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To still feel disturbed about this nursery.

(280 Posts)
MrsDrRanj Tue 05-Nov-13 22:43:16

This has been bugging me on and off for years, one of those things where I feel like I should 'do' something because it just doesn't settle in my mind well.

5 years ago, when I was 17, I got an apprenticeship at a nursery through a training course. I'd never had a job, hadn't finished school and was recovering from a breakdown so it was a big deal to me. I was naive and very nervous.

Things happened while I was there that now really bother me, especially as a parent who may have to find a nursery for ds one day.

There was an incident with 2 other apprentices having a shouting match infront of pre school children, including calling eachother 'slags' etc. they were not fired and parents were not informed.

The manager came into the room I worked in and loudly discussed the children's progress infront of them, including declaring that a little boys speech wasn't as it should be and she had suspicions he was colour blind (right infront of the little boy who was 3)

One man punished a preschool boy who suffered with constipation for having an accident by forcing him into a nappy that was too small for him. The boy was screaming and in the end there was poo everywhere including the little boys hair. Another member of staff came and shouted at him but nothing else was done. (I have recently read in the news that this man has now been convicted with voyeurism and possessing indecent images of children which made me go cold)

When I was invited on a work dinner out the leader of the preschool room spent a lot of the night doing impersonations of the children, including taking the piss out of a little girl for not understanding much when English was not her first language.

In general the nursery was badly managed, people were bitchy and mean, apprentices were left in charge when they shouldn't have been etc and thankfully I didn't stay there long. But it still bothers me. The nursery is still running and though there's a chance the staff may have moved on there could also be the same people working there.

The nursery had been rated 'outstanding' by ofsted and was part of a high end chain of nurseries. It has left me terrified of putting DS in nursery as id be devastated if any of the above situations involved my child. I feel awful for not doing anything at the time but I was so inexperienced.

Would you do something now? And if so what? I don't want it to bug me forever I just can't seem to shake it from my mind.

Maryann1975 Sun 10-Nov-13 14:23:53

I worked in an 'outstanding' private day nursery once, for about 12 months straight from school. My children have never and will never be left in a day nursery based on that. The parents thought it was a lovely place, which at pick up and drop off time it was, it was the bits in the middle that were the problem. I was young and naive at the time. My mum did report them to social services, who came round and deemed everything to be fine hmm on the day they visited. I have little faith in the ofsted grading system for this reason.
Op, it's not your fault you did nothing, but I don't think there is much you can do about it now. Do you still work in childcare? Learn from what happened and be the best child carer that you can be and make sure the children in your care have the best possible childhood that you can.

Goldmandra Sun 10-Nov-13 13:59:56

it saddens me to think there are some awfull settings/owners out there, that give the rest of us a bad name.

I don't think practitioners like you (and me) get a bad name as a result of other people's poor practice. It's pretty clear that the vast majority of posters on here fully appreciate the quality of care children get in many settings and that the poor practitioners are in the minority.

The concern is that those poor practitioners do exists and the culture in some settings supports them.

I just wish there was a reliable way to ensure that those people are swiftly weeded out and some way for parents to know for sure what is happening to their children.

anewyear Sun 10-Nov-13 12:56:27

This thread has made me feel sad.

I have had tons of childcare experiance in one way or another (Nanny, Assistant to Matron, Youth Worker, Learning support Assistant, Childminder, Pre School Practitioner) over the years.

Many many moons ago, I had 2 great years at college hoping to qualify as an NNEB, but due to circumstances at home at the time, I failed my course and due to those circumstances wasnt able to go back for the 3 months requested and resit.

In April of this year I passed my level 3.
A big acheivement for me, because I found it hard going.
To now be told that apparently a level 3 is not worth the paper it written on. Thanks.

I have worked as a Childminder for the last 5 1/2 years, jumping through hoops for Ofsted, going on courses to continue my Professional Development, this all after the kids have gone home 6.15ish, and my own family fed and watered for less than minimum wage, not that Im complaining as such, I knew it was low paid when I started. The last 3 however have been after school children only, as I also work in privatly owned Pre School during the day.
We are all mums over 30, with children ranging from 3 - 15.
1 NNEB the manager, 3 level 3s and a 5th who has just joined us and is looking at colleges to start her journey in gaining a childcare qualification.
We also have the child of a senior member of staff with us, unfortunately its not wonderfull in this case!!!

I think I can safely say for my collegues and I, that we love our job and it saddens me to think there are some awfull settings/owners out there, that give the rest of us a bad name..

Moldingsunbeam do you mind if Im nosey and how it is that you did both the NNEB and the Level 3?

