Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Changes to Childcare Ratios

As most of you know that read this I used to own two day nurseries, caring for over 70 children at any one time, with around 30 staff members give or take. It was never about making big bucks, but about the quality of childcare. Don't get me wrong, we had a good lifestyle, but the nursery didn't charge the earth and staff were paid fair wages - well I hope so! The Day Care Advisers at the LA always said what we didn't have in expensive equipment we more than made up for in the love we gave the children.

Slowly though the whole experience became harder. The first huge change was when Ofsted took over and the rapport that had been built up with the local Day Care Department disappeared overnight. When Joseph was 5 weeks old I was already back at work and he became seriously ill. I telephoned Day Care and the Manager came and worked in the nursery for the day so that I could be with Joseph! When Ofsted were approached with staffing issues, they didn't know me, or my settings, and all you got was 'well, you'll have to shut the setting.' Tres helpful.......

It became harder and harder to find good quality staff but I consider myself lucky in being quite astute with recognising potential - and I had some amazing Managers supporting me (there's the astuteness ;) ).

Anyhow enough reminiscing. My thoughts on the proposed changes :
  • Changing childcare ratios in the younger ages. Now I know some fab childminders and they may feel having 4 under 5 is okay, let's be honest I had the 3 boys under 3.5 at one time and managed. With different ages, you may have 2 babies asleep, one curled up with a blanket and books and you can spend time with number 4.However, never having been a childminder I don't feel competent to comment further, BUT ....
  • I defy anyone to tell me that 2 members of staff with 12 two to three year old's is beneficial to either children or staff. It was always the room staff wanted to move around in as it is so exhausting. For me it was always my favourite. They're learning to walk and talk. To feed themselves. To push boundaries. Let's not forget temper tantrums! Toileting, which follows on nicely .....
  • So as a CCP (childcare person to save my poor typing fingers!) you are going to spend a lot of time taking children to the toilet in the 2-3 room. Does that mean you are leaving ONE member of staff with 11 children while you do this? I know some nurseries will have more than 2 staff regardless of the ratio requirements, but let's not kid ourselves here, there's going to be a lot of owners out there who have already worked out how much better off financially they are going to be with less staff. The stories I used to hear - and my own experiences from temping - makes me shudder at the thought.
  • Which leads onto finances. How, in any way on earth, are parents going to be better off? If ratios in settings have been worked out on floor space then nothing can change. Did I just put ideas into the Childcare Minister's head?? If the setting did have a bit extra space, but having extra children didn't work out financially viable when measured against having to employ another member of staff. Well, problem now solved! So that lovely room with lots of space may suddenly have 4 more children but no extra staff. And do we truly and honestly believe that nurseries will say 'Hey, I know, let's reduce the costs to parents instead of pocketing - sorry, investing - the extra money.'
  • Of course, let's not forget that you need better qualified staff. This has always been my biggest bone of contention EVER!!! When I did my NNEB, which in my mind they should never have got rid of, you either had to have English O level Grade C or pass the college entrance exam. This seemed fair. How would I cope with 2 years of full time studying. Read to children. Write records. Prepare notes for parents evening. Well, the list is endless, without a good grasp of the English language. Not everyone though is academically strong (we'll talk about Maths in a minute), but does this mean they will not be a good CCP? Um, no. In the early days of the nurseries some of my best CCP were people that weren't qualified but had an amazing ability to nurture and care for children. Then of course everything started changing. As it should if it's progression, but not just for the sake of trying to look like you're doing something positive and useful. I spent quite a few years on a local children's ward. We had dedicated cleaners - auxiliaries - nursery nurses - SEN's - and SRN's. And it worked. Then it all changed. Why? Everyone had a role that they excelled at? I digress. Over the years there became more and more emphasis on the need to qualify, I lost a few good team members because of that.....
  • Which leads to Maths GCSE Grade 3 - why???? It's no secret I walked away from school with a U - Unclassified - for my Maths O Level. I'm not ashamed of that fact, it is what it is. I don't like numbers and I have no desire to know that (a + b) * (c+d) gives you , well who gives a "£$£" Want to do a science A level, maths degree, or any profession that you need it I get that. I don't get the logic to need it for childcare. I can use the main operations (addition etc). I managed to complete tax returns, work out staff wages monthly, budget and forecast etc etc etc. But under the new proposed ruling I wouldn't have been given the opportunity to qualify. Total crap.
  • Actually, at the college where I taught, all students are given Key Skills tests to make sure they were a certain level, they didn't need the qualification, or be made to gain the qualification.
  • And don't get me started on 1:4 for babies or I shall have to put my tutor hat on and start lecturing about attachment theories!
  • Oh, just remembered another thing. The Minister made of point of comparing us to other European countries that have lower ratios - shame she can't use the same finger pointing system to show that a lot of the European countries don't even let their children start school till around 6. Four and one day is too young in my book. 
  • And, sorry, this was on the news this morning, they want children to start learning employment skills from the age of 3? All I can think to say is WTF!
So, please hunt out a petition to sign - speaking of which, they really ought to all pool their petitions. And maybe a petition to get the Minister to spend a whole week from 8am to 6pm in a room of 12 two to three year old's with one other member of staff which may make her realise what a crap proposal it is! Actually, don't know why I use the word proposal, when has anyone with a bit of power ever admitted they were wrong?

