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Playgroup Leadership - Do You Ever Feel Inadequate For The Role?


Guest terrydoo73
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Guest terrydoo73

I am Playgroup Leader of a small community run Playgroup which has been open since January 2011 and have always felt totally inadequate for the role - so much so that lately I have been thinking of changing jobs. We have 14 children on the role although only 12 attend the 2 1/2 hour session each morning which my Deputy and I run along with one volunteer each day. I think my problem is being constantly undermined by my Deputy ...

 

The royal "we" gets used a lot by her and I feel it is pointedly said to me meaning I have to change my attitude towards particular children, I need to do something to change my tone of voice and how I react to situations, I need to ensure that when I talk to anyone outside the playgroup what information is portrayed etc.

 

I have invited another Leader in to help us gain advice in transition form filling for some of our children moving onto school. This was in response to my Deputy who felt it would be good to have something to pass onto the teacher as well as parent rather than just a verbal report as we did last June (we only had 1 moving on then!) After the phonecall offering this help my Deputy lit on me for the timing - this Leader will leave her own Playgroup at the end of the session and come to us which will be roughly 12.30 next Tuesday. We finish each day at 1 and my Deputy keeps very much to this - in fact will leave anything just to break her neck to get out the door and I am usually left to pick up the pieces (which I guess as a Leader I am supposed to do!)

 

It is the same for a Friday when we do take everything apart and thorougly clean. We would change toys on this day some times and my Deputy is always in a rush just to get away really dead on the time - why - because she has to get her groceries before her children get home at 3 pm and she must collect them dead on the time.

 

There never is a question of being over the time slightly, it is always a priority to her to be there no earlier than 9 am and no longer than 1 pm. I as a Leader have the whole Playroom set up by the time she comes in - in fact lately I have been in at least 15 minutes earlier just to ensure it is all there or else my Deputy will tell me pointedly what hasn't been done although I have yet to hear her taking on the role of "I'll do that every morning". She really is just turning up to open up to the children and always wants to be the face on the door for parents.

 

This past few weeks she has been given hydrotherapy pool access which is conducted in a local hospital, she also has her daughter undergoing orthodentrist treatment in the same hospital and her other children have swimming lessons. All these things I know because she is trying to give me reason why she cannot stay any longer than 1 pm. It doesn't seem to matter to her that I might also have things to be doing but I have learned now not to relate anything from home because nothing and I mean nothing can be compared to her life which is just so busy.

 

I seem to be left doing all the admin work lately and when I ask her to look out certain resources it is such a hassle and I end up doing it myself just to keep the quiet. I am in half an hour before her each day and apart from setting up the Playroom I am expected to fill in planning sheets for each day, week and month as well as letters to prospective parents and receipts for monies received (we have no admin worker). Lately I have taken things home simply to get peace from my Deputy as well as time to actually do them.

 

My options are to move to another Playgroup and work at a lower level just to give myself less stress and I am seriously considering this at present.

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It sounds as if your deputy is not supporting you. Have you a chairperson or someone you can confide into address the situation.It sounds as if your deputy needs to be reminded of her job description! Or a early years person or someone from the PSLA, they can be really supportive. Don't give up your position ,you are not in the wrong, I would arrange a meeting to try and address some of the issues.Hope this helps.All the best and you certainly aren't inadequate but a essential glue to your setting.

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You need to leave some of the things that could be done until she arrives and tell her to do them while you greet at the door... There is usually some setting up that can be done as the children arrive.. even if it is some of the toys being put out on tables, etc..

 

she needs to do her share of the setting up and clearing away... we used to have to do some while the children were present, so at end of the session i would do a story or song time while staff put away... not sure if this would be possible but it would get her involved in the tidy away as well... it comes down to you having to tell her that it is part of her job and if timings are that important change routine to allow her to do some..

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Would you come and work for me? You sound fab!! Think its your Deputy that needs to re- think her career path! ( sounds like she's after your job!) Anyone that does pre-school knows that flexibility is the key...it cant possibly ALL be done during 'opening' hours!!

You need to talk!!!

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Guest terrydoo73

Thanks for your replies. Feeling a bit more reassured so thank you for that. My confidence is shaken to say the least at present and I know that I do not relish going to work at present. I personally do not think she is after my job as she wouldn't be prepared to give the commitment nor would have the ability in terms of administrative/management skills as she often says how it is which just does not wash in the Playgroup sector - you have to have tact I think at times. Take this morning I had a parent whose child has been off sick with tummy trouble and she insisted the child come back today despite it having diarrohea and she would put him in pull ups. I had to tactfully remind her of our policy on sickness and the exclusion times for such children. She wasn't pleased but I think it seemed to register! My Deputy came in and started to tell me off about allowing the child to come without actually listening to my finishing the details of the phonecall - sometimes you have to sit back and listen then decide rather than 2 feet in first.

