Preschool bubble size

(27 Posts)
Duckfamily Mon 08-Feb-21 02:56:22

Wondered if anyone know if there's a legal limit to the number of 3-5 year olds allowed per bubble in an EYFS? Our nursery running at 24 kids in one bubble, soon to bring in a further 5! They've maxed out the ratio of staff per child (1 staff per 8 children), so will be bringing in another adult along with the additional 5 kids.

The room doesn't seem big enough. I'll ask them tomorrow exactly what size it is as I know they need to provide 2.3msq per child.

Also, a member of staff told me that they have kids in the room who require 121 attention, which they're not getting. I'm worried that the nursery is struggling to cope, but carrying on regardless.

Would appreciate thoughts. Thank you.

OP’s posts: |
OverTheRainbow88 Mon 08-Feb-21 06:35:20

The locks nursery to us has 50 kids per bubble, which seems and as it’s had 5 lots of isolations since Oct!! Technically if the ratio of child to adult is correct there isn’t a limit on bubble size for covid reasons. Secondary schools have bubbles of 260!!

Lifeispassingby Mon 08-Feb-21 06:40:24

There is no stipulation on bubble size for nurseries, they are allowed to run as they normally would do (so as if there isn’t a pandemic happening!). Unlike schools nurseries are open to all children whether parents are working or not so how can you expect them to limit bubble sizes with all children attending? And it is up to them how many children they have and whether they give 1:1 or not, ask if you like but I’m sure they’re not breaking any rules

TwirpingBird Mon 08-Feb-21 07:00:31

Our nursery has 45 children in the bubble. That's over all 4 rooms. They say they dont mix bubbles but I know staff cross from one to the other to cover absences so they do mix. Then when you think of the families of those kids being in the bubble too, and then any bubbles they have, and the staffs families who probably have kids in school, it's literally hundreds of people. But, it's a nursery. Thats just the reality of it. No point worrying about it if you need the nursery as it's all legal and above board. If it was a school, there could be 200 kids in a year. Your only other option would be to try find a childminder with 3 or 4 kids and a limited bubble.

Duckfamily Mon 08-Feb-21 09:35:39

Thank you for your replies. Got the answer I was asking for, which is that there is no legal limit on number of kids per bubble. 50 kids per bubble is huge though.

Lifeispassingby, you asked 'how can you expect them to limit bubble sizes with all children attending?'

My answer would be that they are successfully managing to do it in the baby and toddler areas. Each with multiple small bubbles, sectioned off with furniture. There's guidance on the government website on how they should do it.

With regards to you saying 'its up to them on how many children they have and whether they give 1:1 or not.' My concern is that the 121 care the member of staff referred to is required for children with special needs. I'm certainly not expecting special treatment. I accept the 1 to 8 ratio.

Does anyone know if there's a different staff ratio requirement for kids with special needs?

Thank you!

OP’s posts: |
TwirpingBird Mon 08-Feb-21 09:49:35

OP is it your child who has SEN? If it is you can speak to the nursery about what 121 provision is being provided.

Duckfamily Mon 08-Feb-21 12:18:14

Hi Twirpingbird, no it's not my child, I'm just concerned for everyone in the room if there are some special needs children in there who may not be getting the support they need (as the member of staff suggested to me that there are). I wondered what the regs are on ratios, just to check that they're working within the government guidelines.

I'll give them a call to get some clarity.

Thanks so much to everyone who responded. Hope everyone is doing well in lockdown.brew

OP’s posts: |


TwirpingBird Mon 08-Feb-21 12:26:19

Unfortunately OP its up to the parents of the SEN children to worry about that. As blunt as it sounds, I would just think of your own child. You cant worry about every kid. When they get to school there will be 30 kids and one teacher, many kids will have SEN, and although teachers do their best needs arent always met as well as they could be due to funding issues (with extra staff for example). All we can do is make sure our own kid is ok. The parents of SEN kids will have the same information as you and fight their own kids battles.

CeefBurry Mon 08-Feb-21 12:28:27

Sorry not read through the entire thread.
Legal ratio for 3-4 years is 1:8
One adult to eight children
Ratio changes outside and on trips

Tumbleweed101 Mon 08-Feb-21 21:29:43

There is no requirement for SEN children to be in a lower ratio. If they get funding then they may be able to have more staff for some parts of the session if this is deemed to be beneficial ie to put in place parts of a SEN plan, but the funding doesn't cover the cost of 121 for a whole session and most nurseries wouldn't be able to afford to do this.