Monday, January 28, 2013

Tired.com

So the panto is done and so am I! Absolutely knackered. On a positive I thought I had half of social services descending this afternoon, but it's next Monday. Which is just as well as the house looks like I've hardly done any housework the past week because I've been panto-ing ...... oh wait, I have!

Saturday baked about 70 cupcakes. Tried a new recipe - chocolate mayonnaise - really, really nice :) And 48 hours later they taste as nice as when they were first baked. I tweaked the recipe a bit but think it's going to be my go-to chocolate cake recipe.
Two shows and mad icing between the shows! Although slather icing instead of piped, which is what happens when you forget piping bags.

Sunday back down to Cordes Hall for after show clear up. Had to take Ella with me and she was a diamond ..... for 1.25 hours and then that was it, bored.com!
When we got back Ella needed to retreat, had lots going on the past few weeks. So we snuggled up on the settee with a blanket and ...........yes, you've guessed it, Twilight! Thank heavens there's 4 films to choose from. I could probably win Mastermind if the subject was the Films of The Twlight Saga LOL!
Then went to a Mind-Body-Spirit event up at the Hilton, wanted to see what it was like, thinking of exhibiting there. Was going to go with Ariane, but she was poorly :(

Roast dinner; homemade sugo; and chicken stock all made.

Post of fb this morning, worth sharing :) "Ways to gain brownie points - sending your once in a blue moon 'I love you' text message :) Giving me a Cath Kidston Christmas Journal.Ways to lose brownie points - suggest we go out for a meal for Valentines (first time in 18 years!!!) then when I say that'll be lovely, say great I'll let everyone know - 5 couples on a meal out is not a valentines date! And finally, finding a pair of joke pants someone at SMC bought you years ago and modelling them - never put my eyes through that again!"

Bit of chilling then better start on the housework :) Why on earth did I put a smilie there????
Friday, January 25, 2013
Hi folks - panto time so busy as usual, album created on my facebook page if you're interested. Have enjoyed being on stage. Still not enjoyed all the Sundays. Oh well, only 2 shows left tomorrow then it's all over. What will I do with myself? Well. I am out Sunday with Ariane, Tuesday with Joy and Thursday governors - but can save all them for the next post.

So, Jeff brought Ella, Joy, Joshua and Ashton to see Rumplestiltskin on the opening night. Joy has now got the bug back - don't think it's catching - and I have a feeling will be at the next panto audition :) And Ashton had never seen an Am Dram panto before..... and loved it. Which of course she would, what's not to love? Women dressed as men. Men dressed as women. Children dressed as animals, fairies spiders. Silly jokes. Slapstick (I actually hate slap stick, always have!). Song and dance. Can you tell I love panto :) So good we have another convert in the family! Will have to work on Ricki, Kim, Daniel and Shona next year ;)

Ariane brought the girls, and think Emily might be a budding choreographer :)

And Mum and Aunty Jean came and blocked the high street up while they crawled into Uncle Johns car.

Martha is now 6, but thanks to the snow I couldn't get to her tea party :( And Dad, Sandra and Joe couldn't get up to the panto. I love the snow but it can be a pain in the proverbial ..... Did I spell that right? Loving this photo!

