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We tend to only get young 16 year old students who are on the most basic childcare courses. they only attend for 2 weeks work experience they dont have any projects or activities to do and very inexpereinced so its up to us to direct them.


So it was raised at the team meeting what should we be expecting the student to do? we feel that the student should experience all aspects of the session to get a realistic feel for the job but I feel because 2 weeks is a short period of time then asking the student to spend time in the kitchen washing up is not the best use of their time they can do washing up at home its not something you need to go on a 2 week work placement to learn (although Im sure there are many 16 year olds that could do with the practise!)


I expect the students to help set up at the start of the session and put away at the end but I dont feel its the students place to be the unpaid skivvy for 2 weeks.


one member of staff wanted to give the student all the mundane tasks to do like:washing all paint pots, making the coffees, washing-up and cleaning toilets, then suggested that included the nappy changing! I pointed out that students are not allowed to change nappies and her reply was "they do at my sons nursery" I simply answered "we're not doing it here!"


ok if a student was with us for longer than 2 weeks then I would get them involved with the cleaning rota but when they are there for 2 weeks I want to give the student maximum time with the children not the cleaning products, am I being too soft?


but it got me thinking....


Do other settings get their students to do lots of cleaning?

what about students being involved with changing nappies?

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Hi Alison,


Interesting point. I totally agree that a two week work experience placement is not the time for all the dreary jobs. What they should be doing, as you have rightly said is experiencing the actual routines of the setting, set up, tidy away, various activities, story and singing time, outdoor play - you get my drift. The more varied the better so they can really see what it's like.


In my nursery, 16 year-old trainees are a different matter. They are there to train as a nursery nurse, work 4 days a week (have one day for study time) and as such function as part of the team. As they are under 17 they are not counted in the ratios, so when it's necessary for someone to be away from the children (washing pots or tidying/setting up during children's outside play) it tends to be them that get's the short straw. We try very hard to be fair but at times there's no option. As soon as they become 17 everything changes, they start to work 5 days and aren't the first choice for those mundane jobs any more. There's a bit of moaning at first, but it happens to everyone, and the older girls are good at reassuring the new ones it won't always be like this.


On the nappy changing point, it's OK for a 16-year old to do it (how else are they going to learn? They need to pick up speed as well!!) as long as they are accompanied by a vetted over-17 year old person. Equally, they cannot be left alone with children or in charge of a room.


I think you are spot on, and would suggest you do not waver. When I was running a playgroup, I devised a two week work plan, allocating them to different areas each day, with review and discussion times included for their feedback, comments and suggestions. During the second week, if they were happy with it, I would put them in charge of an activity or small story group rather than support, to really 'feel' it. Most of them enjoyed the structure rather than being 'left to it'and the colleges were happy that they were actually 'experiencing' .


Any help?


Cheers, Sue

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Hi Alison.


I've worked/been a student in 9 day nursery settings, and of those only one setting allowed students on full time childcare qualification courses with a college police check to change nappies.


If i have a student on a two week placement then i would get them as involved with the children as possible, getting them to read stories, do activities like puzzels, topic work, etc ... as they are really trying to get a feel for working with children, rather than training. I definately wouldn't allow them to change nappies as they wouldn't be police checked and i would keep cleaning to the minimum.


For students on a long term placement and training i would expect them to work almost as a member of my team. So helping with snack (where appropriate), cleaning, interacting with the children, carrying out activites. Just obviously whilst under supervison.


Good luck :o



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Your student is there for a two weeks 'taster' and should experience everything in the setting. I agree with you that they are not there to be a skivvy. How awful for them. They should do their fair share of tidying, cleaning up, snack preparation but I think that when they are with us we have a responsibility for them for training. I always thought that it was important that they worked with the children, so that they could find out if working with young children was really what they wanted to do.

Students would tell me that they had always wanted to work with children, but seemed to think it would be an easy option, and were suprised at how demanding the work was. They expressed suprise that teachers of young childen had to have degrees.

Only TA students in our setting were allowed to help with chaging nappies/pull-ups, but only with a member of staff supervising and they had to have a CRB check in place. We regarded this experience as part of thier training.

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We tend to get a student for just one day a week, but with block week placements about once a new term. Personally, I cannot give all the yucky jobs to the students to do and do my fair share of washing paint pots (although I hate it!) to try and show the working as a team process. My current student is actually very good most of the time, so I usually schedule her to do a set activity with individual children or small groups (although I do sometimes find her colouring on her own after the 'colouring children' have left that activity for something else!) I think my approach to this probably stems from a work experience placement I did in school where all I ever seemed to have to do was sharpen pencils!! The blisters still haunt me to this day! :o Basically I treat my student as one of the team and expect them to 'muck in' with all the jobs an LSA might do.