Goldmandra Sun 10-Nov-13 12:30:36

I think the best case scenario is going to be different depending on the family and child, because children are unique, family situations are unique and there is no one size fits all.

Of course.

janey68 Sun 10-Nov-13 12:00:31

I think the best case scenario is going to be different depending on the family and child, because children are unique, family situations are unique and there is no one size fits all.

Personally returning to work earlier than a year worked out well for me, and I'm not convinced that I'd take a whole year off even if it had been available, I think 12 months is a very difficult age to start leaving a child from the separation perspective. But it's horses for courses. My teenage children have friends who were in nursery full time, part time, at cm, and with SAHP and there is no noticeable difference in outcomes which could be linked to their care. And that, ultimately, is what matters.

TiggyD Sun 10-Nov-13 11:55:16

[facepalm]orgot the most important things:

Yes. Are the children happy and busy?

And are the staff happy?

And is it too clean? (Assuming it's not a newly opened nursery).I've worked in nurseries where the staff were largely judged on how clean the rooms were. As a result messy activities were skipped, and staff spent much of their time cleaning.

NorthernShores Sun 10-Nov-13 11:55:07

Hmm. I'll be looking at a nursery for a 2 year old, with them doing the afterschool club, and school doing breakfast club. Its only 2-3 days a week.

Sigh. With girst child I was able to stay home and then a lovely community pre-school mornings only before school.

lots and lots and lots of people use nurseries and are fine. Like so much in my life at the moment I'm not able to give optimum care or optimum circumstances or optimum experiences or optimum housing. Sigh.

usuallyright Sun 10-Nov-13 11:54:54

childminders arn't perfect either.
I often see them at toddler groups and they all seem to look after way too many children for my liking. If I was childminding I'd want to look after 1 or 2 children max.

usuallyright Sun 10-Nov-13 11:52:46

obviously if staying at home isn't an option.

usuallyright Sun 10-Nov-13 11:52:01

best case scenario in my opinion is childminder from 1-3, nursery from 3-5, childminder doing before/after school when they start school.

Grennie Sun 10-Nov-13 11:45:07

Do the children look happy? Are there signs that the staff have a good relationship with the children? If staff are kind and caring and really engaged, children approach them a lot

TiggyD Sun 10-Nov-13 11:37:58

Things to looks for:
Nurseries have lots of little areas. A role play area, sand area, writing area, etc. When you go into the nursery, are all the areas available for the children or have some been closed off for some reason? They should really be out all the time. Most nurseries are getting things ready or tidying up in the first and last half hour of each day, which is technically wrong but I don't think is too bad as most nurseries don't pay for staff to come in earlier or leave later than the children. But if you went in between 9 and 5 and the children were 'free playing' and you found the sand shut and the role play area closed off with chairs or something for no totally sensible reason, if it's more than a rare one off, that's a bad sign.

Feel the baby chairs and tables for stuck on food. Everywhere that children's fingers can go they should feel smooth and clean with no stuck on substances.

Check the menus and compare with what the children actually eat. Last minute changes are sometimes necessary, but if puddings are getting switched to yoghurt (the lazy pudding choice) once or twice a week, that's a bad sign.

Most controversially, Numbers. I do not think it's possible to have a great room with more than 12 babies, 16 toddlers (2-3), and 40 pre-schoolers. I'm not saying that if they have fewer children than that they won't be bad, but more than that they will never be great. It become impersonal, and in the baby rooms, noisy.

To have All young staff is a bad sign. Experience counts for something you know! If the nursery the staff member is working in is the only one they know, they will only know one way of doing things. A member of staff who been about a bit and has worked in several places will have many different experiences to call on.

Qualifications. Do you want your children looked after by people who know what they're doing already, or by people who are learning? Anything less than about 2/3 level 3 qualified staff would be a worry to me.

Goldmandra Sun 10-Nov-13 11:36:51

Goldmandra- just to clarify, my comment about 2 years leave is because if 12 months were offered to each parent, you would invariably have situations where one parent wanted to take the whole leave- eg sometimes one parent earns a lot more than the other and they wouldn't want to split the leave.

Just as you would with the six months leave each that you advocated hmm

I'm talking about rights and choice her, not forcing parents to stay at home with their children.

I'm not falling into any traps about thinking I can decide what is best for other parents and I resent the implication that I am.

