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Your Lea - Helpful And Supportive Or Not?


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I was about to post this on another thread but thought it might merit one of its own. I just wanted to do a straw poll really (ahead of potential cuts at LEAs) to find out how helpful other committees (and practitioners) find their LEA early years teams.

 

I ask partly because I have just spent an extremely frustrating 2 weeks trying to find the answer to a very simple question about the graduate leader fund. To be honest, I would have been better posting my query on here than asking my LEA.

 

The chain went like this: LEA refers me to 'someone else' to answer the query, I tried CWDC, then DoE, then Revenue, who told me my LEA must answer my question. I then quizzed 3 separate people at the LEA before insisting on and finally getting a definitive answer. I only got that definitive answer because I told the head honcho at the LEA that it was his responsibility to give me one and I was not going to be fobbed off with being told that I had to make the decision myself. I ended the call by pointing out that I was doing this as a volunteer, and that I had wasted probably 3 hours of MY OWN FREE TIME, finding this out.

 

So, on the administrative side of things there are people there who I feel are not up to the job and I wouldn't be hugely sorry to see them go. Having said that, we have one or two very good people on the advisory side, i.e. those who actually come into the setting and talk about how we can improve teaching and learning.

 

We've not had the support I would have liked from the SEN people at the LEA either, again we seem to have to find out things for ourselves rather than the LEA giving us appropriate advice.

 

How do other people find their LEAs?

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I am in Essex and mine are brilliant. They are very helpful and understanding and always return my calls and e-mails.There impending visits keep us all on our toes.They do not expect me to do anything that is not manageable.I would miss them if they were not there.

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Hi

I have thought about posting re. this before but felt I could upset a lot of people which I really do not wish to do.

I feel and have felt for a long time that, we as practitioners have a huge knowledge base which is not recognised enough. Over the years as standards have been encouraged to rise ( brilliantly I might add) and as we have all been encouraged to become highly qualified and professional, we have also been subjected to more and more visiting, advising, inspecting, monitoring, evaluating etc. All of this also needs meetings, papers, initiatives, offices and admin staff. Some (and I hasten to add not all) of these people have been new to early years or greatly lacking in experience. Even many of the advisory teachers have been severely lacking in knowledge or understanding of the PVI sector. One visitor memorably said to me after her regular visit: "I always like coming here as I always learn something". Many professionals from other fields have been recruited who do not always deserve our respect.

On top of this early years staff are very low paid for the high level of skill demanded. We are now in a position of having a huge level of personnel who have an input, earn very high salaries but perhaps (and again I am suggesting) are not needed. Early years is already underfunded and quite possible will be facing cutbacks so where should these cuts be made? I think you may be able to guess where I think the cuts should be made and it isn't at grass roots.

Rant over and apologies.

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And to add to my negative feelings about my LEA, I should add that (despite a long and impassioned email from me detailing how much I use and love this site), they decided to withdraw from funding our subscriptions to this foundation stage site. How could they NOT understand how great and useful this forum is, particularly to committee members?

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It's interesting isn't it?

 

Suzie-I am the same LEA as you and I rave about them compared to experiences that I have had/heard about from neighbouring LEA's.

I think part of the problem is the support system for Committee run Pre-schools is not very clear nationally when you compare it to the clear lines of LEA responsibility that schools have.

I think if schools start becoming academies it will be more like the pre-school experience for them.

As private companies really we are on our own and you have groups of parent volunteers who frequently change trying to feel their way without one person they can constantly call on. We recently suggested to the LEA that they run training for committee treasurers, payroll administrators and chairs as information to support those people is hard to come by.

 

We have had excellent support from our advisory teacher and the Area SENCO but are on the other side of the county to you.

The free training courses that the LEA run in the evenings for staff are excellent. You get absolutely NOTHING like this in the county directly south of ours which is very big and therefore resources are stretched.

I think people are unsure about the answers to some financial questions at the moment because the are waiting for the spending review and wondering if they will still have a job!

 

But I am in no doubt that it was very frustrating to waste 3 hours following up one question!

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So it could be worse! :o

 

We have one great advisory teacher who I really respect and who has been very helpful. You're right they must be worrying right now about what will happen to their jobs.

 

It strikes me that the solution to the whole PVI thing is that government (or LA) need to fund one person per setting to act as a kind of paid 'over seer' if that is the right word. Or at least fund us to have a proper accountant to run the treasury function. Dealing with staff wages, tax, employment law, really is asking too much imo. We are David Cameron's 'big society' but I'm not sure that anyone realises what we actually do!

 

I do honestly sometimes feel like I am a head teacher running a group of (mostly unpaid) staff, i.e. bursar (treasurer), school manager (secretary).

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Do you know that's not a bad idea...