 

I know I need to speak to my Committee but I haven't talked to my Chairperson since Christmas - I think he is under the impression that as his wife is our volunteer she should be dealing with "little" issues as he likes to refer to them but I really do think it is time I put my foot down and asked for a meeting with the Committee at least once a month.

 

We both do tidy up after the children leave but sometimes I wonder if this is perhaps what I should ask her to do every day - if she could do the tidy up then I could get on with the admin side. Not that we take much time each day - I reckon it is about half an hour again so surely this is reasonable!!

 

Unfortunately our job descriptions have never actually been finalised as we originally had another person to come on board but the Committee reigned this in to save costs so whilst I am Leader I also act as the administrator and cleaner really.

 

Time I think to clear the air with my Committee Chairperson!

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I read the title of this topic and nearly screamed yes!

I have been struggling for so long now with this feeling - I havent been able to pull myself back up at all.

I am doing a leadership and management course but its not helping me as Im still struggling to find the time to complete the work / reflections as well as my normal job responsibities.

Work seems all 'wrong' and frustrating lately - scarily I have even begun to feel resentful of 'having' to work in ratio because Im anxious to get to the admin that is piling up...but actually what I really do is to be with the children NOT in the office - getting the admin done will allow me to enjoy that part again..but will it ever be 'done' I ask myself!

I really dont like how I feel about things at the moment and like you Ive wondered if I should just think about a less demanding role though I fought tooth and nail to keep this one and believed that if I only had the time Id be able to manage things better :( ...I still havent had the opportunity to test that theory.

Ive got 3 paid hrs a week to do all admin (except financial stuff)...which also includes my key worker admin.

I recently took myself off the cleaning rota at the end of the day in the hopes that I could spend that time on admin but it hasnt worked - I still end up packing away outdoors most days after the children have left and then cleaning up 'properly' after other staff have left on time...I regularly do an hour a day after my finish time and thats still not enough.

Everyone says Im getting more than enough admin time but it feels totally inadequate and this past couple of weeks Ive been so stressed about everything but I dont see any point in trying to ask for help.

All other staff have family commitments so 'cant' do extra sessions or stay on later.

I feel like im always the one covering others and that there is very little ' give' within the team...I also feel I am just feeling very negative about a lot of things and I probably need to chill out for a while and things might pick up...heres hoping we can both find a solution that does work!

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Trekker, you have my sympathy, BUT if you constantly clear up after the staff who are supposed to have done the cleaning/tidying/ whatever, then they will always leave it for you! I think you need to be honest with them and say that you are slightly overwhelmed with all the paperwork, etc and need them to do their part of the job efficiently in order that you can do YOURS efficiently! We all have family commitments, so organise things ( maybe a rota; Jean tidies outside while Sarah clears inside today, vice versa tomorrow?) so that everyone gets away in time to deal with home life: as suggested above, maybe they could start to tidy while someone reads a final story or leads singing session. Just don't let that someone be you........sometimes ( and I have been horribly guilty of this in the past, getting better nowadays!)....I wanted control over things, no-one could possibly do things as well as I can. But you know.............when I had to drop out of things for a while due to illness, we all discovered just how wonderful we ALL are, not just me, every single one of us. They just needed the chance to shine and for me to step back and allow them to do so. Maybe you need to do the same?

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Wow I could have wrote this post myself!!!!

 

And my advice is tell the committee you aren't happy!!!

 

It took me two years and a very much loved and fabulous staff member leaving for me to break down in tears in front of the whole committee to say I had had enough!! For the tears I blame the pregnancy hormones lol as I was 8 weeks pregnant lol. However what I didn't notice nor the committee was how bad the situation really was until they tried to persuade the assistant to leave and she said she had enough of the deputy and actually got paid less but did more than she did.

 

However after recruiting another amazing staff member - who come in and realised how much stress I was under and offered to take a load of work off me, deputy never did despite asking repeatedly and even telling, the committee eventually persuaded her to step down and the pretence that she wasn't prepared to step up as leader when I started my maternity leave.

 

Believe me I was seriously considering having my baby and returning to work because I knew if the deputy took over I wouldn't have a setting to go back too!!! However the new staff memeber offered to take over and I now feel comfortable taken 9 months off knowing it's in safe hands now. Plus the new staff member will not take the crap that I did for 3 years.

 

Good luck hun and if you want feel free to pm me anytime

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Some wonderful comments and suggestions already, definitely a meeting with your committee to ask for your job description and those of others, given to you both by your management, may help instil the commitment required of her from them and not you might be the way to go. You do seem to always have a battle with this member of staff, which then leads to a inability to feel you can do your job. But you are each and everyday, good luck.

