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Review Into Vanessa George


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I was watching this on the news yesterday and have to say I was appalled to learn the setting had only a few months previously received a'Good' report while the review found so many negative things to say about it.

We got a 'satisfactory' last time because we werent displaying the complaints poster. Never mind that we keep records, make sure staff are trained in CP, have roles defined, work closely with advisors and take onboard new ideas, recruit following employment and safeguarding guildlines and have a code of conduct that would prevent the language she is said to have used.

 

Ofsted say they have already implemented changes, well I should think so too. Lets hope they are consistent, indepth and challenging in a positive way rather than nit picking.

 

 

Serious case review

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There is so much that is really odd about this whole set up.

 

I've not heard myself of other day care nurseries being committee run, I certainly think it would be inappropriate for our own setting to go younger than the two and a half year olds we currently serve, or to offer a year round service. As far as I'm concerned, a setting taking babies all year round really needs to have a proper employer in place, rather than be run by volunteers. I had assumed from watching news reports that this was a privately run setting.

 

There also seems to be a huge number of staff involved for a committee run setting with so few trustees.

 

So many policies and procedures that we follow as a matter of course seem to be missing here, how on earth could Ofsted give this place a good rating!?

 

Someone in government is going to have to ask themselves some very serious questions about how the whole sector is run. If they really want efficient, well run and well staffed early years settings, I'm of the view that they will need to pay the equivalent of a head teacher/nursery manager for each one.

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Guest jenpercy
There is so much that is really odd about this whole set up.

 

I've not heard myself of other day care nurseries being committee run, I certainly think it would be inappropriate for our own setting to go younger than the two and a half year olds we currently serve, or to offer a year round service. As far as I'm concerned, a setting taking babies all year round really needs to have a proper employer in place, rather than be run by volunteers. I had assumed from watching news reports that this was a privately run setting.

 

There also seems to be a huge number of staff involved for a committee run setting with so few trustees.

 

So many policies and procedures that we follow as a matter of course seem to be missing here, how on earth could Ofsted give this place a good rating!?

 

Someone in government is going to have to ask themselves some very serious questions about how the whole sector is run. If they really want efficient, well run and well staffed early years settings, I'm of the view that they will need to pay the equivalent of a head teacher/nursery manager for each one.

 

It would certainly be OK for a charity (committee run by definition to operate. the fact is that no one noticed that it had not been set up properly. If the Manager had owned it, however, things would not have been any different. One thing I noted was that questions were not being asked by their inspectors, that I have certainly been asked as an after-school club - about staff employment, checks etc. But then I don't understand how some settings (not this one) can get good for safeguarding children when the preport notes that on 2 days a week they don't have a fully trained Safeguarding Officer, whilst we have been told that we could get no more than satisfactory for some other minor infringement.

 

" things here then. it seems to me that OFSTED is very variable, depending on individual inspector or perhaps region.

 

2. the wages of the whole childcare profession are woefully inadequate and are a disaster waiting to happen. When trained staff (Level3) would get more money stacking shelves. the goverment provision for children relise on the low wages, and it is our low wages (together with care assistants) that are the main factor in the difference between men and women's wages. stressing equal pay in the professions and discrimination in financial firms etc will make no real difference.

 

And now anyone wishing to qualify in childcare over the age of 25, will have to pay for the priveledge of being sufficiently qualified to earn minimum wage.

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Hi Inge,

 

I found it a thought provoking read, especially the emphasis on 'assessing/inspecting/judging' the ethos of a setting and how this could indicate safeguarding issues. A subjective dilemma.

 

The information regarding the managers role as a Foster carer was particularly relevant to me, and echoed very much my experience as a Foster carer / preschool owner, and the 'blurring' of roles in terms of how agencies have positively judged my skills, as they did this nursery manager, thought provoking in how we take things for granted, including 'transferable skills' without checking that those skills are actually there. ( of course in my case the knowledge and skills are there :o )

 

I hope that the multi agancy working recommendations are taken seriously, especially links between Ofsted, Early Years (LA), Social services and settings all working professionally sharing information, and not forgetting health sector role.

 

As I read the review it reminded me of when we used to be inspected by social services (pre-Ofsted), and how this was not just an Inspection of standards but also an advisory role which I really missed when Ofsted became the inspectorate. Hopefully the system can revert back to a similar service whilst maintaining objectivity of course.

 

Hey, good to be back, I shall try and pop in to the forum more often in future.

 

Peggy

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Totally agree with the comment with regard to [ pre-Ofsted Inspections.] Alas i'm one from the old sector too if you like, but i always found them advisory and helpful, now we all seem so scared of them that i cannot believe anybody shows themselves in the best light.

