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Picking brains here....


Essentially, we are a small village pre-school feeding to two primary schools in adjacent villages (we have no primary school in the village). Each of the primaries that we feed to has a local pre-school.


This setting is finding, increasingly, that parents are choosing to use these two other pre-schools (both, incidentally, offer age-dedicated sessions, e.g. sessions dedicated to children in their final pre-school year that exclude younger children; one of these also offers sessions dedicated only to younger children).


The Committee and the setting's adminstrator called a meeting last week (involving all staff and a few committee members). The adminstrator and one committee member had recently attended a "business" course, and this meeting was a follow-on. They are keen to "raise the image" of the setting, to maintain/increase the roll.


The meeting agreed that setting is probably unable to introduce age-dedicated sessions at present. There are currently 40+ children on the roll, attending the Mon-Thu morning sessions (up to 26 children per session, aged 24 months to rising 5).


Incidentally, the setting does not run "key worker groups" because the leader and the deputy can fulfil this role for all of 40+ children. The setting has 10 staff members in total. Only the leader and deputy are qualified (NVQ3). Although I am qualified (level 4), I work as an unqualified staff member.


Does anyone have any constructive suggestions for "raising our group's profile". The "brainstorming" meeting came up with the following "plus" points:

- good community links

- high staff:child ratios

- large hall - allowing all-year-round opportunities for physical activities

- scheduled dance and music (we have a piano player) sessions.


Obviously, I have a fair few ideas (mostly impracticable because of management constraints).


Ideas, anyone?



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Diane, do you already have a lunch club or provide full day care. I have both of these options and have found they have greatly improved the popularity of our pre-school. Also key-worker groups are SO important.I thought this was an Ofsted requirement anyway I know our EYDCP insists on it.It would be hard for me to focus on all the children at once.!!!!!

If parents have a query about their child they can see the key-worker first.It is a lot easier for me. All the key-workers know exactly what stage their children have reached.We have children from the age of 2.5. to 5. and I always point out to parents that we use differentiation in activities and give examples and emphasise that this works well because we are giving opportunity to all children whatever their ability. Older/more able children are also given opportunity to have a more focussed time to do letter and number activities(15 mins) per session. The mixed ages teaches each age group to have regard for the age differences.

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My setting ws like that when i started. I ensured that all members of staff had a small key worker group each that way they could really get to know the children well. All staff also do observations on all children to make sure they are reaching the estepping stones from the foundation stage which are put in booklets and built up through their time with us. Under 4s have a group 1x a week with thier key worker where as the 4yr olds have a 10 min group each day.

We also have quite a busy routine each session so tht the children do a lot of different activities. We run a lunch club which is very popular.

We have also just done our accreditation and Investors in People which all these things in total seem to our parents very happy and in turn the children stay with us till 5yrs. Most of my waiting list now comes through word of mouth.


Hope this helps a little. :D:D:D:D

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Hi Diane

My mum runs a pre-school and over the years we have worked very hard to raise the profile of it. I'm a reception teacher and have helped as much as i can.

She thought that key workers would be too complicated having so many children, 65 on roll, that attended various sessions and staff that worked part time. However we knew OFSTED would want to see it so we came up with a diary system.

Each child has a library day. They have zip folders and on their dedicated day they bring it in and choose a new libarary book to take home. Also on this day they will bring their diary, just a small hard backed note book. Each child has a nominated key worker and on this day the keyworker will write about their child. A list of key worker children is available for all staff to see so that if they observe the child doing something they will jot it down. Before the child goes home the keyworker will write up their notes in the diary. It is also very useful as a conversation between home. Parents/carers are encouraged to write what the child has been doing etc, especially useful for the quiet ones as you can see what they have been up to and use this to encourage their confidence.

Because each child is given a specific day it means that there aren't that many to do each session and it doesn't matter if staff don't work all of the child's sessions. Parents really love the diary.

Hope this idea helps!


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Hi Laura

Welcome to the forum-or at least to posting as I see you have been a member for some time.

