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How To Encourage Updating Folders Regularly


Guest Spiral
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Guest Spiral

Wow,

 

holiday, holiday I'm over the moon - forget the weather I can cope, it's just great to be on holiday!

 

Easter's here and one staff member has saved up three weeks worth of long observations, post it notes and a range of photos she's printed out too!!!

 

I'm concerned and really need to encourage her and a couple of others to update a bit more regularly, however....I know how hard it is to find time to complete the folder work.

 

I have managed to work out we can pay roughly one hour per week for each key person to get the work done as an incentive, but I don't want that to b e taken advantage of.

 

Any suggestions - have you found a way of getting the staff more involved, without intruding in their home lives?

 

 

Spiral.

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Hi Spiral

I have a similar problem. The staff get some paid time to update, to do when and where they like. Most are very conscientious and put in many more hours than they are paid for but a couple do the bare minimum. The problem is they do just enough to make it hard for me to criticize and just about at the right time too. How can you be fair to both types of staff?

I shall be watching with interest to see if someone comes along with some good suggestions

Caro

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Guest Spiral

Exactly,

 

that's why I find it hard to criticise - because all of mine have come home this Easter too - yet that is with an increased workload...oooh - practice what you preach eh?! :o

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Before I started at the setting the staff were paid to do it at home, however it often got left until there was loads of assessing to do. When I joined I managed to get the committe to understand that assessing children's learning and progress was an integral part of a key persons role, they agreed to three hours a week non contact time for assessing, which takes place at the setting.

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From this term we're going to have a bit of extra non-contact time which will happen over the lunchtime so that no-one needs to take anything home. Also we have one morning a week when we dont' need to set up in the morning so we can use that time too. We're lucky (?) because we have so few children so we can organise things so that updating files can be done during the session time. Which makes it much easier to support staff who need it, too.

 

It is such a difficult one to manage, isn't it?

 

Maz

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Ah, Spiral. I can beat your 3 weeks with my Deputy who is 7 weeks behind on hers!

 

She is paid for 3 hours work outside the setting. She stays behind each day for an extra 30-60 minutes helping to clear up and do jobs so uses up most of her 3 hours time in that way.

I am always saying to her to use that time to do folders but she will do anything else to fill her time rather than that.

After half-term I said make sure your folders are in the setting so that when we have got lots of adults in you can have some time to do them.

Each week when I say 'you can be non-contact today' she either hasn't got the right folder or has left her obs. folder at home etc.

I really feel she is missing the point of these folders being a working active document. How can we actively plan for a child's next steps if the info. is 7 weeks out of date?

 

I am also a few weeks behind but I know I will get it done this holiday whereas i think she will come back saying, 'sorry we've been away' or 'I forgot the folders' or some excuse....

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Quite agree with everyone.

I have managed to keep up with my folders but some of the girls in the setting are up to 6 weeks behind. I agree, how can you plan for next steps if you are that far behnd. We have half heartedly tried to have non contact time in the setting but something always manages to get in the way! Will keep an eye to see if anyone else has any ideas, otherwise this has prompted me to talk to my Managr and see if we can push non contact time a bit harder to get it to work.

Ruth :o

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Guest Spiral
Ah, Spiral. I can beat your 3 weeks with my Deputy who is 7 weeks behind on hers!

 

She is paid for 3 hours work outside the setting. She stays behind each day for an extra 30-60 minutes helping to clear up and do jobs so uses up most of her 3 hours time in that way.

I am always saying to her to use that time to do folders but she will do anything else to fill her time rather than that.

After half-term I said make sure your folders are in the setting so that when we have got lots of adults in you can have some time to do them.

Each week when I say 'you can be non-contact today' she either hasn't got the right folder or has left her obs. folder at home etc.

I really feel she is missing the point of these folders being a working active document. How can we actively plan for a child's next steps if the info. is 7 weeks out of date?

 

I am also a few weeks behind but I know I will get it done this holiday whereas i think she will come back saying, 'sorry we've been away' or 'I forgot the folders' or some excuse....

 

Gosh, that's pretty hard,

 

Could you bring it up in a staff meeting - maybe saying

'the setting feels that folders must be kept up to date at all times and that if they are not kept up weekly (fortnightly in the worst case), further action could be considered'?

 

I tried very hard to get the parents involved and our parents regularly take home their children's journals - this could be a way of making her feel that she has to keep them up to date..as you know it hasn't worked with my current staff member - but yours may behave differently?

