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Pre-school Assistants' Job Descriptions


diane
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As an unqualified pre-school assistant, I had a job description given to me in 1999.

 

Over the last year, since I started my training, all the little bits I was responsible for (e.g. maintaining birthday chart graph, minuting staff meetings, etc.) have been taken away from me. Not officially, but just the leader telling me: "so-and-so is going to do that now".

 

Today, I lost my last little bit of individuality.

 

 

Now, I think I want my job description rewritten. I am good at putting things away. I am good at changing dirty nappies (3 in one day - and we are a pre-school). Any one can do these things.

 

All the other staff get some good bits - they get painting, book corner, etc. But they are probably deemed to be better at at. And they are not rocking the boat by undergoing training (out of 8 staff, 2 are NVQ3, the rest of us are unqualified).

 

Occasionally, I get delegated to work with an SEN (upper end autistic) child. I have experience with autism (I worked in a 1-to-1 in my gap year, back in 1973, and I now work elsewhere in an intervention programme with a severely ASD child). My management is not interested in the child's eye contact, degree of interaction. They just want a record of what he has played with.

 

I feel totally wasted.

 

I have skills and abilities. These are developing even further as I go down the training path.

 

I need some answers:

 

Would someone take me on as an assistant whilst I am training to level 4?

 

Who would want me? What type of setting would want me?

 

How can I "sell myself" to a setting?

 

Diane.

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Oh Diane

 

Your enthusiasm for what you clearly love is tangible.

 

If I had a nursery of my own you are JUST the sort of person I would snap up as an employee.

 

Hold you head up high, carry on, and try not to let them get to you ( easy to say I know!)

 

Just think of all those little smiling faces and remember the very vaulable part you are playing in their all important early years.

 

I have no doubt that lots of employers would be happy to take on someone who is currently training - that speaks volumes for enthusiasm.

 

Take care :D

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Guest rhodessj

Diane

 

I am in a similar situtation, my responsibilities are being taken away too; but I don't even have it in writing! In fact, I've not even had a written contract because nobody wants to take responsibility for doing it (I drafted it as Administrator and that is as far as it got!). Now our Leader has resigned and they realise they need me to do all her paperwork because nobody else in the group is qualified...

 

I feel like leaving, but (a) love the job; (:o am not a quitter; © am in mid-training for Level 3 and (d) need the lousy money and a job that fits in with School for my 5year old.

 

I have managed to enlist the help of our PLA development workers - have you tried that?

 

You could also try writing a formal letter to your Chairman asking to discuss the content of your job description and lay out your grievance. If you first speak to either the Cititizens Advice or PLA; you will probably find you have some rights under Employment Law on issues such as this. I have no doubt that others on this site will have some words of guidance for you too.

 

Hang in there - even if you end up leaving, you should not do it before you have brought about change so that this doesn't continue to happen to others.

 

Sandra :D

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I'd only add one thing to what the others have said Diane - if you do get an interview for a job, stress the fact that you're doing self-initiated training to complement your practical experience. Potential employers will love the idea that you are committed enough to be doing all this in your spare time, and the fact that you are currently 'unqualified' is not anywhere near as important as the amount of new formal stuff you're learning at the moment and want to try out! :)

 

Keep at it. Things will get better.

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Thank you all.

 

I am not going to give up. I am going to carry on looking for another post though.

 

Settings such as ours need help in identifying inadequacies (mostly because the leader and her deputy do not acknowledge that there are any inadequacies). The setting has an EY teacher mentor, giving advice on practice, procedures, etc. The leader and deputy implement some of this, but mostly only when they know the mentor is due to visit, or in a half-hearted way. For example, on her advice the group obtained some screens to separate activities and control the flow of children (it is a large hall with up to 26 children). The screens are used when the mentor visits (otherwise, just two are used, adjacent to the book corner). Also, she advised a "mark making table" on a regular basis. It is not particularly appealing to some children when all on offer is scrap paper, half a dozen coloured pencils, some stubs of chalk and a few felt pens that have reached the end of their useful life! And it's not as if we haven't got anything better to offer.........