On the flip side, I have had students who have been so poor they've actually been thrown off their course after school complained: they would come in, sit down and wait for the children, then play ALONGSIDE the children, offering nothing to the children's play. If given a specific task to do they'd abandon it in favour of something else. These students would be people who'd get the paint jobs etc. simply to get some use out of them, and in a way, to teach them that there's hard graft to be done in a nursery. I think you reward your good students with being treated as part of the team.

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Our students usually do 2 days a week in the unit and are expected to do all the jobs other members of staff would normally do. So if they have done an art activity they are expected to wash up at the end of the day just as I would wash up if it was my activity. We are finding more and more students dont really know why they are on the course and dont really want to work with children anyway :o these seem to be the ones who have a problem with the general mundane parts of the job.

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Guest MaryEMac

We are having two students in the group from two of our local secondary schools. They are on the Trident work experience scheme. In the past we have had several students, a few have been absolutely fantastic and others appeared to choose playgroup because it seemed to be an easy option. Needless to say the latter did not get a good report. Some choose us because they live in the village and we only work mornings!! Most of them can remember attending the playgroup and have good memories of it. I enjoy having the students in the group especially if they get on and do something but on the other hand it makes me feel old because I can remember them when they started at the group as 3 yr olds.


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We currently have 2 students in our setting. Admittedly, they are doing NVQ3 training and so have to take part in every aspect of the day in order to gain the necessary experience and meet the requirements of their course.


However, along the lines of nappy changing, one of our students is adamant that she is not allowed to change nappies. She is over 17, has children of her own but insists that she is not 'trained or qualified' to change nappies.


I was under the impression that NVQ students, whatever their level had to experience all aspects of early years care and education, and that includes nappy changing. When I did my NVQ3, I had to be 'trained' to change nappies but was soon left to get on with it! Our student has just sent off for her CRB check, so I'm assuming that once she has been vetted, she will be able to change nappies? She does everything else at the moment, with the exception of this. Is it down to the training provider/college or is it maybe an excuse from the student?


On the other hand, our other student is keen to explore every aspect of the job, and sometimes even nominates herself to go and change children or take them to the bathroom.


At a recent staff meeting, one of the students commented on how I was willing to do the mundane or horrible jobs such as sharpening pencils (I remember the blisters too, Chocolate Girl!!) and washing paint pots. I explained to them that all of these jobs bring a benefit to the children in some way or another and basically, that is what I did my training for... to provide opportunities and experiences for children to grow and develop. I thought if I showed them that I was willing to do these things too, they would be encouraged to do them.

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We have students on various courses attend our setting. I always ask the stuednts what they need from the placement with mixed / no responses. I do not leave students in a position where they are alone with children, nor are they allowed to support children with incontinence - LEA guidelines and toileting policy at our school (also includes volunteers). Students can not be included in our staffing ratios (a problem when we are short staffed as you will frequently hear the call that you have a student to help- well that can depend on how good the student is - worst experience was a student who said she was confused by instructions( therefore couldn' t do any thing!), so sat doing nothing and another student who said that the children scared her!!!!


I do woory about some of the student sthat we receive at our setting (especially those that perform when observed by a tutor!!!!!!!!!!- so why are they not doing this all the time)


Swings and roundabouts I know.

At the moment I have a lovely student, who is always willing to work with the children at any activity, able to talk to the children, comes alive with stories and small groups and has grown in confidence during her block placements with us. I have to tell her to go home!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! She is now willing to share her other college work with us and ask for our opinions and offers hers.


Disappointed with a student who turned up for first two days, observed as being good by tutor and have not seen her since!!!! Despite a requiremnt for her to attend two days a week for the rest of the year! Sometimes I wonder how well the tutors know their students.


I do wonder what students think the outcome of their course is in terms of their future (I know they are only 16 and I'm the grand age of 34!!)




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we have student of all kinds


our NVQ apprentice was cleared , has a crb check and is expected to work in all areas, including changing nappies, (she is currently doing level2 and will do level 3 next year) as she is long term we can include her in the numbers of staff. She has now been employed by us for 2 sessions a week.


Our 2 week students we have them join in with the children, and they do cleaning as part of this, but we do not give them all the mundane jobs..but I know several come to us saying that is alll they did elsewhere.....


Our 1 week student often hade Special needs and are given a member of staff to work with over the week who supervises them as needed and again they join in with the children.....but if the staff member is doing the mundane jobs so do they.


our 2 day a week students are usually doing a Btec course and have to complete all jobs in the setting...we save the yukky jobs until they are settled and aware of our routines and rules and procedures, as they are with us for longer and have a week block placement. By the end they have covered all areas and often able to complete snack or kitchen duties with minimum supervision. The last one was so good she volunteered for mucky jobs or just got on with them. we will miss her!


if a student does not turn up and does not ring us to say why we contact the college and let them know!! we tell all students we do this when they start. Most turn up regulalry and on time once told this, the last one who didnt the college made her write a letter of apology and she ended up leaving.