Surely it is in the best interest of everybody to get a balance that is fair, consistent and positive, which may in turn include any findings that need to be addressed. :(

Ps lets hope we get a nice one soon, ha ha. :oxD:(

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As I read the review it reminded me of when we used to be inspected by social services (pre-Ofsted), and how this was not just an Inspection of standards but also an advisory role which I really missed when Ofsted became the inspectorate. Hopefully the system can revert back to a similar service whilst maintaining objectivity of course.

 

Hey, good to be back, I shall try and pop in to the forum more often in future.

 

Peggy

 

 

I miss those days too Peggy. :o I don't feel we have a support system in place now - as Bridger has said we are all too terrified and waiting to be hauled over the coals!!

 

Off to read the review now

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Having read this it is pretty scary for me. We will have a VERY similar set up to this after christmas, even to the point that I will be a governor of the school. So I can add working out how this will affect us to the other 3 million things I have to worry about over the next 6 weeks.

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As far as I'm concerned, a setting taking babies all year round really needs to have a proper employer in place, rather than be run by volunteers.

This calls into question the whole idea of comittee run settings though. What is the difference between a child in a sessional pre-school and one who attends a full daycare setting? Your statement would appear to suggest that a committee run group is somehow inferior to a privately owned one, but that this is ok for children who attend on a sessional basis but not for those who attend all year round.

 

As a committee chair I'm sure you don't think your group is inferior in any way, so my eyebrows did raise an inch or two at your statement! :o

 

Turning to the report itself, I was shocked to think that parents were happy to leave their child in a setting without knowing its legal status or almost anything at all about how it is managed and run. The report said several times that it was only now that their children were attending another group that they realised how lax things were in the previous setting.

 

It is a very thought provoking read, and it seems to me that very few people are portrayed in a positive light by this investigation. There are many lessons for us all here, and ones which should help us look again at our policies and procedures to make sure they are fit for purpose.

 

Maz

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Guest jenpercy

if the setting is in a school building, the parents will have assumed it is run by the school, or that the manager is the owner. althogh the setting should have informed the parents of their set-up, the outcome would have been no different if the manager was in fact the owner, so I am a bit confused, as to why it would matter if it was being run by volunteers.

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This calls into question the whole idea of comittee run settings though. What is the difference between a child in a sessional pre-school and one who attends a full daycare setting? Your statement would appear to suggest that a committee run group is somehow inferior to a privately owned one, but that this is ok for children who attend on a sessional basis but not for those who attend all year round.

 

As a committee chair I'm sure you don't think your group is inferior in any way, so my eyebrows did raise an inch or two at your statement! :o

 

Turning to the report itself, I was shocked to think that parents were happy to leave their child in a setting without knowing its legal status or almost anything at all about how it is managed and run. The report said several times that it was only now that their children were attending another group that they realised how lax things were in the previous setting.

 

It is a very thought provoking read, and it seems to me that very few people are portrayed in a positive light by this investigation. There are many lessons for us all here, and ones which should help us look again at our policies and procedures to make sure they are fit for purpose.

 

Maz

 

Actually Maz I do think it is not right that any early years setting is run by inexpert volunteers rather than experts. It's as though we are saying that the very youngest children do not 'deserve' the same levels of professionalism and expertise we offer to their older counterparts.

 

My setting is incredibly lucky that we have 3 qualified early years teachers on the committee, but what about those settings where that is not the case?

 

I also think that a full time, 9-6 or whatever day, 52 weeks a year, is very different to our mornings only term time only set up. The number of staff will be different, the levels of complexity of managing the setting will be different, babies require more expert care when it comes to welfare, safety, etc., that kind of thing.

 

But I would personally be happy to call into question the way that the whole sector is run at the moment, I am not an expert in employment law, accountancy, health and safety law, personnel, etc. etc. etc. But I SHOULD be really to do my job properly, and am having to become so because I do want to do a good job.

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But I would personally be happy to call into question the way that the whole sector is run at the moment, I am not an expert in employment law, accountancy, health and safety law, personnel, etc. etc. etc. But I SHOULD be really to do my job properly, and am having to become so because I do want to do a good job.

 

 

I'd agree with that suzie. The things we need to know and the things we only find out we need to know through trial and error are mind boggling sometimes. I feel I should be better qualified in the whole business side of things, but there isnt that much help out there.

