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Key Person Rebellion!


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Hi,

 

Just sharing my thoughts and ideas...

I run a small Pre-school with 4 staff and approx 26 children on role. We are each key person to up to 9 children depending on the number of hours we work.

 

As the year draws to a close I still feel as though I really don't know some of my key children very well whereas some other children who I just happen to engage with a lot I feel I know much better.

I can see how the key person system is very important in large settings or with very young children but with our 3-5 year olds it feels as though we are all everybody's key person, if you see what I mean.

 

I keep wondering if there isn't a better way to organise it. The parents would talk to anyone of us if they had a problem, most usually me as the manager. It does need someone to keep folders up to date and review next steps but I hate the term "keyworker'. It sounds like 'sexworker' to me!! I think it is a meaningless word to a 3 year old and I can't think of a better one. We're not their 'special person' because we are there for everybody. I really feel it's a 'goverment speak' word.Anyone got a better word?

 

Our children aren't actually aware of who their 'key person' is because it is not a term we use with the children and we don't group them in that way as we are always all together.

I think for the system to have meaning they should know exactly who their 'link person' is but we all seem to be managing very well without this role being obvious.

 

Any thoughts?

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Hi,

 

Just sharing my thoughts and ideas...

I run a small Pre-school with 4 staff and approx 26 children on role. We are each key person to up to 9 children depending on the number of hours we work.

 

As the year draws to a close I still feel as though I really don't know some of my key children very well whereas some other children who I just happen to engage with a lot I feel I know much better.

I can see how the key person system is very important in large settings or with very young children but with our 3-5 year olds it feels as though we are all everybody's key person, if you see what I mean.

 

I keep wondering if there isn't a better way to organise it. The parents would talk to anyone of us if they had a problem, most usually me as the manager. It does need someone to keep folders up to date and review next steps but I hate the term "keyworker'. It sounds like 'sexworker' to me!! I think it is a meaningless word to a 3 year old and I can't think of a better one. We're not their 'special person' because we are there for everybody. I really feel it's a 'goverment speak' word.Anyone got a better word?

 

Our children aren't actually aware of who their 'key person' is because it is not a term we use with the children and we don't group them in that way as we are always all together.

I think for the system to have meaning they should know exactly who their 'link person' is but we all seem to be managing very well without this role being obvious.

 

Any thoughts?

 

 

'Keyworker' isnt actually used anymore, its now 'keyperson' under positive relationships principle 2.4, secure attachment, shared care and independence.

 

I am also in a 26 place pre school and the children are aware of their keyperson, however they do interact with all of us. We do have the keyperson's photograph on a board with the photo's of their key children underneath, the children often discuss this board and will seek out their keyperson etc. Parents do talk to all of us, but are also aware of their key person, due to them sharing next steps with them and updating communication books etc. We do have small group keyperson time, usually once a week for each group on a different day each week so all children experience this, the keyperson is responsible for planning this activity and differentiating it where appropriate to fit the needs of the children.

 

I would just like to say that it works for us, and I think its a tad strange that you would make the association between 'keyworker and sexworker'....the mind boggles!!

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Hi Edlee

 

I feel the same as you - I am also the manager and I have 8 staff with a register of 41 children - we all work part time so are not in every day and the children do not come in every day so we often don't see our keychild for more than 3 hrs a week - with everything else that is going on in the setting I personally struggle to 'connect' with all my keychildren - I fully understand your post and sympathise - Cupcake has some good ideas but I don't know how we would manage it. Hopefull we will get some more useful ideas from other members.

As long as your children are happy and progressing well does it really matter if they don't know their keyperson?

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Hi,

 

Just sharing my thoughts and ideas...

I run a small Pre-school with 4 staff and approx 26 children on role. We are each key person to up to 9 children depending on the number of hours we work.

 

As the year draws to a close I still feel as though I really don't know some of my key children very well whereas some other children who I just happen to engage with a lot I feel I know much better.

I can see how the key person system is very important in large settings or with very young children but with our 3-5 year olds it feels as though we are all everybody's key person, if you see what I mean.

 

I keep wondering if there isn't a better way to organise it. The parents would talk to anyone of us if they had a problem, most usually me as the manager. It does need someone to keep folders up to date and review next steps but I hate the term "keyworker'. It sounds like 'sexworker' to me!! I think it is a meaningless word to a 3 year old and I can't think of a better one. We're not their 'special person' because we are there for everybody. I really feel it's a 'goverment speak' word.Anyone got a better word?

