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When Is A Student Not A Student?


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We have a student who started with us early in the last school year (so 2004) doing a one year course.

She asked to come back this year as she was now doing DPP.

She describes herself as having special needs and we were quite surprised she was attempthing the DPP. Don't get me wrong she is a nice enough girl but she finds reading and writing very hard. She has a go and reading the children stories doesn't phase her it just takes her a bit longer!

Anyway she has had nothing set from college, she does nothing without being asked - even if she was asked in the morning to say lead snack time, she would need telling at snack time too. We as staff are finding it hard work as we set her tasks but then have to run after her to make sure they're done and we don't feel she is progressing

SO

I emailed her tutor...

Who emailed back that she wasn't up to the course and was dropped at Christmas.... oh and keep the info confidential!!

 

What now oh wise ones? I know she isn't attending a course - I gave her an easy chance to be honest and she blatantly lied... she said she had no work set as her tutor has been away.

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If she has learning difficulties could it be that she actually doesnt understand that she is no longer on the course? We had a student once who even after asking her for weeks if she should be doing any written work such as diary, came to us at the end of her last day asking for a copy of all our poicies, a run down of what we did i.e. routines and some resources relating to FS. We were astonished and had to ask her to come back the following week. Could you have a chat and maybe omit the truth about how you know she is no longer on the course, obviously you dont want to hurt her feelings and admit to checking up on her, maybe she feels comfortable with you, if she leaves she'll have to start again somewhere else. Why does the info have to be confidential?

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She must know she has been dropped as she has not been attending the lecture days.

We now feel our placement is of no benefit to her. She has been with us a year and made no progress at all. We give her a regular review session offering areas for development such as not laughing when you want children to stop doing something :o

She does not change her behaviour to take into account the advice given which is obviously frustrating.

She is far too comfortable - bosses new students around to the extent of if she is asked to do something she will delegate to another student!

 

Basically we have tried and tried but have all reached the end of our patience with her.

 

I also don't understand why the tutor wants me to keep quiet about knowing.

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Doesn't sound like the sensitive approach will work here!

 

If you really can't address the matter that you know she's not on the course - which would have given you grounds to ask her to leave on the basis that perhaps you only take students on a bona fide childcare course - you may have no option but to introduce soemthing like a termly review where a progress report from college is required, which presumably she can't produce. If she lies when you ask why, e.g 'I've lost it' 'They never gave me one', you may have grounds to phone them to ask for another copy. In my experience, if you tell lies they eventually find you out.

 

The simpler option may be to bite the bullet, give her a performance review or even a disciplinary meeting & spell out what's amiss & why. Say that you will need to contact college because you want to discuss your concerns about the placement.

 

If it's not a paid position, I think ending the placement is not quite so involved as ordinary dismissal, but you would be wise to keep a written record of all discussions relating to it. At the end of the day, your first responsibility is to the children & parents, and it sounds to me as though her being there is not benefitting anyone.

 

I really can't understand the college here. When we've had students drop out of courses, the training organisations have let us know pretty quickly, presumably becuase they're aware that we have to be so careful about only having suitable people working with children. I think I'd try talking to them again - if they won't talk about her, they could give some indication about their policies & procedures generally.

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Thanks guys.

 

That's interesting that colleges have told you before.

 

I have told her that I feel she isn't progressing as well as she could be because she isn't fulfilling the 'duties' we give her and have asked if she is finding it too much ('No, it's fine'...... feel lijke saying 'then bleeping well DO IT!')

I've emailed tutor again saying I am in difficult position as she isn't benefitting hte group and we are clearly not helping her progress either.

 

I will be asking on Friday when I see her next if she can give me the name of her tutor as I want to ask them what work we should be setting her and see what she says to that

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I've just found this post and have found it interesting because I employ a member of staff who has learning difficulties.

 

She came to us 3 years ago, introduced by the RBLI, who's aim is to enable people with disabilities to gain employment. She had previously worked for 10 years in another preschool-unpaid ( which I personally felt was exploitation).

 

Her initial induction was supported by the RBLI and they still visit once a year to see how she is progressing.

