Jump to content
Home
Forum
Join Us
Articles
About Us
Tapestry

National Standards - Numbers Of Children


diane
 Share

Recommended Posts

I'm hoping for some advice from others..............

 

I have just returned from the setting at which I work.

 

This morning, we had more children present than our certificate of registration permits. We exceeded this (and the maximum group size in the Sessional Care National Standards, Standard 2.3) by 2 children and a baby.

 

I raised this at one of our infrequent staff meetings (held at the end of the session today). The leader said that exceeding the specified number in the group was allowable because two parent helpers were present, one of whom was responsible for her own child and her baby, and the other who was responsible for her own child.

 

We had six staff on the premises for most of the session, so technically, there was no deviation from requirements for staff:child ratios.

 

Overall, I do not feel happy that the setting is interpreting the requirements of its registration and of the National Standards in this way.

 

What does anyone else think?

 

Diane

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Hi

 

Our committee would say the same - our registration says 24 children with 4 members of staff.

 

But if we have a parent helper in with siblings they are allowed as the parent is responislble for them!!

 

Until we are inspected by Ofsted (any time now) then the parents have been told no siblings will be allowed that day!!!!

 

:o

Link to comment
Share on other sites

We do not have parent helpers in our pre-school but if we did they would not be counted in the ratio. They are not members of staff and therefore do not count, whether they are in charge of their own child or not. We occasionally go over numbers if we have children in visiting but their parents have to stay and it is for a very short time, 20 minutes maximum. If we don't do this then I don't know how we would enable them to visit and get a feel of the place. I suppose we could ask them to visit in the afternoon when we are closed but I like parents to see the group in action. Our inspector didn't have a problem with visitors.

Diane, what age range are you registered for? I am wondering about the baby being in with you?? I don't see how they can be parent helpers if they are supposedly responsible for their own child and also have a baby in tow. As I said we don't have parent helpers because we find that children spend most of the morning clinging to their parent or others become upset beacuse their parent isn't there. If we did I certainly wouldn't allow them to bring in babies, I would want them to be working with the children. When we go on trips we don't allow them to bring younger brothers and sisters.

I think you would find OFSTED would take a dim view of this practice. And Hali, it shows your committee have doubts about this if they are stopping it until your inspection!!

This is one of the reasons I have said in another post that I would prefer spot checks, if only for the care aspect of the inspection. Too many groups "bend" and even break the rules when others work hard to ensure that what they do is above board. And if only 1 group does it they are 1 too many.

Linda

Link to comment
Share on other sites

In my setting,we don't count parent helpers in the ratio's. You can never be sure they are going to be there. We have at 4 -24, and occasionaly a student who also wouldn't count in the ratio. Sometimes they do bring other children/babise with them, however these children are not counted in the ratio either.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

It depends on the reason. Were they visitors or parent helpers

Just recently I adjusted the maximum no of children allowed from 24 to 26. I wrote to Ofsted who confirmed by sending me a new certificate.I still on book 24 children in for the session but the extra 2 places gives me some leeway. If a parent is a helper on that day I would not allow them to bring in another sibling. If a parent was visiting the group they would be allowed to bring their children with them.

Sometimes unavoidable events do happen e.g.a member of staff has to go home and the staff member on the emergency contact number is unavailable.Then it's best to have a contingency plan and deploy staff in a different way.e.g we would have an extra circle time activity. I would be lying if I said the situation hasn't occured on rare occasions. We would just try to work together if this did happen.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

We have been in the same situation Bubblejack where we have had a member of staff go early and we have grouped the children and perhaps done a singing session rather than a physical activity. If necessary we have a rota system in place, as part of our health and safety policy, where we would ask so many parents not to send their child in the case of more than one member of staff being off ill etc. We are in the fortunate position of being overstaffed at the moment so that if 1 member of staff doesn't turn in we are covered.

Linda

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Can I just clarify:

 

No problem with staff:child ratios.

 

We are exceeding the number of children permitted (26 in NS and 26 in our registration). The baby doesn't count (it is a sibling).

