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18 toddlers in a room with no staff- surely this can't be right?

58 replies

domesticslattern · 20/08/2008 09:52

Just went to visit a well-known and expensive nursery chain in the City. Although we arranged the visit ages ago, they had forgotten we were coming so effectively we were unexpected visitors. I was very shocked at what I saw, particularly with respect to child: staff ratios. But they assured me it was normal. Can someone please advise if I am over-reacting?

The baby room had 9 babies, and 1.5 members of staff. One member of staff was (silently) shovelling food into a baby's mouth. Another member of staff was sat at the end of the room on the floor, so that she could look either side of a barrier into the toddler room. So she was only "half" in the room, and not interacting with any babies. 3 babies were asleep, another one half asleep on a piece of equipment, and 4 listlessly crawling around with no human interaction. One rather pathetically put her arms up to us visitors for a hug.



When I remarked that I thought the ratio was meant to be 1:3, the member of staff said that that didn't count when the babies were asleep.

We then went into a room for 1-2 year olds, where there were about 8 or 9 all asleep, and 0.5 member of staff (the one who was half in the baby room and half the 1-2 room).

Then we went into another room where there were 18 (I counted!) 3 year olds all asleep and no staff. There was an adjoining room with 5 older kids and a member of staff. She was the only member of staff I saw talking to a child.

Is this right? It was the most depressing thing, but maybe I am not used to these things. And maybe we did visit at a quiet time, and you don't need to watch sleeping little ones. (Even if, rather pathetically, some hadn't quite managed to sleep on their mats and were on the floor ). It didn't help that the nursery was in a basement with no natural light in many of the rooms. It has no outdoor area, and we weren't asked to remove our shoes where babies were crawling. And the bottles of formula were all mixed up and left on the side- they didn't seem to know whose were whose when I asked. And the nappy changing area was dirty and smelly. And there was a half eaten Snickers on the side in the kitchen.... I could go on. Is this normal? Please reassure me, it has put me right off all nursery provision.

OP posts:
TrinityRhino · 20/08/2008 09:55

that is NOT normal or right

MamaG · 20/08/2008 09:56

My God that sounds absolutely awful!

There is a nursery near us that a mate has just taken her DS to. she said there were lots of staff, they are all happy, chatty women and the children were all well supervised in bright, sunny rooms. I drive past it every day and if its sunny, the children are all roaring around outside (babies safely enclosed ) with staff members prancing around ,singing to them, dancing with them, cuddling them etc./

Avoid this one like the plague. In fact, I'd even consider reporting it to Ofsted. I'd hate to think of a child of mine in that shithole.

SpandexIsMyEnemy · 20/08/2008 09:56

well not sure on the sleeping thing but as a guide, the creche DS goes to has 5 1-5 year olds, and theres 2 adults, think if there's only 1 adult they only have 3 spaces thou) and there's usually 2 babies in that bit with one adult.

in other words there's never more than 10 children and if there is there's always 3 staff members - who are all crawling around/sitting on the floor playing with the kids.

tbh based on what you've said I wouldn't leave my child in that nursery (XH and I have been nursery shopping as they have big lists here for the new year).

MatBackFack · 20/08/2008 09:58

hmmmm maybe you visited at nap time? I think they do take that opportunitty to go and do their paperwork etc (they have to legally do a lot of "observations" on the children now. I would go and visit again at a more busy time and if it still doesn't feel right, give up on it. I have experience of 4 nurseries as a parent and I think the best thing is to trust your gut instinct, after having visited at least 4 or 5.

Some of the City ones are used as temporary emergency childcare places and they always seem a bit basic to me - especially for the fewer children there regularly. Maybe it was one of those? Couldn't you use one closer to home and drop before coming into the City - I think they are normally nicer and more likely to have outdoor space - which is really important I think, esp for older children.

LilRedWG · 20/08/2008 10:00

Not sure on the sleeping thing, but I would expect all sleeping children to be in full view of at least one adult.

With regards to the rest, I would be tempted to report the nursery to Ofsted or someone, who can do a suprise visit and sort them out.

Please do not be put off all other nurseries - there are some lovely ones out there.

MatBackFack · 20/08/2008 10:09

yes I meant to say that too - there are some supremely depressing ones, some adequate ones and a few really good ones - keep looking.

(Look for low staff turnover, high % of older staff memebers, preferably with their own chidlren, involved and experienced manager, good ofsted report, outdoor space - don't look for shiny, new, impressive premises - the children don't care)

wonderstuff · 20/08/2008 10:10

Sounds awful. at my nursery they check on the children every 5 mins while they are asleep, check out ofsted reports before you visit and find out if the management has changed since last report. there should have been 9 members of staff in the place you visited! avoid it there are some fab nurseries out there

Jackstini · 20/08/2008 10:12

Not right at all, you are not overreacting - copy your original post to Ofsted and do not place your lo there.
There are some great nurseries out there though so do keep looking.