I must say that some of her traits sound very much like your student, we have to explain things more than once and remind her. It is very difficult to gauge her understanding because sometimes, for example at our recent staff inset day, she made comments that were useful, relevant and showed she understood the subject ( we were looking at the 5 outcomes).

Other times she appears quite immature in her nature.

 

She is employed as a non qualified member of the staff ratio, she is a mature 32 yr old, drives ( 14 attempts to pass her test) and still lives with Mum. Her life experience, as far as education goes, has been quite negative with a she can't do expectation, which is quite sad. She can sometimes appear to be immature, but other times, when she feels confident is a very valued part of our team. It is hard work, and it has only worked because the staff have seen past her disability and looked at her qualities. We recently organised training in Basic key skills in Maths and English, it took her a year to achieve level 1 in both these subjects. A tutor from the college came to work with her on a 1-1 basis, once a week. This was funded by the Basic Skills Agency. ( I think)

She is very loyal, we are I think her life, the place where she feels self worth and valued. She has not had one day off in three years, :D she is flexible when asked to cover other staffs sessions and is now just becoming confident enough to talk with parents about their childrens care needs.

I have faced what I call descreet prejudice aimed at her, once from the EYAT who said that Ofsted would judge my provision on my weakest member of staff xD .

Her main role is the care side of our provision, she is great with the little ones and really enjoys playing, on the floor, at their level. Her other role is Resource officer, she ensures that stocks are kept up, does the snack bar shopping, cleans and tidys equipment etc. She is very good at knowing who is in on what day and which staff are in at what time.

Just thought I'd like to share the positives of staff with learning disabilities, but endorse your comment that it does make for harder work.

 

I wonder if your student actually completed her 1st course? I used to be a tutor and remember having students placed on my courses who were not up to the level of study required. :(

I agree with Weightman, bite the bullet and stick to the terms of your student policy. Maybe you could contact some agencies for her, ones that can help her get appropriate training and supported work placements. Try the RBLI ( Royal British Legion Institute) in your area.

 

Rea is most probably right in that she feels comfortable with you. My staff member has certainly gained in confidence ( sometimes overstepping the mark, like yours) because she has been accepted by us. I have fortnightly supervision meetings with all my staff and step on any innapropriatte behaviour before it escalates. There is certainly a need to balance the consideration to her needs plus the consideration of what you know their capabilities are. Unfortunately my member of staff will sometimes say "I can't do" ( she has been told this all her life and still finds it hard to believe that she "can do") Sometimes she doesn't do something and we tend to think well is that because she didn't understand or because she is lazy today. :o I just challenge it sensitively or not as required and give her clear messages of what our expectations of her are as part of the team.

For the majority of the time it works, sometimes it doesn't, but in all honesty I've had other staff ( without learning disabilities) who have been less commitment, lazy, non professional, harder work, etc who have not lasted as long as she has.

 

Waffling now, let us know how you get on.

 

Peggy

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Thanks for that Peggy - you know I feel bad now! I'm not prejudiced by her LD. I only mentioned it to kind of excuse why I've let her get away with not progressing for over a year!

My view is that she would be better off looking for a job as an assistant than doing it unpaid with us! Unfortunately we are not in the position to offer her that xD

The college have emailed back to say I can say I know (gee thanks!) I wrongly assumed I was emailing her tutor but it appears she isn't hence the confidentiality :o You'd have thought she would have passed on details...

 

So I was all set this morning to ask her what was going on and ..... she never turned up!!!

 

the plot thickens!

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Oh Pandamonium, I didn't mean to make you feel bad, honest.

 

I think I would have felt the same as you if I hadn't had the support from RBLI. It is hard work to enable inclusiveness and the position must be suitable for the person, staff and childrens benefit.

My circumstances were on an employment basis not, like yours, a student basis.

I didn't actually answer your initial query, when is a student a student. You can only be a student if you are studying.

I'm glad you've sorted out the communication problem with the college and I hope everything works out for your ex-student and that the training providers take on THEIR responsibility to support her learning needs.

good luck with your chat, if you get to have one.