 

Actually, I am looking forward to OFSTED, and I hope it happens soon. From my standpoint, an OFSTED inspection is bound to have positive consequences. It's not that I'm planning to say "I told you so" or anything like that, but without some intervention, the bad parts of the setting are just going to continue, with no prospect of improvement. I'm fairly sure that all of the other staff just accept the way things are done, and have no reason to question. This situation is a great disadvantage to the children and their families, who deserve better.

 

So, I am thinking - hurry along OFSTED. The thought is keeping me sane.

 

Diane.

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Diane

 

I can only echo the thoughts and comments of others in this forum.

 

You sound a truly wonderful person who is obviously more than capable at her job...Don't let them grind you down.

 

You believe in what you're doing and, Steve's right, something will come along where you will be truly welcomed and appreciated for your special skills and talents.

 

Good luck

 

Kate :D:o

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Dianne,

Do all the helpers help to set up and put away. What happens if a child asks for an activity that is not out. Are they allowed to have it. Often a child will ask me or my staff for for a different table top activity. Sometimes staff just get it out. Sometimes they ask me if its O.K,Sometimes we have twice as much out at the end of the session but what does it matter as long as staff are prepared to stay an extra few minutes to help put away.If it is a large piece of equipment I would put it on the plan for the next time that child attends.

Do you have anything at home that you could take in and use for the writing table? The children would show their appreciation by their level of involvement in the activity. Could you not point this out to your supervisor.

Sounds to me as though the people running your pre-school may have lost their enthuisiasm. Roll on your Ofsted. Does your group have evidence i.e. photos to show them.

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Bubble,

 

Thank you too for your interest.

 

"Planning" (primarily what equipment is due for use the following week) is done on a Thursday after session. I am not in for the whole of Thursday morning (I do it unpaid, then go off to another job - my little ASD girl).

 

These plans are "rigid". Right - it is Monday, the plan says: "puzzle box number 3", "duplo", "playdough", "sandpit", "play food". So that's what they get. They know better than to ask for anything other than what is offered. Some of these things are SO boring (it's always rolling pins and cutters with the playdough, buckets and spades with the sandpit - no real variety, and no specific learning objectives). Luckily I'm fairly inventive. When no-one is looking, we hide the playfood in the sand, dig and sieve for it, and then sort it, count it, order it, etc. We don't use the playdough cutters in conventional ways either - we build enormous group playdough sculptures, using the cutters as props. This is frowned upon.

 

I'm at the point where I am collecting my own pre-school resources. I don't know why, really, except that I know what I want to do with the children. For example, I have ten lovely puppies in a basket. When I can find a way to do it, they will have collars and name/number tags that match to a series of pictorial/number cards I have made. I have kept all my own children's nice books. I like things such as Kipper, Titch, the Ahlbergs, nice writing and pictures, all the favourites that some of the children (not all) come across at home. The setting favours 1950's books (Mrs. Bunny does twee things that are incomprehensible to many of the children), coupled with Postman Pat (if it has been on TV it must be good). At story time, the deputy often does not read the book (even if it is one the children know) - she comments on the pictures, and this is not working well with 26 children on the mat. The able children are frustrated and the less able are completely inattentive.

 

When it comes to things like useless felt pens - if there is any chance that they can make even the faintest mark on a piece of paper, then the leader says they must be kept. On this front, some of the other staff and I are unified and we sneak things into the bin when she isn't looking. Luckily, they also see that if an item cannot do its job it has to go (why do we keep glue sticks that have run out? why do we keep broken toys?).

 

How many other settings work like this? Not too many, I'm fairly sure.

 

I desparately want to do things properly in a pre-school setting. I want to know that plans are in place for all of the children, and that they can have fun and learn at the same time.

 

OK, I am still training, but much of what we should be doing with the children is common sense (e.g. what I did with my own children). It is not that hard, and it all ties in with the FS curriculum (and birth-3, but my setting is pretending that this does not exist).

 

All of this is why I hoping that OFSTED can give the setting some pointers and make some changes happen.

 

Diane (the rambler).