Currently parents are pushed to get back into work and childcare for under fives is advocated far and wide. Parents who wish to stay at home should be supported too, although, of course, some of them would treat their children just as badly as any nursery. Choice is paramount

Your gut feeling is that about one year off with a child is about right. My gut feeling is that children would, in general be better off with a parent at home for two years. What is better for businesses and how that might escalate are different issues and neither is more important than the safety and well-being of the children.

usuallyright Sun 10-Nov-13 11:01:11

my sister works for the DSS and they have the option of working flexibly, part time and term time, after having a baby. And they also have the option of taking a career break and returning to work once the kids are at school. These employers do exist. I can see how it doesn't work for smaller businesses though..

hackmum Sun 10-Nov-13 10:59:37

This thread reminds me of some of the stories you hear about old people being bullied and abused in care homes. The trouble is that when you have a vulnerable group of people (e.g. very old, very young or with a learning disability), it becomes easy to get away with neglect and bullying because the people you are caring for can't articulate what is happening to them. With young children, there is also an assumption that they are just finding it difficult to "settle", and parents are told things like, "He stops crying as soon as you leave."

usuallyright Sun 10-Nov-13 10:57:16

I didn't say that women returning to work sooner. I said they might be unwittingly contributing to the problem by carrying on as normal at work, as if nothing has happened. Society functions on a supply and demand basis, so if people are returning full time, using full time nurseries, they're sending out a message, whether they know it or intend to, or not...that they don't want flexible or part time or home working options. And yes, I know some employers are rigid and unhelpful and I know some sectors are inflexible due to the nature of the work. A software developer has more freedom to work flexibly than a heart surgeon!

NorthernShores Sun 10-Nov-13 10:56:45

Thanks Tiggy. I'm going to need to use a nursery and would really welcome any insight for factors for sussing out whether its ok or not. I can really believe a lot aren't but don't know how I would know that if it makes sense.

I only now know about how good pre-schools can be as my daughter went to an amazing one. If I'd only seen the one over the road I'd have just assumed that was how they were...

We're also limited by lack of choice, so its not like I can visit 3 and compare them. I just want to be sure the one I'm thinking of will be ok.

janey68 Sun 10-Nov-13 10:54:56

Goldmandra- just to clarify, my comment about 2 years leave is because if 12 months were offered to each parent, you would invariably have situations where one parent wanted to take the whole leave- eg sometimes one parent earns a lot more than the other and they wouldn't want to split the leave. You'd then have a situation where employers had to hold jobs open for 2 years... While employing someone to do that job without the security of knowing they had the job after that. Personally I think the knock on would be too great- employers would find that workers covering a maternity leave would move off elsewhere mid- term because they'd find a better offer elsewhere...

Ultimately it's all a balancing acts: meeting the needs of parents with employers. Get the balance wrong and it helps no one because businesses will go under

My gut feeling is a year off is about right . I also think its natural human tendency that whatever the status quo is, people tend to want something more; so if 2 years leave became the norm, you'd soon have parents asking for 3 years off, then perhaps leave for the whole pre school period... Also if you have more than one child, you'd find one maternity leave was running into another... You'd end up with women returning to work for a couple of weeks and then disappearing again! Imagine the difficulty of trying to run any sort of business or service with that scenario.

I think it's good that there is a forum to discuss these issues but as a mum and as someone responsible for recruitment to my team at work, I am really conscious that there are two sides to this and there has to be a balancing of needs

TiggyD Sun 10-Nov-13 10:49:38

Tiggy -what makes the difference do you think? And would a parent know?


No, seriously. Everything anybody does in a nursery should be done with the children in mind.
-From designing the building. Are the windows low enough for the children to see out of? Is there enough room in the cloak room for the children to sit down on benches to take their wellies off?
-The activities done with the children. Are they done with the children in mind? There is a temptation for staff to avoid messy activities, or just 'free play' instead because it's 'easier'. Proper free-play isn't easier by the way. You shouldn't just leave the children to get on with it. You should be constantly monitoring them and working out what stage of development they're at, stretching them, and coaxing them to play in ways that would help them learn.
-How the staff talk. Not just to the children, but around them.
-The equipment. Has it bought because it's good for the children or because it looks good? The wooden 'captain' baby chairs nurseries seem to like so much are bloody impossible to clean. Food dries on in minutes and bonds to the varnish. As a result, in most nurseries if you run your hand round them they feel all bumpy from dried on food. Gross, but they look good so who cares.hmm

A lot of the things parents wouldn't know. Poor or average staff are usually bright enough to know how to seem good when there's parents about. I believe there are some good indicators which I'll do a separate post for.

I'm aware that nurseries are businesses and have to make a profit, but if you can't make a profit AND be a good nursery it would be better all round if you just closed.

janey68 Sun 10-Nov-13 10:40:41

Two years leave... Well, it's certainly an idea but there would be lots of issues to factor into that, and the implications for employers (particularly small businesses) would be huge...

