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I'd really appreciate some fresh ideas or a bit of feedback to tell me I'm doing the right thing please - my nursery has suddenly become very complicated because of our admission arrangements changing. Here's the situation;

Our nursery consists of - 19 full time children (or rather full time Monday-Wednesday, 1/2 mornings Thursday & Friday and the other 1/2 afternoons) - hope that makes sense.

20 brand new a.m children

20 brand new p.m children

Total - 59 children throughout the week.

1 teacher & 2 nursery nurses.

At the moment we are trying to work out how to cater for the new children alongside the full-timers. We've split them into 3 groups for a 20 minute focus straight after register. After that they move in to Free Flow, then snack, followed by another free flow until lunch, where they either go home or stay through. Same kind of format for the afternoon. During the free flow, one adult 'floats', observes, assesses etc, one is working with a small group of children on a directed task and the third is outside. Although I think this is the right way to work it, I'd appreciate some comments as we are beating ourselves up about not giving quality time to the brand new children or supporting the full-timers enough, many of whom have quite severe speech problems.

Sorry for rambling - hope you can help! :o

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My initial thought is, how do you cope with just one member of staff outside or do you have a volunteer to bring the number of adults to two?

Or does it matter that there is only one member of staff outside? Would like to know what others think.


Work in a small pre-school so don't have experience of such large numbers. Sure others will be able to offer lots of help.



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Only an idea- could you all focus on self help and routines for a short burst and then resume focus activities once new children have learned expectations of behaviour and self help skills. We do that at the start of each term. We have had 50% new children and have had a big push on coats and self help routines. We show how older children can help younger ones and how we all help each other and after 1 week I can now settle increasingly with a focus group. We are only a small unit however so what may work in 1 place may be a nightmare elsewhere.

Regards Lynda

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I'm in a Foundation Stage unit (currently 63 children) so its a bit different also we never have a big intake as new children start the week after their 3rd birthday so we have intake all year round in quite small numbers. We do work in much the same way with 1 adult outside 1 floating and 2 on focused tasks ( we also have students and parent helpers) All our children are expected to participated in focused tasks but then have free choice of activities. We also run a cafe style snack so children can help themselves throughout the day. Cant see anything wrong with the way you work and if youre happy with it and the children are learning why change. :)

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Am I right in saying you have 39 children per session (am+pm) Mon-Weds


30 children per session (am+pm) Thurs -Fri


What age are the youngest (new ones)?


Are the groups defined by age? ability? or free choice?


What happens if all the children want to go outside at any given time?


I agree with other comments, especially Marion, if they are learning and all are happy why change?


I'm interested in the fact that you have 1 member of staff in an area (outside). I want my staff to split our group 1 with youngest group, 1 with older group, and 1 floating. This is only for short periods of time when their learning needs are different ie: storytime / newstime. They would need to be split into different rooms. However, we have been strongly advised by our EYAT that this will leave us open to accusations (one adult in a room with a group- even though one member of staff will be floating between the two rooms).


How do you justify this safety of staff/children aspect with only having one member of staff outside? ( I think it is as safe as a childminder in the home, but with the added bonus that my staff would have someone to call upon should they require. I mean this in the context of maintaining ratio's ours are 1-4 & 1-8 depending on age of group)



I think that this is appropriate ( better if 2 staff but costs don't allow, especially as its only for for short period of time) in fact, I think it is necesary to split the children when different attention spans affect level of participation with, for example storytime.


Sorry, don't mean to highjack your post but this does have some relevance. Any ideas?

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thanks for all the feedback - it's good to hear that you generally agree.Yes we have a total of 59 children in a day Monday to Wednesday - 39 each session and 30 a session on a Thursday and Friday.

i see what you are saying about the outside debate but we have absolutely no students/parent helpers/volunteers and can't think how else to work it without leaving one member of staff inside alone. We're toying with splitting the group in half during free flow and not giving them the choice about inside/outside but part of me thinks that I don't want to restrict the children. At the moment we give them open access and make sure that all of them go out at some point during the week.

We also are splitting them for story time and possibly snack too. At the moment they are split on age but once I've assessed the new ones I'll mix them up. The FT children are grouped in with the new ones to act as role models and we are spending our focused time training the new ones at the moment.

Our youngest children were 3 in August and our oldest have just turned 4.

I've asked and asked for another member of staff to take some pressure off but as with most heads, my boss is putting the man power into Y2!

We've just had our first trial run with 10 new ones at a time - so far so good - 20 all together alongside the full-timers on Monday so watch this space!

Another quick question - do you make sure that all of the PT children get exactly the same focuses during the week? We've tried to work out how to do it, but with all the comings and goings we've decided that so long as they all get a focus from each of the 6 areas of learning during the week with roughly the same objective, there's no other way we can do it!

Sorry for rambling - really appreciate your comments!

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You appear to have thoroughly thought out your staff deployment given the resources you have and with consideration to the childrens needs.


I work in a preschool and it is impossible when children attend a variety of sessions to ensure that all children have the same focus.


I saw a plan on this site a while back where Monday was planned as a day for settling after the weekend and introducing the weeks focus. The learning objective for Tuesday was repeated on wednesday, and the learning objective for Thursday was repeated on Friday. I thought this was a good idea and would fit in with the average attendence patterns of our children.

As you have new children on Thurs + Fri maybe you could adapt this idea and have the learning focus on Tuesday repeated on a Thursday and the Learning focus of a wednesday repeated on a friday. Does that make sense?

I agree with your reservations about splitting the groups and taking away freedom of choice. I wish that we were valued for our integrety that if a situation arose where we could not handle being on our own with a group of children it would be recognised that we have the sense to ask for support at that time. We shouldn't be stopped from enabling free access to areas because of a tentative possibility that a member of staff could face accusations. It is all about risk assessment, which changes by the minute depending on the children who are accessing certain areas of the setting/class at any given time.



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me again!

That's exactly how it is!

The children who are in on a Thursday & Friday part time are actually the ones who are full time on a Monday to Wednesday, alongside the 40 new ones! Can you see why my head's going round in circles?!

I've put my suggestions to my head teacher who hasn't got any answers either - she can't understand it!!!

Anyway, I'm going to have a go at planning for next week tonight, so nice bottle of wine in fridge ready for once I've finished!!!

Thanks again for all of your comments


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I don't know how you do it!!! We have 26 children per session with 5 members of staff. 1 is on the focus activity, 1 on kitchen duty (between 10.00 and 10.15 preparing snacks) and the 3 others are floating/observing or outside. We are in a large hall, so deployment is easier, I suppose, but I don't think we could work with any less members of staff as there are always the inevitable 'accidents' changing clothes and obviously the unsettled children, especially if new.


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