Lifeispassingby Tue 09-Feb-21 00:12:40

I’m not really sure what business of yours it is anyway tbh. The nursery does decide who gets 1 to 1 support, regardless of SEN not all children qualify for 1:1 support anyway. It sounds as though they are legal so that’s the important thing

Thetree122 Sat 27-Mar-21 21:01:42

I work in a nursery, with 3 SEN children in my room, all of which require 1:1 support. The funding to get them that support, however, takes a long time to process. With staff shortage and no proper diagnoses in place yet as they’re so young, they work on a 1:8 ratio which can be difficult to manage. Although I don’t see why you’re bothered about someone else’s child, they will be getting some sort of support, may not be 1:1 but again can’t see how that affects you. With regards to bubble sizes, some rooms are smaller than other and so is difficult to effectively cordon off with furniture. Also, bear in mind that babies and toddlers may not need acces to a bathroom, whereas in preschool the kids, whether in bubbles or not, will be sharing the same bathroom

Duckfamily Sat 27-Mar-21 21:43:13

I guess what this boils down to is weather or not the SEN child has been diagnosed and has finance/support agreed. If not, the absolutely, none of my business. However, if they have (which is what I suspect) then it's totally my business because not only is the nursery operating illegally, my child if receiving less than their 1/8 of an adult and the SEN child neglected further. As a parent I should absolutely be there to call this out. Don't you think?

OP’s posts: |
DarcyLewis Sat 27-Mar-21 21:49:15

The nursery isn’t doing anything illegal and you have no right to know if another child gets funding.

Even if a child does get some additional inclusion funding, it is unlikely to be explicitly for additional staffing and won’t cover full time 1:1. It may be used for training, equipment/resources and maybe some hours of 1:1 time.

Duckfamily Sat 27-Mar-21 21:50:21


OP’s posts: |
Duckfamily Sat 27-Mar-21 21:59:21

Ok, well I do have a right to be concerned, even if just for my own child's coverage. I have staff telling me they're concerned that they're overrun. Is all ok? I'd be a fool to overlook it. I was here to garner advice and facts.

Aside from this though. This whole rhetoric of "it's none of your business" feels somewhat aggressive. Especially on a Saturday night. If something has got to you this week personally, please don't bring it to what you think is an anonymous/faceless online community. I'm here, human, with feelings.

We're all doing our best as mums. It's tough and sometimes important questions might be a bit intrusive, but I can assure you, mine have always been asked with the best of intentions.


OP’s posts: |
Thetree122 Sat 27-Mar-21 22:07:39

Do you have any evidence that they have been diagnosed? I can only speak on what is common practice at my nursery but I would say that it’s very unlikely that this information would have been disclosed to you. It may have seemed that they have been diagnosed because as practitioners we know that some children need 1:1 and that’s how it might’ve come across, but we don’t actually KNOW in terms of a diagnosis. Trust me, if they can get extra help or support in terms of a 1:1 staff member they would have. Also, the practitioners should not have disclosed to you information about other children, they were obviously very stressed and over-worked. It is a very long process getting young children diagnosed particularly if they are not going to school in the following September

JeanClaudeVanDammit Sat 27-Mar-21 22:08:00

I’d be a bit narked if there were children in my DC’s preschool group who were supposed to be having 1:1 support but it was being managed within the 1:8 ratio. They’ll inevitably be needing more support from the staff which would limit the capacity of those staff to work with and support my DC. Do you think that’s happening, i.e. have you got concerns about what your own DC’s experience with staff is? Arrangements around finance etc. for other children are obviously not your business but if there’s an impact on your DC that is.

Thetree122 Sat 27-Mar-21 22:13:28

I get that you are worried about your child and that they may not be recieving the care you expect and should expect because of ratios. But please be aware of the other side of the story. It is a long process to get children diagnosed and until then staff are doing the best they can and are obviously stressed because otherwise they wouldn’t be disclosing this to you. I do think there’s not enough support for staff to support children with SEN needs before they’re diagnosed.