 

The two extra 'children' were not siblings - they were registered pre-school children. The leader had taken in 'extras'. The helpers' children were those usually on the roll.

 

We had 28 pre-schoolers plus a baby (the only sibling), so we were 2 above the NS - 26 (and 2 above our registered quota).

 

The 2 parent helpers (plus 2 of the staff) had minimal child contact (how can these pearents have been responsible for their own pre-schoolers?).

 

I am dismayed that we can flout the regulations in this way.

 

So we can have 50 children per session - so long as we have 24 parent helpers? This could be an ongoing joke.

 

We can have up to 26 of 'our' children, surely? And no more? Any extras (e.g. visitors, not regulars), are covered by carers' presence. Our two over the limit today (supposedly covered by parents) were paid-up attendees. I cannot see this as right and lawful.

 

Please, someone, tell me I'm not going mad.

 

Diane.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Diane

No you are not going mad-you are right in that they are flouting the standards. I assume you take a register each day. What happens to those two extra children? Are they accounted for in the register? If so how are they going to explain them to OFSTED when they come? I do know of some groups who keep two sets of books, the actual one and one to have out for inspections! What happens if a child has an accident and you are over numbers-this will cause problems with your insurance if it is ever found out.

I really don't know what to say to help you, other than that you know what is right and should be done. You seem to be banging your head against a brick wall in every way. What do the parents do when they are in? I can't see the point of having them if they are not going to benefit the children. As a parent I used to go into school and help when my children were young. I would have hated it if I was not being used for something useful.

Just know that you have all the right ideas and one day it may all get sorted out.

Linda

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Dianne,

No you are not going mad. I did not understand that you meant 26 children on a regular basis. I have been on this computer for days doing my apel and just dipping into here when I am brain dead. When I requested to increase my allowed numbers I was told 26 children was the maximum. Although a pre-school near me is registered for 50 children they have 2 qualified supervisors that have 25 children in each room. I am only insured for the number of children stated on my certificate I wouldn't want to chance having extra children on a permanent basis in this day and age because of possible litigation claims.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I REALLY AM going mad.

 

I have phoned around all the local pre-schools tonight.

 

None of them need any extra staff. Especially not anyone who is working to level 4, when all of their staff are doing NVQ2.

 

Except just one, looking for a leader. I can't do that. I have said that if they are looking at "job share" that might work.

 

Tomorrow I am going to offer my services to local nurseries. I can do ages 2-5.

 

My setting is so scared of me that it frightens me! Other settings are also clearly scared of the government initiative.

 

There is no future for trained early years practiitioners. Please read this SURESTART personnel.

 

Diane

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Bubblejack,

 

I've told them, possibly, if I can do it as a job share. I would love to take on shared leadership.

 

But they have other candidates: plenty wiyh level 2 qualifications, and even more with no qualifications but many years experience.

 

I have left it that I will send my cv.

 

I am feeling that early years does not need me. I will complete the EYFD somehow, then do a PGCE (based on my other degree). What a waste of SureSrart Resources.

 

 

Diane.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Hi Diane,

 

Were do you live?

 

I am crying out for trained staff in my norfolk preschool, we can get plenty off unqualified staff, but i need level 3 or 4 desperatly

 

Keep up with your training for your own benefit, experienced practitioners are worth their wait in gold. I would love to be able to find some in this area. We have been looking for 2 level 3 staff for 6 months and a support worker for a special needs child. Their just isnt any out their. Maybe its the pay that scares them off.

 

As for number, i make sure i only register for 26 per session, if parent helpers come in they can only come in on a day their child would normally attend so the ratio doesnt change. If they have siblings, they can bring them in only if they are over 18 months old. Parents with children under 18 months are exempt from the rota. siblings are not included in the ratio, and you have to ensure that parents are aware that their child is their responsability and in their care, not the staff's.

 

The only problem with number i ever incure is when committee members come into setting for appraisals or meetings and bring their children along and expect staff to care for them while they have a meeting in the next room, this i dont agree with.