 

 

Peggy

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Thanks Peggy glad you weren't telling me off xD

 

We have lots of nasty and long lasting bugs going round so maybe she is ill.. :( I will certainly be taking hte bull by hte horns on Friday tho if she is in.

 

On the subject of students tho... I have another one who spends the session standing with her hands in her pockets! She arrives in the morning and stands with herr hands in her pockets (swhhihp) until someone asks her to set up... 'what shall I get out?'... the plans are there... oh ok. SWHHIHP looking at plans until someone points to a bit or says get X and put it on Y. Today we were outside with children on a climbing and jumping activity and yes I know she wasn't responsible and yes there were 2 other adults but she swhhihp at least a yard away from the activity. I said in an upbeat way 'you need to keep your hands out of your pockets hun, you need to be ready to help. I know it's cold but you know ha ha'. So she took them out and laughed a nervous kind of laugh. A child rolled off the box and as I was helping them up I saw the hands go back in AAAARGH

 

I'm sure it's a nrevous thing like crossing your arms but I just want to shout 'DO SOMETHING GIRL!' at her!!!

 

 

OK I'm sorry rant over. I am usually a lovely supportive supervisor but do you know what I have so much conspiring against my good nature at the moment I could just walk away from the job!

Apart from my personal life , time of the month, financial strife (real - threatend reposession eek) we are going thru accreditation at preschool and the committee are pushing for us to extend to full day care and not sessional and also to expand into after school.... Boo hoo boo hoo I'm feeling so sorry for myself! I don't seem able to stop.... :o

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There, you've done it, let it off your chest. Half term soon, have yourself a complete break / rest, then take on one thing at a time.

 

Positive thinking = Positive results, so if you do expand to full day care & after school, think of all that extra money you can earn. :o

 

I really do wish you all the best with your worries, and hope they get sorted soon.

 

You know we are all here and rooting for you, so, you sound off, Boo hoo as much as you need to, the least we can do is listen, I wish it could be more.

 

Peggy xD ( hugs coming your way)

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Aww thanks you guys...

 

Update....

Apparently it's not just me getting fed up with miss hands in her pockets!! Another staff member keeps saying how she can't believe how even after I told her why she shouldn't do it she still did it!

 

The student I originally posted about hasn't been in this week so either she has been told by college that we know or she is poorly - in both cases she really should have told us :o

 

So we'll see what happens after half term eh.

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  • 4 weeks later...

Well just to update you all.....

 

First student did turn up after half term. I only work the afternoon so when I got there I took her off to the office and told her I was in a really difficult position etc etc and explained that we were not insured for her to be there when she wasn't a student. I said we couldn'tet her stay and that it wasn't that we didn't want her but that we couldn't as we weren't insured. She said she was going to start with Nacro (???) the next week. I said that was no excuse for not telling us for a whole half term... cue tears and how many family troubles she had. Now I am a naturally touchy feel person adn it took all I had to not give her a hug...I was HORRID. I said that didn't excuse her lying to us blah blah can't trust her now etc etc. Also said she had implicated us in fraud by asking us to sign EMA forms to claim money she wasn't entitled to... Anyway I said she should take a minute to sort herself out and then go :o

 

Felt horrible but at the same time strangely proud of myself for doing it without cracking!

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Also to update you on Miss HIHP! Bless her heart, she is a nice girl. I asked her if she had any activities she should be doing (been with us for 12 days of placement and has had nothing to do from college). Oh yes she says, you just have to fill in this book... she produces and folder of pages and pages of statements - sure you've seen the sort - quietly and calmly supports children in activities and the like :(

So she says (at 3.30 when I am still trying to clear the room adn she is there with her coat on going home xD ) you can do it now if you like.

:( how I laughed at that idea.

Oh ok then, well you can take it home if you want and give it back to me tomorrow. All you have to do is sign off what I've done

:( how I laughed again

 

Sooo agreed to go over it next day (my admin day)

 

I suggested that she tell me what she thought I could sign... Her previous placement was reception class nad she said that the teacher had suggested that too. Well yes I said, it is usual. Yes but she didn't sign all the things I put a star by.....

I asked why she thought that was.... dunno really. Ok then :wacko:

 

I was appalled that I couldn't sign her off for ONE thing!

