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FSF Live chat - Supporting staff


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This evening we will be talking about how we support staff in the setting to be the best they can be:

  • When staff start with you what do you do to help them understand the philosophy and ethos of your setting?
  • How do you support staff during their first few weeks with you - do you have buddying or mentor systems?
  • When staff are not working in the way that you want them to how do you help bring them back to the agreed setting ethos and philosophy?
  • Which CPD courses have had the most positive impact on your staff and setting?
  • If you could afford it, what CPD would you buy for your staff to improve your setting?
  • What is your most common staffing 'gripe' - from them to you and from you to them!

Please share your ideas and thoughts - if there are any documents that you refer to don't worry about putting them on the thread - I'll get in touch with you next week and gather everything together and post them up and put things in the resources library.

 

Thank you

Rebecca

 

You'll see that this thread is locked - you can't comment on it yet! I will unlock it just before lift off at 7.30pm.

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We get staff to look round before they interview so they get 'a feel' for us. Before the interview I ask them to spend an hour or so playing in a room - then in the interview I always ask 'what have you seen that you've liked' - then I can get a sense of their views and I can tell them about mine philosophy

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Thanks for setting this off, Rebecca. :1b

There is a model of leadership- I think it's called situational leadership- where the leader starts off with much direction of the new member of staff, and limited praise, and moves gradually towards little or no direction and lots of praise. I find this easier said than done, because I naturally liked to offer thanks and praise to the staff I used to lead in my nursery. However, I did come unstuck once or twice when I felt I had praised too much and too early and they lost their motivation, presumably thinking they were doing OK and didn't need to try anymore.

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When staff first start at my setting I go through all of our polices, our SEF and our Quality assurance award with them. I am careful not to over load them with information but it definitely helps them get a good understanding of our philosophy and ethos.

 

During their first two weeks I would ‘check in with them’ during each daily session to make sure they are ok and have a catch up at the end of each week. I would also buddy them with a senior member of staff. Regular catch ups would take place e.g. end of the month/term and then every 2 terms all staff have supervision meetings and the and annual staff development meeting.

 

One of the really good CPD training courses we have attended was ‘Communication friendly spaces’. This led us to change our room around and create smaller cosy corners which in turn made it quieter, the children where more engrossed in their play and staff have managed to get much more informative observations.

 

If I had the funding I would ensure all of my staff are qualified to degree level.

 

The most common gripe from staff is pay!!!! My most common gripe is ‘paying attention to detail’.

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Yep I can totally relate to this - it's the opposite to my 'real life' I say to my staff "Yes, actually DO sweat the small stuff" it's the small stuff that makes a difference!

 

When staff first start at my setting I go through all of our polices, our SEF and our Quality assurance award with them. I am careful not to over load them with information but it definitely helps them get a good understanding of our philosophy and ethos.

 

During their first two weeks I would ‘check in with them’ during each daily session to make sure they are ok and have a catch up at the end of each week. I would also buddy them with a senior member of staff. Regular catch ups would take place e.g. end of the month/term and then every 2 terms all staff have supervision meetings and the and annual staff development meeting.

 

One of the really good CPD training courses we have attended was ‘Communication friendly spaces’. This led us to change our room around and create smaller cosy corners which in turn made it quieter, the children where more engrossed in their play and staff have managed to get much more informative observations.

 

If I had the funding I would ensure all of my staff are qualified to degree level.

 

The most common gripe from staff is pay!!!! My most common gripe is ‘paying attention to detail’.

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Carol, do you vary the attention they get, depending on how experienced they are? If you took someone on with limited experience, how do you set them off with the children? Do you go for adult directed experiences, or just let them play with the children and see what they're like?

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Thanks for setting this off, Rebecca. :1b

There is a model of leadership- I think it's called situational leadership- where the leader starts off with much direction of the new member of staff, and limited praise, and moves gradually towards little or no direction and lots of praise. I find this easier said than done, because I naturally liked to offer thanks and praise to the staff I used to lead in my nursery. However, I did come unstuck once or twice when I felt I had praised too much and too early and they lost their motivation, presumably thinking they were doing OK and didn't need to try anymore.