 

Spiral

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Ah, Spiral. I can beat your 3 weeks with my Deputy who is 7 weeks behind on hers!

 

She is paid for 3 hours work outside the setting. She stays behind each day for an extra 30-60 minutes helping to clear up and do jobs so uses up most of her 3 hours time in that way.

I am always saying to her to use that time to do folders but she will do anything else to fill her time rather than that.

After half-term I said make sure your folders are in the setting so that when we have got lots of adults in you can have some time to do them.

Each week when I say 'you can be non-contact today' she either hasn't got the right folder or has left her obs. folder at home etc.

I really feel she is missing the point of these folders being a working active document. How can we actively plan for a child's next steps if the info. is 7 weeks out of date?

 

I am also a few weeks behind but I know I will get it done this holiday whereas i think she will come back saying, 'sorry we've been away' or 'I forgot the folders' or some excuse....

 

 

A useful tip> before they had non contact time, I insisted the children's folders were sent home at the end of each term, I stated this to parents in the monthly information letter, its surprising how this focused everyone's minds, as its not very professional explaining to parents why their children's profiles are 7 weeks behind. Incidently we still send the profiles home and have a comments sheet inside each one for parents to write in.

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I work in a preschool setting with 43 children on the register, our staff get half an hour per week during lunch time to do folders and we have a target child system in which each key person has one child a day to concentrate on and the folder of that child is kept out all day for adding any obs, pics and work too. The half hour a week gives them a chance to work on one folder per week tweaking sometimes able to do more htan one. The folders are kept in trays that the children and parents can add to daily if they wish and this motivates staff to keep folders up to date. Hope this helps. I also just had ofsted who liked the system and we got Outstanding over every area.

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I work in a nursery attached to a school. We review 3 children from our key worker group a week. This means we have to organise observations and up date their learning journey. We also have to meet with the child's parents to talk about their progress and next steps. The 2 TA in the nursery get 3 sessons of 45 minutes a week to do these reviews. I have had a problem with one of the TA not doing the 3 reviews during the week, so I spoke to her saying that it will be me getting in trouble with SMT if they are not done so I have produced a timetable with her where she wrties down which children she is doing in each slot and when she is meeting the parents. We are on the 2nd week of this happening and so far it seems to be working. The timetable is also displayed in the office so I can make comments to her like "how are you going with so-in-so review" so she knows that i am monitoring what she is doing. Fingers crossed this will sort out the problem.

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The issue of folders and non- contact time is always a sticky one, and when the excuses started to be rolled out by my staff about 'not being able to do them as they were at home' I realised that 'some' staff were then not utilising thier in work non-contact time properly, and then claiming extra hours for work at home. I stopped all files going home ( there is a major issue about confidentiality anyway when the files are not in the building) we established regular timetabled non-contact for all staff fortnightly by drafting in a 'cover' person twice a week , and termly reports are now needed for every child - and bingo, it seems to be working pretty well so far . :o

 

As for the Deputy who is weeks behind - is there an issue with her not being confident doing the files maybe , and by hiding them at home and using avoidance tactics she is hoping you won't find out . Maybe you need to ask her to bring them all in - look through them and suggest that you give her a hand with them to catch up ( it may be she has got so far behind she is lost as to what to do next?)

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And there is always the age old idea of incentivising - the person who gets thier folders up to date and keeps them that way maybe gets thier 'non-contact' time to have a bit of time off occasionally, or a prize of some sort ? I know we all realise that it is part of our job but for some people the whole concept of paperwork and Learning Journeys etc are a real struggle and they may need just that little extra element to make sure it gets done ? :o

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Some practitioners are better than others at getting their observations written up, but I usually find they always manage it in time for parents' evening which is once a term.

 

Some hand write them and other's keep a typed log going which they paste in digital pictures of children learning. These look best but not everyone has time to do this.

 

Each key person has 10 children each to observe, which I think is plenty, but we have 80 children on role to observe and 10 staff in total.

 

The records have got more time consuming over the years and everyone moans about the time they take. There seems no solution to it, we just have to do it!

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When staff take a photo they write a sticky label also. I print all photos at home then match them up with labels. They are left on table for staff to put in folders each day. Our folders are available each day for parents so this keeps staff on their toes. We usually find a spare 10 minutes a day to update. We have a large circle time at the end of the session which involves singing/story time usually with only 2 staff members. This enables other staff to catch up if they haven't found time during the session. I think the secret is little and often.When I see that a staff member hasn't had time i ask them to do it at circle time. We have had some inhouse training on a termly basis, usually only lasting for half the day. We use the rest of the day to discuss, update folders etc.Staff are allowed to take folders home if they are in early before parents but I really try to avoid them having to do this.

