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Too many children in school nursery

Discussion in 'Workplace dilemmas' started by Riverdream, Jan 30, 2019.

  1. Riverdream

    Riverdream New commenter

    I am a school nursery teacher (I am actually in a jobshare, so there are 2 of us part time, but we're both in the same boat, so for ease, I will say I). The school decided to allow 2yr olds (turning 3 the same term) to join last September. We now have a mix of up to 47 2-4yr olds in one session, with 70 on role in total. I am finding the job hard to cope with, as we are run to maximum ratio (1:13 3yr olds and 1:4 for the 2 yr olds) and we just can't cope. A member of staff is permanently toileting children, whilst the rest of us are trying to keep on top of all the other needs that come with young children. I am expected to monitor, track, assess and write reports for every child (70) and I just don't think it's a fair workload when other teachers in the school have 30 children to manage. I also have a HUGE space to manage, tidy, set up, change displays and keep updated. There is no time in the day for TAs to help with this as we are so busy. I don't think I can cope much longer.
    SLT are aware of every concern that I have raised but say they have no money to help. I think that they are using the children in nursery to generate income for the rest of the school, not just for the nursery staff. 2 years ago, we had half the numbers on our books, They have offered 2 extra hours PPA per week to make up for this, but I also have do do all the Inclusion work in this time too.
    Can anyone please help or advise me on anything I can do to make this situation easier, or let me know if anything about this situation is not statutory? Obviously I'd love to resign, but it's hard to find part time work as an experienced teacher, as I cost more and I know money is tight for all schools.
    Thanks to you, if you have read this far.
     
  2. oscillator

    oscillator Occasional commenter

    Some of your concerns seem really valid and others are horses for courses. As you have the minimum ratios, and have asked for additional staffing, I;m not sure what you can do from that point of view... Sure other teachers have 30 kids, but presumably fewer TA's/ classroom support and different assessment/ marking/planning requirements. And what about your secondary colleagues who have hundreds of reports to write and assessments to mark and qualifications to plan for (though presumably the requirements are different for them than for you so the comparison breaks down considerably)? The thing is, we can't directly compare your role to anyone else in the school. You would only really be able to compare to other nursery teachers - so have a look at other nearby schools and what their arrangements are.

    You CAN approach this from a work-related stress POV. Check out the pinned thread at the top of this board.
     
  3. Riverdream

    Riverdream New commenter

    I see your point about being unable to compare, but I have previously taught yrs 1-5 and this is the most difficult, load heavy job that I have ever had! One of the main problems as that I don't actually feel it's safe in my nursery due to the volume of children, We also have no 1:1 for those who need it, as they haven't yet been fully assessed. Further up the school, they would have this. It's the stretching of the few staff we do have that is so hard!
     
    jlishman2158 and agathamorse like this.
  4. May2

    May2 Established commenter

    You say you have a large space but 47 children of that age is an awful lot however many staff really. I wondered how experienced and qualified your other staff are. I thought it was recommended to have 2 teachers for over 30 children but I don't think that is statutory. Do you work in Key worker groups? Would it be better to split up into Key groups in different areas for some of your sessions so it doesn't feel so chaotic and you are all chasing your tails from one toileting incident to paint spill to a sand in eyes etc.

    I appreciate you have to do reports but presumably the 70 is split between your job share in some way maybe writing different sections so that only means really 35 which is not many more than a normal primary teacher. I'm not belittling the extra 5 I do know they all take hours! As far as assessments go most nurseries work with the key workers doing most of the assessments and updating learning journeys. I know being teacher you have to oversee as progress does come down to the teachers responsibility but you have to delegate, you can't do it all.

    Can some of your staff be given the last 20 minutes on rotation to update learning journeys etc while it's story time.
    Are there any other local nurseries working under similar conditions that you could go and see and get any tips of how they manage things. Other than that do you have a local advisor you could talk to for suggestions. We used to have a good network and met once a term with all the other EYFS staff and usually an advisor would be there too.
    Having said all that, trying to help you make the best of the situation you have, I do feel for you and know I probably wouldn't want to work in your situation. We used to have 26 children and I always felt the dynamics changed when we were over 20 children with two staff.
     
  5. Weald56

    Weald56 Established commenter

    Are you & your colleagues in a Union? If not, I'd think about joining one before something happens, and you get the blame!
     
    jlishman2158 likes this.
  6. grumpydogwoman

    grumpydogwoman Star commenter

    Are you paid for your management responsibility? Are you in charge of deploying other staff?

    I'm sure your analysis is correct. It's the name of the game from HE to FE to EY. Bums on seats. I'd be looking at minimising the report writing and paperwork. But, assuming your staffing levels meet the statutory minima, I don't see what you can do.

    Personally I'd be checking my actual hours against my directed time budget and working to rule.
     
    jlishman2158 and agathamorse like this.
  7. May2

    May2 Established commenter

    Just another thought. I don't know what your catchment area is like but do you get any parents/ carers/ grandparents to help with anything. We used to have to set up the outside every morning and had a big store shed with loads of equipment . We had a plan of what we wanted out everyday, the basic things, drew a plan of where exactly we wanted each item put and then had different parents usually about 3 or 4 each day on a rota would stay behind after dropping their child off to set up for us . We then just had to add a few extras following interests etc. It usually only took about 20 minutes while the children were settling in.
    We also had a parent one morning a week who would cut up paper, cards etc, cut up bits to top up our collage bins, mount work etc. She was so good she ended up with a TA job in the school and we lost our volunteer! It's just finding lots of little things to make your life a little bit easier.
     
  8. May2

    May2 Established commenter

    If the two year olds all started in September and so now are all 3 I am sure if you think back to how they were you will realise how much they have come on and settled into routines now.
     
    jlishman2158 and agathamorse like this.
  9. grumbleweed

    grumbleweed Lead commenter

    Nursery teaching is hard. It's not untypical to have a lot of children( my worst was 78), although over 30 you "should" have another teacher.
    But what are your numbers for 2 year olds and how many staff do you have? You do not need QTS for two year olds, and many school nurseries have them in a separate space or space that can be split off. Is this something you could do with the space you have?
    Deployment of staff is key to making it workable, but you do also need your TAs to take more responsibility, as may2 suggested. Do you have a proper key person system in place?
    You could go back to your head to ask for additional management time, because it is very different from managing a typical class .
     
  10. May2

    May2 Established commenter

    One of the main problems as that I don't actually feel it's safe in my nursery due to the volume of children, We also have no 1:1 for those who need it, as they haven't yet been fully assessed. Further up the school, they would have this. It's the stretching of the few staff we do have that is so hard![/QUOTE]

    If you have children with additional needs have you nagged your SENCO for support. Have they spent time observing these children that you have flagged up. May be this is the area you should be using to push for extra staffing. Can the SENCO support you on this with the Head otherwise no-one is getting the quality nursery education that they deserve. You and your jobshare need to get your line managers and SENCo on board with how difficult you are finding it and ask for more support before they turn round and say the children haven't made enough progress.
     
    jlishman2158 likes this.

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