The key thing is: it would be awful to have a situation where women - and it is women, not men! - are blamed for exercising their choice to return earlier, or return full time.

If you don't want to use nurseries, or if you are really genuinely happy being at home for a year or more, then that's great, but please don't fall into the trap of thinking that this is the "right" or "best" way. It's horses for courses. It should be possible to express your own preference without criticising what others do - and the post upthread did say mums who return to work earlier than 12 months are somehow letting the side down and contributing a 'a problem' which I think is a terrible accusation

FWIW many of us mums with teenagers had much shorter maternity leaves anyway, and I'll be perfectly honest, I think it was probably easier in some aspects to return to work with a 3 or 4 month old than with a 12 month old, because separation anxiety hasn't kicked in at all. Now- let's be clear, I'm not suggesting we should return to 3 months paid leave, because I think greater choice is a good thing, and if a woman wants a year off then fine. But with the experience of having raised 2 (happy, well adjusted!) teenagers where I had a total of 6 months out of the workplace for the two maternity leaves (though I worked only p/t til youngest started school) I can honestly say that raising a happy family and maintaining a career isn't all about needing to have masses of time out of the workplace. It's as much about having good quality childcare which meets the child's needs, whether they are 3 months or 3 years

Goldmandra Sun 10-Nov-13 10:26:59

The obvious answer is to make it easier, both financially and from a socially acceptable perspective, for a parent to look after them at home a bit longer than the average 12 months maternity leave.

This, definitely.

It would be great to see mums taking off say, 6 months and then dad taking the next 6 months...

It would be better for them to be able to take 12 months each. After two years the child would be better at communicating and the need for a few secure attachment relationships is less.

You still have the problems of what goes on behind closed doors even if they don't start nursery until the age of two.

janey68 Sun 10-Nov-13 10:16:17

Completely disagree that women who choose to return to work earlier than 12 month maternity leave are doing something wrong. In fact I think that's a terrible accusation.

Many mums do choose to work p/t, or take the the full 12 months off, or indeed to give up work completely- which is fine... But equally there are women who find it works best for their family to return earlier. And that's ok.

Btw I also think the transferable parental leave is a fabulous idea, I would have welcomed it in my day, and It would be great to see mums taking off say, 6 months and then dad taking the next 6 months... That's a real life way of showing that dads are As important as mums, and valuing parenting.

usuallyright Sun 10-Nov-13 10:09:12

how do we protect them? The obvious answer is to make it easier, both financially and from a socially acceptable perspective, for a parent to look after them at home a bit longer than the average 12 months maternity leave.
The last 2 governments have made staying at home with the children a socially unacceptable, financially ruinous occupation. Whenever they carry out a study, the vast majority (almost all of) mothers don't want to work full time after having a baby. It is different for Mothers, whatever people say about sexism, because we carry them, birth them, feed them, take time out to establish that (the breast feeding) Its a nonsense to suggest that women should fight the patriarchy by going back to work sooner and for longer. Women who do that contribute to the problem without realising it. The solution is making it easier for parents to be with their children and work: flexible working,
Part time working, home working etc. And if you have to return to work faster, choose a childminder with a small number of children, or a nursery with CCTV.

Goldmandra Sun 10-Nov-13 09:56:18

a minority I know

The reasons why these practitioners didn't feel able to challenge the poor practice they saw was addressed early on.

Surely it's better to discuss the issue of not knowing what's going on behind closed doors than constantly laying into people for sharing their opinions and continually highlighting the judgemental comments about nurseries always being bad which are best ignored.

Northern makes the point well. Nobody deliberately chooses a bad nursery for their child. Some staff are very adept at keeping up appearances for parents. Some parents don't have the insight to see what's happening right under their noses. Some parents, like young, vulnerable practitioners, don't have the life experience or confidence to challenge experienced practitioners who bulldoze them into believing that their child is just playing them and crying for effect.

How do we, as a society, protect those children?

usuallyright Sun 10-Nov-13 09:47:09

that's the problem with reports and ofsted. Drop off/Pick up is such a brief moment. The only way to know beyond doubt that they're ok is a)when they become verbal and b)if you work in a nursery and bring your dc with you. Everything else is down to instinct and trust. It took me a while to trust our babysitter because I had an unpleasant experience with a babysitter when I was 4.(took me to the beach and threatened to drown me if I didn't behave and then kicked sand in my eyes) I think she did it because she assumed I wasn't very verbal (was painfully quiet, shy kid) but I did tell.
That's probably what shaped my logic in not leaving with anyone until they can speak/communicate properly.

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