Nursery concerns, am I being overly worried over nothing?

(26 Posts)
Username98765432111 Sun 04-Apr-21 03:40:32


Long time MN lurker, first time poster.

My daughter is in a day nursery locally. Has always settled well despite the on and off nature due to vivid. Has attended since jan 2020 but only consistently for about 7 months now. She has always been happy as far as we can tell, she is 2.5.

I have a few issues but I’m not sure if I am over reacting / being too sensitive.. I’d welcome your (kind/constructive) thoughts:

Communication is very very poor, change of key person without us knowing- no communication from key person anyway so didn’t realise there had been a change.. not causing any direct issue as we can tell but is this an indicator of poor practice at the nursery? (They wheel out ‘because covid’ when we ask about the levels of communication. Unfortunate as covid is for nurseries, these kids don’t get another go at early years so imo they need to be mitigating barriers to communication with families, is that unreasonable?)

A new apprentice has started, the third apprentice recently hired. He’s 19, first job in childcare. This flagged to me immediately so I did ask a few questions of the nursery on their policies just for peace of mind etc.

I wanted to check in re safeguarding procedures and was told...

-yes on occassion a member of staff may fe
change nappies alone and not in line of sight of other staff (ie., in the bathroom with door closed) there is nothing in their procedures to prevent this

-it would be against the law for a families request for same sex personal care to be met (I’m genuinely unsure on this.. I ask for female gynae whenever needed, I’m not aware of any laws being broken to meet that request? Anyone actually know the legality of it?)

-an apprentice (no experience no qualifications, first childcare role) may be assigned as a key person in the baby room (I have a second child due to start attending the baby room hence my asking about this).

My spidey sense is tingling but I’m not sure if it’s justified. All I can think is someone who has never had access to children/worked with children might be undertaking personal care 1:1 and may be responsible for guiding my kids early education (re the 2.5 year old, obviously a baby isn’t at nursery for education).

To be honest the thought of paying over £1000 a month for unqualified care is difficult to swallow, but options are limited. I can suck that up if otherwise I am confident they are going to be safe and well cared for. But I’m genuinely not sure..

What would you think?

Our plan B would be a nanny/ small pre school combo and all the upheaval faff and expense of becoming employers that we can ill afford- but I’ll do it if I can’t settle my mind.


OP’s posts: |
Onedropbeat Sun 04-Apr-21 04:15:56

I wouldn’t like the idea of that and I wouldn’t choose to send my child there

I am possibly on the more cautious side when it comes to leaving my children in the care of others though

Aerielview Sun 04-Apr-21 04:24:44

I wouldn't like that either, op. I would go with your gut feeling and find alternative childcare.
Be aware that some posters will come on here and call you bigoted and prejudiced for not wanting a male childcare worker changing your daughter. Ignore them. You're her mum and it's your job to protect her. Trust your instinct, and act upon it.

nimbuscloud Sun 04-Apr-21 04:31:27

If you’re not happy then I’d go the nanny/pre school route.

whatswithtodaytoday Sun 04-Apr-21 04:32:40

I assume this is because he's a man? Because there will be female apprentices changing nappies too. They will have all been CRB checked and I really don't think changing a nappy is the same as requesting a female gynae. (Incidentally my male gynae is a specialist in his field and recognised a problem others had dismissed, he's a brilliant man.)

The closed door would concern me, our nursery is very open and while someone might be alone in the changing area, it's visible from the room.

Key workers seem to change a lot for us too, I'm not sure how much bearing it has on anything as they all fill in paperwork and seem to know my son well. Communication is good though, we get a good chat at handover every day and regular emails from the nursery about what all the rooms are doing.

Ultimately if you're not happy you can remove your child from the nursery. But it seems a shame to create a huge hassle in your life just because you don't want a male nursery worker changing your daughter's nappy.

IloveZoflora Sun 04-Apr-21 04:34:03

At my sons nursery we have a daily contact book which tells us everything about his day. They also write up any changes such as key worker on AL next week so we know she's not in.
With apprentices everybody has to learn at some point BUT that said if your mumdar is ringing then something isn't right so maybe you need to look else where have you looked at childminders? My eldest two had childminders and I think they had the better childcare - in a family setting, smaller groups, they did day trips to places of interest and it was just that one person so the care was consistent. What was your first feel of the place? Did you look round several? Definitely change if your gut instinct is ringing.

