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Supervising Outdoors


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Does anyone know the Ofsted view on supervisong children outside. We have 2 classes with a total of 40 children 14 are allowed out at a time. The whole of the outdoor area is in view from all of the windows in the classroom. Do you think we need an adult outside at all times?

I would be grateful of your opinions

 

Many thanks

 

Lola

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I have been asked this question by a colleague...we are a nursery with 22 children and the door is open...the concrete area is visible from the inside and sometimes with regard to dynamics or numbers children are sometimes outside alone if we go on to the grass as well then that is different we couldn't possibly leave the children unattended as we have a climbing frame and an area out of site......we can see them on the concrete - it is free flow and so there are no restrictions on how many are out or in.....I will be interested to see if Ofsted have any official requirements...in my opinion and how I talked to staff about it was to use good old common sense....and let the children explore...?

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Not sure how helpful this will be but i work in nursery attached to a school. We have two classes of 26 children every morning and we open the outside area up at ten o clock every day and let the children come and go as they choose (free flow). We make sure that one member of staff is outside at anytime.

 

I must ask as well how did you come to the decision to let 14 children out? and why that number?

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We always have an adult outside. We can see part of our outside area from inside, but not all. I wouldn't want children inside without an adult if I was outside either.

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We let 14 out as our LA advisor advised that this was a safe proportion of the class to be out without an adult. However i do not feel comfortable having children out without an adult evn though they can be seen in all areas of the outdoors from inside so currently we have an adult out.

Would you advise then that we let an unlimited number of children out? I really want to get this right please help!!!!!

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We don't set numbers for how many can go out at a time we just use our initiative and if most are out then staff go too......

 

We usually have one member focusing on an activity and the other "floats" where she is needed.

 

If the area is safely secured I don't think someone HAS to be out all of the time, but its about staff supporting learning/ observing where the children are.

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I wouldn't let the children outside without some form of supervision...............even if it's just one member of staff. In our setting, we are 'open to the public', in that we are next to a park, so it might not be safe.Also, there are occasions when children pick on each other......not outright bullying, but not being terribly kind and I know that children will often sort this sort of thing out for themselves, but if an adult is there to oversee from the edges, it helps to keep things on an even keel!

We allow all children out at the same time if they wish to.That then means almost all staff are out too...though one might stay in to tidy, or prep something.........and is also on hand if any child decides to go back inside.

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Would you advise then that we let an unlimited number of children out? I really want to get this right please help!!!!!

 

I don't think it's a case of right or wrong. You need to do what is right for your children in your setting.

 

Look at the layout of your area as a whole inside and out. Then work out how it is best supervised. You may have an indoor area with lots of corners children cannot be seen round and a lovely open outdoor one. In that case it would be more appropriate to have more staff inside supervising outside throught the windows. If the opposite is true you would need to supervise outside better. If you can see and hear inside from outside and outside from inside then you are supervising them both wherever you are. Do you need to have staff in a particular area just because it doesn't have a roof? Is it less safe outside than inside?

 

Now think about why you are limiting the numbers and what impact this has on the children's learning. If there are valuable resources outside do you want to restrict the children's access to them? Do the children have to take turns to go out? If so, does this disadvantage those children whose learning is better supported in an outdoor environment? Is children's learning interrupted when it is their turn to go out because it is an opportunity they don't want to miss? Could you allow free-flow with a member of staff moving in and out in response?

 

I'm sure you've thought about all of these things anyway but maybe it would help to step back and look at the bigger picture. Then decide what might work for your unique children in your unique setting.

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Lola I really cannot see where your adviser is coming from! To limit to 14 to me goes completely against the principles of the EYFS. As for supervision I'm with Upsy Daisy on this - the EYFS says that our environment is both indoors and outdoors so whatever ratio you have is for the combination of both. It will depend on how many children are outside and you could say the reverse. Say everyone had chosen bar two children to go outside should you keep an adults indoors my answer would be no. We must of course scan the area at all times. Any setting with both areas open should ensure the adutls are making the best of their time and where they can interact with the children.