 

Our children aren't actually aware of who their 'key person' is because it is not a term we use with the children and we don't group them in that way as we are always all together.

I think for the system to have meaning they should know exactly who their 'link person' is but we all seem to be managing very well without this role being obvious.

 

Any thoughts?

 

Hi there, I am a nursery teacher with 76, 3-5 year olds, I have 3 staff, level 4, level 2 and level 1. My line manager has told me I must have a key person list, :o as we are due ofsted anytime!!! I like you, feel like I know all the children as I am the only teacher, I write the lesson plans, I complete their learning journeys and write their reports, I also meet and greet the parents and children each session. Of course I have bonded with some of the children differently than others, we work as a team, and we all talk to the parents. I don't know if a key person is needed really, because we are such a small team, we all know the children and share any concerns and achievements together. Not sure if this helps but I think along the same lines as you........ :(xD

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I too think its all a bit of goverment speak. Yes of course someone should be held accountable for pulling together the child's files and generally parents will speak to the person they either first see, feel most comfortable, most senior dependent on the issue. I also seem to remember that there are definitions for keyworkers and keypersons - slightly different and I am not too sure I can give the definition here but I am sure someone will - I struggled during the training but maybe one has been ditched in favour of the other now. All very confusing and I agree parents don't give a monkeys about the list of keyworkers they just want approachable staff who are knowledgeable and know their child - whether that be a keyworker/keyperson or someone else is neither here or there.

Nikki

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Hi there, I am a nursery teacher with 76, 3-5 year olds, I have 3 staff, level 4, level 2 and level 1. My line manager has told me I must have a key person list, ohmy.gif as we are due ofsted anytime!!!

 

76 children! Oh my goodness :o What about ratios? Sorry, I'm not being rude...I'm just wondering. xD

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76 children! Oh my goodness :o What about ratios? Sorry, I'm not being rude...I'm just wondering. xD

 

 

I was keeping out of the debate as I'm no longer working in EYFS but I must admit I never adopted the Keyperson/worker bit as ultimately as the teacher I was the one to write reports complete profiles and justify my choices to the LA. As has been said already parents don't really care who they speak to as long as that person can answer their concern.

 

 

I'm assuming that 76 children aren't all in the same session or are they?

 

Even so you are under staffed in terms of qualifications/numbers

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I was keeping out of the debate as I'm no longer working in EYFS but I must admit I never adopted the Keyperson/worker bit as ultimately as the teacher I was the one to write reports complete profiles and justify my choices to the LA. As has been said already parents don't really care who they speak to as long as that person can answer their concern.

 

 

I'm assuming that 76 children aren't all in the same session or are they?

 

Even so you are under staffed in terms of qualifications/numbers

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I have to say, I am in total agreement with your views, even though we have had keypersoms/workers for a good few years now, way before they were statutory. We are 7 staff, of which only 3 of us work every day, the other 4 are on just 3 days a week (not the same days) we have 25 children in each day, 5 or 6 staff and currently 29 children on roll. The main reason for us having a key person was to 1) complete reports &2) give parents a name & face to go to when necessary. In reality though as has already been mentioned , they (parents) go to the first face they see, person they feel most comfortable with or me (as manager) Sometimes the only contact they have with their keyworker is when they are given their childs learning journey. Which is (and never has been) not a problem. I do have a list of keyperson and their children up on the board and parents are introduced to them when they come fo r their initial visit but the children dont really know and like your group Eidee, they dont need to know.We also try to have just one memebr of staff key child start each day but this isn't always possible, not when you are trying to stagger 20 children in to start on different days and keep them on the same days as their keyworkers!! They all form relationships with all of us, some better/closer then others. We dont do any 'key group' work (or very rarely) and have never felt the need to. I myself dont have any 'key' children anyway as I just could not cope with the learning journeys on top of all the other paperwork. It works for us, it may not work for other groups this way but we're all happy with it and our waiting lists are always full to bursting so we must be doing something right!!

