, how does taking children to outside area, en mass, fit in with the child centred, continuous provision ethos of the EYFS?

 

How about asking the children their views as well?

 

It does seem a shame that if the committee has recently spent money on improvements for the otside provision that these resources aren't as fully utilised as possible.

 

Good luck, let us know how it goes.

 

Peggy

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can i just ask if you are all operating at times with only 1 person inside or outside ? during our last ofsted 1 member of staff was outside reading to a group of 5 over 3's as the other member of staff that was outside had taken another child into the toilet and we were told that wasnt acceptable supervision, it was even recorded as an action, even though the door to inside was open.

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In our setting (village hall) ofstead said it was not practical to have the doors open when the weather got cold as the hall would be too cold, she said as long as the children know they could go out when they wanted with someone that was ok, and covering ratio, id love to have free flow all the time, i really miss that in the winter.

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during our last ofsted 1 member of staff was outside reading to a group of 5 over 3's as the other member of staff that was outside had taken another child into the toilet and we were told that wasnt acceptable supervision, it was even recorded as an action, even though the door to inside was open.

I guess there is always the consideration of whether staff are able to effectively supervise the children whilst outside - its hard to comment on your situation because obviously we don't know your setting. Perhaps the Inspector thought that the staff member wouldn't be able to see what was going on elsewhere in the garden if she was engrossed in a book (I'm making a big assumption here that there were other children outside not listening to the book)?

 

That said, I'm not sure what the Inspector would have expected you to do in these circumstances - I think if Ofsted are going to make these judgements they should at least tell you the 'proper' way to handle it. Sometimes you're in the wrong whatever you do. :o

 

Maz

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Hi and thanks for the warm welcome from you all, we have had a staff meeting today and decided to give it a go albeit a bit unwillingly xD

 

We have decided thats the 1 in 1 out and 1 floating between the two areas and a rota so each person knows where they are expected to be. is the way forward.

 

our provision is a small portacabin and the outside area is straight outside the main door, no roads etc we have two areas one for bikes on the right side of the door and then another area to the left of the door with grass. the member of staff stands by the door and clearly see both areas at all times and there are no places to hide.

 

There have been some issues raised against the temperature in the building with having the door open all the time, had it was mentioned about closing the door however its a solid wooden door, we may have to change it to a temered glass fire door so at least we can see the children and they can see us, if that makes sense.

 

so we start it tomorrow, and have planned some activites for outside (this as never been done before) the children have only had access to the area for 30 mins a session and the same resoursces are available always so we will see how the react to this new way of thinking...

 

fingers crossed it goes well or my name will be mud again :o

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thanks maz....there was no one else outside just the 1 senior member of staff reading to 5 children so all were contained in one place not far from the door to inside which was open, i did raise the issue when it was discussed at feedback that if we'd of had 2 members of staff outside that would of meant only 2 left inside with the other 21, therefore 3 were needed inside......seems to be a no win situation at times.

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Great to here you are giving it a go, can I suggest that you give the children and staff at least 4 weeks, or more such as a term to adjust to the change before evaluating it's effectiveness or not, it takes this amount of time to iron out various issues that may arise, and it would be sad if the idea is dropped if evaluated too soon and found to be unsuccessful.

 

Peggy

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