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Running A Mums+toddler Group


fimbo
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im hoping someone can help clarify a sticky situation for me !

we run preschool sessions and mums and toddlers.

i used to run the mums and toddler group that we ran twice a week - i had to stop as the preschool sessions increased, the commitee took it over and came in to run it -basically set up the room -make tea -snacks etc -parents stay with their children and are responsible for them.

 

it has kind of evolved over the past few months, and although i no longer run it -we are still under the same umbrella, we are covered by the same insurance, and i have a few concerns.

 

the committee member who runs it is preparing large elaborate meals for snack -last week they had cottage pie and peas (at 10.30 am) . a homemade cake is also brought in - the 'meal' is sometimes made at home and reheated at pre-school. a cooked meal as an occasional treat would be fine (if prepared on site and by someone trained) but this is every week -they had curry, rice, naans and poppadoms the week before !

they have no food hygiene training, i only ever used to give the toddlers fruit /crackers /breadsticks etc -simple healthy snacks.

 

we have policies and proceedures they are supposed to follow -but they are seen as more of a hinderence.

some of the activities they are set are not age appropriate.

 

i have given them details of training courses for running toddler groups -but they seem to think they know better . they have no training or experience in childcare apart from their own children.

 

all of the mums are friends - and have been for some time, im worried its becoming 'clicky' and that because they are all friends the rules and regs are being brushed off.

 

also if something happened in the session (god forbid) it is going to reflect badly on the pre-school, as we are seen as all one organisation.

 

i have mentioned my concerns -if a child were to choke on something they have put out that is not age appropriate, or if someone suffered food poisoning or an allergic reaction - but they just roll their eyes and tell me the 'world has gone regulation mad' !!!

 

im not sure what else i can do - i have told them my concerns, and am going to have another meet next week -but apart from that what else can i do ?

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Have you got an advisor who can come in and voice the same concerns? If they aren't following your policies and procedures will it effect the whole of your provision? I'm assuming because its a toddler group where parents stay the rules are a bit different, although cottage pie at 10.30 doesn't sound so good.

I think you need to address each issue separately. The food being cooked at home and reheated would be where I start. Especially if they're re-heating rice! Have you got a booklet from a food safety course you could take in? I'm not so sure about the rules surrounding toddler groups, I know our local one is happy to serve biscuits until they come out of their ears!

It's all very well them thinking its too many regulations but if their child was ill because of the food someone else had cooked they wouldn't be happy I'm guessing. Tell them your insurance wont cover any of you should something go wrong, and although they're all friends now, that doesn't stop someone from complaining I they feel the need, a member of our committee complained many years ago without speaking to staff or other committee first, they thought she was a friend!

Are you a member of the PLA? They have some good information for toddler groups, give them a call, see if they can visit.

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You need to separate the pre school from this toddler group. They may be using the same room but could they be called something else and have their own insurance. At the end of the day if they are the committee and the buck stops with them but any negative incidents will reflect on your preschool.

 

We were just talking about this today. We had an incident last year at a private party in our building but the press a year later are still referring to the incident in news columns as though it happen in the playgroup session. Even though I have written to the editor to stop doing it.

 

If they can't follow your policies, they can't be under your umbrella. Who wrote the policies? Is it not good practice to have an NVQ3 run a toddler group?

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Does sound like they are using it as a social for themselves and not for the children... how do the children benefit form a curry mid morning meal?

 

while it is to benefit both mothers and toddlers the children need to have correct care...

 

do think it needs to be separated from the group and run as its own identity.. it can be by same committee but certainly under own policies etc... i am assuming it is under the 2 hours limit needed before registering it with Ofsted...

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thanks for the sound advice, i was beginning to think it was just me being picky - but im the kind of person who likes to follow the rules and do things right. plus some of you may of read some of my old posts re the commitee (still on going)-and after a while you do tend to question yourself.

 

i had some feedback from a mum today -she took her 18 month old in for the first session on tuesday, and she felt overwhelmed. she felt it was aimed more for older children !! i have a feeling she wont be taking her little girl back.

 

i feel that as long as the toddler is run from our pre school building -it will always be seen as part of pre school, and i think having a pre school on site is great for the local community and the pre school (and the children !) but it has to be run correctly.

 

i have arranged a commitee meeting for next week and will make a list, arming myself with highlighted copies of the policies, constitution, charity commision guidelines and insurance policy - but the chair has already asked that its a "short meeting" -despite us not having spoken to any of the commitee since the end of june !

 

as regards to staffing - the secretary is running the group, as a volunteer -but she has mentioned to me in passing that if there is any money left after her overheads then she may pay herself £10 a week as a little bit of 'pocket money for all the effort i put in ' !!!

 

they will not pay a staff member to run the session -as they can no longer afford to- and we all refused to do it after they insisted we would only be paid £10 (for 2 1/5 hrs work).

 

before i took over the sessions it was always run by the mums and worked really well as a little tots group -basic, no frills -but great for the kids -which at the end of the day is the point !

 

many thanks again guys x

 

another quick question (sorry !) do they need to ofsted registered if the mums are there to supervise their children ? current session is 2 hours, but they are thinking of extending it (dont ask !! another minefield)

Edited by fimbo
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I just did a quick check on the PLA website and a P&T newsletter said that these groups don't have to be registered because their parents are responsible for their children at all times. Best to check with Ofsted or your Local Authority, as finleysmaid advises.

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