Jeff dyed my hair - £6 DIY bit cheaper than £45 and got to say liking the end result - actually feel younger, must be cos all the grey hairs have temporarily gone into hiding! I did make some comment when I put this photo on fb about feeling like an eighties throwback!
Thanks to a snow day Ella had a play date - she doesn't have many :( Benjamin made me laugh when he commented on how much Gracie talks, when you consider Ella takes after her Mum and suffers from verbal diarhorrea! Can just imagine the 2 of them on the school transport, bet the escort has ear plugs!

These came through the door the other morning, from our newest neighbours, thanking Benjamin for helping to clear the snow :) Isn't that lovely? Nothing like a RAK/ARK - depending on your preference ;)
Photo a day piccies I'll add next time :)

Haven't got a photo, but attended a baby shower and was the 'entertainment'. A few of the guests booked Indian Head Massages. It was a lovely evening and a fab idea. So if you can get half a dozen people together at your home to book massages (£15 each) as hostess you'll get one for free! I hear I'm quite good at them ;)

Not going to spoil this chilled post with a rant - will save that for Monday! But tune in next time (Soap anyone?) for a rant about respite and social services - fricking council tax - and Joe's CICA claim - how flaming expensive opticians are and anything else I can think of between now and then!

Laterz xxxx
Wednesday, January 09, 2013

New 'Do and The Hobbit

So last week I had a message from the lovely Dawn asking if I had been to see The Hobbit yet. Sadly the answer was no, because Ben went with his mates and he didn't want me hanging around - harsh, but fair. And Joy and Hev were going with their other halves. I however had no intention going with my other half as previous experience has shown that if he doesn't really want to go, he falls asleep. Now when cinema tickets cost around £11.00 for the big comfy (comfy - not a word I use often, but whenever I do all I can hear is Steve Martin's voice as the sadistic dentist in Little Shop of Horrors! Of course, now I've shared that thought, you'll all have the same problem!) chairs I have an issue paying that for Jeff to nap - we have a perfectly good, albeit threadbare, settee for that. And I don't mind going on my own - been there and done that - but he does. Go figure, I've given up long ago trying to figure that one out - "Hey babe, don't go to the cinema on your own, I'll come with you." Followed by spending twice as much and 2 hours of snoring. I suppose the phrase 'Men!' covers this mentality ;)
Back to the film, and I get to go with Dawn. First time I've seen a 3D action movie, not bad. Loved it when it felt like birds and butterflies were flying towards you. Wouldn't have be so keen if it had been blood and limbs. So I did enjoy it, but I have now got the book down and given it a dusting to see just how much off story they went - quite a lot I think.
And today I got my hair cut. As I've got older I go less and less. Partly financial and partly making time. And then every now and then I wake up and think ...... hmmmmm ....... beginning to look like a bag lady. I trundled off to town and - apart from the expensive ones - couldn't find a reasonably priced one. So ended up round the corner. I have to say I am really pleased with the end result. Haven't lost much off the length but lots of layers to bring the natural curls back - and it has done that with a vengeance! Was going to have it coloured, but £45 to a semi permanent colour seemed damned expensive. And actually, now that it's been manhandled I don't think I'll worry at the moment.

Right, off to order a pink feather duster .........
Monday, January 07, 2013

Capture Your 365 Week 1

Lots of my scrapping friends over the years have taken part in taking a photo every day, but I've never felt I would have the time, or that my life would be varied enough LOL I have done a few specific albums 9 in 2009 meant 9 photos each month - I still love that album, it's probably on here somewhere if you hunt. Maybe I should set up a flickr account and put them all together in one place? And a few years ago I did like an intensive week, which again is a nice insight into a week in this madhouse. But this year I've decided to take the bullet and go for the photo a day.

I decided to go for this one ...... Capture Your 365 ...... but there's loads of inspiration out there if this one doesn't tick your box :) So you get a list for the month of daily prompts, but you don't have to stick with the regime - which is just as well, cos I've changed every one so far!

