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How many key children?


Tinahs
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Hi all. I'm just wondering how other settings manage allocating key children between staff. We have 5 staff who are key workers (including 1 apprentice who only has a couple of key children & is supported by me as manager) and currently have 52 children on the register for September. I know that lots more will come along in September and am wonder how we are going to manage to allocate all these children a key person. The other 4 staff already have more than 10 key children each which I think is too many, both in terms of giving the children the time & attention they need and in terms of paperwork. In the past we have had more staff but I really need to manage costs this year. We have plenty of staff in terms of ratios & staffing the sessions but, in the past have ended up employing additional staff just because of the key person issue. I'm sure this can't be what other settings do? Any help or suggestions much appreciated. I'm beginning to think that there's a way of doing this that I'm just not seeing?! Is it just me? Thank you!

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Staff in our Pre-school Room have as many as 15 key children each. We are full daycare so have a varying pattern of attendance so nobody would have all their key children attending on one day. Staff have 2.5 hours per week non-contact time for record keeping (Tapestry). In an ideal world, they would have fewer key children, but I really couldn't afford to employ staff just for this.

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i think its a case of allocating keychildren according to number of sessions staff work - more sessions then more keychildren and although it is difficult and time consuming working out lists so staff dont have all children (or have acceptable amount) each session.

staff also need to work out for them selves how they will work with their key children - planning which children they will maybe work with a bit more on which day.

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The staff in my baby room have about 5 each this year, the staff working with two year olds have about 7 or 8 each and the preschool staff have 15 each this year. This is purely down to the preschool numbers being quite low this year so they only need 2 staff, and therefore have to have half the children each. Ideally they would have less, but I can't justify employing someone else just so they have fewer key children. And like others have said, the children are not in all at the same time - so they have 15 over the week but hat might only be 5 or 6 in each session having time with each child is manageable.

 

We just had to be aware of which sessions the children attended when we arranged the groups - if it worked out that one person had a group of 15 and the other just had 1 in some sessions then we would have to change he groupings to make it more even

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Hi we are a preschool setting and have said 10 max. But some children attend afternoons only others mornings or all day.

But also thinking forward as funding is not increasing, staffing is the only way to cut costs. I run ratio of 1:6 which is why max 10 works. I can see this changing future.

because of age of children am thinking g of changing to a team approach but am struggling to put the strategy together.

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I sometimes think it's not how many key children a member of staff has, but how effective they are at being a key person.

 

I was talking to 1 of my staff last year about a child and they were concerned that the child did not seem to be making good progress, so we looked at the child together, looked at the observations made and analysis of them and looked at where she should be for her age - and it turned out that her key person thought that she was 3 and a half rather than 2 and a half as the child was so tall and well settled. So the 'problem' was that the key person had not got to know the child enough, not to know how old she was.

 

Of course, you need to have time to see all your key children and make observations and write them up, etc, but that being interested in the children and wanting to get to know them is, I think, the most important thing.

 

All of our staff are part time, so they have key children based on how often they're in and how experienced they are - we should be taking on a L2 apprentice, so she'll have 1 key child and lots of support, but our deputy has 7 key children at the moment.

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The summer term just gone we had about 13 or 14 each which felt like a lot. I try to allocate them on the basis of sessions so one might have more children than are doing less sessions and vice versa (if that makes sense). One of my members of staff did complain that it was too many and that there must be a limit. After a chat on here I found that lots of us are in the same boat. Not sure it can be helped.

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Thank you for all your replies. It does sound as though we're all in a similar situation. We've never officially set a limit but always had an unwritten rule that 10 or 11 (at a push) is plenty. Realistically we may have to start looking at 15 per key person. It sounds as though other settings are managing this. With costs increasing & funding not we simply don't have the luxury of over staffing anymore. My staff are very good but I anticipate a certain degree of horror & panic when I say 15 key children each! It is useful to be armed with the knowledge that other settings are doing this. Will spend some time looking at our OAP systems to see if I can reduce the paperwork per child even further. Thanks everyone for your help.

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What are you expecting your key people to do already? I think we all have very different expectations of the paperwork they need to generate.

We have had up to 17 but have decided to go on to tapestry in order to try and reduce the cutting/pasting /sticking time!!! we all do observations on all the children ...and with tapestry we have found the group observations really help too. realistically what planning do you need?

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Thank you for your reply finleysmaid. I think part of the problem is the way my staff use tapestry. They are all very similar characters in that they are all very conscientious people, which is great but it does mean that they like to put a lot of thought into things (sometimes too much, I feel). When we got tapestry I imagined we would type up most observations there & then, pretty much as it happened. This is how I do it & it seems to work. However my staff are spending most of their non-contact time adding photos & typing up observations from the entire week that they have made written notes about. We've had a busy year (lots of SEN, and ofsted) so it's only over the summer holidays that I've had a chance to think about things & to realise that the way they are using tapestry is not in fact reducing their workload. This something I will address with them in September. We also fill in a half termly tracker on paper & go through development matters & highlight achieved statements half termly for each child. (I know Dev matters shouldn't be used as a tick list but we discussed this as a team & felt that it is a useful tool to show & discuss with parents at parents meetings.) We are a Montessori setting so plan 'next steps' in Montessori materials for each child. As a team at staff meetings we plan the environment to meet general interests or developmental needs of the group (so enhancements to continuous provision). When I write it like this it doesn't sound like much. I do wonder if my staff are overthinking things. Sorry for the long ramble! Would appreciate others' thoughts re OAP process & what you do.

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. We also fill in a half termly tracker on paper & go through development matters & highlight achieved statements half termly for each child. (I know Dev matters shouldn't be used as a tick list but we discussed this as a team & felt that it is a useful tool to show & discuss with parents at parents meetings.) We are a Montessori setting so plan 'next steps' in Montessori materials for each child.

Do you not use tapestry for this???

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