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Well, have the French got it right?

Discussion in 'Early Years' started by thumbshrew, Jun 27, 2013.

  1. One thing that made my work as a nursery teacher more onerous than should have been necessary was the fact that TAs were employed for the school day only. They came and left with the children. During the day the expectation was that the TAs would support children all day. So time-consuming low level tasks such as sterilising and filling water bottles, sharpening pencils, washing paint pots etc just weren't done while the children were there, but by me after and before school. We managed to devise a timetable which included tidying resources away during school time (everything had to be brought in from outside each afternoon), but I had to set up outside in the morning because otherwise there were outside resources in the way when children came in first thing in the morning.

    I deeply resented the way really necessary tasks, vital to providing a good quality learning environment, were discounted and ignored by managers in their organisation of personnel.

    I certainly think it would be of benefit to rethink the duties of TAs more along the lines of the French model.
  2. Anonymous

    Anonymous New commenter

    Why are you sterilising and refilling water bottles? Can't the children sharpen pencils and wash paint pots themselves?
  3. They can and do help wash paint pots, but that generally creates more work not less for the adults. [​IMG]

    They can't sterilise bottles for obvious reasons (it's the sports caps we sterilise).

    They are useless at pencil sharpening.

    This is nursery.
  4. Anonymous

    Anonymous New commenter

    I am aware of that. When I taught in nursery I had the children washing the paint pots and sharpening pencils effectively. We started off doing it as a group but they very quickly became competent. I still don't understand why you are dabbling in sterilisation of 'sports caps'
  5. Msz

    Msz Established commenter

    Our Nursery Nurses are highly qualified professionals with a great deal of experience and expertise. They are also salaried and work the same hours as the teaching staff.
  6. Leapyearbaby64

    Leapyearbaby64 New commenter

    Elizabeth Truss has no idea what she is talking about.
  7. Anonymous

    Anonymous New commenter

    No. She should be strung up on her own truss.
  8. OK. I take your word for it. I haven't found this to be the case with children I have worked with. Perhaps I should have used the example of cutting out resources and laminating to prevent us being sidetracked with discussing our comparative strengths in teaching our pupils to wash paint pots!

    I wonder what point you are making? My point is that, in the setting I was working in, the idea that TAs should spend all their time with the children, and that doing more menial tasks was a waste of their time, was not practical. But this issue was virtually ignored by management. Perhaps we need a two tier system with a lower level TA employed to do more housekeeping type duties. This was the case in one nursery school I worked in, and it worked very well.

    The other issue, which may apply more in KS2, is that TAs are not required to have qualifications which would ensure their subject knowledge when supporting children. This leads to the situation in which they may inadvertently mislead children.

    Sports caps were sterilised to reduce infection risk. It was decided to be the best option among all the options for safely making water available.
  9. Anonymous

    Anonymous New commenter

    Is it necessary to be quite so vinegary?
  10. Leapyearbaby64

    Leapyearbaby64 New commenter

    My children love using the laminating machine!
  11. Msz

    Msz Established commenter

    Ours too although my cutting out and laminating is usually done at home ...

    Our children provide their own bottle which they take home to be washed and we have water dispensers in all areas.
  12. I get impatient in my maturity with divisive point scoring. I like to think it's vintage rather than vinegar.

    I have to say I really don't think it's safe to allow nursery children freedom with a laminater. Supervised is fine, but then that takes an adult away from other stuff to work with a couple of children at most.

    So what sort of stuff should TAs be doing?
  13. TA advertisements in my local authority specify 32 and a half hours as the working week for TAs, term time only. They are expected to have a level 2 or level 3 qualification.

    It's great that you have professionals with experience and expertise, but many TAs have pretty basic levels of education. If they were 'highly qualified' I reckon it would be unlikely that they would work for the levels of pay on offer.

    I think your situation is unusual.

    What do you think TAs should be doing in schools which follow the more usual pattern?

    It's lovely that your children provide and manage their own water bottles. This option did not work in the school I worked in.
  14. Msz

    Msz Established commenter

    Working with children, but then our nursery nurses are well qualified and very experienced. My head employs someone to come in at lunchtime to clean the paint easel etc and set up for the afternoon ...
  15. But what do you think TAs should be doing in schools where the TAs are of the usual qualifications, not salaried and not paid to work before and after school, and where there is no helper (or pupils) cleaning the easel? Should they clean the easel, therefore being taken away from their work supporting children, or should the teacher do it after school or in the lunch hour?
  16. Msz

    Msz Established commenter

    I've encountered "TAs" who would find washing paint pots a challenge, never mind working with children but that is down to how much SLT value Early Years
  17. Not necessarily. It can be down to lack of more able than necessary applicants for the TA posts (more able than level 3 with a couple of GCSEs), and can apply throughout the school. It is more painful in early years when so much preparation and work has to be done when the children are not there, but can still be a factor further up the school where classrooms have to be tidied, resources prepared, displays put up.

    What do you think TAs in these sort of schools should be doing? Ie Where the TAs are not of the high standard you describe, simply of the required standard, and where they work strictly to contracted hours?
  18. Msz

    Msz Established commenter

    If they aren't capable of supporting children effectively then they aren't the required standard and if they are capable they should be working with children not messing about sterilising bottle caps.
  19. Anonymous

    Anonymous New commenter

    Game, set and match to Miss Msz.
  20. The required standard is level 2 or 3. Somebody clearly thinks this standard is adequate to make somebody capable of working with children. I think that could be subject for debate. I'm assuming that your 'highly qualified' TAs have more advanced qualifications than NVQ 2/3. Have they?

    Anyway, whether they are capable for not, the point I was making was that there are menial tasks that need doing in a nursery, whether it's sterilising bottle tops, cleaning easels, laminating or whatever. If TAs are not paid to work beyond the hours the children are present, and policy is that they work with children so that they are used to best effect for hours they are present, it is the teacher, whose working hours are not prescribed in the same way, who will do these tasks.

    I would argue that these housekeeping tasks are vital to effectiveness of a nursery class, in the same way that peeling spuds is essential to making Heston's chips. Sterilising bottle tops is not actually messing around, it is simply an essential task which does not require much skill.

    So, is the way TAs are used right or bonkers? Anyone who understands the question willing to answer?

    I take it from your response Msz, that you think that it is wholly right and appropriate. If I have misunderstood your viewpoint perhaps you could answer the question in a more direct and transparent way than you have done thus far. [​IMG]

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