ElphabaTheGreen Sun 04-Apr-21 05:11:01

I don’t see any problem here.

As a PP said, a key worker really just earmarks who is responsible for that child’s paperwork. It really makes no difference to their day to day care. Both of mine were in nursery full-time. Of course they weren’t principally looked after by their keyworkers during that time because of the shifts the staff worked. I’m sure one of their key workers was part time, as I recall, so it’s literally just an administrative exercise - it’s not really an indication of who spends the most time with your child during the day.

You cannot object to a male nursery worker. That’s horrible to jump to the worst conclusion when they’re really trying to recruit more males into childcare. Also, an apprentice is not a work experience kid - they must be obtaining their qualifications alongside their onsite work. The pay is shocking - in a field where the pay is already shocking - but I would have thought that this is probably one of the most effective apprenticeships around. I’d prefer an apprentice looking after my child than a kid with a handful of NVQs who has no experience with children beyond those programmable baby dolls they give out at colleges.


blackcat86 Sun 04-Apr-21 05:40:57

I wouldn't be happy with this. My DC have an incredible relationship with a member of staff but she only became her keyworker after she was fully employed and qualified. With communication, do they not have some sort of online system? Many use a system called tapestry which is a virtual communication book of sorts. With the safeguarding, its concerning that all they have done is highlighted how you have no rights rather than done anything to eliviate your concerns by talking about checks, support for apprenticeships, safeguarding training, reporting etc. I would not be happy if that was my nursery

nohelp Sun 04-Apr-21 05:49:22

I wouldn’t be happy either. I would go with your gut feeling.

Tumbleweed101 Sun 04-Apr-21 07:59:09

An apprentice will have a senior member of staff overseeing their work in regards to their key children development and usually all staff are aware of how children in their group are doing so a child won’t have less care or teaching because an apprentice is their key person. You may find they get more focused learning as the apprentice will have to prove their activities and that they know their key children well to their tutors.

The senior staff will be monitoring everything including personal care and if they are satisfied that this person is competent then they likely are. I don’t believe there is any legal issue around you requesting your child being changed by a female but it could mean a delay in your child getting personal care if female staff
are busy with an activity and the male staff member would be available to change her but isn’t allowed. Things like personal care are rarely done in isolation and other staff will be aware of a child being changed.

If you are concerned speak to the manager though or the room leader,
they might be able to explain their own policies better.

Username98765432111 Sun 04-Apr-21 08:29:58

Thank you for your comments.

I can’t deny a male member of staff did make me ask the initial questions, but rather more it was the fact of them being completely new to childcare -having never worked in a related field which was a bigger concern. For example the last apprentice is a qualified primary teacher, so I knew she had spent time in a setting with children- therefore it didn’t concern me, rather than their being a woman. I think (hope!) that’s reasonable.

I wouldn’t be pleased for any unqualified zero experienced person to be a key worker, male or female. I’d expect that person to have shown a commitment to the role in some way, be it work experience (not including being a key worker, maybe rather shadowing first?) or by gaining the initial qualifications? Perhaps unrealistic expectations of the sector there. I can’t claim to know how the qualifieaftions are gained, but I know when we were looking at settings seeing more level 3/ 4’s than anything else was assuring.

Perhaps it’s very inexpensive labour and the nursery are trying to re coup after a bad year?

I have of course spoken to the nursery management and they were not able to assure me unfortunately which was a shame. I’d like to work through it amif possible.

They were not able to confirm that changes etc always happen in line of sight. While I would prefer same sex changing, I could have been assured somewhat had there been watertight policies around personal care not being undertaken 1:1 closed door, but there are not. There wasn’t nothing in their policies as I mentioned. I’m surprised, I thought these policies protected the staff as much as (more so even!) than the kids.

We do have an online system, not tapestry but maybe similar? One photo gets uploaded a month ish along with a statement about the activity and that they enjoyed it.

I’m not sure. It would be a hassle, massive hassle, but these are my babies and these are important years.

Covid of course isn’t helping as I believe in normal times we’d be in and out the nursery more, meet the staff, see the rooms more. As is l’ve not been in since we picked the nursery when DC was a baby.