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Suppose thats where the Early Years support is supposed to help us in our jobs, as my local authority do , in the last 6 years I have completed two business management courses set up and financed by my Early Years department and two of my senior staff ( Deputy and Senior) have also done management training NVQ's funded by the LSC and no cost to the setting. :o

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JUst realised that last post wasn't helpful in terms of information ! I did my latest Mangement training funded by Train to Gain - a BTec proffesional award in business management in childcare, and my Deputy/Senior did thiers through Smart Training and it was a level 3 NVQ in management funded by the LSC. May be worth some investigation, I know the funding is all a bit up in the air at present but am sure Smart are advertiseing in our LA again at the present time. :o

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Actually Maz I do think it is not right that any early years setting is run by inexpert volunteers rather than experts. It's as though we are saying that the very youngest children do not 'deserve' the same levels of professionalism and expertise we offer to their older counterparts.

The early years workforce is becoming more and more professionalised and that is quite right, however I think the committee as an entity has been left behind somewhat in terms of the training and support offered to do their work. If you liken the role of the committee to the role of the governing body of a school, the gap between the experiences of the two groups would (I imagine) be very wide indeed.

 

I don't think it matters how old the child is or how long they attend for, it goes without saying that every child deserves the best experience we can offer them.

 

I'm not sure I'd necessarily agree that staff working in full daycare settings benefit from having a more expert or knowledgeable employer, however, based on the experiences of people I know! :o

 

I also think that perhaps the discussion about whether babies require more expert care than preschoolers is a very interesting one and could have a whole thread devoted to it!

 

Sometimes I think that the whole early years world needs picking up by the scruff of its neck and shaking - reading this report brings home in stark relief the extent and scope of our responsibilities whichever kind of group we work in, and just how serious the outcome can be for children when we're not quite up to the job.

 

Maz

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I'd agree with that suzie. The things we need to know and the things we only find out we need to know through trial and error are mind boggling sometimes. I feel I should be better qualified in the whole business side of things, but there isnt that much help out there.

 

 

Me too! Like you suzie I do wonder about those settings that are committee run that have noone that has the background in childcare..it must be a nightmare for them..unless the manager is brilliant of course. What other organisation has management ie committee that normally has no idea what the staff they employ should be doing??

 

From this report i got the impression that they were saying committee run settings are no longer feasible. Must admit I tend to agree. Too much is expected from them.

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Guest jenpercy
Me too! Like you suzie I do wonder about those settings that are committee run that have noone that has the background in childcare..it must be a nightmare for them..unless the manager is brilliant of course. What other organisation has management ie committee that normally has no idea what the staff they employ should be doing??

 

From this report i got the impression that they were saying committee run settings are no longer feasible. Must admit I tend to agree. Too much is expected from them.

 

Where does that leave charities?

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Suppose thats where the Early Years support is supposed to help us in our jobs, as my local authority do , in the last 6 years I have completed two business management courses set up and financed by my Early Years department and two of my senior staff ( Deputy and Senior) have also done management training NVQ's funded by the LSC and no cost to the setting. :o

 

I guess so but unfortunately I have my own business to run and I don't have or intend to find time to train in areas related to preschool. I've got my own job to do, this is I'm afraid just a sideline for me! (although a very time consuming one).

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The early years workforce is becoming more and more professionalised and that is quite right, however I think the committee as an entity has been left behind somewhat in terms of the training and support offered to do their work. If you liken the role of the committee to the role of the governing body of a school, the gap between the experiences of the two groups would (I imagine) be very wide indeed.

 

I don't think it matters how old the child is or how long they attend for, it goes without saying that every child deserves the best experience we can offer them.

 

I'm not sure I'd necessarily agree that staff working in full daycare settings benefit from having a more expert or knowledgeable employer, however, based on the experiences of people I know! :o

 

I also think that perhaps the discussion about whether babies require more expert care than preschoolers is a very interesting one and could have a whole thread devoted to it!

 

Sometimes I think that the whole early years world needs picking up by the scruff of its neck and shaking - reading this report brings home in stark relief the extent and scope of our responsibilities whichever kind of group we work in, and just how serious the outcome can be for children when we're not quite up to the job.

 

Maz

 

I'm not sure you can equate the committee to the governing body, though, because in the state sector, the employer is the government, and the head teacher is the policy maker. The governing body of a school would not be asked to do so many things like payroll, policies, and other jobs we have to do on committee.

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Where does that leave charities?

 

Sorry to quote 3 separate times, 3 separate questions really!

 

Most large charities would be run by at least some people in paid employment, e.g. a paid accountant, etc.

 

Most small voluntary run charities are not asked to take such a key role in small children's welfare and education.

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Me too! Like you suzie I do wonder about those settings that are committee run that have noone that has the background in childcare..it must be a nightmare for them..unless the manager is brilliant of course. What other organisation has management ie committee that normally has no idea what the staff they employ should be doing??