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Like the others I'd say you should have someone out there. It's not just about safety - it's also about who's observing the children's interests, or asking them questions, or developing their learning? What if the same child is out there all day every day and he never gets any adult input?

 

A tip from our experience of free flow is to buy some good quality walkie talkies, that way if there is an emergency either outside or inside, you can get straight into contact with your colleague.

 

This is where I think ratios in schools are crazy - we always have 3 staff even when there are only 8 or so children in session. That way we can have our one out, one in, one floating system in place, for instance if a child needs help to go to the toilet.

 

In terms of official guidance about numbers, when I looked into this I was told to apply the 'common sense' rule, i.e. if you can justify your approach and the children are safe, that is fine.

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We operate a free flow system and always have an adult outside with the children. We don't limit the numer that can go outside, and with 3 members of staff, try to encourage one person to move with the majority of the children. So if we have 20 children in and 15 are outside, then there should be 2 members of staff... but if 10 of those come back inside then so do one staff member.

 

We are lucky that the outdoor area is very visible

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Hi everyone, I think that you have to go by Staff child ratio's especially in a pre-school setting, we are a free flow setting and we always have to members of staff outside at all times and if all the children are outside, we all go out except one member of staff who stays inside for toiler duties and to get everything ready for circle time/ lunch etc

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Hi everyone, I think that you have to go by Staff child ratio's especially in a pre-school setting, we are a free flow setting and we always have to members of staff outside at all times and if all the children are outside, we all go out except one member of staff who stays inside for toiler duties and to get everything ready for circle time/ lunch etc

 

I agree

I might be missing something but I don't see why supervising children outside is any different to supervising children inside - we have the legal staff/child ratios which should be adhered to whether the children are in or out.

 

We all know accidents/squabbles etc can occur in a nano-second and as a parent I would not be happy to hear that my small child was outside in a group of children being 'watched' by staff through the window whilst they were also responsible for children inside.

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IN my situation we are a rural setting in the middle of nowhere with a fenced concrete area at the back...(as well as further outside areas) it is small and one side of our building is all windows and so we can see everything - the whole area. I am not sure whether to suggest one member of staff is always outside...sometimes a scenario can be one or two children outside, fourteen inside, 2 needing changing, 2 on focus and the staff really need to use their initiative to be where they are needed, if the two outside are in sight and playing safely...the staff maybe better deployed supporting the children inside....? I am a bit worried about what Ofsted would recommend. Also if I say to staff that one member of staff HAS to be outside then if no children are out there they are so quick to close the door....I am stil struggling to stress the importance and need to keep the door open..... :o

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Ofsted have told us in the past that the small enclosed playground immediately outside our room should be classed as an extension of the room and as children can be seen at all times it is not necessary to have staff here all the time. While this may be acceptable to them I always think about the missed chats and conversations I could be having with various children and as Geraldine says I wouldn't be too happy as a parent passing by and seeing my child outside unsupervised by an adult.

 

We are lucky in that all staff at our setting like the outdoors and are aware of the need to take turns outside, especially when the weather is not to our liking. Our children enjoy freeflow and I would hate to go back to the time that one member of staff would take 8 children out to our larger playground for 15-20 minutes while other children pressed their little noses up against the windows eagerly awaiting their turn.

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Thanks.....I am thinking of a time when they were two children outside on their own and they really did not want or need interaction with an adult but then of course there is that observation opportunity....so difficult to get it all right isn't it! At my meeting this week I think I will say there has to be someone outside. :oxD

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It is difficult to get right Shirel isn't it. When you are talking about small numbers of children, even one or two, then an initiative is a good thing to have. :o

 

Staff could poke their noses out now and again especially when the children are so engaged in what they are doing and as you say probably don't want the interaction of an adult. There are always going to be missed opportunities for observation but that can happen any time and anywhere. Good luck at your meeting this week! xD

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