It’s very tricky, DD has always seemed happy and skips in of a morning, never a tear. maybe she would be like that in any setting, maybe not.

OP’s posts: |
Ilovesandwiches Mon 05-Apr-21 00:47:12

Obviously as a parent you have every right to understand the knowledge and experience of the people who are caring for your children, but how is an apprentice supposed to gain experience if people won’t allow them to carry out those daily tasks with their children to gain experience?

I am an experienced nursery practitioner and I help to train our apprentices, and I can only speak for my own experiences but any member of staff is only able to change nappies once they’ve been there for long enough to feel competent, and also for the children to feel comfortable with that adult.
A bit confused about why a door would be changed when nappies are being changed though? In our setting we have it open for safeguarding reasons, both for obviously the children’s sake but staff as well.

As for them not being qualified and being a key person I do understand that you want to know your child is being cared for and that their developmental needs are being met, but again, the apprentice should be being supported by the more qualified practitioners, and seniors such as room leaders and managers to ensure they are fully aware of how to support each child and family. You also have every right to question anything in regards to their development at any time and can ask to see any observations carried out on your child.

I’m sure this is not your intention at all , but please don’t undervalue male practitioner. As a whole, I really feel we need more of a male presence in the childcare world, and I know of men leaving childcare because of the way they are perceived which is really sad. I don’t work with any males at the moment but bet the nursery could benefit from one in the future!

I do completely see your point that you are paying out for childcare and your children are your most precious things and of course you want the best for them, so you should definitely question anything you don’t feel comfortable with and hopefully you can be reassured by the staff. However if you aren’t comfortable with how the setting runs maybe it’s not the right one for you as a family?

Mysterian Mon 05-Apr-21 12:35:37

While I would prefer same sex changing... So assuming he's the only man he's got to do nappies for half the nursery? That's tough.

The nappy area shouldn't be behind closed doors. It should be overlookable in some way. Would need to see the exact layout to really comment though.

A new to childcare person is a bit of an issue, but everybody is new at some point. I'm not so keen on the apprentice system that's around nowadays, but he'll have lots and lots of help.

I was in his position 28 years ago. I still have issues getting jobs. Even enquiries just stating my name, qualification, and age somehow don't always get acknowledged. Then there's the "just got a job because he's male" thinking, and the "well, you have to wonder why he works with children" insinuations. Even on Mumsnet.

I think for his sake you should go the nanny route and spare the guy your " spidey senses".

Mollymalone123 Mon 05-Apr-21 12:57:30

For safeguarding reasons there shouldn’t be changing behind closed doors-to safeguard the employees just as much as the children.The apprentice would be overseen by a qualified member of staff also.I work with children and we have accepted parent’s wishes that a child would only be taken to the toilet by a female worker-which is sad as more male role models are needed.

NannyElle Mon 05-Apr-21 13:23:12

Most nurseries will have several unqualified staff, you just probably haven't realised before as they are just labelled as a nursery assistant or early years practitioner rather than an apprentice. Part of an apprenticeship involves taking on key children and learning how to do all relevant paperwork , they will be supervised and assessed by superiors. Nappy changing should really be done in a room with a door open but doesn't need two people there that is policy that differs between nurseries. Objecting to a man changing a child's nappy is pretty discriminatory, men are.not more likely to abuse a child in a nursery setting than women. The only thing I would complain about is the lack of communication as you should be receiving a record of their day and have opportunities to look at your child's learning journal.

Username98765432111 Mon 05-Apr-21 13:32:49

Yes, a Mother’s instinct is a strong thing, maybe I shouldn’t ignore it. My concerns could have (and should have) been able to be mitigated by the nursery, but the combination of closed door changing and inexperienced staff wasn’t able to do that. Unfortunately.

And whoever said it’s.. ‘tough’ its not.. I’m perfectly able to find an alternative - though I was keen to avoid upheaval for my kids. But needs must, peace of mind comes first.

Still unsure why male nursery staff are always ‘role models’, I’ve never really thought of the female staff as ‘role models’ have you? rather just as lovely caring nursery staff. How funny.