If several pre-schools clubbed together they could probably pay one person to work part-time doing some of the treasurer/pay duties for a cluster. That person could then streamline their systems. Might be complicated if places have different pay scales/fees/policies etc. but I'm sure it would save lots of volunteers inventing wheel and trying to find things out on their own.

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And to add to my negative feelings about my LEA, I should add that (despite a long and impassioned email from me detailing how much I use and love this site), they decided to withdraw from funding our subscriptions to this foundation stage site. How could they NOT understand how great and useful this forum is, particularly to committee members?

 

However, you can argue that, in these straightened times, this is not what tax payers money is for couldn't you? It's a personal choice to join something not an entitlement.

 

Even many of the advisory teachers have been severely lacking in knowledge or understanding of the PVI sector. One visitor memorably said to me after her regular visit: "I always like coming here as I always learn something".

 

We're a learning community aren't we? Why is that seen as a negative. After years of working in the Early years sector I learn new things every time I go into another setting.

 

As someone who is at risk of not keeping my job after working very hard for the last 6 years to be effective, raise standards for young children's learning opportunities and outcomes (now above national averages in EYFSP) and yes, learn about different settings I find this kind of post a bit depressing to be honest.

Cx

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Not helpful or supportive. LEA DWs dont know the answers and dont do their job very well. The people in charge of the NEF are worse than rubbish. I cant even speak to them, the answer phone is always switched on so you have to wait for them to find time to call you back.

If they were a service I could change, like the accountant, I would do it in a heartbeat.

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Well. I have to say that my local early years team are fantastic!

 

From the Consultants and Support staff who run training, special projects and visit us in setting, to SENCO support, ECERS,ITERS et al and the Admin people who send out info, organise everything and help us through our study funding queries they are all marvellous, patient and very helpful. As to the FSF membership, I actually raised this at a recent training session. I asked how come, when money is tight, they have continued to subscribe, even though our local members are rather quiet. The response?? "It's not about that, it's about the quality of the site and what's available" :o

 

I'm sorry not everyone has such a positive experience, but I have sympathy with catma (who always has great contributions to make - thanks!! ).

 

Sue

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Can't fault mine in Portsmouth either, they have been a godsend at times, really supportive, and because we are a small authority everyone knows each other which really helps , I can pick up the phone and ask a question and know I will get a response within the day in most cases. Training is excellent and financial support i.e NEG and Graduate leader funding etc is spot on . Thats why I stay in Portsmouth - plus it's a great place to work ! :o

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As someone who is at risk of not keeping my job after working very hard for the last 6 years to be effective, raise standards for young children's learning opportunities and outcomes (now above national averages in EYFSP) and yes, learn about different settings I find this kind of post a bit depressing to be honest.

Cx

 

wow i'm with you there Catma :oxD:(

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In my part of Kent I have found that the Management & Info side of things i.e. Nursery Education Grant, etc. has been great, they have been knowledgeable and really helpful staff - haven't always agreed with what the county wants to do, but that's another matter, the people that are employed to do their jobs are very good. Our Early Years Advisory team have often gone beyond the call of duty to supply training, and support, especially, before the job was deemed unnecessary any longer, our Area Senco.

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As someone who is at risk of not keeping my job after working very hard for the last 6 years to be effective, raise standards for young children's learning opportunities and outcomes (now above national averages in EYFSP) and yes, learn about different settings I find this kind of post a bit depressing to be honest.

Cx

 

wow i'm with you there Catma :oxD:(

 

I'm really sorry Halli, that wasn't my intention at all. I guess I'm a bit stressed what with having 2 jobs, one paid, one unpaid, and being made to chase my tail by some on our LEA. Sorry for ranting on here, it's my only outlet really.

 

As I've mentioned, the advisory teachers are great and the others helpful if sometimes obstructive.

 

But as a volunteer commitee member it can feel lonely and unsupported and an uphill struggle for very little return, apart from the satisfaction of doing it for the children.

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However, you can argue that, in these straightened times, this is not what tax payers money is for couldn't you? It's a personal choice to join something not an entitlement.

 

We're a learning community aren't we? Why is that seen as a negative. After years of working in the Early years sector I learn new things every time I go into another setting.

 

As someone who is at risk of not keeping my job after working very hard for the last 6 years to be effective, raise standards for young children's learning opportunities and outcomes (now above national averages in EYFSP) and yes, learn about different settings I find this kind of post a bit depressing to be honest.

Cx

 

Sorry Catma I didn't realise Hali was quoting you, and I'm sure you do your job brilliantly. Again, I had no intention of offending, just of letting off steam! It doesn't seem to be the case everywhere though that the LEAs are effective.