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Guest terrydoo73

I was at a meeting of all the Playgroups in our area last week and someone mentioned a specialist who they have employed to give some much needed advice and training. For us this is not an option as she is asking £850 which is for 6 visits, 2 a term and 2 specific training courses relevant to us and this is for a year. However I am seriously thinking about this by way of staff development for us both. She can come into your Playgroup and see what issues you are facing, how best to tackle them in appropriate way and instil confidence in everyone at the same time. Problem is convincing my Deputy that this is what we need as it would require committment and willingness to learn rather than being negative about the whole process and think I am getting one over on her. We have raised a considerable amount of money over the past year through grants and parents fundraising so feel confident I could get a grant to cover this cost. My justification is the fact that we need to offer a service that is equivalent to similar playgroups and if neither of us have that training behind us then this is definately the way to go. I sent a message to my Chair today asking for a meeting and am hoping that he turns up at the end of a morning so as to avoid my Deputy hearing what I have to tell him, also hoping she has an appointment that she must get to immediately after work thereby avoiding conflict!

 

I am also going to look at options to move onto another job just to give me something to think about.

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Hi terrydoo

Nice to 'talk' to you again - I had wondered where you were.......

Sad though to hear that nothing has improved on the deputy front :(

I know that you are in NI so I'm never sure what systems are in place for you.........do you have any LA input a SIP or an EYAT? The sort of help the 'specialist' might offer you for £850.00 is something we might be able to get from our LA 'support staff'.......

Oh dear that wasn't really much help was it.......

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Hi Terrydoo, in place of an official job description, could you find a job description for leader and deputy on here or elsewhere and go through them with your deputy. Tell her you feel your roles need defining and can she help you draw something up so you both know what's expected. That way you can delegate roles and jobs.

I'm also trying to word this so as not to cause offence but in your last post you sound as if you feel the need to pussy foot around your deputy "Problem is convincing my Deputy that this is what we need..." and "also hoping she has an appointment that she must get to immediately after work thereby avoiding conflict!" and while I fully understand how it is to work with someone who pulls against you every step of the way, I've since learnt it doesnt help anyone!

She need's to know you are the boss and while positive contributions are always welcome she cant keep undermining you.

Good luck with your meeting tomorrow :1b

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hey this was me not so long ago posting about too little time and too much work - I am new in my role , the 3hour course i did called 'being in charge' helped and also realising I had to delegate more than i thought i already was- the support and comments i got from here really helped.

I realise some of the staff although supportive found it difficult with the changes I made when i came on board but i started as i meant to go on and they were valid reasons and to give better practice for the staff and children.

I am reasonable but also tough when i need to be - one of the staff said the other week that they were all frightened to say something to me - I reminded her that i have said from the start , if you have a problem you have to tell me - no say no play! she thought i was being rather 'anal ; about something- i reminded her that the buck stopped with me and it would be on my head should things not meet standards etc

i then spoke to all staff individually to find out how they felt and we have talked and moving forward positively. They are all willing to take on duties on the rota and i too have learnt to step back when i can. i too love to be with the children and as much as I am consious of my staff having lives outside and committments to study , i am asking them to do more and understand my role a bit better. it's working and i think we have a good balance at the moment ..........

Edited by lashes2508
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Have you tried sitting down and actually talking to her about the issues.

 

Maybe introduce a staff supervision system (we do these termly in between appraisals) this allows you to discuss any any issues/problems/workload/concerns ect.

 

If you record this and review in a timescale this might help the situation and will also show good managaement on your part if no improvements are made you have clear evidence that you have addressed and tried to resolve the issues.

 

Good luck with this keep us posted xx

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When I started in my current job (nearly 6 years ago) we were committee run and I had a similar totally undermining and difficult deputy and no-one else regularly on the staff. I nearly packed it in as she was very manipulative and very 'in' with the committee; I did complain (regularly!) but they always took her side. I was nowhere near assertive enough (doing my EYPS made me far better at being a manager) but it was also difficult not having the back up of the committee. I was extremely stressed and lost a stone in weight (i was not that fat to start with). In the end I think she realised that she would not be able to progress in the sector without becoming qualified (she was enrolled on a level 3 which is how she was able to be deputy) and she didn't want to put the work in to get qualified. She had a back injury before she started (which I felt was a problem in itself but was overruled) and it needless-to-say flared up again and she resigned. There was bad mouthing of me but most people could see through that I think.

 

Things got better after that and in the end I took on the business and we stopped being committe run which transformed my job. I still work very hard and longer hours than other staff but I think that's fair enough as it's my business at the end of the day. If we ever start making lots of money (guffaw) then it will be me that benefits.

 

Hope your committee are fair and support you, Terry - as others have said: you are the boss and she should respect that.

