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Employee Needs Demotion!


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I have a slightly different problem to Shelia's.


We are a small, new pre-school setting, only 3 staff -myself (leader) my deputy and an assistant who is doing EYP.

My deputy is THE MOST lovely person very good with the children, parents and other adults. She has come back to work environment after 10 years of bringing up own children. My problem is that she has a very busy home life and has no time to do any work at home. She is weeks behind with her Learning diaries and uses lots of avoidance tactics when it comes to doing written work. She is intelligent but slightly dyslexic so lacks confidence about her spelling. She has no computer skills. A lot of our communication (we are committee run) is done by email but she doesn't read them. This means she is constantly out of the loop and misses important information.

She understands the development matters aspects of EYFS but has not fully grasped the welfare section and does not understand all the regulations we have to follow. She's a lovely gentle person, friendly who likes to chat, does beautiful displays, carefully sets up the farm animals in the morning in a lovely scene whilst myself and the assistant are rushing around doing safety checks, printing off photos, filling in forms etc.


I've tried jokes, I've tried clear instruction e.g 'I think this needs to take priority over that. Could you do this first?"

I try to give her as much time in the session to do paperwork as possible but she really procrastinates and always finds something else 'useful' to do rather than her files. She is aware that she is like this and we try to joke about it and I say "I'm going to have to be bossy with you, come on do those folders! etc."

I ask everyone to bring their 'next steps' sheets to the planning meeting to inform us and she never does (because they aren't up to date). It's always "I left them on the kitchen table' or 'Sorry, I was so tired, up all night with youngest child etc.


If she was lazy, bad with the children, not a nice well-meaning person it would be easy but I feel she has just bitten off more than she can chew and she has a very hectic home life. She would make a fantastic assistant but as a Deputy she is not able to give me any paperwork support, is a poor model to others i terms of organisation, lacks setting knowledge

She is never able to come in for a day in the holidays or have an extra planning meeting and she just isn't prepared to do more than her paid hours as it would involve her then paying for childcare.


Any suggestions oh wise ones?

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It could be time to have a formal discussion with her about her role to identify where she is not carrying out the functions of her job, and agreeing some sort of action plan to enable her to improve. You don't say how 'new' your setting is, but I presume she hasn't had an annual appraisal yet?


No matter how lovely she is with the children (and I did have a wry smile at your comment about setting the farm animals because I soooo recognise that scenario), you have employed her to do a job which she is clearly not doing at the moment.


I was also struck by what you said about all your communication being done by email. If this lady has no computer skills she possibly finds it very difficult to access emails, and her dyslexia will be an added complication here. Are there other ways you can ensure she is included so that she isn't always playing 'catch up'? It sounds like she has become very good at making excuses for not doing things which may be her way of coping with her dyslexia and lack of confidence.


You don't say how well the assistant is performing her job role, but it sounds to me as if a job swap might be in order. In a small setting you really need everyone to pull their weight, and it sounds as if your deputy needs a lot of support to carry out her job function.


I really think maybe the situation has gone beyond being able to jolly her along - just be careful about what you do next because you don't want to give her grounds for a claim for constructive dismissal if it all goes pear shaped!


Good luck!



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Do you have appraisals? Maybe if you both sit down with a form to fill in, you will have a prop to bring these issues up and discuss them. This way you can talk about any issues with a clear purpose, get her opinion of how she is getting on with paperwork and give your opinion in a professional way, including suggesting alternatives such as job swaps etc.

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