I like the diary idea. We have keyworker groups and that would be a nice way of keeping parents informed of what their child is doing. I will have to run that by my staff next week.

Keyworker groups are not a requirement by OFSTED, Bubblejack. they are mentioned in the standards but as guidance-something groups may want to have to meet the needs of each child. We find them very useful and parents like to know that they have the same point of contact if they want to talk about their child.


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Keyworker groups are not a requirement by OFSTED



To clarify the keyworker thing...


Keyworkers are mentioned in the National Standards for day care, but they do vary depending on whether you offer full or sessional care.


Sessional care states that 'children belong to a key group which has consistent staff' under criteria 2.3 group size.


In the full day care standards, it states the same as above and ' every child is allocated to a member of staff within their key group who is his/her key person and is mainly responsible for his/her well being on a daily basis...' (meaning that as the children are in your care for longer periods, the key person carries out nappy changes, feeding routines, putting to sleep and being there when they wake up etc)


There is loads of research about the positive effects of keyworkers, primarily by Peter Elfer and Elinor Goldschmeid. You may also want to look at the Everyday Stories by the National Children's Bureau (www.ncb.org.uk - type Everyday Stories in the search box) as these are observations and case studies about key person systems and lots of fun to read!

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Thanks - bubblejack, hali, laura, Susan, Linda and R.Bunny,


The suggestions given were useful to me (but I'm not sure how they will fit in with my setting's "objectives"). We certainly cannot go down the full day care route at present - we use a village hall and cannot get five mornings a week here, let alone regular full days (aside from management/staffing constraints).


Hali and bubblejack - can you give me a little bit more info on how you manage "lunch clubs"?


Clearly, it would not be followed by an afternoon session, and it could not be an "every session day" arrangement, if it happened here. The hall sometimes gets used by other regular groups (e.g. the over-sixties) as soon as we vacate - it's a close-run schedule!


My lines of thought here:

a) Would it be feasible to run a lunch club without an afternoon session? I feel it could appeal to some working parents, in that it would extend their "working morning".


:o What do you offer at "lunch club"? .... facilities, staffing, etc. See c).


c) Duration? This is clearly linked to xD. If you only offer a supervised place to sit and eat a packed lunch, then what do the children do when they have finished eating. I ask this, because, as users of a community building, we have to pack everything away after session (and some staff would clearly be packing stuff away whilst the "lunch club" took place).


d) What do you charge? Our session rate is currently £4.75 (for 2 hours 45 minutes). And we offer sessions at £3 (as a concessionary rate for families on benefits). Clearly, if we charged for a lunch club on a pro-rata basis ..... we'd be undercutting childminders quite considerably. And, we'd also be undermining the management committee's estimated "break-even" session charge estimate (apparently nearly £8/session at present - but cdurrently negated by the committee's wonderful commitment to fundraising).


Please get back on these things, if you can.


The "keyworker" issues interest me. Thanks R.Bunny for the clarification of "statutory" requirements, and I will certainly follow the link and read "for enlightenment". I would dearly like a keyworker role, but my setting doesn't need this. As I've already said, the setting's two leadership staff act as keyworkers for all of the 40+ children on the roll. Incidentally, one of the other local settings has "keyworkers" and "assistant keyworkers" (preferably qualified to level 2 - and working with the same keyworker group as the "keyworker"). Seems very complicated!


Thanks for everything so far.



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Hi Diane!

HAve you thought about accreditation? The PLA run a scheme - it is expensive but worth the work.


What do you offer at "lunch club"? .... facilities, staffing, etc.


We run a lunch club (there is funding about to set them up - especially if you are in a Sure Start area) and this is how we work ours.

11-30, children not staying go home while lunchclub children sit in the book corner with a member of staff (we are fortunate to have found someone who comes in just for lunchclub!)


c) Duration? This is clearly linked to . If you only offer a supervised place to sit and eat a packed lunch, then what do the children do when they have finished eating. I ask this, because, as users of a community building, we have to pack everything away after session (and some staff would clearly be packing stuff away whilst the "lunch club" took place).


