That would be me in case you’re wondering. I’m only slightly overstating this.
The girls’ transition to the Little Stars room at nursery back in September went really well but I found myself getting increasingly annoyed with one member of staff. She (S) was uncommunicative with us and we barely ever saw her. Unfortunately S was also the LS room leader and G’s key worker. Between September and December she had spoken to me once and that was only because I pressganged her into speaking to me. She hadn’t spoken to dh at all and he actually takes and collects the girls more than I do.
Was it us, I wondered. I soon found out that we were not alone. At a playdate in October we had a good whinge about S with the other parents. Another Mum was so upset she didn’t want to leave her daughter one morning because S had refused to acknowledge her existence. The rumblings of discontent got louder.
At the beginning of December I took matters into my own hands and wrote a letter (I’ve anonymised it here):
Re: G W, Little Star Room
We are writing to formally request that G is assigned to a different key worker. She is currently ‘looked after’ by S and we are not happy with this arrangement for the following reasons:
1. We were told that G’s key worker would be S when she moved up to the Little Star Room. S did not attempt to speak to Gl or I in the transition period that took place in September. I understand that she was on holiday when the move took place – that’s fine but she should have made an effort to introduce herself to us when she returned to work.
2. I eventually took matters into my own hands in early October and mentioned to M (R’s key worker) that we hadn’t spoken to S yet. A rather reluctant S was then ‘forced’ to speak to me about G for a few moments. This was in October. Gl and I haven’t spoken with her since as she makes herself ‘unavailable’ when we drop off and collect the girls i.e. dealing with another child or group of children.
3. S doesn’t acknowledge the girls’ (or our) presence when we arrive at nursery in the morning. For example, when S is on breakfast duty she doesn’t say hello to us and rarely says hello to the girls. I would expect a brief hand-over to take place at this point, or a brief greeting at least.
4. Last Tuesday afternoon (30th November), Gl and I arrived to pick the girls up and we couldn’t find G’s hoodie. K and M very kindly looked all over the nursery for it, while S stood by the kitchen, clearly unwilling to help with the search. As G’s key worker and the room leader, I would expect her to be slightly more helpful.
5. S informed me in our one brief chat that D would be doing G’s Autumn assessment and she didn’t feel she knew G well enough. To date, we have not received news of this assessment. In any case, as G has now been in the new room for nearly three months S – or preferably one of the other members of Little Star Room staff could do the assessment.
In short, we feel that S is unfriendly and unapproachable and that G deserves and, moreover, needs a much better level of care than she is currently receiving.
We are both very happy with M, who always takes time to chat with us about both R and G. However, we would like G to be assigned to a different key worker so that they receive individualised care and entirely separate assessments.
We would like the following actions to be taken:
1. Assign G to a new key worker with immediate effect
2. Arrange a time for us to meet with the new key worker (before Christmas)
3. Prepare a new assessment for G (by January)
It is extremely disappointing to have to write a formal letter of complaint again. Neither Gl or I are ‘drop and run’ parents – we are more than happy to spend time chatting to the nursery staff and regard ourselves as friendly and approachable. We wouldn’t have built up such a good rapport with M, De, Di and R (sadly missed) otherwise.
Once again, I feel that we are being subjected to a second class service in terms of nursery care for our children.
Dh handed the letter in to the manager on Monday morning. We heard nothing from them until the Thursday when I got a call on my mobile. S was extremely irate and demanded that we speak to her that evening when we came to collect the girls. Dh and I had taken the afternoon off to prepare for the girls’ birthday so we were able to prepare ourselves and discuss a strategy for the meeting. We agreed that we would be friendly but would stand our ground.
The meeting took place in the staff room. S was accompanied by the nursery manager. S’s opening gambit was that she was very hurt by what I’d said in the letter and that none of it was true. Dh replied that this was the first time she had ever spoken to him. That took the wind out of her sails somewhat and things progressed rather well. We stuck to the ‘concerned rather than pushy parent’ line we had agreed to adopt. S showed us G’s file and it was full of photos, assessments and post-it notes on which she had written little anecdotes about G. It broke my heart a little bit because she clearly knew and understood G, but hadn’t communicated it to us.
The outcomes were as follows:
- S now speaks to both of us, usually at length, when we drop the girls off and pick them up
- G’s daily sheet always has a little handwritten anecdote on it from S.
- S did a new assessment of G and she’s doing just fine (we knew that, but wanted it in writing)
- We’re going to have monthly meetings with S on a Thursday evening to discuss both girls.
A rather nice by-product of all of this is that the parents that were unhappy have noticed that S is making an effort to speak to them now and that things are improving. I didn’t even doubt her ability to look after G and she is clearly doing good things with her charges but she didn’t know how to communicate it to us. She was clearly so upset by my letter that she is on a mission to prove us wrong. I sincerely hope she continues to do so.
Yeah, I do feel a bit smug, since you asked!