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Hi

Well as i think i have said previously working for a charity pre-school they just cant afford to pay the 15 staff non-contact time. We all get paid 1 hour PER TERM to update files. I have 11 key children, work full time ie all the hours that the pre-school is open and so i have no choice but to do it at home. However, I always make sure that the files are kept up to date and brought back every day.

 

A few of you say that parents are given free access to files by using trays. We have told parents they are allowed to see them but not one has asked to. If your files are in trays cant anyone access them? Is there not a concern thaqt parents could get hold of wrong folders? Would love to get parents more involved with our folders. At the moment i have just got my new setting to give the folders to parents when the children just start to gain info from a parnts point of view about their children and where they think their children are in their stage of development..a good base-line to start from. I am now thinking of asking supervisor if we can give the folders to parents over a half term holiday to look at, make comments add etc. I know some parents just will not be interested and the thought that these files could get lost is a thought also.

 

At my current setting we also do not have parent interviews. It is always said to parents that they can speak to their childs keyperson or the supervisor when they would like. Out of my 10 children i have only ever had one parent come to me and ask about their child. The supervisor is of the opinion that as we are all very approachable etc that this system is ok. Must admit last setting i was at we held interviews and asked parents to sign up for them if they wanted to see their keyperson. I got one!!

 

How do you do it? Is is very informal like us or do you do it more formally?

Sorry seemed to have gone off on a tangent and hijacked the thread!

 

Any info appreciated.

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When I started giving parents access to folders i explained this in the newsletters and just added a little note explaining importance of confidentiality.I am always standing nearby where I can see all parents and the folders.Each key person has their own seperate box. As a parent picks up their childs folder I hover close by. If they have any queries they can speak to childs key person. To ensure all parents look at their childs folder each half term I ask them to sign a register list. If parents are working its more difficult. Usually childminders or grandparents pick up these children and are quite happy to look and share information.Instead I give parents a sheet with achieved/next steps on. I don't like sending folders home. They usually do come back but sometimes they don't look after them properly and I feel this devalues it.

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Guest Spiral

Wow, interesting stuff!

 

We book our 'scrapbooks' out and we ask the parents to sign to say they have taken them home too.

 

Many parents came in and asked to take them home for the Easter period as family were coming round or in two cases the family were travelling abroad and wanted to show their family in their native country (how lovely)! :o

 

As for parents coming in - they have open access, but usually we only see them at the beginning/end of the day . . it will be reiterated on a newsletter that they are welcome to make an appointment at any time but we'll see xD

 

Spiral.

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Wow very impressed Anita and congrats on your outstanding report.

 

I am interested to know how many staff you have and how many key children they each have. We currently have 5 staff including myself and we each have upto 14/15 children in our groups. Myself and my deputy share a group.

 

For us this really is a major bug bear, unfortunately with the nature of the job this is how it is, loads of paperwork in your own time!

 

I like your idea of having books permanently available for parents to see/add to. Up until now ours go out 'occassionally' to parents, if I increased the amount of times these went out perhaps this would give staff the insentive to keep them up to date or would I increase the amount of pressure on them???? I really don't know. I will be watching this thread for the magical answer. Our key persons do not get paid any extra money for doing this by the way, although we are quite well paid in the scheme of things; level 2 practitioner on almost £7.00.

 

Debbie

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Our childrens Learning Journeys are all out on open shelves ( one for each Keyworker group) in the foyer/cloakroom area and our parents are invited to access them whenever they choose, this was encouraged by Early Years and our Advisory Teacher even suggested we put a note on the shelves inviting parenst to take a look . There have been no issues with confidentiality or people picking up wrong folders and the parents like it. :o

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There is no point to an observation if it is not looked and and used the week it is written. How can you enable the environment, use the childrens interests or scaffold their learning three weeks after the event!!

 

Harsh as it sounds working outside of paid hours is a known part of our remit and i am sure that your staff would have known this when they were employed. I would not be happy if they were my staff not completing journals etc on a weekly basis.

 

My staff are paid for working an hour extra at home, i know that this probably takes them a little longer, but sadly it goes with the job just as staff on a checkout til in a supermarket may work a little longer and not be paid if their relief is late!