We also have a childminder (our chairperson) who brings in the children in her care (who are paying her for that service) into the group when she works the parent/ committee rota, and i dont think the childs parents are aware of this. I know that this cant be right.

 

Hope this helps, and keep going with your training, i to am on the EYFD and find i am personally gaining so much out of it.

 

If we didnt all work in childcare, we would never have to encounter that brick wall, i think this is one of the reasons i do it, i do love a challenge.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Ruthie,

 

Thank you for your support.

 

If I was in Norfolk, I would be there! Unfortunately, I am in South Cambridgeshire - too far to travel!

 

I am enjoying the EY FD (with the OU). I had told my setting that I was not going for the Certificate in EY Practice, because they were worried about me having a level 4 qualification at the end of 2004 (the leader and her deputy have NVQ3 and no plans to go any further). I have reneged on this and today, I phoned the OU and linked my first 2 courses to the certificate. So..... if I have passed my last course and if I pass the one I have just started (it ends in October), I will have level 4 on paper in early 2005. I feel mean about doing this, but I don't need to tell them. They are not funding my training, and are doing virtually nothing to support me.

 

Th committee, generally, are very supportive of what I am doing, and I get on well with them. The only problem I have is with the Chair. She sees herself as senior management and intimidates the leader and her deputy! She said to me when I started my course: "it is not easy to get a degree" and when I told her that I already have one she was taken aback (how can any of us doing the working with children be people like her?).

 

Having drawn a blank with employment in the near future at any of the local pre-schools, I am thinking about seeing if state school nursery classes locally can offer me anything (North Hertfordshire, the next county, as near as 4 miles away, has these). Also, am going to sound out private nurseries.

 

I desperately want to carry on working with children and their parents. I want to do this professionally, not just as a pair of hands. I enjoy working with children, and my competence is increasing as I gain more experience and my training progresses. I understand all the principles of the FS curriculum and birth-3, and can cope with all the legislative stuff (after all, I did that in my previous career). Paper-work doesn't frighten me!

 

After a huge day of feeling down yesterday, I have decided to be more positive.

 

This is all despite being confronted with a 17-year-old NVQ2 work placement student who must "spend all her time with the children" and must not be asked to do anything such as setting-up, clearing up, wiping tables, etc.". And despite being told that a new staff member is joining us (a lovely lady, mid-50's, who worked at another pre-school until recently, but had to leave because she was unwilling to obtain any formal qualification).

 

Tomorrow, I am not at pre-school: I am working with a 7-year-old severely ASD child (and it will be huge fun).

 

Again, Ruthie, thank-you,

 

Diane.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Hi Diane,

Have you thought about setting up on your own? You really know what you're doing, and have a sound knowledge of the curriculum. If that scares you, what about finding out if there are any neighbourhood nurseries/new Surestarts being planned for your area. They are always advertising for childcare managers, etc. in our area. The same goes for the NHS trusts.

It's ridiculous, this thing about being over-qualified, isn't it? I was a perpetual student, and when I ran out of courses (BA, PhD, PGCE!) I finally got a job as a primary teacher. At my interview, the Head said I had better keep quiet about my PhD with the other staff!!! You'd have thought he would have been proud to have a member of staff who thought studying was a good thing!!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

hi Dianne

 

even if you were working to correct staffing ratios if you have more children in the setting than is on the registration cert, i am not 100% certain but think this is the case that it could invalidate your insurance if an accident happened

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thank you all for your moral support!!

 

I am applying to a couple of other fairly local groups ... and doing my utmost to sell them my unqualified self!

 

Today in my setting, circumstances made it clear that legislation does not apply to us. Both the leader and her deputy (the only qualified staff) were off on a training course.

 

None of the staff who were present hold any early years qualification. No-one was designated as "in charge".

 

I noticed that a child had a red mark on his forehead (and he could not recall how it might have got there). I had no idea who was the responsible person in the setting, so I suggested to another member of staff that I would record it in the accident book ("just in case" and so that "the parent was aware"). I hit a brick wall (maybe the child had done so before me).