When all the going home children are safely gone, the lunchclub children can play. Depending on what has been out and how hyper they are (!), they either just go where they want or we set up an activity. Technically we're not supposed to do the latter as it is purely a care facility and not 'educational' but they are never forced to join in anything. We also have a 'lunchclub box' which was bought with the funding we received to set it up. It is a large stacker box with games, soft toys, books etc. This may be a good idea for you too. They can play with the box while you pack away.... or

Around 11-45/12 they pack up, wash their hands and have lunch (you could as you said pack up then) we eat with them as a social activity!

At present we end at 12-20 (long story) so they are often still eating their lunch!


) What do you charge?


We charge £1-80 but we are going up to £2 in September as we will be in a position to go back to an hour nad to link with the afternoon session (eek)


a) Would it be feasible to run a lunch club without an afternoon session? I feel it could appeal to some working parents, in that it would extend their "working morning".


It has been really popular - especially with those working mornings. At present it isn't open for pm kids so certainly feasible.


We have keyworkers for our children. We also have 40 kids, 4 staff with at least Level 3 and 2 play assistants and we all work part time. The 4 level 3's have keychildren. We all observe everybody but put obs in for keyworkers to assess. KW's write up progress reports etc and we have meetings termly with parents. Do your leader and deputy have 20 kids each (and therefore are their keyworkers) or do they literally share the load as it happens?

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Hi Diane

We have a lunch club with no afternoon sessions. Our main session is from 9am to 12pm, we have an early start at 8.30am. Our lunch session overlaps the main session in that we take those children staying at about 11.30ish to the toilet and to wash their hands. We usually have about 8 maximum staying so one member of staff is in charge of supervising them, though I quite often go and sit with them as well just to have a chat. Most of these children are transferring to an afternoon nursery place. We take to 2 local nurseries-one starts at 12.30 and the other at 12.45. So the children leave at 12.15 and 12.30 respectively. This gives them time to eat their lunch without feeling hurried-at least it should but some of them are so slow!! :o Those that do finish have the chance to play again-we are fortunate in that we don't share our premises with anybody else. They bring a packed lunch. Do you have access to a fridge as they need to be kept in one during the morning?

It has proved very popular with parents and we have been doing it for about 4 years now. We also extend the offer to those children starting school in September who don't normally stay-this is usually for this last half term.

For us the whole point of our keyworker grouping is that staff have a small number of children. We have 52 on the register divided between 5 members of staff-I don't have a group so that if staff are off ill I can take their group if necessary. Our older children have a fifteen minute session during free play every day and the younger ones one a week. Small groups give the staff a good opportunity to get to know the children really well so making assessments easier. We all work with the children on a daily basis but this is a bonus. It also means parents have a point of contact specific to them.


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Forgot to say about staffing - we have a lady who just comes for lunchclub and one other staffmember each day - we have never exceeded 12 kids yet.


Regarding keyworking - as we all work part-time we don't have group sessions with just our keychildren but we do have group times where we do small groupwork with whoever is there that day! Any obs made are passed to the keyworkers tho.

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I used to run a lunch club without a p.m. session. Equipment tidied up by all at 11.00. 2 staff to put away whilst 2/3. supervise children doing a group activity. As Linda says time goes so quick. The home-corner is left out. Slow eaters start to get ready first i.e. toilet, hands whilst others look books or chat to each other. When they finish they gather all their bits together. If they finish eating quickly I read a story to the group or sit and chat to them. Lunch club has been a great success. Most children can't wait to join. The extra time gives parents more options to work or study etc. It is asocial timefor children , it also encourages good eating habits. Parents are given a list of healthy foods. I felt a bit cheeky doing this 6 years ago but the children tell their parents off if they forget to put healthy foods in. Correct atios are maintained and staff adjust accordingly through out the year

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