So I asked her to write a plan for outside to cover setting up activities for GMS, FMS, role/imaginative play and creative... to include aims for children and if she could, the adult role.

I thought that was fairly ok to ask....

well she did it - very basic - her planned FMS activity for example:

Construction

Aim - to develop FMS

Adult role - praise and encourage

But she did it.

Her tutor was visiting by coincidence the day she set it up which I thought would be good too. On the day I re-read the paperwork about her and :o she's level TWO!!!

 

I felt really awful! When the tutor came I admitted straight away that I had been judging her as a level 3 student when I wrote her interim report but amazingly she said it made no difference as my comments were related to professionalism and she should have that whatever level - phew!

 

 

Anyway it all turned out really well as all the things I commented on the tutor witnessed - even the student playing on her own and not mucking in etc.

 

So I have ended the last 2 weeks feeling I personally have developed in my role of supervisor as I used to be very very 'nice' you know well she does have her hands in her pockets but I'm sure she's just nervous. To tutor I was more - it is not acceptable!!

 

Sorry for long post but you guys might just know where I'm coming from where my dh (who tries hard with me!) just expects me to be fab xD

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Well done for handling a difficult situation with professionalism. Hopefully the student will reflect on her behaviour and learn from your chat. As we all know, Childcare is a very stressfull career and we need the skills to put our home life difficulties as far from the children as possible, and not bring them into work, or let our staff teams down by taking time off work without letting staff know why.

I do feel that a lot of girls are pushed into trying childcare when it really isn't the appropriate career for them. Just keeps the unemployment figures down whilst we end up spending more time "looking after" young people who have personal issues that have not been supported by other professionals. Sorry going off on a tangent now.

 

Peggy

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Actually after her tutor left she did really make an effort bless her!

She even said about her hands 'You have told me about that haven't you?' and I said I didn't like to nag so she laughed and said no nag me! So I will now without worrying that she thinks I'm an old bag.

Another thing I had mentioned was that she doesn't take on our practice IYKWIM. When we ask her to do snack she doesn't model what we have done....

In the afternoon after her tutor went she did snack and had obviously thought more about it.

We'll see how she is next week!

 

On the subject of home life vs work..

Another student I had at preschool and now have at home for the older children I childmind has all the usual teen angst with ehr parents and seems quite unhappy at home but when you see her with the children her body language changes and her actions are focussed on them. When they go home we often have a little chat and she pours out her troubles but I am impressed that she waits - after all in a CM situation, especially after school with older kids, she quite easily use the time to ask advice etc.

So it can be done!!

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Quote "On the subject of home life vs work..

Another student I had at preschool and now have at home for the older children I childmind has all the usual teen angst with ehr parents and seems quite unhappy at home but when you see her with the children her body language changes and her actions are focussed on them. When they go home we often have a little chat and she pours out her troubles but I am impressed that she waits - after all in a CM situation, especially after school with older kids, she quite easily use the time to ask advice etc.

So it can be done!!"

 

Are you telling me off now?? :o:D you are of course quite right, I also have had the privelage of working with some very good young people. :)

 

Peggy

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Telling you off??? NO! Not at all I was agreeing i thought! You said that we need the skills to separate them and I was saying yes we do and look here's a teenager that can so it is possible and they should all do it!!!!

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We have a student in our setting who comes in dressed up like she's going out for a night of clubbing with her mates! She strolls in (almost always late!) with her mobile attached to her ear. She walks through the room, ignores all the children who are talking to her and welcoming her in and she stands around for about ten minutes, winding up her phonecall and taking her coat off. :o

 

Once her coat is hung up, she spends a further ten minutes making sure all her JEWELLERY is on nicely. Her massive hoop earrings and the various sparkly rings. She still continues to ignore all the children whilst she fiddles around.

 

She never appears to have any college work to do, to the point that my deputy manager is writing her instructions for each day she attends. These instructions don't get followed. She will then sit at a table and get out all the old colouring books and sit and colour in pictures for most of the day. She shouts at the children, when she can be bothered to acknowledge them and she fiddles some more with her jewellery.