Thetree122 Sat 27-Mar-21 22:20:20

As someone whose worked in two nurseries both with SEN children that needed to 1:1 but didn’t get it due to not recieving a diagnosis and subsequent additional funding, I want to add a different side to the story. Particularly at this time of COVID, nurseries do not have extra funding to pay suitably trained staff to 1:1 a child that has not been professionally diagnosed. Therefore, staff are doing their absolute best to provide for these children in the 1:8 ratio but it is hard. If there was funding available it would be used in the most beneficial way for everyone, sometimes you just have to accept it

Duckfamily Sat 27-Mar-21 22:34:43

I have an older son and his school friend's younger brother is in my daughter's pre-school. The mum has openly talked about her preschool son's autism. I have never (and never would) ask about his funding. He is in the same bubble as my daughter, where staff are telling my they're overrun.

My daughter is having accidents after being dry, which may or may not be a sign of not getting enough attention. I went a bit gung-ho last week as she definitely still needs reminding - I had spoken to 4 different staff about sticker charts, none of whom had done it. They couldn't apologise more. Sorted a fixed key worker (which had been lacking) and got a chart in place. They say they are meeting the 1/8, so this should be expected right?

Since starting this thread, I spoke with other parents at the nursery and with friends who have children at other nurseries and decided that as bubbles can legally be any size, I would just go with it. I recognise the world is in survival mode and I'm compassionate towards that.

As long as we're all legally operating, I think I'm ok. Will keep monitoring.

OP’s posts: |
mindutopia Sun 28-Mar-21 11:53:03

There is a difference between bubble size (how many children close to each other for COVID reasons) and ratios (which are regulated by government and have nothing to do with COVID). Our nursery is one big bubble and I think they have up to about 20-30 kids. School is the same. The class is one bubble and I think they have 24. For what it's worth, there hasn't been a single case at nursery or school since COVID began and never even a bubble that had to self isolate. If you are concerned about ratios for other people's SEN children, that's a separate issue. I couldn't get worked up about what's going on with other people's children. I trust parents to make the best decisions for their own children and presumably those parents are happy. If you aren't, you can always pull your child out and get a nanny or childminder.

Duckfamily Sun 28-Mar-21 12:59:21

'Worked up' isn't how I described it and once again the tone of your message feels a little unsupportive.

Staff are telling me that they are overrun and that there are children who need 121 support who aren't getting it.

The math tells us that the 1/8th adult supervision that I'm paying for won't be received if the adult in charge is also supporting children with grater needs.

I wouldn't go as far to say that I don't care about other people's kids, but I am 100% within my right to be concerned about my own in the context of how far her support staff are being stretched. They are literally telling me that they can't cope.

I get it now, they might be operating within the law, but crying out for funding due to a child not diagnosed or having their funding yet agreed/in place, but I didn't know that at the start of the thread - hence the questions.

I was simply here to understand the laws so that I could make my own informed decision. In that aspect, the answer could have been offered without the need for people to tell me that it's 'none of my business' or that I'm 'worked up and I can just leave the nursery if I don't like it.'

I find it a crying shame that Mumsnet, of all places, attracts this type of communication, especially during the times we live in.

Thank you to everyone who provided useful and supportive info.

OP’s posts: |
bugaboo218 Sun 28-Mar-21 14:29:40

The ratio in pre school for 3 to 4 year olds can be a ratio of 1.13 if someone holds a full a relevant level six qualification. E. G. QTS, EYTS and is working directly with the children.

At all other times the ratio for pre school is 1:8 with at least one member of staff having a level 3 or above qualification.

There is no limit on bubble sizes in nursery for covid. Other than the space requirements per child that are set out. The room cannot go over its capacity. E. G. If the room can hold 25 pre schoolers then they cannot go above that limit.

There is no funding for 1.1 in Early Years without diagnosis. It is very very difficult to obtain funding you need lots of documented evidence and internal (usually L3 nursery senco) and external (LA Senco) visits and assessments and a diagnosis. Any funding would not support 1.1 full time.

It is sad for both the child with SEND, who may need much more support than a 1.8 ratio and the staff working within that ratio trying to support the SEN child and the other children.

Most private nurseries work on the bare bones of adult to child ratios to enhance their profits. Obviously allany nurseries have to comply with legal adult to child ratios E. G. 1.8, but many will not put an extra member of staff in a room as a floating person.

Duckfamily Sun 28-Mar-21 14:35:06

Thanks Bugaboo218. Interesting to know they can look after 13 if with relevant qualifications. I'm building my knowledge bank!👍🏻

OP’s posts: |

Join the discussion

To comment on this thread you need to create a Mumsnet account.

Join Mumsnet

Already have a Mumsnet account? Log in