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hi all,


im now looking at my september intake (i know its only june!!) and it looks like my numbers are low and im going to have to make some drastic staff cut backs.


my question is this, i know im going to get lots of complaints from staff, but surely my trained staff should be given the majority of the sessions? i know their more expensive to pay, but they can just get on with it. i work 7 sessions per week as leader (we open 8) and i might have to cut back to 2 or 3 a week, pay is not great but i cant afford to do this as im sure other staff cannot either.


would you agree that trained staff get priority?

would it be better to average the sessions, say me from 7 to 5 and someone who only does 3 sessions down to one.


not sure how im going to handle this one! ANY HELP


i know one of you will come up with a solution.

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Hi Ruthie,

What a difficlut situation for you.Not sure I have any solutions, but in my pre-school we took it in turns to have extra days off during really low term. We weren't paid for them but it made it easier for all of us as we didn't need to cut down our hours, also no one member of staff was singled out. We were all involded inthe decision making process to and knew what the situation was.


Have you also thought about extending your hours to include a lunchtime session for example to raise a bit more cash ?


The other thing is to ask your staff and see who'd like to cut down on sessions or use the opportunity to go on a training course .


I'm sure you have thought of all these though......I don't envy you good luck with whatever you decide to do.



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we already do lunches and 3 afternoon a week, i think because we do 8 sessions per week, the amount of children is spread over so much more time, each session looks bad, if only open for 5 sessions it wouldnt look so bad.

we already took odd days off this and last term, mostly myself as i had a lot of coursework to catch up on as just finish my degree.


i will talk to everyone so they all understand, im sure someone would like another day off. i now i would like one extra, but will probally use it to do paperwork from home as normal, but thats another post on its own.


will keep thinking of solutions

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Hi there,


A reduction in working hours when the roll is low .... is this not something that pre-school staff expect?


I'm a pre-school assistant and have been in post for over six years. Historically, I've worked all 4 sessions each week when there has been demand, but have dropped to as few as 2 sessions/week during "lean" times. Although I'm (now) the highest qualified in the setting, and we're currently full, I've only been doing 3 sessions/week for the last year.


However, I do go in for the fourth session (unpaid) to work with the children (uninterrupted - no toilet breaks, no cleaning, no shifting, etc.). I feel guilty doing this, because I don't like saying to children (or other staff) "no, sorry, I'm busy, please ask .....". But it is the only way that I'm going to get MY qualification!


Essentially, pre-school staff, being paid under £6 per hour, don't lose out in a huge way, financially, by a cut in hours. From both sides, I can feel for staff with greater length of service/higher qualifications being given priority for the sessions available. But common sense overrides, and itsays that you should staff your pre-school according the the skills of the personnel available (and this does not necessarily equate with level of qualification).


However, if you have a keyworker system, surely this is your major consideration, because you need all your children covered.


Rambling, again! Sorry!



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Guest LucyQ

We're in the same boat but fortunately, one of our staff has just handed in her notice - she needs to earn more money and needs more hours (just like to say that she said it was the best place she had ever worked at !!!!) :o .


Have you talked to your staff? You might find someone is looking to cut back anyway. If not I think its still a good idea to be open with your staff and as we all know, the job is only guaranteed if the numbers of children are there.


The other thing is funding - have you contacted your Early Years Advisors or PLA? They may be able to help you find funding if you are finding it difficult to run. Of course I'm assuming you're a charity run pre-school.


How about contracts - Do your staff have any? You may find its "last in first out". Not sure on the legal stuff but might be worth getting some proper advice.


Last, but not least, have you done a good PR job? I don't know your circumstances, of course, but are you getting out there and selling yourselves!! You may be able to drum up some more business.

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Hi Ruthie, when we were low on numbers we did the same as jo365. We cut our hours so that each week one of us had an extra day off and one went in just to help with clearing up. There were 5 of us, so there was always 3 in a session. Reduced pay was better than no pay. Hopefully your numbers will increase quickley. :D

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I agree will all advise so far,

All my staff contracts say that they are employed for a minimum of 16 hrs per week to a maximum of 36 hrs depending on roll, so they are aware of "lean" times.

