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Feeling Frustrated


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I am a Manager for a nursery in a chain. I have been at the nursery I currently manage for about 8-9 weeks, before that I was at my previous ursery, with the same chain, for 4 years. The Manager of the nursery I am now at left the company completely and I was moved there as they needed a strong manager in place; and boy do they!!

 

I have uncovered lots of things in the short time I have been there; none of it good I am afraid, but the one thing that is worrying me alot is how much of a "control freak" the previous manager was. The girls are absolutely terrified to do anything without being told to do it; festivals, chaging lay out of the room, asking for equipment, transitioning children to the next room etc etc etc. Obviously I've had meetings and 1:1's and expalined what my expectations of them are and that I most definitely am not xxxxx (their previous manager)!! Some things are improving but not much.

 

I believe that as morale is low, but not as low as it was, the children are not getting the level of care they deserve; they are getting basic and that is it; there are far too many snotty noses, too many babies crying, too many children wondering aimlessly etc etc

 

We are lucky enough to have a teacher work with us for alot of the week (as we are part of the Children's centre),I have spoken to her about my concerns; I'm not sure she noticed them at first, but after a period of observing she has agreed with me. She and our EYAT are carrying out ITERS/ECERS now to give us a base line of where we are now and to give the girls something to aim for; in some ways I believe that the girls don't know what they are doing wrong or not good enough.

 

The room leader in the 3-5's room cant seem to get her head round free flow (she is new in post, a couple of months before me), I have told her every day what I want her to do and given her hand outs, the teacher has spoken to her but still she's not getting it!!; it is on my list to speak to her 1:1 again this week. On Friday I lost the plot completely when I saw a little boy (not quite 3 and from a troubled background), sitting on the floor, almost in a corner, facing the wall, on time out!!!

 

I don't have an issue with time out, however, in a corner, facing the wall, I think NOT, all that was missing was the pointy hat with a big D on it!!!! The reply I got from his Key Person was "well I've seen it done before". Most of the staff are qualified, but they have lacked for a long time, guidance, mentoring and direction, from the previous manager and yes even theteacher to a point, the level of care should never have got where it is today; to be honest, I wouldn't put my child there - yet!!!

 

Any words of advice, encouragement, ideas or suggestions greatly received

 

Thank you!!!!

 

PS It's probably more frustrating as the nursery I have left is quite often used by EYAT's throughout the city to bring other settings to see how its done there; I am, as you might guess, arranging visits for the new nursery staff to visit over there for inspiration!!!!

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oh goodness, I'm sorry i have no words of wisdom for you. I was going to suggest that your staff do visits to other nurseries but see you have suggested that already. Training, in house and externally is another thing. To put a child that age facing the wall like that is dreadful as you say all that was missing was the Dunce's hat!!

 

I dont know what else to suggest as I work in a sessional preschool we work quite differently to you, but didn't want to read and run. You obviously have your work cut out. But baby steps and I think you will have to be ruthless in how it should be run.it will get there,

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i agree i see too many daycare in the situation you are in. You have to be strong say what you expect and do it in small steps get the basics right first so that the children are cared for, loved etc then move on to the freeflow and anything else you want to change- good luck :o

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Probably the best advice I can give you is going to be hard to follow. You say there are many huge problems and also that morale is low. Unfortunately these things feed off each other and if you don't handle things carefully morale will only get worse. It's hard to ignore problems when you see children not getting the level of care you would like but I think you need to step back, take a deep breath and try a new approach. The girl who sat the child in the corner (which I don't agree with at all) probably didn't realise it was wrong. We all get our practise from others to some extent and if she had seen someone 'older and wiser' doing it of course she would assume it's right. This really isn't her fault and I can completely sympathise both with your reaction as it wasn't right and with her defensive reaction because it isn't her fault the previous manager was useless. I know I have reacted the same in similar situations on both sides!

 

If I were you I would take one of two approaches. The first is the 'softly softly' approach. Pick one thing or two very small things) to work on, get the staff together and tell them all. Then for that week you look out for evidence of improvement here and ignore all other areas. This is tough but at the end of the week you can have a meeting and praise improvements thus raising morale and getting everyone on board for the next change the week after. Start with small things and force yourself not to nag about other things. It's hard but gradually as morale rises you can speed up the pace and increase the size of changes.

 

The second option is harder and more dramatic. You try to run before you can walk in the hope that if change happens fast enough you go from one normal to another without anyone noticing. To do this you need a few weeks of evaluation in which the staff are involved. Leave well alone (hard I know) and have meetings with your staff asking what they would like to see. Do visits/training etc where possible as these will give them ideas. Ask them to evaluate their own practise, then draw up a big plan in which they have some input. Then you all agree "from monday we will work like this" (after christmas might be good) and the massive change happens all in one go.

 

Both ways have advantages and disadvantages so you'll have to decide which is best for you. Good luck!

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  • 3 weeks later...

Hi janny, great advice there!

 

When morale is low, it very difficult to achieve all the things you would ideally like done yesterday, and relationships are absolutely key in this case..you need to build them with the team, and they will start to appreciate that you welcome their ideas and want them to take their part in the life of he nursery.

 

I would look first if all at any welfare issues..are there any glaring things missing that should be in place?

 

Then I would ensure that your staff are all familiar with what ITERS/ECERS is for. I do a lot of ECERs audits and cant tell you how often the manager tells the staff "the inspectors are here!" When you get your feedback, I would certainly try and pick out the key things.

 

Its great that you're having regular 1:1s with the staff, have you had any staff , meetings yet? This is quite a good way to get the staff talking about what they think is going well and what they would like to develop. When their ideas link with your own, you've got a really good place t start.

 

Good luck, do keep us informed about how it's going

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Thank you all for your fab advice. I have been off line for a week as have just moved house (on top of everything else!!).

I have had a couple of staff meetings; first one was more of a meet and greet and a thankyou for being so welcoming, though I did tell them that some things will need to change. Last staff meeting we did a "how do you rate us" and what do you think we could improve on. It actually worked very well, staff obviously think they are better than they are (I know that sounds harsh), I pointed out some bad/inappropriate practices that I have witnessed and they all agreed that they have over-rated themselves; and to their credit not one of them took humbrage (?) about what I was saying to them.

Thge nursery is still in need of alot of work (decorating, flooring etc) doing to it, half has been done and the other half not and I know that this has an impact on morale, so hopefully once that is done things will pick up

As I have been off for a week and a few more days still to go I do know that a relief manager has been put in there in my absence so it will be interesting to see how things have gone whilst I've not been there.

 

I am sure things will pick up and the children will come flocking in!!! Once again thank you all so much for your kind words and words of wisdom!!

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