Here goes :)
1. A Doorway - so obviously our front door before the wreath and decorations come down.
2. Frozen - Jeff actually took this one outside our house
3. Hands - Love this of 3 of the boys with their arms and hands around each other :)

4. A Self Portrait - Again, Jeff playing with the camera, but you've got to admire the irony of a vegetarian being the one to strip the chicken to make stock!
5. Jumbled - Well, that's pretty much what this mess is - all just out of Ella's bedroom and waiting to be recycled; put in the charity bin; put in the garage for a car boot sale; and thrown! How can that much come out of the smallest bedroom in the house!
6. Circle - It hit me when I was tidying up the aftermath just how like a circle of life Ella's bedroom is. Every shelf, cupboard and item has memories of the people who gave them to her. One of her knitted toys was given to Joe when he was 5 weeks old and seriously ill by Ricki and Daniel. The books take me back to reading to them, and at the nursery. The new boots in the box remind me of the shop. So many memories, definitely a circle of life.
7. Peaceful - Does exactly what it says on the tin - although with a bit of poetic licence as this wasn't taken on the 7th, but as soon as I snapped it I knew it had to be for Peaceful.
Friday, January 04, 2013

Crafting, bargains, shhhhh, but......

Life seems to be calming down. I know, I know, I shouldn't have said that. Too late. Thought it. Said it. And like fate ever waits for me to welcome him *rolls eyes*

Anyhow, current funk is behind me, no we have no respite, yes, Ella is still having truly awful days, yes Joe is still on tag, no Joshua hasn't been spotted  by a football scout yet, and yes we still have no money but the world didn't end in December, and we're still alive and pretty healthy so going with the positive atm.

Have submitted Legacy Stirs to Sparkling Books. But the biggest news about the book is that Mum read it, and actually liked it and the writing! I know, praise from my Mum is not something I get to blog about very much at all!
Had a lady come for a Reiki session the other day - was really intense, I was quite exhausted afterwards. She felt that she was being rocked, and that I was actually massaging her arms even though Reiki involves no physical contact. That made me feel really happy that she had had such a positive experience :)

Rehearsals are tiring. Five Sundays on the trot isn't great, but I am enjoying singing and being part of it. Def worth a visit if you fancy seeing a pantomime :)
Spotted these on ebay and 'won' them for only 99p each! I'm thinking, obviously redecorate them, and use them at Craft Fairs and Wedding/Spirit Mind Body exhibitions as notice boards But in decorating them I can make them stand out, not just look like every other notice board on the block :)
Also have finally started sorting out the downstairs cloakroom. Bought all the bits to renovate it last summer, but, well you know, life ....... Anyhow managed to get most on the cheap - of course - but couldn't find a mirror I liked that wasn't going to mean we couldn't eat for a week! So adapted the current one with some brown, green and cream paint and some crackle glaze. Joshua's verdict "Looks good cos I know you did it, but if you didn't know, it just looks old!" So I'm happy with that as that was the look I was aiming for!
Have been enjoying some musicals on the telly lately - anyone else NOT miss re-runs of Bond ...... says the individual who happily listened to the umpteenth rerun of Seven Brides for Seven Brothers and Calamity Jane. Speaking of musicals, looking forward to Les Miserables on the big screen, hope I'm not disappointed.
Books - started to read What the Nanny Saw by Fiona Neill, but couldn't get into it. As it's about a nanny I really thought I would. And have already bought the Secret Life of a Slummy Mummy, so really think I should give it another go.
Took Ella to watch Reading play West Ham, courtesy of Aiming High, and the group she was with were in the Guard of Honour when the teams came on, Jeff managed to get this clip ....


Have seen Daniel and Shona this week - Jeff's been helping Daniel with the car and I'm helping Shona to learn knitting - how stereotypical is that! And that'll do, quite a long one, and not a whinge in site! Laterz xx
Tuesday, January 01, 2013

Word for the Year?

Over the past few years I have picked a word that has helped support me through the year ...... To recap .......

2012 Faith
2011 Family
2010 Balance
2009 Gratitude

I have been struggling with one word for 2013, then today one of my friends posted a quote on facebook (thank you Beth x) and it grabbed me for 2 reasons. Remember a few months ago I registered to do a course 'Scrapbooking your Faith'? Which incorporated inspirational quotes. And after the past few years this quote encompasses my life. So here we go, not a word for 2013, a quote from the bible ................
Hope you all have a happy and blessed New Year xx