Thanks all, won’t be checking back further

OP’s posts: |
Tumbleweed101 Mon 05-Apr-21 18:30:49

I think your biggest concern is probably lack of communication and a management team that have been unable to reassure you and that is a fair reason to move your children.

Pretty much every nursery will have apprentices and unqualified staff. Don't dismiss those staff though, some of our loveliest staff with the children have been those who haven't been confident enough to do the qualification but make up for it in practical knowledge. We have a male staff member and he is great with the kids and one of the most patient.

Hope you are happy with whatever decision you make next, it is hard when you can't see inside the nursery.

jannier Tue 06-Apr-21 17:52:19

I'm saddened that nobody has talked about the true reason that keyworkers are important to children ....its not paperwork that's an added bonus that many nurseries are taking as the prime was introduced to the EYFS to help build self esteem and resilience important to children's learning a consistent welcoming figure to support each child.

jannier Tue 06-Apr-21 17:57:26

Male role models are important to many children becouse so many dont have any in their home life its not to minimise the importance of female role models.

Apprentices are closely supported by a senior member of staff with any plans or assessments being closely scrutinised. The first thing they cover in class is safegaurding any male working in this sector will be well aware that there is prejudice and scrutiny of them so will be ultra aware of how to keep themselves safe from accusations.

Fandabydosey Tue 06-Apr-21 18:40:22

Can I ask, if you had a son not a daughter would you be as concerned. I have met some shocking level 6 qualified staff and some brilliant observant caring non qualified staff. I have met some incredibly caring and equally brilliant male nursery staff. You have to stay in education until you are 18 so a 19 year old is not that old to be in a first child care job.

Mysterian Tue 06-Apr-21 22:41:56

Male role models are a good thing. You can tell children that raising children is not "woman's work", but when they see virtually all female staff until secondary school they draw their own conclusions. More male nursery workers, more female builders, all good.

simonisnotme Wed 07-Apr-21 18:09:58

Lack of communication is an issue in itself , you need a few details for peace of mind, ie food, nappy changes etc
male carers are a good thing, however they should be supervised and not be in a room alone with children especially whilst changing them

HolmeH Wed 07-Apr-21 21:51:56

I feel your main issue here is a male apprentice. Which is sad. My babies key worker is a man & he’s blooming fantastic. I think it’s fab he wants to work with babies but I don’t view him as anymore of a role model particularly. I wonder, if your baby was a boy, would you still want sand sex changing? I suspect you’d be perfectly happy for a woman to change him.

Do you actually know this male has zero experience? He hasn’t done any work experience? No volunteering with kids as a teenager? No experience in this job role doesn’t mean no experience with children.

The only red flag I see here is the closed door. That is unacceptable, nappy changing shouldn’t be behind a closed door.

Nora1978 Wed 07-Apr-21 22:15:55

Key workers are not just an administrative thing, they are there to form an attachment with the child, make sure they are settled in, carry out regular observations on the child to see how they are progressing against the EYFS (that means several updates a week on their journal), to plan activities in line with the child’s interests to get them to the next stage in their learning and to form relationships with the parents/carers too, having parent meetings, writing reports etc. Sometimes keyworkers do change if a child bonds more readily with another member of staff or if workloads need to be rearranged to accommodate new children. I was a keyworker before I qualified but I tried so hard to do a good job and had some lovely feedback from the parents.

Bambam2019 Wed 07-Apr-21 22:30:06

I work in a nursery. We desperately need more males in childcare- some children have no male rolemodels at all and would benefit from having one.
In one of your earlier posts, OP, you mentioned not wanting “someone unqualified” to be a key person...these people are training. They will have been interviewed and chosen based on their qualities (such as caring nature etc) and will have a DBS check too. They will also be under the supervision of a senior member of staff. Furthermore, what makes you think he has no experience of working with children? The likelihood is he wants to get into childcare because he has been inspired by other work/experiences he has had- maybe he has coached a sports team, etc. Please try not to write off this man before he has even had a chance- it will be very difficult for him in a mostly female work place and to have a negative reaction from parents too will not help.
With regards to the communication- nursery really should have a system for communicating effectively. At my nursery we have an online diary, where we add in what the child has had for lunch/ afternoon tea and any nappy changes and sleeps as appropriate. Some write in a diary and some do verbal feedback (assuming this isn’t as common at the moment due to covid.)

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