SpandexIsMyEnemy · 20/08/2008 10:12

also as well as a point, at our one (as I say creche but have used some of the stuff as a good guide for the nurserys) there's 4 members of staff. 2 of them were lovely from the off - very friendly and relaxed, one was/is a bit shy (is a man thou) think it's just him but he seems to interact well with the kids, and DS has taken to him. the 4th, was very offish (DS has been going once or twice a week dep on my money for about 6/7 weeks) and it's only been recently she's thawed a bit. so to that end, I think if the staff are a little quiet not to worry too much as long as there's a balance and you're aware of it - I was planning on keeping an eye on things for a few weeks while DS settled in and they got used to him, but very pleased now.

RubySlippers · 20/08/2008 10:14

sleeping children still need to be supervised appropropriately

sounds like a crap nursery

but don't despair - there are loads of great nurseries out there

DisenchantedPlusBump · 20/08/2008 10:14

I bet I could guess which chain it was. I worked for one thats awful, I had to leave!

GColdtimer · 20/08/2008 10:15

Report them to ofsted and avoid it like the plague. I had a really good feeling about our nursery when I turned up and saw the children playing in the garden with the staff running around, laughing and cuddling them. I can turn up unexpectedly at any time and the general buzz is a really positive and happy one, even when some of the children are grizzly or grumpy.

This one sounds awful.

onceinalifetime · 20/08/2008 10:15

domesticslattern - that is dreadful! I think I might know which nursery you are talking about. Can you say more precisely where it is? I might know somewhere much better nearby.

harpomarx · 20/08/2008 10:18

I am amazed that they managed to get all those 3 year olds to sleep at the same time!!!

sounds like they dropped out of sheer boredom

catweazle · 20/08/2008 10:23

That sounds awful

The nursery we use only has a concrete yard, which put me off a bit. But the staff are mainly older ladies with children of their own and whatever time I turn up the staff are playing with the children.

We saw a couple of nurseries with beautiful buildings and grassy open space but the staff there were very young and most of the children had a cowed look. The toddlers were actually frightened of us visitors . The one we picked the older children came over to have a good look (and a giggle) at my DH and just all seemed really happy. That's what sold it to us.

EachPeachPearMum · 20/08/2008 10:29

Thats is horrific- please raise a concern with Ofsted.
At DD's nursery, there are always the correct number of staff with children- even when the children are asleep- I have been there.
Oh- you can't imagine how beautiful 9 sleeping toddlers are all together!

mumeeee · 20/08/2008 17:13

No that is not right.

scorpio1 · 20/08/2008 17:16

thats not normal at all

domesticslattern · 20/08/2008 19:10

Thanks everyone. Glad I am not completely over-reacting. The Ofsted report was good, though there have been a couple of complaints which they have followed up since then. Is it possible for me to contact Ofsted if my LO is not at the nursery? And is it possible for me to do it anonymously? The manager was on holiday and the baby room manager gone AWOL, so that may have affected things. I did feel sorry for the staff also working in such a dingy basement environment.

You're absolutely right MatBackFack, we were looking at the nursery because it offers emergency childcare which we get with DH's job (up to 10 days a year). I thought that was a great perk but now I am not so sure. We may have to use it if we have absolutely no option, as I don't have family nearby.

So thanks for the offer onceinalifetime but I don't think we'll go for a nursery in the City for my regular childcare but probably a childminder or nanny share nearer to home.

Yes harpomarx, there was something rather odd about 18 three year olds all conked out. It was almost as though they had been drugged. In the baby room, the babies who were awake were totally silent. My visiting DD was making more noise than all of them put together!

Thanks for all the stories about nice nurseries, and for explaining about your experiences of ratios during nap time.

OP posts:
AbbeyA · 20/08/2008 19:16

You are not over reacting. Go with your gut feeling and don't send your DC there!

dilemma456 · 21/08/2008 12:20

Message withdrawn

wearymum200 · 21/08/2008 12:37

agree, this sounds all wrong. We picked our nursery (which isn't new or shiny) because the staff are always playing/ cuddling the children and if doing paperwork during naps, they're in the room keeping an eye. I have seen children conked out on the floor, but at the very least they get gently moved to a pillow.
Even if the ratios are right, 18 is a very big baby room.

StealthPolarBear · 21/08/2008 12:44

nursery we picked has one member of staff in a dim room with sleeping children (never more than 4) and a couple of staff in the baby room with the babies - usually cuddling or interacting.

NorkyButNice · 21/08/2008 12:48

Are you allowed to tell us the name of this nursery? Am having panics that I've signed DS up there from next month!

swiftyknickers · 21/08/2008 12:48

contact ofsted-all wrong
sounds awful, they're is nothing more depressing than a bad nursery

Thankfully my DS is at a fab one which cheers my heart

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