Not so different to settling children then really? The issue we have with our junior staff is getting them to realise that it's not like school - they have to take the initiative and then the responsibility for what is going on around them. There won't always be someone directing them

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If I had the funding I would ensure all of my staff are qualified to degree level.

 

Well that would keep people like me happy! It might be controversial to say, but having a degree is all well and good, but it doesn't necessarily make for a better practitioner. I'm sure we all know people who are very well qualified but who really aren't able to support and nurture children effectively.

 

I've worked with many students whose practice and whole ethos has been transformed by their degree study. On the other hand I also have experienced several over the years who have never really 'got' reflection and feel that their degree 'rubber stamps' their existing practice rather than prompts them to change.

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Not so different to settling children then really? The issue we have with our junior staff is getting them to realise that it's not like school - they have to take the initiative and then the responsibility for what is going on around them. There won't always be someone directing them

 

And with very young people being taken on as Apprentices within schools but being used as teaching assistants, I fear that there is a big gap in the way they are being supported to develop their knowledge and understanding of how children develop.

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Carol, do you vary the attention they get, depending on how experienced they are? If you took someone on with limited experience, how do you set them off with the children? Do you go for adult directed experiences, or just let them play with the children and see what they're like?

Hi Helen

 

I would check in during each session with any new member of staff no matter how qualified they are just to make sure they are ok and give them an opportunity to ask me any questions. If a member of staff had limited experience I would ensure they had a full time buddy if possible for a while, I would also get them to play with the children to see how they interacted and after they had observed staff leading adult lead activities, I would encourage them to lead an activity as soon as they felt reasonably confident. If a new member of staff needed additional support hen this would be provided.

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Well that would keep people like me happy! It might be controversial to say, but having a degree is all well and good, but it doesn't necessarily make for a better practitioner. I'm sure we all know people who are very well qualified but who really aren't able to support and nurture children effectively.

 

I've worked with many students whose practice and whole ethos has been transformed by their degree study. On the other hand I also have experienced several over the years who have never really 'got' reflection and feel that their degree 'rubber stamps' their existing practice rather than prompts them to change.

I totally agree HappyMaz, just by having a degree it doesn't mean you are a fantastic practitioner. All of my staff started with a level three, then I encouraged then to go on to level 4 and they really enjoyed their study and learning. I furthered my learning and went on to degree level then PGC Early Years and I have found my study extremely interesting and useful. I have also employed many apprentices who are absolutely fantastic early years practitioners and very passionate about their work.

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Don't think that i have anything to contribute here - I have a (very) mature and long established staff team - touch wood and long may it last :1b

 

So how do you keep them motivated, encourage them to take part in CPD and continue to maintain their very high standards? You're obviously doing something very right! :)

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Setting values and ethos seem to be pretty much at the heart of everything and I think 'settling' in applies equally to children and staff based on your ethos. At least that's how I always thought of it. Whenever I've started a new job, I've wanted to understand what makes the people I'm working with 'tick' as well as the nuts and bolts of how things work. That takes time to figure out sometimes.

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We ask our 'studying staff' - I've got them doing L2,3,FdA, BA, QTS - to contribute something to the setting development plan each time they do an assignment - 'you've just learnt something now - check we're doing it right, introduce it to us or help us change what we're doign so that we reflect best practice' - that's been great

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So how do you keep them motivated, encourage them to take part in CPD and continue to maintain their very high standards? You're obviously doing something very right! :)

Maz - I am just naturally wonderful :P :lol: :lol: :lol:

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Setting values and ethos seem to be pretty much at the heart of everything and I think 'settling' in applies equally to children and staff based on your ethos. At least that's how I always thought of it. Whenever I've started a new job, I've wanted to understand what makes the people I'm working with 'tick' as well as the nuts and bolts of how things work. That takes time to figure out sometimes.

