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Really worried about Nursery staffing after settling in sessions

(20 Posts)
Elizabeth19 Wed 18-Jul-07 20:45:52

We have just enrolled our nearly 8 month old daughter in a local nursery for 3 days a week starting in mid-August. When looking round, we were assured that the staff to baby ratio is one to three. However, I have been for two settling in sessions this week. Both times there was one (admittedly very competent) carer in sole charge of five babies under 18 months. When I questioned this, I was told on the first occasion it was because other staff were doing after school pick ups. Today it was apparently because other staff were on their lunch break. The lady in charge was on her own for the entire hour and ten minutes we were there. As a result, when she gave one baby their lunch, all the others were just left to their own devices and, at one point, she was trying to console 3 crying babies at once!

I feel really anxious about this and was wondering what other mumsnetters think? Is this situation unusual or even illegal?

We are a bit stuck because our first choice nursery has a waiting list over a year long and we won't get a place there till December.

HedTwigg Wed 18-Jul-07 20:47:22

pretty sure that's illegal

elliott Wed 18-Jul-07 20:50:32

I thought the ratio was 1 to 2 for young babies - you could check ofsted. There will be times when they have to be out of the room unavoidably, naturally, but you would hope that most of the time there would be more hands on deck...
I'd keep your eyes open and if you don't feel comfortable with the care, don't go there.

edam Wed 18-Jul-07 20:51:08

Sounds v. bad to me, I wouldn't be happy with this at all. Obviously sometimes a carer will be out of the room briefly changing a nappy but to leave one assistant with five babies for an hour? Downright wrong.

Lunch break is NOT an excuse, they have to organise their rotas and employ enough staff to cover lunch break. I'd be tempted to complain to Ofsted if I were you. And I'd find somewhere else for my baby.

reikizen Wed 18-Jul-07 20:52:21

Doesn't sound right to me. I think the OFSTED website has info about ratios or you could ask your local Authority (we have a Children's Information Service) also, the nursery should have info about staff ratios available.

sazzybee Wed 18-Jul-07 20:52:39

I think it's one carer to 3 babies under one but check ofsted

I'd report them - that's crap and not what the parents of those babies are paying for. And i wouldn't send your baby there if I were you. Is there nowhere else your DD could go?

CarGirl Wed 18-Jul-07 20:53:52

start looking for a childminder or a nanny/nanny share?

JoMa Wed 18-Jul-07 20:55:33

It is 1:3 for under 2's
they are breaching the regs and should be reported

elliott Wed 18-Jul-07 21:05:34

Is it 1 to 2 for under 6 month babies, perhaps?

tiredemma Wed 18-Jul-07 21:07:43

its 1 to 3

elliott Wed 18-Jul-07 21:07:47

Ok I've looked it up - its only 1 to 2 for childminders with under ones, not nurseries.

ArtichokeTagine Wed 18-Jul-07 21:15:16

V strange. I would report them. At our nursery it is 1:3 and they NEVER leave one carer alone with a baby. There are always at least two carers in the room. They say that is best practise.

ArtichokeTagine Wed 18-Jul-07 21:16:18

Also if they are happy to break the Ofsted code while you are there what are they up to when they know no parents can see?

Helenback Wed 18-Jul-07 21:24:43

Not really adding anything new to this, as yes it is a ratio of 1 adult to 3 babies. Staff must NEVER be left alone with children, whatever the age of the children. This is a golden rule of childcare. What would they do if there was an emergency?? Ratios must be maintained at all times this includes lunch hours, pick up times etc. Cover staff should be available. This is very bad practice and I wouldn't recommend you leave your baby there.

Elizabeth19 Wed 18-Jul-07 22:05:19

Thanks for all the advice/views.

I am going to ring round childminders tomorrow but they are in very high demand where I live. I did ring some a couple of weeks ago, but only one had a vacancy for a baby and that was just for 2 days a week. Might try other local nurseries. It's annoying because we put our baby's name down for a brilliant nursery at the end of our road when I was only 4 months pregnant and we should have had a place in time for my starting back at work. However, they have just decided to keep children for another six months in the babies' room so unfortunately there won't be a place till December now.

As a first step, I will discuss my concerns with the Nursery manager and see what she says. I agree with everyone, however, that as matters stand I wouldn't be happy sending my daughter there.

nannynick Thu 19-Jul-07 10:38:07

First Step is to raise your concerns with the nursery manager.

To help you prepare for that meeting, here is a link to the National Standards for Full Day Care (applies in England) - see page 12, section 2.7 for Staffing Ratios.

2.9 is also of possible interest
"there is a minimum of 2 adults on duty"

I had a discussion with a senior team manager at Ofsted (with whom I worked a few months prior to the incident), regarding Ratio's in nurseries - particularly baby units. My view was that 2.9 applied per room. The Ofsted Team Manager did not agree with me, said that some nurseries would apply ratio's throughout the nursery, not on a per room basis - and alas not a lot could be done about that. This was over 3 years ago now, so things may have changed, but I doubt it. I feel the National Standards need to be rewritten to make it clearer, if Ratios are per room (as clearly a person can not see through walls) or the 'premises' as a whole.

Also see page 26 of the PDF, for Annex A - Babies and Children Age of 2 - for things that apply specifically to the care of babies in a nursery environment.

>I was told on the first occasion it was because other staff were doing after school pick ups.

That would be a breach of Standard 2, as the staff were not on the premises.

>Today it was apparently because other staff were on their lunch break.

I consider this to be a breach of Standard 2, as:
Standard 2.12 says
"The adult:child ratios relate to staff time available to work directly with children. Additional staff and management resources may be required to undertake management tasks, prepare meals, for domestic tasks and to
maintain premises and equipment."

Alas 2.12 does not specifically mention Staff Lunch - but to me a staff member on lunch is not "available to work directly with children".

Discuss with the nursery manager. If you are not happy that the situation will be resolved, remove your child from the nursery - and lodge a formal complaint to Ofsted, so that Ofsted can help the nursery comply with the National Standards.

nurseryvoice Thu 19-Jul-07 20:25:02

and they knew a parent was there????
They obviously have no regard for rules and I wouldnt be happy.

Just a note from a previous post.

2 staff on duty" this actually means the premises not the room,so you dont have to have 2 staff in a room.

Katymac Thu 19-Jul-07 20:29:35

However it is considered "Good Practice" to have 2 staff present in each room for child protection reasons (as I understand it)

oddjobgirl Thu 19-Jul-07 21:16:30

There is no doubt that this ratio is wrong. The nursery workers involved will want a parent to complain. No one wants to be left "holding that many babies". The staff will have been asked to just muddle through and not make a fuss by the owner or manager. Please do report it for everyone's sake. You can email Ofsted or Telephone:
08456 404045 about education, adult skills, or local authority children's services 08456 404040 about anything else. They will point you in the right direction if this has changed.

Bubble99 Thu 19-Jul-07 21:52:25

One to three ratio.

Lunch breaks should be covered by other staff to keep the room in ratio.

It is OK to be out of ratio for a very short time. Eg. to collect plates etc from the kitchen.

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