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I wanted to respond to the debate about the key person approach, and although I am unable to respond at length now (working on an essay on the key person approach for the first year of my foundation degree) I wanted to keep this post 'live' as I believe the key person role is the core of best practice in early years, however challenging it often is to implement effectively.

 

As we all know, it is a EYFS statutory reqirement that all settings adopt the key person approach:

 

"The EYFS Welfare Requirements are integral to successfully fostering children’s personal, social and emotional development and also place statutory responsibilities on providers".

 

Under Organisation, it says that: “ Each child must be assigned a key person” and “Providers must plan and organise their systems to ensure that every child receives an enjoyable and challenging learning and development experiences that is tailored to meet their individual needs” (DCSF 2008, p7)

 

I have been researching John Bowlby and attachment theory, research carried out by Elinor Goldschmied, Peter Elfer, Manning-Morton and the EPPE project - and when able (and if someone can explain how!) I will attach relevant information that supports the key person approach and the need to also support staff who undertake this role.

 

“Taking this approach means that a child experiences an adult who is ‘tuned in’, who can develop a special and personal relationship with the child. In an impersonal nursery anyone and everyone changes nappies at a time that is convenient to the organisation. Children may be processed across the nappy-changing table like tins of beans travelling along the supermarket checkout. The key person changes nappies in the context of a relationship with the child. If just anyone changes nappies, wipes noses and rocks children to sleep, then there are no special relationships. The care of the children becomes just another task alongside mopping floors and cleaning tables.

(Julien Grenier cited in DCSF, 2008 p.14)

 

Sorry to get on my 'soap box' - I appreciate the difficulties involved, and realise that all staff can have positive relationships with many children who are not their key child and that this is good also.

 

Be interested to hear more views on this subject.

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“Taking this approach means that a child experiences an adult who is ‘tuned in’, who can develop a special and personal relationship with the child. In an impersonal nursery anyone and everyone changes nappies at a time that is convenient to the organisation. Children may be processed across the nappy-changing table like tins of beans travelling along the supermarket checkout. The key person changes nappies in the context of a relationship with the child. If just anyone changes nappies, wipes noses and rocks children to sleep, then there are no special relationships. The care of the children becomes just another task alongside mopping floors and cleaning tables.

(Julien Grenier cited in DCSF, 2008 p.14)

 

I may be speaking out of turn here and accept I do not have any detailed information as to how Julien Grenier reached the opinion quoted.

 

However I feel quite offended by his views! Of course we have a key person system in operation at my setting because it is a statutory requirement. Each session we have a maximum of 16 children and 3 (sometimes 4) staff. Without exception all our children are confident in their relationships with staff and able to go to any member of staff when needed. In my setting children's nappies are changed as soon as they need changing usually by the member of staff that realised it needs doing, this may or may not be the key person but IS done within the context of a relationship with the child and I find the suggestion that only a key person is capable of this and that just anyone changing nappies means the task is viewed alongside mopping floors quite ridiculous! I firmly believe that staff being able to 'tune in' to children is an innate quality in practitioners and not something unique to those with the label 'key person'

 

We also have a key person list on display, all parents are aware of who their child's key person is but like someone else has said the children themselves do not know. I also agree with someone who said that perhaps the key person system works well in larger settings but for us the application of the sytsem is more for 'administrative' purposes (learning journeys etc).

 

In February this year OFSTED were more than happy with how we implement the statutory requirement of a key person. It works for us, the parents are happy but most importantly of all the children are happy.

 

I think another side of all the 'special relationship' debate is that children can become 'too attached' and then have difficulties when a key person is suddenly unavailable. I know of children who have had terribly upsetting times when a key person has been off ill or left a setting - had these children had 'better' relationships with other staff then I think their distress and 're-transition' to preschool life with yet another key person, could have been avoided.

 

I think we all strive to do our best for the children in our care and like other aspects of early years provision, how the key person system is implemented will vary from setting to setting and what works for one will not necessarily work for another.

 

Ok off my soapbox now and exiting stage left!!!

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The guidance for small nurseries and reception classes recognises that it is quite different in these settings to a large nursery with a lot of staff. As a reception teacher I was the named keyperson for 30 children (Ofsted were quite happy as this covered statutory requirements ).

 

I do feel this requirement is based on larger Day Care settings rather than maintained settings (and small groups) where in general children only encounter the same two or three staff day in and day out and parents and children know staff well and staff know the child well.