 

Half an hour before the end of session, everything had been packed away, so that the staff could "get off promptly". They spent 20 minutes doing circle time with a beach ball and 24 children. You can guess how long each child had to wait for his/her turn with the ball (and some of ours are only just 2 years old). No story at the end of session (beacuse there had been a quick read earlier). But anyway, a story with such a large group is generally a waste of time, except for the 4 or so children sitting directly in front of the person reading.

 

Oh, heavens, I'm moaning again.

 

Settings cannot run like this, surely?

 

Diane.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Keep plugging away at the job applications Diane, something will come along eventually. I'm surprised you have not been snapped up. In Stockport most settings advertise for staff who are either qualified, are taking courses or are willing to train. If you were here you would be looked on very favourably because you are training already.

Linda

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thanks Linda,

 

My cv is being distributed! Not sure yet if anyone is really interested, but I am trying.

 

I would walk out of this setting instantly if it wasn't for the children. I do so enjoy working, and couldn't imagine not having this to go to. When (eventually) I move on, it will be a big shock to me, a lot of apprehension, and a relief. But also, guilt. This is the village where I live. The children who live here deserve better.

 

I wish there was an easier solution.

 

Diane.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 2 months later...

I'm reactivating my old topic.

 

The setting is doing it repeatedly now (taking on more children than the 26 that we are registered for). The leader, unfortunately, is too nice a person to say "no".

 

Today was an odd sort of day. The leader had invited in all sorts of extras. At one point we had well over 35 children (some, of course, with their parents or minders). Eventually, we ended up with 29 (including a childminder's extras - she was present).

 

Yesterday, off my own bat, but advised by the administrator (see below), I phoned OFSTED (the leader had asked the administrator to check out numbers with the PLA insurance people - I eavesdropped - accidentally). Apparently, insurance says it's OK with them if it's OK with OFSTED. According to the adminstrator, the leader will call OFSTED some time.

 

Guess what OFSTED told me? We cannot deviate from 26 without a variation to our registration (we cannot deviate in practice, full stop, because we only have one room; national standard is maximum of 26 per room). If children aged 2 to 5 are present and participating in the session they must be included in the 26 (even if they are not funded or fee paying, but they usually are). If children are merely visiting for part of a session (for instance, if their parent was meeting with the leader), this may be OK, but they would have to be down as merely visiting (not paying or funded, but could make a monetary donation). OFSTED's general rule seems to be that if children are joining in, they are part of the "body", which must not be more than registered number (or 26 per room if regsitered for more than 26).

 

Siblings in with parents is a "grey area", according to the OFSTED person I spoke to. If they are outside our registered age range (2-5), technically, they should not be present (even with the parent/carer). This would be untenable, because we are "open" (coffee and chat) for the first 15 mins of each session) - while staff take responsibilty (but mingle if numbers allow).

 

However, the OFSTED standpoint means that parent volunteers should not bring their under 2's or over 5's when they are on duty. The person who advised me said that the setting needs to clarify things with the inspectorate, but her feeling was 26 children maximum, any age, at any time. She also reiterated that any child participating in pre-school activities would have to be included in the "total". She also said that any ad hoc inpectorate visit finding deviations such as I described could result in immediate closure (as if I didn't know this already).

 

I do not dare tell anyone this. The adminstrator does not want to know. The committee members consider themselves as superior to the staff (which, of course they are: they employ us). The leader will not acknowledge that there are now rules that were not in place 20+ years ago. She knows, of course: when the children (she) counted "heads" today on the mat (what a waste of time - it's not counting, it's just reciting numbers), she stopped at 26 (for my benefit?). I had a SEN child with me, and we were doing the "pointy finger" together. We got to 31 including babies (he can recite numbers).

 

It's not that I consider legislation the most important aspect of early years -far from it.

 

We have 26 or more children, some of whom are only exposed to books/literacy at story time. How can one person read a story to 26 or more children aged from 24 months to 4 years 8 months (or current roll) and keep them all interested and happy?

 

And, again, I ask: where do I go from here?

