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I would be very interested to know how others feel about just or young two year olds being in the same room as children who are rising fours/fives. We are finding that since bringing the two rooms together behaviour and social and emotional development has been greatly impacted on. The staff would really like to return to baby room 0-2, tweenie room 2-3, and preschool 3-5 but have been told that Ofsted do not like to see this and prefer nurseries to have greater mixed age rooms. Surely they want to see all children having quality care and education and their individual needs met in a stage appropriate environment.

Would love to know how other provisions manage this without the stress!


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I agree that the needs of the children come first. I haven't seen anywhere where it prescribes how you manage your age groups - and for those who only have several small rooms, a large mixed age group possibly wouldn't work. Yes we have to keep Ofsted happy (for want of a better phrase) as they make the judgement, but it shouldn't be the priority reason we do things

Sometimes you can only do what your environment allows you to do but there are always ways and means around most things.

It sounds like you have scope for doing it either way but if for this group it's not working then that needs addressing - have you and the team picked apart exactly what/why you feel it's not working?

Was it you that is driving the change - Have you carried out any observations to see if you can identify what could be tweaked to improve the well-being. I found in the past if it was me driving a change, I believed in it but although I run it past the team and they agree/give their thoughts, I hadn't necessarily managed to get everyone else to share my vision in the early stages and so when I turned my back it didn't get done (not out of any malice, just couldn't see the benefits) Once I got to the bottom of what staff were thinking we could talk about it and reach a compromise

People find change hard - when we changed our rooms (not merging age groups, just swapping things round) we all felt/expected things would be the same, just in a different room and were excited. How wrong were we! We had to look at what we felt the children were thinking - the older children were going back in to the room they'd been in as a younger child (albeit different layout and challenges) this triggered behaviours as they must have been recalling memories of times spent in there (as in may be a 'silly phase' they went through not in a 'I was traumatised in here' way!) - ever had it where you go back to a childhood place and you just feel that way again - much like this! Staff felt different, not as familiar (though they knew the layout etc but it just didn't feel like 'their's' any more) so we had much to address! We gave it three months and have never looked back

Could it just be a case of needing to giving it chance to bed in and for everyone to adjust

Could you go back to separate rooms and just merge the children who are ready for the mixed age groups - so effectively each room is a mixed group but on a smaller scale, then you are demonstrating meeting individual needs. It's so lovely that you are recognising the well-being of the children and have recognised an impact has been made

We run some of our rooms like this and just keep looking at individuals as time goes on - it does play havoc with your ratio's/staff rota though and so can be a financial commitment too if say they (say a 2yr old) were moving out of their base room leaving 6 in that room (2 staff) and into the pre school who had 16 and now had 18 (3 staff) but if they'd stayed put it would just be 4 staff overall

We dip in and out at different times of the day for family time etc on top of permanently merging those children that are ready - I truly couldn't cope having 'just two's - fives together all day and neither could my team, but I have friends who have nurseries set up like this and wouldn't want to do it any other way.


Edited to correct very bad grammar!

Edited by gingerbreadman
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I haven't heard this is what ofsted are looking for... before we moved locations we were a traditional pre-school, taking from 2 up to rising 5, all in the same room in the mornings. In the afternoons we split them so the ones going to school had quieter time, more focused activities which worked really well for us. We didn't have many little ones so we were able to use our smaller room and wet area with them. Perhaps this is something you could try if you have got other rooms?

Now we are in a huge building with 5 rooms! I couldn't imagine mixing our children now. We have 2 baby rooms, a non movers and then a crawlers/ toddlers; a toddler room (rising 2 and 2); a tweenies room (rising 3 and 3); and our preschool room for the children going to school in September. We work like a school would and each September the children move up rooms and spend a full year in each room. We have lots of siblings so bring them regularly to see their siblings. It works really well for us. We are a large setting with 200 children.

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We have 0-2 then 2-5, but that's because of the space we have. If we had another room, we'd gladly split our 2-3 from 3-5.


But from all the literature I've been reading about the updates to EY inspections, ofsted are all about the outcomes. If moving from a 2 room to 1 room is adversely affecting the outcomes of your children, then move back to 2. You've tried it, evaluated it and adjusted accordingly and if it's questioned, you have your justification.


As long as they have times to mix together and play, it shouldn't matter.

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Thanks folks for your replies. You have all given food for thought and I think that after the Easter break a whole team report needs to compiled as to the way forward.

Have a good Easter everyone.

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