Information regarding working family tax credit may also be useful for some staff who are unaware ie: one of my staff members who worked 20 hrs a week asked if I could drop her hours to 16 because she would actually be £30 a week better of on the WFTC system of calculation :oxD . ( didn't really help me at the beginning of our busiest term :( )

In my area the PLA are supporting me with applying for a sustainability grant ( up to £2,000) and I am a private business. Lots of paperwork though :wacko: .


When this issue is not so accute but still in peoples minds it may be an idea to produce an agreed procedure for change of hours, within your staffing and employment policy ( that is how they are reviewed aren't they? in reaction to a situation :( )


Best of luck, hope the doors are flooded with new customers before end of term and the problem goes away :(




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This is a regular occurrence in our setting.

All staff are told when they start that hours may drop in Sept but increase with intake.

we do ask staff first to see if any are willing or wanting to reduce hours, then we look at those claiming WTCredit to try to ensure the hours they work allow them to claim, then we reduce hours by percentages. This allows all to continue to work and sessions are added in the same way. This can cause a few problems but we all decided it was the fairest way. It was all decided in discussion with the staff and commitee, so all had an input and a vote was taken for the final decision. we review this if staff change but so far it has worked.


we also look at those undergoing training as they need a minmum number of hours to complete this.


its all a juggling act which happens every year and so far have only lost one member of staff who was not happy at the percentage reduction, (even though she continually refused to undergo training and all other staff were level3 she still insisted she should keep all her hours. she resigned and other staff took up the hours so no one lost many hours that year. )

we now employ on short term contract for limited period if we are very busy. This year we have taken on an apprentice from the college who will be with us for another year while doing her NVQ2, they pay her a 'wage' but she is able to be counted as a member of staff if we need to. we do keep her as a supernumary, but in the busy terms it does give us a bit of breathing space.


Our other option which we do apply occasionally is to temporarily close sessions. we are open 10 a week and find that we only have to close them for the Autumn term and reopen them in January. we have not had to close any for the last 2 years but if we do we close an afternoon. The parents usually have the morning session and we always find some are willing to change when we reopen it. Our only outlay for the closed session is the rent, which is better than the wages for 2 or 3 staff plus rent etc for what can be only 4 children.


Whatever you do it is often better to discuss the problem with the staff, they may have an idea you had not thought of.. and perhaps all the parents are just waiting til the last minuite and will all turn up in sept. which seems to be the trend here at the moment. (I have had 4 parents wanting sessions for this term and we are full, some will be joining us in Sept now)



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  • 1 month later...

just to update you on this post from june,


ive had 17 new children apply to my setting over the past 2 weeks, so i no longer have to worry about staff cut backs.


staff are so happy not to have to drop sessions and have been very understanding about maybe having to. they have even thanked me for sorting things out and my PR skills in recruiting new children. so, panic over. no doubt in january, i'll be posting the headline "to many children for my setting"


thanks for all your replies



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Glad to see your problem solving itself. Managing the numbers is such a pain - you can be undersubscribed one minute and over the next - makes life very hard when planning anything. But you can now take it easy and have a good summer knowing you are in a win win situation with staff and adults alike - until the next time.............. I still maintain the NEG funding ought to be linked in with registered numbers e.g. registered for 26 children - minimum guaranteed funding throughout the year for say 18-20 (rough estimate - not too sure what a good break point would be)children and the actuals over and above this submitted on a termly basis for reimbursement. All this talk about people working the Government should recognise that people in our sector also need to work too - seems a bit one sided if you ask me, but there again no one is but brings me on to a new post about the new consultation - has anyone read it yet - I will put it up.


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Hi Ruthie


I'm glad your problem has resolved itself. Numbers are always such a worry: you can be in the depths of despair one minute thinking you might have to close and then the next you're turning children away because your sessions are full!


Many groups - whether private or community-run - walk a fine line between viability and closure.


Our local primary has announced that it will start taking rising fives in January: we'll lose as many as 8 from our total of 30 children on roll. This can mean we'll lose six children from some sessions.


We're waiting for a sudden rush of new families registering..!


I'm pleased for you and your staff though Ruthie: 17 new children registering in two weeks shows that you're doing all the right things!



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