 

In terms of the subs to this site, you're right I guess and I have no objection to paying. But there's just one other factor, really, which is I don't get paid to do the 20+ hours a week for my setting. That tiny bit of LEA support would have been welcomed, especially as they had invited people to write in support of continuing the subs and I did.

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Thinking about this, particularly regarding catma's response, it should be noted that she isn't the only Advisor who is a member here and I feel that threads like this are, or could be, rather unhelpful . Might it not be better to take issue more directly with your LEA if you find them 'challenging'?

 

Sue

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no worries Suzie :o you are obviously not alone in your thoughts and as with everything some areas do things well and others dont and i do feel for you - i was a manager of a committee run group so know how you feel - its just those of us EYCs that do our best to support and have an impact on improving the provisions we look after are really feeling it at the mo - with not knowing if we will have our jobs or not come next March - again not your problem but we are all feeling a bit wobbly at the moment so posts like these are a little worrying xD

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Thinking about this, particularly regarding catma's response, it should be noted that she isn't the only Advisor who is a member here and I feel that threads like this are, or could be, rather unhelpful . Might it not be better to take issue more directly with your LEA if you find them 'challenging'?

 

Sue

 

 

I get what you're saying Sue, but honestly, after the last few weeks I've had I totally appriciate where Suzie is coming from. As a Chair, I dont really have anyone to help me except this site and a fab lady from the PLA who's on the case for me.

Its just the same as us coming on here and moaning about parents really. I dont expect Suzie was having a go at any of the advisors on here, were you Suzie????!!! :o

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However blanket bashing of LA staff threads apropos of not very much/a minority of bad experiences isn't feeling very supportive to forum members who's jobs are at risk through no fault of their own.

 

A little solidarity people, please. We are all actually on the same side - you know, the one about children getting a better start in life??

 

Cx

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However blanket bashing of LA staff threads apropos of not very much/a minority of bad experiences isn't feeling very supportive to forum members who's jobs are at risk through no fault of their own.

 

A little solidarity people, please. We are all actually on the same side - you know, the one about children getting a better start in life??

 

Cx

 

WELL SAID!!

 

It's a bit like experiences with Ofsted - there's good and bad everywhere but, when all is said and done, we are all in it for the children.

 

Best wishes to everyone facing uncertainty.

 

Nona

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new to this but here goes. i would like to say like you our early years dept is rubbish they can never answer a question without going round the houses and departments, when i was imminently losing a private club they offered no support at all and previously allowed another club to open directly in competition same area pick up drop off school (out of school) with NOF and now are no support with new pre school funding staff working with community etc hope our dept does get cut as all providers feel the same.

 

I was about to post this on another thread but thought it might merit one of its own. I just wanted to do a straw poll really (ahead of potential cuts at LEAs) to find out how helpful other committees (and practitioners) find their LEA early years teams.

 

I ask partly because I have just spent an extremely frustrating 2 weeks trying to find the answer to a very simple question about the graduate leader fund. To be honest, I would have been better posting my query on here than asking my LEA.

 

The chain went like this: LEA refers me to 'someone else' to answer the query, I tried CWDC, then DoE, then Revenue, who told me my LEA must answer my question. I then quizzed 3 separate people at the LEA before insisting on and finally getting a definitive answer. I only got that definitive answer because I told the head honcho at the LEA that it was his responsibility to give me one and I was not going to be fobbed off with being told that I had to make the decision myself. I ended the call by pointing out that I was doing this as a volunteer, and that I had wasted probably 3 hours of MY OWN FREE TIME, finding this out.

 

So, on the administrative side of things there are people there who I feel are not up to the job and I wouldn't be hugely sorry to see them go. Having said that, we have one or two very good people on the advisory side, i.e. those who actually come into the setting and talk about how we can improve teaching and learning.

 

We've not had the support I would have liked from the SEN people at the LEA either, again we seem to have to find out things for ourselves rather than the LEA giving us appropriate advice.

 

How do other people find their LEAs?

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I am sorry to hear that you have had such a negative experience with your LEA, daughter, and that others feel the same but this is really not the place to be rubbishing them in such a way. I am sure you would be very distressed if you felt that someone thought that your setting should not survive which is what you seem to be suggesting.

 

I do not understand the ins and outs of this as I am school based but could it be that actually your questions cant be answered or that the answers received were actually not the answers you wanted to hear!?

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I think it is very easy to criticise faceless people, but once actually knowing people personally and the pressure they are under, the hours they work, the care, concern and dedication to young children and providers, then things look very different. We all look at everything from our own points of view fighting our own corner, but there is always a bigger picture and another side to a story. I find that 99.9% of people are really concerned and caring about what they do, do over the odds, especially those working with Early Years, and I would hate to write them off and would hate to wish them out of work, with the problems that result from that for them and their families. Loosing the expertise of people affects everyone. There are many settings out there needing an enormous amount of support who receive it, and priorities have to be set. For those who feel let down by certain individuals within their local authority then there are avenues open to them to bring these concerns to senior managers. Nothing is ever perfect and there are never enough staff at any level.