 

From this report i got the impression that they were saying committee run settings are no longer feasible. Must admit I tend to agree. Too much is expected from them.

 

I was under the impression that it was the managers job (of any setting) to know the childcare side inside out, to set the standard, keep up to date with policy/practice change and drive the quality forward. Even private settings may be owned by people not in the 'childcare know'. their role to facilitate the success of their business would be as a support mechanism in their own area of expertise eg if it's a business background then they would support marketing, budgets

 

I have no idea about committees but would guess they are there to support the manager to enable her to do her role to it's best by utilising their own skills.

 

Every type of setting would be flawed if there wasnt strong leadership and vision, clear roles and everyone committed to the same goal.

 

It would be wrong if the upshot of this report resulted in the condemnation of committee run settings; there were so many anomalies and assumptions in so many different areas.(like trustees not even knowing they were trustees etc) What it should be however is the catalyst for constructive change and better recognition, definition and support for committees of the role they have to play.

 

Is it a requirement that committee run settings have a childcare manager or do the committees set the standards/policies, manage and guide staff?

Edited by gingerbreadman
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I'm not sure you can equate the committee to the governing body, though, because in the state sector, the employer is the government, and the head teacher is the policy maker. The governing body of a school would not be asked to do so many things like payroll, policies, and other jobs we have to do on committee.

 

I think there are similarities with Governing bodies but there is not the support for committees that Governing bodies receive from their LA's. Although the Government is the paymaster in maintained schools, the Governing Body are the employers and only they can hire and fire. The policy-makers are also the Governors, although in practise the HT will formulate the policy and the Governors read, ask questions and then hopefully approve. Of course within schools there are more resources and staff employed to do jobs like manage the payroll, but ultimately it is still the Governing body who is responsible. A Governing Body will have an Action Plan, and also contribute to the writing of the SEF. We are also included in the Inspection process and we are one of the 'limiting judgements', if we are poor then the school is poor however good they might be in other areas.

Governors get lots of training offered to support them in their role, for example I'm going for a days training on Safer Recruitment so that I can be on the Governors interview panel. I am also CLL and PSED Governor and have recently done a monitoring visit to verify that what is in our policies is in place. Perhaps what should come from this report is more support and equality with maintained settings!

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I'm not sure you can equate the committee to the governing body, though, because in the state sector, the employer is the government, and the head teacher is the policy maker. The governing body of a school would not be asked to do so many things like payroll, policies, and other jobs we have to do on committee.

I take this point on board, but what I was really saying is that perhaps pre-school committees should be more like governing bodies in the scope of their work and the levels of support they reach to do it.

 

I guess so but unfortunately I have my own business to run and I don't have or intend to find time to train in areas related to preschool. I've got my own job to do, this is I'm afraid just a sideline for me! (although a very time consuming one).

So how do we ensure that our committees are adequately supported and can devote enough time to do the job whilst maintaining some kind of decent balance between their various interests and other commitments? In terms of the original subject of this thread what has become clear from the report is that the Trustees of the group weren't even aware that they were Trustees and as such had responsibilities to safeguard the children in the setting.

 

Has the time come for a much more rigorous recruitment, monitoring and support of committees to ensure that each group is being effectively run? There is no doubt that there are good committees and less effective ones. How do we identify when things are going wrong in a group before something drastic happens - whether that something drastic is half the workforce leaving or a committee suddenly resigning because the job is just too big, or something tragic like the Vanessa George case?

 

As I wrote that last paragraph I wondered too how many privately run groups might be operating under very similar circumstances - I'm not entirely sure this sort of situation couldn't arise in the private sector.

 

Maz

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I wish that someone who could properly affect policy could read this thread!

The FSF has a wide and ranging membership Cait - you never know who might be readin! xD

 

Hope something is done soon, before we all reach the end of our collective Teathers. :o Sorry - couldn't resist.

 

Maz

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Hope something is done soon, before we all reach the end of our collective Teathers. ph34r.gif

 

A most excellent pun!

 

I am particularly interested about the complete lack of channels for LA teams to alert Ofsted or share info. The number of times we have graded a setting as satisfactory only for Ofsted to come along and say Good on very little info makes me despair. And once Ofsted say good a setting will really not listen to anyone else. It can really tie a hand behind our backs in terms of changing practice.

Cx

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I was surprised to read in the report that the only sanction left open to a Local Authority would be to make a complaint about the group to Ofsted.

I seem to think that LAs used to have meetings with Ofsted to discuss general issues, catma - do these happen at all?

 

Maz

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