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I update my folders every day and encourage my two nursery nurses to update their folders each week, and expect them to use the time after school to do so (as the children leave an hour before their finish time). Mostly the folders stay up to date, but when I feel they're slipping I just make a comment on the fact that I have twice as many key children as they do and I mustn't let it all build up or it'll take me forever (makes them think of their own then!). I print around 70 photos a week and sort them into piles of key worker and then morning and afternoon sessions, if you don't stick all those in then the following week its hell as there are 70ish more! (As was beautifully demonstrated by my being ill and no photos being printed for 2 weeks!). Each person is responsible for filing their own observations and sticking in their own photos and also updating tally sheets so I can see at a glance which children are not being observed as often etc. The idea of learning journals was new to them when I arrived at Xmas, but they can see the merits of them and like looking at all the photos etc. so that in itself is an incentive!

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  • 4 weeks later...

hi

 

Im in a a nursery setting and my children are going to school in september. We have 2 members of staff with 18 children each and a trainee who has 4. most days of the week we have 24 children in the room and find it very hard to keep our books upto date. we have a development book, a tracking document and a all about me book for every child. i try to do my books at the same time as doing activites with the children. we are not allowed to take any of our work home.

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There are only 3 members of staff at my setting but we take it in turns to have a 'helping hand'. This child get to sit on a chair at registration (wow!), choosing the songs, stories, hands round plates at snack, pours drinks, lines up first, etc. and gets a certificate at the end of the day....

 

All lovely for the child.... plus the staff member updates their development file, collates obs. stickers, identifies an area needed for long observation, feeds developmental needs into planning documents,

 

plus,

 

summarises stages for parents, identifies next steps and ask for comments - this is also copied for other settings the child attends. Responses are also linked into planning.

 

 

So, all the files are never up to date at any one time - it's more a rolling programme!! Works well for us though because just once or twice a week I spend 15 minutes during the session (or after) updating an individual file and the information I gleam is more useful for imforming future planning.

 

Never feels that we are 'bogged' down with paperwork! Although at the end of each term we do tend to go through all our files just to make sure they are all OK.

 

Hope that helps!

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  • 4 weeks later...

HI interesting thread here,

But if I was in charge I know I would be hot on the case and if staff are not doing them at home then surely the policy has to change then they have to be done on site.....

 

I also think that Leadership should have more of an impact of ensuring staff do their folders and observations are essential each week like someone commented what is the point of observation and planning if its not done weekly. I know its a sticky situation but time is hard but is it not in their job description to keep up to date as if not surely that action can lead to disciplinary actions.

 

Difficult one I know my place have non contact time and plenty of staff who are given opportunity to complete while other staff in ratio with children. very effective and is kept up to date weekly.

 

Hope you resolve this....

Moonshine

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  • 2 weeks later...

I wish we got paid for the extra time :o

 

I feel awful asking them to stay back once a term for a meetin. How can I ask them to stay back every week for an hour or so unpaid? Is it really fair of me to ask them?

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  • 2 weeks later...

I feel a lot of responsibility for the fact that some of my staff have seriously slipped on the quality and quantity of obs and updating...but I've made the mistake of trusting them to do a good job and to take it seriously and to work to provide the parents with something they themselves would love to have. Such a blow when I looked at some of them!!

I feel pretty annoyed actually at myself as well as them because I know I should have checked it sooner....but then again they are all aware what needs to be done, have job descriptions, have seen what I have done and know what I expected...so why wasnt it done?. Really don't know if parents will notice (unless they compare a completed one!) but I know its substandard and I'm sooo dissapointed for the children and parents.

As im still thinking a lot of the responsibility was mine I wonder if I can / should take it further? If so how?

Any suggestions?

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As im still thinking a lot of the responsibility was mine I wonder if I can / should take it further? If so how?

Any suggestions?

I know just how you feel!

 

You say that practitioners are aware of what needs to be done, and what is expected of them. Is there any mileage in setting a regular date in the diary for you to moderate their folders, telling them what the criteria for moderation are so that they know what you will be looking for, and when they need to have files updated by? You might also need to do a few 'spot checks' as a kind of formative assessment so that you can identify any problems or weaknesses earlier on.

 

This might be too late for this term's leavers but might help you in the long term.

 

I agree with you that there's a fine line between leaving them to get on and do the job they are paid (and equipped) for but also in ensuring standards are upheld.

 

Good luck - let us know what you decide to do!

 

Maz

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I am setting dates to check them from now on for exactly this reason. I too am extremely disappointed but I am in the fortunate position of being able to partly rectify the worst offenders. I don't know if this is the answer but if I think of anything else I'll let you know.

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