Our forum is a community where we work together from our various experiences and viewpoints, and hopefully never stop learning from each other either. There can be no bigger compliment than someone in authority coming in and saying that they have learnt something new in your setting. To me that speaks of someone both humble and supportive so likely to be very good in their role.

There are also many many people who do work for nothing, frustrating as it can be at times, and these are the vast army of volunteers without whom many charities and also schools (Governors) could not do without. Likewise these Committees running settings in the PVI sector. Hard work, little thanks, but that isn't why we do it is it? We do it because we are people who wish to contribute to society in a positive way.

Anyway off my horse now and to bed !

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gosh, what a can of worms.

 

Our Area Senco's, leaders in business (and committee aspects), ECERS support etc has all been rolled into one job descript and major redundancies have taken place within the LEA. We do have a Settings Improvement Partner who is incredibly busy after taking on such a big job description and physical area.

 

I think we do understand that there are major financial concerns and that each LEA must consider each pot of money carefully, however, there also seems to be a huge requirement for there to be better two way communication or even three way communication -the LEA, Setting heads/staff and parents.

 

It is easy for each of us to pick holes in these confusing systems and requirements. It should be made clear that the communication and support is failing in some areas of the country, we could look at how other areas like Essex and Devon are supportive to their teams.

 

I love the way Essex based settings appear proud of their LEA and I love the clarity of Devon's website (and lets face it, once that's been set up it is relatively free for the LEA to run)!

 

It can be done, but it may need us all to suggest the same thing and a sense of unity between our LEA's?

 

Personally I feel the amount of paperwork imposed by our LEA swamps me and the child is somewhere to be found under the paper. I'd love to spend more time with the children and staff!

 

Spiral.

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However blanket bashing of LA staff threads apropos of not very much/a minority of bad experiences isn't feeling very supportive to forum members who's jobs are at risk through no fault of their own.

 

A little solidarity people, please. We are all actually on the same side - you know, the one about children getting a better start in life??

 

Cx

 

I'm sure I wouldnt want to be anything but supportive catma, its what this site is all about afterall. Voicing our concerns, worries and issues and being supported with advice or even like stories is sometimes all we've got.

I applaude you and others like you who work hard to support the settings in your LEA, but not all LEAs give the same level of committment. Suzie and I have faced problems that our respective LEAs cant/wont help with. Neither of us get paid for any of the work we do its for love of the settings we're involved in, so when people who are paid to help us, just dont it can be highly frustrating. I'm sure no-one is having a dig at any indviduals on here and believe me, I wouldnt say anything on here that I wouldnt say to the person I have the gripe with, should they ever answer the phone :o

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I am not here to rubbish anyone, but just wanted to try to pick my way through some of the responses so far and add my own thoughts.

 

I think there are 2 real issues here. Does your LEA support you in terms of EYFS (their major task), AND does your LEA support you in terms of being PVI. To the former I can say yes, but the latter, no, and this business support seems to have been an issue for other posters.

 

Would I want to see cuts to my LEA? No way!! But I am sure they are coming, and I am sure that this will impact negatively on us all, in training availability and costs, in terms of quality of service and in terms of accessing help and advice.

 

Where would I wish to see cuts?........Well, I would love to see inspectors from Ofsted have to operate on the same hourly wage as me, and then see if they were quite so picky!! However, this is a whole other issue!!

Edited by eyfs1966
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I don't want to say too much but I too don't feel particularly supported by the LEA.

 

Earlier this year we had a huge problem which we will call an inclusion issue and as a setting we got NO SUPPORT AT ALL.

 

I also feel that advisory teachers no longer advise part time and work in a setting and I think therefore they very quickly forget what it is like on the practical end of new ideas and initiatives!!

 

Someone from the LA was in our nursery the other day and she is doing audits for ecers alongside her role as "support" re SEN and she asked when during the session we did something other than play!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

 

And she is auditing settings with that type of attitude and knowledge level??????!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

 

*I just posted this and then read the threads previous to mine about not bashing LEA's and solidarity etc but I thought the point here was that we got to express an opinion????

We are all entitled to one I thought!

Wonderful if you have a supportive LEA but there are bound to be those who are not so wonderful.

Edited by Scarlettangel
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Well after reading posts on here I feel very lucky to be in Essex where I get support about EYFS and business matters. Yes I do get paperwork to do BUT often it is a government issue that has to be followed and the advisor is only" passing on the messages" Running my setting is not too complicated anyway because I am not commitee run. I just have to run ideas through with 6 other staff who are all very supportive anyway, lucky me!!!

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