If we are unsure about the duties a student has to undertake we speak to the college, this clears up any problems we have, and/or speak to the assessor of NVQ students. we troo have had them say they are not allowed to do things only to contact the tutors to find out they can under supervision!!


Think it depends on the course and what they are doing as to the extent we involve them.


Not much help perhaps!



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the college told me the student had to join in the sessions and observe and learn from the way staff work in the session .... that was a lot of help and I did tell the collge the students needed more guidance than that


I think I will allocate the student to a different member of staff to work with each day and they can join in all the jobs that member of staff does


I dont feel happy about the student changing nappies maybe if ever we get a long term student maybe that is something we should consider but the 2 week work expereince students I think I will keep to no nappy changing


on the subject of nappy changing if the student is CRB check do they still have to be supervised? (Im think of childs privacy and too many adults watching)

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The whole "Student in the setting" situation is an area I feel i need to look at, review and develop in my preschool, so this discussion has been very useful.


I have seen both sides; by being a BTEC Tutor, and having students in my preschool. It is definately swings and roundabouts with regard to positive or negative experiences, for setting and student.


As a tutor, I found it very difficult to place my students in preschools, when I did, they all had various levels of positive / negative experiences. Once I even pulled a student out of a setting because of the way she was treated. Other times I've had students who were ok in class but totally unreliable when it came to attending placements.

My recent experience of students in my preschool has been 50/50 of good and awful.

I think the colleges / Schools don't have enough information, many of my students I get are located with me through another agency other than the school ( placement agency) this has proved to leave teachers unaware of the procedures relating to their students. Preschools are given information about the "value" to student and setting of offering work placements but little information about the actual individual they are having in their setting. for example one student i had attended spasmodically over her time with us, when discussed with the teacher I was told her attendence levels at school were poor too :o

Once I was sent a mature student from the local Nursing College ( attending a childcare setting is seen as a good experience for nurses to learn about childrens PSE needs ) On her second day she burst into tears saying she was finding the placement really, really difficult because she had recently experienced a miscarriage and was still grieving the loss of her child, to be surrounded by young children was just too much for her. ( this is obviously a rare example but shows the case that individual needs have to be considered when placing students anywhere)


As for the nappy changing, in my preschool the children are very choosy ( quite rightly) about who undertakes this very personal care, they have preferences within our staff team, who they want to change them. I would not like include short term students in nappy changing, as this may impinge on the childrens right to choose. I would reconsider for a long term student who has built a secure relationship with the child.



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forgot to add, I started by saying I want to develop my practice, so I will be reviewing my whole student placement policy, along with the staff. one thing I have noticed is that other staff members are unaware of the purpose of students and their role in supporting students in the preschool. Also to consider the students points of view, from "I don't want to be here but have to attend" How can we make this a positive? to " I am really interested in childcare as a profession" so What do we really feel are the opportunities, Knowledge, skills and attitudes a student should be able to gain from a placement with us? A good policy, discussed by all is my next step.



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As we are based in an upper school, we frequently have students. Both for 2 weeks work experience or for 1 day a week as part of GCSE.

I have an induction with every student that attends the setting and try and determine what they would like to get out of the pre school.

I then devise a little project for them to do the time they are with us.

I then explain to them that they will be expected to do the same jobs as we all do, including paint pots, making tea, clearing away and daring our ever out of control cupboard. These are all parts of childcare and that is what they are there to do.


Mini projects -e.g. Garden task - allocate 2/3 children for the student to observe. Planting some seeds with the children, either in garden or in pots in room. Give some initial guide questions on how to ask, how to develop a childs explanation.

They than have some questions to answer -

1) what was you task

2) Did you enjoy the task

3) Did the Children enjoy the task

4) What do you think you/the children learnt.

5) What areas of the foundation curriculum do you think you covered

6) Would you have done anything differently

This keeps them busy, they know what is expected of them. I have used this for the past 4 yrs and have found the students to enjoy it. Of course you have the students who were meant to go to the Skoda garage and got dumped with us instead end have no interest in doing it but again they will do some of it.


Net x :oxD

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Yes Marion you would have thought that by the time they have reached level 3 they know what to expect and if its not their thing to have realised and look for somthing more suitable


my daughter wants to follow in my foot steps as a nursery nurse and she keeps saying "when I go to college can I have my placement with you?" and I keep telling her she will need to try lots of different forms of childcare settings to see what she really wants to do she is a natural and even at the age of thirteen she can function as part of the team


and then I look at the 16 year old students and think xD


when I left school I was directed into childcare because I was labeled "thick" I'd always wanted to be a teacher and the careers advisor told me "alison dont aim so high you wont make it, try childcare instead"

(Id love to go back to school and wave my graduation photos under her nose :o )


but if thats the sort of advise careers advisors give then what hope to we have of getting students who motivated to learn

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