So maybe we need to think of an extended settling period for staff too - allowing them to work with different colleagues for a session so that they get the hang of how it all 'hangs together' - obviously this has financial implications but I think if we were creative we could do it - after all it's in everyone's interest to build a strong team

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Yeah I can't quite manage two, Friday night and all that.

yes opportunities to work with different colleagues is important. It's one of those things that bother me slightly when training staff do their qualification at only one setting, then get a job there and so on. They really only get one view of the world.

So can I ask, do you encourage staff to see other practice? How do you manage this?

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Yeah I can't quite manage two, Friday night and all that.

yes opportunities to work with different colleagues is important. It's one of those things that bother me slightly when training staff do their qualification at only one setting, then get a job there and so on. They really only get one view of the world.

So can I ask, do you encourage staff to see other practice? How do you manage this?

Very, very good point - that is something I would be really interested in doing

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Mundia, we often do take on students who we have 'brought round to our way of thinking' however we also encourage them to visit colleagues at other settings - a while back we did formalise some swaps but my staff always come back saying they love us and our children. If we were to organise swaps for sessions to broaden staff horizons it would be hard to manage financially and also from an attachment point of view for the children. It's all very well having 'bodies to make up the ratio' but the key person is key, for a reason. I also think, apart from seeing how other settings organise themselves and what they do it really helps staff to see that the 'grass isn't always greener' - We have had two staff leave recently and beg to come back - which is flattering. Joking aside, we are in a reasonably affluent coastal town - there is no getting away from the fact that there are children who are in not such a happy environment. It would be great for staff to be able to see the wide range of children that different settings have and then see how their role changes depending on the needs of individual children.

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I'm really interested in this, having just moved to a new school (just after Christmas) and settling in for me has been/still is a real challenge. I'd only been there 2 weeks when I found myself saying I wished it was possible for schools to do exchanges just for a year - I picked up loads of ideas that were a new way of looking at things that I wanted to try with my old class! I know my transition to KS1 from EY isn't quite what we're talking about here but I think a part of settling staff is about remember that (just like children) they are all different - I became so stressed because people weren't telling me all the parts of my leadership role and kept saying 'settle in, get to know your class, the other stuff will come'. I was wound up because I knew more as coming but didn't know what!!

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By the way, apologies for my late arrival - have been asleep on the sofa in a stupor due to getting minimal sleep this week and meetings/briefings/appointments coming out my ears - now about to set to work to finish my reports!

Edited by Froglet
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Hard isn't it. As it wasn't valued by my last head, we had a little network going and ended up using our PPA time to visit each other. Seeing others' practice really supported my reflections, and gave me a real sense of what we did well but also what we didn't do as well. It also helped us feel less isolated, as many of us didn't have a year group partner.

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Ooops - sorry got involved in a couple of things for transitions and totes forgot about this! and I see the gin bottle is nearly empty!!! Inducting staff takes me quite some time, I have a "ticky" sheet to make sure I have discussed everything I feel I need to, and on the ticky sheet I have space to write up what we have talked about and r espondes and what inductee wanted to talk about and stuff I need to find out for them.

 

Very hard settling new staff members in and mentoring with all the other things us 'little' private providers have to do, it's another important hat I wear but I do long for the day when I find some new person with the same passion I had when I started! My girls are great, and they do go the extra mile especially doing written up observations and reports, but getting them to have enough passion to keep up their own CPD through simple things like reading or googling things for their children is hard when they lead busy family lives. Courses are all well and good, but after that course you have to keep learning on your own.

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Hard isn't it. As it wasn't valued by my last head, we had a little network going and ended up using our PPA time to visit each other. Seeing others' practice really supported my reflections, and gave me a real sense of what we did well but also what we didn't do as well. It also helped us feel less isolated, as many of us didn't have a year group partner.

Definitely! I really found it valuable to see other settings to get ideas for things that I both wanted to do but equally definitely didn't. We had a sort of informal network which was useful in some respects except that I was the only one from a school where I had no year group partner. They all had large EY teams and just didn't get how impossible some things would be for me. They were also very confident and sure of their 'rightness', it sometimes took a bit of gumption to stand up for my self!

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