 

The other day I walked into the room from my lunch break and noticed all the children were involved in activities (for a change!) and our student was sitting alone at a table writing a LOVE LETTER to someone. I knew it was a love letter because of all the hearts, kisses and such and such 4 such and such scribbled all over the paper. xD

 

She blatantly refuses to do any messy/creative activities with the children becuase she fears it will ruin her designer clothes...

 

I remember when I went to college and it was not the doss that this student clearly thinks it is! I had mountains of activities to plan and carry out, all the observations, learning routines, learning how to interact appropraitely with the children (considering their age/stage) and so on. It makes me mad to think that there are proper professionals out there who do the work and do it well in order to gain their qualifications, then you get these younger people who love the idea of looking after children but who are not prepared to put in the work. I struggled to finish my level 3 (but I did have a newborn baby to contend with!).

 

I have gained some good tips from this discussion which I may be able to use in my interview, so thanks for that. I' pleased that the issues you had with your student got sorted in a way that was good for you!

 

Sorry it's such a long post, but wanted to sympathise! :)

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Will she have/has she had a visit from her tutor?

The tutor who visited my little hands in pockets lass has arranged to visit again before hte end of placement which they don't usually do so I did feel my comments had been valid.

 

It is easier if they have a checklist from college as you can explain what they need to work on in order to be signed off.

 

We devised an activity sheet for a particularly lazy student which was effectively like you said - planning something for them to do each day. We then had a review each Friday where we asked her to comment on each activity and if they hadn't been done why. We got fab excuses - another staff member needed her, it was too cold etc etc. She never really improved and apparently left the course soon after!! Obviously more work than she imagined!!!

 

Another option to consider is this... we take students from 3 different colleges.

 

Out of all our placements, we have had 3 particularly useless/lazy ones that have all come from the same one... when I spoke to the tutor I did say this and said we may have to consider refusing another placement as they seem ill-prepared for the work involved.... maybe that's why she's coming back!!

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Forgot to say...

After asking student one to leave... I got a phone call last week from the Nacro she mentioned (I googled it and was a bit surprised... not sure it applies to her but then :o ) asking me to take her as a student placement!!! I refused and she asked if there was any way I'd reconsider. I explained why not and she was a bit off and said she hadn't known about it - and why would she really? Still felt a bit bad but I really feel I couldn't trust the girl again PLUS she was with us over a year and she needs to experience somerwhere else eh?

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A similar thing happened at my last place. We had a young girl from a particular training provider who was working towards her level 2. She had learning difficulties, so the whole team got togther to help her out. We gave her suggestions for activities she could carry out, tried to help her with the routines etc etc. She seemed to be doing really well, at least in practical terms.

 

Her tutor came out and my manager was away so I had to do the review for her. I told them that I thought, despite her difficulties, she was doing really well, but sometimes (like most students!) just needed a little push in the right direction. Her tutor then told me that the training providers didn't think she had a hope in hell's chance (her words) of completing the course because she was unable to put her practical experience into writing for her portfolio.

 

Anyway, this particular student decided one day to tell all the parents that the information written on the childrens daily reports was falsified. It wasn't, I hasten to add! As you can imagine, there was uproar and the parents were going mad. I sopke to the student involved and the next thing is, her dad is on the phone threatening me with all sorts of violence, even to the point where he threatened to come to the nursery and cause some damage to both the building and me!

 

I phoned my superiors at head office and they came down and now do not accept students from these particular providers. So I agree that sometimes it is better to just say no to students from particular colleges/providers.

 

Our student now doesn't really have regular reviews but even if she did, I don't think she would be bothered. She has the 'I don't reallly give a monkeys' attitude, and sits there sullenly, shrugging her shoulders! My manager is considering banning students altogether after the run of bad luck we have had, not just with this one, but with others over the last few months. I just think it's a shame that it's got to that stage.

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Sorry! Forgot to add, that I also agree about the experience thing. If your student wasn't progressing very well the first time, surely it would be more beneficial for the student (if nothing else) to place her in another setting to see if she could develop her skills?

