Working in partnership with parents and other settings – A case of ‘All together now?’   2 comments

As we all know Ofsted expect early years settings to work in partnership with parents – to ensure everyone knows what they are doing and in the best interests of the child.

And I totally agree with this – as a registered childminder I do my best to ensure I keep parents informed via daily chats, newsletter and child’s diary.

Of course it is not just about keeping parents informed, you need their views as well, and to respect their wishes, culture and so on.

I think I do this reasonable well most of the time, and excel at other times

On the whole I think most childminders are good at working in partnership with parents – partly because of those daily chats at handover time, and the genuine desire to do the best they can for each child and family.

On the whole it does work in that information is shared. So things like potty training, day time naps, healthy eating all get discussed and agreed on – certainly in principle, if not in every little detail.

Of course I need to be careful not to say all childminders are good at this aspect of practice – because I can not say that – due to the fact that I do not personally know about the practice of all childminders.

Working with other settings has – for me personally proved to be a lot more difficult and often a one way process – in that I provide information but I don’t get any back.

Sometimes I get second hand information back via the parent. Actually I don’t mind this because it is the parent who is the connection – their child attends both settings so passing on verbal information, or forwarding email newsletters, and sharing planning and assessment via the parent seems OK to me – but of course it is not OK for Ofsted – they want direct communication between settings that a child attends.

However there are things where it is vital that parents and ALL settings work together to ensure consistent messages are giving to the child, by parents and all settings that child attends – for example behaviour management.

Other things need forward planning and discussion about how things will be introduced and managed – so that the same experience for the child if with parents, with setting A or setting B.

Things like potty training.

Therefore I was shocked to hear about a colleagues recent experiences which show that partnership does not come into it – it is more a case of parents and setting B being TOLD what and how things should be done with no respect or professional understanding of parents or setting B needs.

So no names, no personal details – but this is a true story

To make it easy to read I am going to call the childminder Steve, the parent Jane, the child Beth and the Nursery ‘Sunshine Nursery’ – all just names out of my head and not connected to real scenario in any way.

Beth (the child) had been showing signs that becoming aware of her own toileting needs, Steve (the childminder) had spoken to Jane on a couple of occasions and put information in the Beth’s daily diary.

Steve and Jane had agreed to discuss again in a few weeks, and Steve had signposted Jane to his policies and procedures, which state very clearly that parents should start potty training at home, and if child successful over a couple of days, Steve would follow parents lead on words used for private parts and body actions, and type of praise. Steve’s policies also clearly state that if a potty training child had more than 2 accidents in a day, that due to hygiene reasons and protecting other children from bodily fluids, the potty training child would have to go back into nappies – and parents would be advised to try again again in a few weeks.

Jane had signed to say she was happy to comply with Steve’s policies and procedures.

As it happens Beth also attends Sunshine Nursery, where they had also noticed that Beth was nearly ready to start potty training.

However, Sunshine nursery had a problem, due to numbers of children in the ‘Bulebell room’ and new children wanting to start, they needed to move some of the older children up to ‘Primrose room’. Beth was one of these older children, Jane was happy for Beth to move rooms – however there was an issue – children in Primrose had to be toilet trained as they don’t have nappy changing facilities. Jane was told that Sunshine nursery could train Beth before she moved to Primrose room.

Jane expressed concern because they were having some work done at home and going on holiday so the timing was not great, she also said that would need to discuss with Steve.

Staff in the Bluebell room at first agreed, but before any discussion had taken place – they announced that potty training would start on Wednesday. Jane was not happy, but felt Sunshine nursery knew what they were doing and so would agree for Beth to start her potty training. Jane told Steve and said he would need to continue on Thursday when he had Beth in his care.

Steve was not happy because he planned to take the children to soft play on Thursday, and did not want Beth to have an accident due to hygiene reasons and the pressure it would put on him and Beth while at soft play.

Steve phoned the nursery

Steve suggested that Beth attended nursery on Thursday so that potty training could be established – but they did not have room for Beth in the Bluebell room on Thursday (and of course as not potty trained, she could not go into the Primrose room)

Steve suggested that they delayed until the next week, as he could rearrange which day to go to soft play, and could meet with parents and nursery to discuss the potty training.

Sunshine nursery said NO – they had to start now because they needed to move Beth up to Primrose room – and in any case EYFS says that at her age Beth should be potty trained.

Steve did his best to explain that EYFS was just a guideline and although Beth was nearly ready, another week or two would make all the difference to Beth being ready, to parents at home as the work on house and holiday would be over, and would give them all chance to meet and discuss, but nursery insisted it needed to happen now.

So reluctantly Steve agree to support the nursery – and parents thought if nursery say Beth is ready – she must be.

On Thursday nursery report excellent success at nursery, parents report limited success at home – and brought Beth to Steve’s wearing a nappy (which was already wet)

When Steve suggested it would be better if Beth arrived in her pants – Jane looked shocked – how would she keep the car seat dry? And in any case nursery said they wanted Beth to arrive in nappies because they could not deal with potty training during the busy morning period.

This is all a true story – I am not suggesting for one minute that all nurseries are like this – or even that Sunshine nursery are wrong and Steve is right – because I do not know Beth and so can not say what approach would be right for her.

However what I am saying is this is a clear case of one setting (in this case the nursery) deciding what to do and how to do it – and in their time scale, with no prior consultation with parents or the other setting (in this case the childminder)

With no discussion about words to use, praise to give, actions if accidents; no thought given to either parent or childminder other commitments, which at the very least will lead to confusion and to the child being given less than ideal situation for a smooth potty training experience.

To my mind in this situation the nursery ‘bullied’ the parent by making it clear that Beth HAD to be trained at this time,; they showed no professional respect for Steve as Beth’s other childcare provider; and they put their own needs (to move Beth up to Primrose room) over and over Beth’s needs and best interests.

The shocking thing is I hear this sort of thing on a fairly regular basis – and Ofsted are not picking up on it – and indeed it is often the childminder who gets marked down for lack of working in partnership with other settings – as they don’t have any proof – but the nurseries either have written proof because the childminders have provided it – or because Ofsted only ask about partnership with the local school not the local childminders.

I wonder what would happen if Beth does not potty train in time? or has a hidden medical reason for not being able to potty train?

I wonder what Sunshine nursery would have said if Steve started potty training without consulting with nursery and insisted it had to happen to fit in with his agenda?

As with all situations like this we have to remember we must not tar everyone with the same brush, as not all nurseries are like this, and not all childminders are like Steve, and if the shoe was on the other foot and Steve had dictated what should happen and how, the story would be as bad ……

,,,,,,, because as far as I am concerned there should not be any stories like this one – everyone should – no MUST work together to ensure the needs of children (and their parents) are met.

Posted February 6, 2015 by psw260259 in My thoughts on current childcare issues

2 responses to “Working in partnership with parents and other settings – A case of ‘All together now?’

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  1. So very true! As a preschool owner I contacted 10 other settings (full day care, sessional and childminders) last term re sharing information. I had two replies, both from childminders. One had recently stopped working but said she would have been glad to share if she still was, the other was already known to us and we have worked together before. One of the settings who did not reply has recently been graded outstanding by Ofsted!

  2. Pingback: Some very good questions- Why do I blog? What is the purpose of my blog? Do I need to make it more academic? | Penny's Place Childminding

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