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Worried about stepping into a deputy role....


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Our deputy has recently left and as I am the longest serving member of staff at present and only competent level 3 I have been made deputy without much choice to be honest. I've only been working in child care for 3 years which is the same number of years as I've better working at the nursery. I still feel that I'm continually learning In this job. It doesn't help that the previous deputy was fantastic at her job and also was the senco so used to do everything although I would sometimes be included in the process of things im not always sure of the whole process because I never got involved from start to finish.

The worse thing I find about being left in charge is that I have no wingman to seek advice from as they are are level 2, young and inexperienced or lacking common sense so I always feel that when im in charge I can can't relax and feel the need to clone myself.

Also I think of various scenarios like what if a child needed to go to hospital or went missing what would I do how would I handle it obviously thinking the worst situations. I know policies are in place but it's not something I'd remember off the top of my head especially when panic strikes. I just don't know if I can cope with the responsibilities especially seeing as it's on the job learning and that's if there is time. Also if my manager went sick there are certain things she does that I would have not have clue about because she comes in early to do them or stays late and there is not always time to show me.

I want to be good at my job and as a practitioner I think I am but not sure if I'm cut out for manager material :-(

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If you don't think you are ready / want the responsibility then let them know.

If you want the role then you need to have an induction so you get to know the role - it will take time and you can't be expected to learn it all at once - experience on the job is the best way to learn.

Ask for a job description so you can look at what your role and responsibilities will be so you can tick off the ones you are happy with and discuss the rest with your manager/lead so you both know where you need support etc.,

And remember if you aren't ready for the role then don't take it on - if the deputy has left then they will have to take on another deputy.

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I feel for you. I have been manager for the last 13 years and still feel I am continually learning. Three years ago my deputy left after we had worked together for 10 years and I felt completely alone. I had no other significant support and had to learn to just get on and deal with things on my own. I did really miss having that person to bounce things off and someone to just take up the reins when needed. She was also the SENCO and this was then passed to me. It was an incredibly sharp learning curve and still is! Then last year my amazing administrator left to take up her "proper" job at the bank full time. Taking on her workload has been really hard and I hold my hands up and admit that sometimes I feel completely swamped. The assistant who became my deputy has flourished in confidence and experience over the last three years and watching this has made me so proud, but it is not an instant thing, it takes time and support and I am sure if you get that you will also flourish. I have been in childcare for over 20 years, much like many of the people on here and I think we probably all feel some of what you described at one time or another. Give it some time before you do anything rash, wishing you luck.

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The fact that you are thinking this deeply and carefully about the 'what if' scenarios tells me you absolutely are management material!

It's really hard being 'in charge' have you thought about having a whole staff meeting and going through the 'what if' scenarios together?

I understand that the other staff are inexperienced and lacking in common sense - but unless they have the opportunity to learn then they will always be that way and another day someone else will be in the position you find yourself in now.

If it was me, I would sit down over a series of meetings and go through the inspection handbook judgement descriptors for 'Outstanding' and think about what you (as a setting) do in each circumstance - not discuss the policies or procedures in depth - but just identify which policy or which procedure is relevant. So, for example:

Grade descriptors for Leadership and Management (Inspection handbook p33)

What do we do to show that ... 'the pursuit of excellence in all the settings activities is demonstrated by an uncompromising, highly successful drive to improve achievement or maintain the highest levels of achievement for all children" - (I have highlighted the key words to help you think about what you do)

Pursuit = actively aiming to improve - getting opinions from other sources, development planning, SEF, asking parents and children what they think, doing up to date training, keeping up to date with current practice and changes, involving all staff in discussions and decisions

Demonstrated = how have outcomes for children improved? impact of EYPP funding for example, identifying children with SEND and putting things in place for them


If you go through all the aspects - which will take time you should be able to get a really clear picture, together, of where your setting is 'at' and what you do that is good and what you need to think about together - it will give other staff members an overview of what the issues are for the management team and then you might be surprised that one of the L2 might step up and show some promise (they might not - but at least you'll be clearer)


I would go through the operational plan with the manager and make sure that you are both clear on what the expectations are and what the procedures to be followed will be in certain scenarios - and I would practice them - lots of fire practices, lost child practices etc. I would make these things into folder and have it at hand so that if there is a panic scenario you have a clear crib sheet to refer to.


I have linked you to some useful docs that are already on the FSF

Safeguarding articles there are several safeguarding articles in the leadership and management section which go over the 'what if' scenarios.


Keep asking questions .. there's lots of us here!

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Thank you so much I happy to step in if I'm supported and there is time to learn. I will also be the new senco again I've been in one course and I've never completed a Caf although Sen is something I am interested in. It just feels too much sometimes. I get the feeling if I don't do it they haven't go anyone else in house so I do feel like I maybe the only option unless they release someone else and take on someone new. I will def be on here asking lots of questions think.

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