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Guest rhodessj

Diane

 

Keep plugging away is all I can say...

 

I have been introducing new activities and resources - some are welcomed, others poo-pooed. I scanned, enlarged & laminated some characters from my son's comic on Postman Pat and used them to make a telephone calling list. I printed 4digit phone numbers next to the names and at circle time, called each child up (unless they weren't keen) and asked them to call somebody from the list and have a conversation. The objective was to find out whether the children were aware of themselves within communities (eg home or setting), so I asked them what their name was and where they were calling from had a little chat and said thankyou, goodbye and moved on... Despite the fact that I was inches away using my hands as a phone (they had the "real" one); they all got heavily involved and loved it. The staff in my setting think the phone should be put in home corner and forgotten about!

 

For mark-making I drew various lines (waves, curves, dots & dashes) on sheets of white paper with a permanent marker pen and laminated them; then we let the children "trace" over them to create the marks, aiding pencil control - once again they loved the change from tracing their name cards.

 

For scissor skills (a particular dread of mine - the staff in my setting think this can only be done by snipping away at old birthday & christmas cards ) I printed some triange shapes and got the children to cut them out. The more adapt children, could glue two together to form a star shape.

 

Even if an activity does not go particularly well, you can usually think of a way of adapting it to work and the more ideas I come up with, the less often they cast their eyes skyward... I even had one of them "copy" an idea of mine a week or so ago!

 

If money is an issue, have you tried getting a funding bid drawn up? I've recently submitted one to The Local Network Fund and bid for loads of equal opps/multi cultural resources which we'd love but couldn't afford - you could go mad with a mark-making bid...

 

Sandra :D

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OK rhodessj,

 

We are in league: we will set up our own pre-school.

 

If only ...... wouldn't it be great.

 

In the meantime, I like your triangle idea (oh, I am so fed up with "here you are, cut up these cards" - I deviate by getting the children to fold paper into envelopes to keep all their cut-up-bits in). Next time, I will model the triangle cutting (and I do sneak some glue sticks onto the cutting table when no-one else is looking), so as well as making intricate mosaics, we will also do some star collage. Thank you.

 

Incidentally, we have no problem with funding. The setting is "loaded" at present - lots of huge doantions, grants, fund-raising income. The leader is just naturally frugal (why spend money if we don't need to, the cheaper the better, etc.).

 

It is just a case of badly maqnaged and badly run. Oh, gosh, did I actually say that?

 

 

Diane.

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Dianne I am trying to think of ways to ease your dilemna. Could you offer to give your supervisor a rest and offer to do the planning for a week . I would just love if one of my staff offered to do this for my group. Could you offer to do an inventory of all the equipment and suggest using it on a rotational basis.Failing this stamp your feet and say you are all BORED !!!!

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Yes, by pre-school standards, quite comfortable actually.

 

Last year we had a couple of excellent committee members who were dedicated to preserving the pre-school for the ongoing benefit of the local community.

 

They explored all sorts of options for funding, and were successful in obtaining grants, donations and sponsorship (including some very substantial sums of money) from previously untapped sources. This was in addition to our usual committee-run fundraising events. They also managed to persuade the leader that an increase in fees was needed, so even though the group is still the cheapest in the area, and the fees are considerably lower than childminding rates, it has become closer to being self-sustainable. Cash reserves are now less used for meeting routine overheads (even in the autumn term when our roll is usually very low).

 

Theoretically, the funds could be used partly for a rolling-plan of improvements to resources, yet still leave sufficient for "insurance" against potential disasters.

 

I am not suggesting that the group should be reckless with the money it has, but I'm sure that a new pack of felt pens every couple of weeks would be justifiable outlay! An embarrassing situation occurred a couple of weeks back: the mother on duty collected up all 8 of the the felt pens, commenting that they were useless, all dried up, or with no tips left to speak of. As she was heading for the bin, the leader intercepted her, and told her that they couldn't be thrown away because "some of them might still work". I apologised to the mother, because I had been in agreement with her decision. She pointed out that felt tips are only 49p a pack in Tesco. What more can one say?

 

Diane.

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