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Guest terrydoo73

I did get talking to my Chairperson and talked through some issues. He backed me 100% with asking me if it was possible to work not just an extra half hour but the hour if needed - he expressed his appreciation at how much work does go in on my part. I asked him about contracts that have never been finalised and he couldn't understand why they had never been and then put it back on me to see if I could resolve the issues and come back to the Committee. I have also received permission to bring in an early years consultant to work with us for a year and the agenda will be set by us in terms of problems we may experience in the setting and how to resolve them as well as specific training we would like. Of couse I backed out of expressing my opinion of my Deputy as she was hovering in the next room and not at all pleased that she was having to do work such as putting out toys and tidying up while all we were doing was talking!

 

I had a planned visit from another Playgroup leader today, she had offered to give me some help with transition forms that we want to develop for some of our children who are moving onto school in September. I asked her about the fact that my Deputy was not prepared to work any more than the stated hours and how everything seemed to get left to me. She told me that she has a third member of staff who is exactly the same but you have to be firm and decisive. She suggested I start in September and lay down the law as far as how I want things to be, that this would give me a few months to work out what I want to see changed and how I can do it tactfully. I think this is good advice and it might also give me time to get my head around being more assertive!

 

She also suggested I do some lengthy observations relating to children we might have difficulty with and to whom I am getting this royal "we" from the Deputy in terms of how it is being handled - ie we need to lower our voice, we need to do more to help that child to learn how to listen, we need to be actively assisting him in his play to help improve behaviour (usually this is all about what I need to do as she seems to feel she is doing it correctly but I am not following her lead or being decisive/over bearing etc etc). I will basically have to sit down for a couple of mornings and write all about this child and what triggers his reactions to situations, how it is being deflected at present and what I could learn from it to put into practice in the future. To me a lot of it relates back to the home - my Deputy feels it is because to get attention the only way is to act up and that is brought into the Playroom too. Also if children are a middle child and at home they have to do what big brother or sister is telling them to do then they do it but when they come into Playgroup it is their opportunity to be the boss. I just wonder sometimes if we see particular children as being in the wrong constantly and never see the bigger picture.

 

Certainly some food for thought for me personally and I will have to do a lot of thinking over the coming weeks and months!

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Terry doo

 

Really pleased your chat with your chair person went well!

 

I have all the info on High/scope's conflict resolution if you would like to read over it before September and reflect on whether it would work in your setting! It is really easy to follow just a few easy steps! What ever you decide is best practice for you and your setting just stick to your guns! Northern Childcare Partnership run courses in different areas i.e management issues, managing children's behaviour etc! Don't think they are running anytime at the minute but they run lots of different things throughout the year! Check out their website!

 

Reflection makes us the practioners that we are! Keep up the brillant work you are obviously valued!

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Guest terrydoo73

We attended a High Scope Led Behaviour Management course but felt we could not implement it in our setting as the issues are much more complex for us personally. Someone else mentioned Northern Childcare Partnership as possible training courses too so will check them out.

 

Am trying to get the PEAG funding we so badly crave. Have been trying for the past 3 years and keep getting turned down on displacement issue. We have another Playgroup 2 miles from us and then 3 or 4 more about 4 miles away and we are seen to be taking children away from using them who have been established for the past x number of years. We have tried all the usual approaches - letter writing, meeting attending, pleading to local MLA and even the Minister for Education as well as petitions from parents but to no avail. It annoys me when I heard today that the Playgroups are now being offered additional funded places and we have 9 little ones coming to us with no funding and all will be attending the same school September 2013 ie the local school not these neighbouring ones!!

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It's frustrating isn't it when u try and try and one day it will just click into place! I looked into funded places a while ago and they said they wouldn't consider our application until we had an early years specialist on board! Which we now do! Perhaps when you get. Your e y s on board they will be able to advise you! Early years also offer an e y s service if you take a yearly membership out with them!

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Guest terrydoo73

We have had this EYS service on board since we started but it hasn't made a blind bit of difference. The reason why we are going down the independent EYS service route is because of the sense of inadequacy we feel - it is all "I wouldn't do it like that" but no "maybe you should ....

 

I know we should complain but it is difficult when you are just a new Playgroup and don't know whether you would be offending someone or whether what we want is beyond their remit if you understand what I mean! To ask this Advisor to do training - well we have had experience of that and it is worse than watching paint drying!!

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Been there and seen that! I went on a training course recently ran by an independent e y s and after thinking for ages there was something just not right with our planning for our younger age groups she made it all click into place within 30 mins!

 

S

 

Ps back to the point of your deputy when s s call for visits and inspection as leader the buck stops with you! In my experience they do sometimes comment on team relationships and the feel of a setting on your inspection feedback!

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