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first au pair - couple of questions

(12 Posts)
hattieboomboom Mon 03-Oct-11 07:14:35

Hi,

I'm close to securing our first au par (through au pair world, to start in Feb next year) and just wondering if anybody on here can advise me on a couple of points.

Firstly once we have both agreed she will come, is there any way I can help ensure she won't then let me down - if she finds a better option or whatever?

My second query relates to English classes - she's keen to improve her English (which is already pretty good actually) and I was wondering what other families do - do they pay for classes as part of the package they offer, are there free courses or does the au pair pay? I live in South London and part of the reason I wouldn't mind her joining a course would be the opportunity to make friends as we're keen for her to be independent and have a social life here. But I would expect most English courses around here to be aimed at people coming to the UK seeking asylum or residency, perhaps older people - whereas I would want her to be able to mix with other young people (she's 19). Any suggestions?

My third query follows on from this - I read about a Mumsnet au pair group or something, where mums can help hook their au pairs with others who are local. Can anyone tell me where I can find this? And if there are any other South London (Balham, Streatham, Tooting, Wandsworth, Clapham) families with au pairs, please let me know.

thanks very much in advance

Strix Mon 03-Oct-11 08:01:02

My au pairs sign up and pay for their own English courses. I treat them as employees with all the usual employee rights and responsibilities. They also buy their own plane tickets.

StillSquiffy Mon 03-Oct-11 08:33:11

What Strix said. Make sure they take responsibility for their own finances and social lives.

English courses they pay for but I sometimes lend them the money at the start of term and take it out of their wages. The best place to start looking is your own LEA - adult education section. Much cheaper than private courses (which are normally out of the range of most APs). You get a real mix of people on the LEA course and I would be amazed if many asylum seekers were among them (the courses have to be paid for) I imagine such courses are run separately. My APs have all made friends from these - we've sent 5 APs to these courses over the years. I reckon 2/3 of students on these courses are under 27 (loads of AP's) and other 1/3 range from 28-45.

If her English is good already then take a look at other LEA courses - one of my APs made loads of mates by signing onto an art course for the year.

Feb is not a great time to start any course, by the way - second week of Jan far better. Check out dates on LEA website and then discuss with AP whether she should come earlier.

Absolutely no way to ensure she won't take up a better offer elsewhere - it happens all the time. Best safeguards are to keep in touch and make sure you are paying the going rate for the role (if there are loads of kids you will have to up the rate to make it still look good relative to other families).

There are facebook groups for APs in London but I don't know what they are called.

hattieboomboom Mon 03-Oct-11 11:19:40

Thank you StillSquiffy, that's really helpful. Pretty sure she won't be able to start any earlier unfortunately so I might have to put in some time looking for courses she'd be able to start in Feb/March. Good to know that though.

As far as the rate I'm paying her, I'm offering £75 per week pocket money, plus £20 a month on a travel card and £20 a month on her phone. She's got a huge room at the top of a big house, with double bed, sofa and TV. I'm asking her to do 25-30 hours a week looking after an 18 month old and bit of housework. Does this sound like a good package to you? Her sister is in Paris studying, so I thought I could also throw in a Eurostar ticket to visit her and tell her her sister can come and stay for the odd weekend.

StillSquiffy Mon 03-Oct-11 13:21:37

Yep, sounds good to me, covers all the bases.

lizzie83 Mon 03-Oct-11 13:49:24

As a nanny I just wanted to say it sounds like you are going to be a very good person to work for.

ItLookHardToStartNewLife Mon 03-Oct-11 13:54:06

Sounds good to me, but personally I wouldn't use an au pair for 18 months old child as au pairs are not having any qualifications or training to look after such a little children and I think they r not recommended to look after children under age of 2 year (or is it under age of 3...?)

Emmaroos Mon 03-Oct-11 16:02:56

It sounds like a good package. We pay our Au Pair plus £90 for a 30 hour week, but her phone and travelcard are her own expenses. She paid for her own flight, but we will reimburse her for it if she stays 6 months which is what we agreed would be the minimum period. I checked out the local councils for English lessons, and she is going to Wandsworth College two afternoons a week absolutely free (although I assume she will pay exam fees). Other courses we have looked into are a 2 day first aid for children which we are going to send her on after Christmas. We will have to pay for that, but it isn't a huge amount. From experience (we learned the hard way) I would suggest starting by being very regimented rather than trying to ease her in gently. Agree a timetable with her for housework (be specific about the tasks and how you want them done) and exactly what you expect her to do with the children. It came as a huge surprise to our Au Pair that she should talk to and interact with our 2 year old while she was looking after him, and not just 'supervise him'! She's great with him now, but it is easy to forget that 18 is very young, and lots of babysitting is very different to looking after a child routinely during the day. She has made friends with other Au Pairs in the neighbourhood and they all take their children to the park together which I find quite reassuring - while I trust her, there are days when being in a house alone with a small child is tough going for a parent, never mind for an 18 year old with someone else's child.

hattieboomboom Tue 04-Oct-11 08:22:28

Thanks all for your replies. I know i'm taking a risk letting an au pair look after an 18 month old, but I think I've found one that would be capable - she seems more mature than average for her age, has already been an au pair with sole charge of a 4 year old, and she won't often have sole charge of mine - I'll be there most of the time. It's only for 4 months, two month before and two months after the arrival of our new baby - I've got awful back problems, the main reason I wanted to get an au pair was because I was worried about being able to lift my son - in and out of the high chair, cot, buggy, car seat, carry up stairs etc. I think it'll be fine. I think I will send her on a first aid course, thanks Emma. Where are you by the way? Would you be interested in swapping details so that I can put our au pairs in touch, if you still have one in Feb?
thanks again

Hooliaaa Fri 07-Oct-11 22:32:48

I live in Streatham and will be getting an au-pair starting in March (hopefully!). We're using Abacus agency in Brighton but perhaps I should get on au-pair world as well. I'd be happy to exchange details - they might get on, you never know - good to have someone to meet up with at playgroups etc.

monday1983 Sat 08-Oct-11 11:21:46

South Thames College in Tooting Broadway-above sainsburys-is quaite good for English classes, they offer evening and day classes on full and part time basis.

cjn27b Tue 11-Oct-11 16:20:31

Get her strait on to the Facebook group Au-Pair in London 2011 or there's one called Au-pair in London 2011/2012. All our au-pairs have found their friends this way. If they establish a good independent social life they'll be happy. Also be very very clear about what you do and don't want them to do in simple English. Make sure they understand. A lot of ours have been embarressed to admit they don't always understand, leaving me baffled as to why they are or aren't doing something we've talked about more than once.

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