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I don't often have long term students, but 1 or 2 weekly work experience young people from our local secondary schools.

 

If I was asked to have a long term student, I would have a 2 week induction period and if they showed the type of behaviour you have experienced I would cancel the placement immediately. Our main role is care and education of our children, and supporting and working alongside our parents. What sort of role model are these poor students giving our children? No place for anyone like that in my preschool.

 

After induction period I would have regular reviews and any actions to address particular poor behaviours given a timescale to improve, or out. We are offering them a good opportunity, if they don't want to take it that is their responsibility and they should face the consequences, not us.

 

 

Peggy

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That is a good idea about induction - our last college did say that if we weren't happy, then just to phone them and they would step in.

 

We have just had a marvellous student, she would set up activities, ours and her own, tidy up AND actually interact with the children. Can't praise her enough - what made her different? she wanted to work in child care. We have had a number of students as others have, with the jewellery, make-up, clothes, nail extensions etc, and the only reason for being there was because they were being paid £50 a week to attend college. it didn't really matter to them which course they took- but child care in their eyes seemed the easiest option! Were they wrong!!

One particular girl used to take all the things from the children, I remember one little girl found a huge pearl coloured sequin and proudly showed the student, before she could stick it down on the paper the student had taken it for her necklace. She could see the child was upset, but tried to persuade her that the blue one was just as good. Another member of staff saw it and spoke to the student about it, she reluctantly gave it back and glared at her. We spend lots of money on all the 'special' bits and bobs for the children to use to decorate things or buy special fabrics etc. This girl would find the biggest bit of card and fill the outside with mosaic pieces, chose the best feathers etc to take home for her boyfriend. She wasn't impressed with me when I took them all off! If it was helping with her studies, then fair enough, but she just sat there, head down and not once acknowledged the child next to her. I phoned the college the next day and they had apparently already spoken to her and said she was doing hairdressing the term after instead!!

I won't be having any more students now as the paperwork side is too much - got enough of my own!! I will have the work experience one's from school, because they are really keen. I think the fact they are away from school for 2 weeks makes it more exciting for them! The children love them too and enjoy having them around.

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The hairdressing thing comes up quite a lot actually! I'm surprised at the number of young girls mainly that go from childcare to hairdressing and all things beauty related!

 

I agree with your point about good students actually wanting to work with children, and I accept that some students actually do a good job but unfortunately, in my experience, the majority just think its an easy way out. I also agree that some students only attend for their money at the end of the week. Such a shame :o

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I think that careers advisors should take quite a bit of the responsibility for the unmotivated, uninterested students. I am pretty sure that if they are faced with a female student who doesn't have a clue about what job prospects interest them, and if they have a low academic ability, the careers people will suggest childcare ( good for them as a pre-parenting course) or hairdressing / beautician just because these jobs are still only recognised as a "service" and not as a profession in their own right. :o

 

Peggy

 

p.s. I was a "professional" hairdresser before finding my professional life in the early years sector.

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You are right Peggy that the careers advisors should be more responsible, but the local colleges should take their part too. My friend works in a college and she said that they have to get as many students in as they can so they get funding. So alot of the time they know that some applicants aren't suitable, but would rather show good figures than lose money!

It is also demoralising for the tutors that come out to observe these students, must be awful when they know they aren't really interested.

 

p.s. I LOVE "professional" hairdressers - where would we be without them!!!

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I have had students for many years, long and short term but I agree they are getting worse. In the past they have gone on to do great things, getting jobs as teachers, nursery/teaching assistants,social and health care workers. Some even decided after their placement with us that working with children was not for them. Nevertheless they all worked to the best of their ability and interacted with the children. Over the past 2 years I seem to have had students that just want to bide their time doing as little as possible. I could even excuse that if they interacted with the children instead of lolling about yawning and observing adults with children. Yes they love the activities but as a one to one with themselves. I too have noticed that they create masterpieces to take home for themselves. I often wonder if they were denied these activities when they were younger.

I am going to take your advice Peggy and put them on probation before I formally accept them. Our present one will do what ever I ask her BUT we have to be ASKING her all the time. After 3 months she doesn't do ANYTHING without being asked.

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