 

 

Diane

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I agree that legislation is not THE most important part of early years but it is one of the most important aspects. Why have these rules and regulations if not for a reason. 26 children in one room is more than enough, probably too many in some cases. I admit that some of the regulations are confusing and perhaps petty but the majority of them are put in place to safeguard the children and the people who work with them.

Having been in touch with OFSTED what did they suggest, or were you speaking hypothetically? Did they know that you were working in a group which you feel has issues? It must be very difficult for you Diane, the last thing you need is for the place to be closed but, on the other hand, how far will they go? The only time we have children outside our age range is parents bring a younger child when they are on a visit. They are solely responsible for that child and we ask them to leave if there is too much disruption.

I don't know what you can do next that you would be totally happy with. I really don't envy you though. Just remember you can always come on here for a good moan!

Linda

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Oh Dianne

 

I do feel for you..

 

We were told by our Accreditation Person that if we had a helper in (doing fruit/milk) and they had a sibling with them we still had to watch our ratios as they could not be included......

Link to comment
Share on other sites

It certainly doesn't look like anyone will listen to you diane - even with OFSTED on your side. Do you think the leader will call them eventually? And if she does will she pay any attention to it? Maybe someone else has complained if they were talking about it? Just keep on doing what you do best diane and hopefully eventually something will happen to make them take notice. :o

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I do not find the constraints of legislation threatening. My "previous life" was in the field of legislation (not anything to do with early years, I hasten to add).

 

When we have that many children, we do not function. We function poorly at the best of times. We do not have key workers, or small group working. It is free-for-all or whole group. The leader will not limit child numbers at any free-choice activity (e.g. if a table is set for six to paint, then we add tables, infinitum, until everyone is satisfied - except me - how can I work with 16 children painting?).

 

Story time is a nightmare. I will read to children willingly. But I cannot control 26+ children on the mat, even with the simplest of books (it must be a book, by the way, with all the children, nothing like a nice tale or a story sack wi the a lesser number). None of the children really benefit. The interested ones lose interest because many on the younger ones need adult support. I have opted out of whole-group story time. I read in the book corner (with smallish groups). I do literacy.

 

I am fed up. We have a "whole group" project every day. The something to take home! It is colouring or pre-cut shapes (or perhaps icing biscuits, or planting a seed), and everyone should have an identical "going home" thing.

 

Great, but all the staff in the setting (including me) have just gone through training for the ELG's (we have 9 staff; 2 of these are NVQ 3, the rest of us are untrained, or have the IPP). By the way, I'm doing the EYFD, unsupported by the steting because I gave up waiting for something more than IPP (which I did a long time ago). All the trainers reinforced what I feel: let the children learn. What do children learn by sticking pre-cut shapes in a defined pattern? Something, I think, the first time. But not a lot subsequently, even if the shapes and patterns change.

 

I am trying to do assignments for my level 4. I do them on non-working days. I have to ask for "space" to do something. If they had any sense they would be using my planning and obs. (They don't want any of my obs, because they don't do routine ones - they only observe SENs and those with suspected problems).

 

Sorry, moaning.

 

Diane.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Carry on moaning diane, you can't keep it bottled up. :o

 

The whole situation sounds dodgy to say the least! If a parent or visitor said something to Ofsted, your group could be in bother - can you record your concerns anywhere, perhaps a letter or memo to your Administrator?

Meanwhile, keep on with what you know is right.

 

I really feel for you xD

 

Sue :D

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I agree with Sue R. - you need to write your concerns down and possibly get someone else to sign them witnessing what you have written is correct.

Re your conversation with Ofsted, can you get what they said confirmed in writing and then show it to your registered person?

Are you members of the PLA? Or can you talk to someone at your EYCDP?

If no one can help at present in your group perhaps there will be a new parent or committee person joining soon who would be on your side?

Good luck!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

 Share

×
×
  • Create New...

Important Information

We have placed cookies on your device to help make this website better. You can adjust your cookie settings, otherwise we'll assume you're okay to continue. (Privacy Policy)