 

I wholeheartedly agree with Geraldine that it is insulting to staff to suggest only the keyperson can have this kind of close relationship and only the named keyperson is capable of caring for and meeting each child's needs.

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I wanted to respond to the debate about the key person approach, and although I am unable to respond at length now (working on an essay on the key person approach for the first year of my foundation degree) I wanted to keep this post 'live' as I believe the key person role is the core of best practice in early years, however challenging it often is to implement effectively.

 

As we all know, it is a EYFS statutory reqirement that all settings adopt the key person approach:

 

"The EYFS Welfare Requirements are integral to successfully fostering children’s personal, social and emotional development and also place statutory responsibilities on providers".

 

Under Organisation, it says that: “ Each child must be assigned a key person” and “Providers must plan and organise their systems to ensure that every child receives an enjoyable and challenging learning and development experiences that is tailored to meet their individual needs” (DCSF 2008, p7)

 

I have been researching John Bowlby and attachment theory, research carried out by Elinor Goldschmied, Peter Elfer, Manning-Morton and the EPPE project - and when able (and if someone can explain how!) I will attach relevant information that supports the key person approach and the need to also support staff who undertake this role.

 

“Taking this approach means that a child experiences an adult who is ‘tuned in’, who can develop a special and personal relationship with the child. In an impersonal nursery anyone and everyone changes nappies at a time that is convenient to the organisation. Children may be processed across the nappy-changing table like tins of beans travelling along the supermarket checkout. The key person changes nappies in the context of a relationship with the child. If just anyone changes nappies, wipes noses and rocks children to sleep, then there are no special relationships. The care of the children becomes just another task alongside mopping floors and cleaning tables.

(Julien Grenier cited in DCSF, 2008 p.14)

 

Sorry to get on my 'soap box' - I appreciate the difficulties involved, and realise that all staff can have positive relationships with many children who are not their key child and that this is good also.

 

Be interested to hear more views on this subject.

I totally agree with you and our key person system works fine and Ofsted highly recommended our practice, so much so that we just got awarded outstanding in every area. All children need a person to relate to especially at intimate times of the day where they may need help. Our parents are fully aware of the key person system and prefer this knowing that their childs interests and needs are being met by someone who knows their child well.

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  • 4 weeks later...

Sam I am in agreement with you.

 

The whole idea about the key person apparoach is that they make strong bonds and connections with the children they are supporting and nurturing. Children need to make a bond and a strong link in order to feel welcomed, supported nurtured. Key workers begin to understand through observation, assessment, talking and spending time with that child in order to find out what stage of development that child is at, and plan to move them onto next step.

 

As an Assessor i have seen such an improvement in working practice which has had a positive impact on the children who attend certain settings who have strong key person practice in place.

 

The children are so engaged with the person, the person is engaged with them and able to spend time listening, responding, engaging, assessing and planning without having to worry about the other situations going on. Managers who have good key persons in place, are free to undertake peer observations, and manage the setting overall. The key person should manage the childrens needs to include both care and education. It works so well in many I have visited. The key person is able to communicate with parents, and other providers the child comes into contact with so that their is a consistency of care between providers for that child.

 

Sometimes I visit settings who do not have this in place and key elements for that child are missing. Particularly when you ask about planning for individual needs - ask them what activities they are providing based on someones obs and it is not forthcoming - the process comes to a head and continous provision is used as a basis that supports the day - rather than individual needs.

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In the setting where I worked we allocated children to keyworkers after about half a term based on who 'clicked' with who. It seems odd to just go down a list and distribute children with whom you have no shared interests.....much easier for a child to respond to someone who gets them.

 

The parents would ask all of us questions and we in turn would report the days events regardless of whose 'key' child it was but the keyworkers were responsible for their children's books. The fact that we had children we got on with especially well meant we were able to make the content of their books far more personal.

 

We were a small setting and maybe this approach would not work for all but it certainly did for us.

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We use the key person/worker system but again small PVI, 29 on role, max of 21 per session. We all get to know the children but are thinking of introducing a secondary key person for when a key person is absent/training etc.

 

I certainly communicate more with the child whose nose I am wiping or nappy I am changing, than I do with the mop or the brush I am using (although I am often told I talk to myself quite a lot :o )

 

Rachel

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