I shouldn’t be allowed to fill questionnaires out unsupervised. Nursery recently sent home a ‘how are we doing’ questionnaire to all parents. I had some fun with it….
The welcome you receive when you arrive at nursery
Most of the time we get a ‘Hello’ as we walk through the toddler room from whoever is on duty that morning, but the turnover of staff is rapid and they rarely wear name badges or introduce themselves.
The friendliness and attitude of the staff
Some of the staff are excellent but most of the others don’t give the impression of wanting to be there.
The overall cleanliness and décor of the nursery
- The new preschool room is really nice but the rest of the nursery smells pretty bad (of stale milk, bins & dirty nappies).
- There should be more things on the walls in the preschool room e.g. letters of the alphabet, days of the week, numbers up to 50, etc.
- I’d like to get more of a sense of activities that the children are doing together e.g. painted murals for the walls.
The general mood and atmosphere in the nursery
The mood is quite downbeat and the staff seem quite depressed and downtrodden.
Do you feel that your child likes the nursery and looks forward to coming here?
Yes they do, but that’s more to do with the fact that they can play with their friends than the activities they do.
Are you adequately informed/consulted about progress in your child’s personal development?
No. I have no idea how they are doing.
- This is concerning as they are starting school in September and I have no idea if they are being prepared for the transition or not. We are doing everything we can to get them ready for school, but I’d like to work in partnership with nursery on this.
- Apparently the children are doing Sporty Tots on Thursdays again after a hiatus. We were not informed of this by nursery and only know this anecdotally from the children.
Are you kept adequately informed/consulted about progress in your child’s education and learning skills?
No. I have had one report since they moved up to the preschool room.
- We do a lot at home with them e.g. flashcards, number and letter books, name and word writing, reading, letter of the week (with associated activities) but I have no idea if they are doing any of this at nursery. I’d like to know what their strengths and weaknesses are and if there are things we need to focus on at home.
- I get the impression that it has been decided that they are of average intelligence and therefore not worth bothering with. For example, I felt that they should be moved up to the preschool room much earlier than they did but was told quite categorically on several occasions that they had to wait until September. This completely contradicts the current procedure of moving all of the 3 year olds up to the preschool room, which means that they are no longer divided into school years and that the older children may not be doing age-appropriate work as the carers are having to keep more of an eye on the younger children.
Do you feel encouraged to become involved in nursery activities?
Yes – on the daily sheets and in the newsletters it says that parents are encouraged to stay and play, but for most working parents it’s hard to justify taking time off work to spend at nursery. The ‘Big Events’ (Christmas, Sports Day, Fun Day, etc) are well-publicised and attended by parents.
Do you feel staff listen to you, respect your views and act upon any recommendations you may have?
No. I requested that the preschool children do flashcards but this hasn’t happened. We’re always told to ‘put suggestions in the postbox’ but in my experience they are ignored.
Do you feel comfortable in approaching our staff with any problems or concerns that you have?
I wouldn’t say I feel comfortable, as the last time I complained I was phoned up by the person that I complained about and they spoke to me in an aggressive manner. The matter was resolved and things improved subsequently. I have got to the point now where I feel that if I raise things, it will make life more difficult for the children so I’m trying to be more circumspect. For example, I have tried to keep this document as anonymous as possible so that the child/ren involved can’t be identified as I fear there may be repercussions for them.
How well do you feel that the nursery provides equal opportunities for all children?
I like the fact that they celebrated Chinese New Year and the Christian festivals are always well-recognised, but I’d also like them to learn about other faiths e.g. Judaism and Islam. Also the notion of equal opportunities is wider than just faith-based learning. It also encompasses disability (physical and mental), sexuality and gender and I don’t see how these are represented in nursery activities.
How do you rate the quality of menus for children’s meals in terms of variety and nutritional value?
The quality of food has gone downhill over the last two years. Lunch is usually things like corned beef hash, which is extremely cheap and not very nutritious. Tea is generally just a scone or a crumpet, and we often have to give a snack at home before bathtime now as they aren’t full when they come home. However, they do eat a lot of fruit at nursery which is good to hear (if the daily sheets are actually filled in truthfully).
How well do you feel that you are kept informed of trips and outings that are planned for the children?
They haven’t been on an outing for about eighteen months, so this hasn’t been an issue. It’s a shame that outings don’t take place any more as I’m sure the children would enjoy them. Maybe if they staff were more motivated they would organise exciting trips for the children. The preschoolers would certainly benefit from a trip to the aquarium or even Greenwich Park and the Maritime Museum.
How well do you feel that you are kept informed of nursery events?
We always know about the ‘big’ events e.g. fun day, sports day and the Christmas activities. However, we had no idea that the Big Stars were doing superheroes and fairytales until we spoke to another parent. I’d like to get a planner that outlined activities for the coming term, so that we could reflect the things they’re focusing on in nursery at home.
Our level and quality of response when you telephone the nursery?
I’ve only phoned the nursery a couple of times but on one occasion I phoned to ask how my child was and I was greeted very coldly and my concerns were brushed off. I felt stupid for even phoning.
If you have had cause to make a complaint, what do you feel about the manner in which it was handled?
I have made two complaints in writing. The first complaint was handled very well in writing. The second complaint was handled very badly initially (see earlier answer), but things improved afterwards.
What are your overall impressions of the nursery?
It’s a missed opportunity.
- The nursery is in a prime location and has the space and potential to become an Outstanding Early Years Setting but it is poorly managed and the staff don’t seem to want to be there or care about their jobs.
- Little attention is paid to the individual needs of the children. Bright children are not stretched to achieve their full potential.
- I get the impression that as the nursery is full and there is a waiting list, there is no incentive to improve.
- I have yet to meet a parent who is totally happy with the nursery.
Would you recommend the nursery to others?
Unfortunately, I wouldn’t for the reasons outlined above.
Do you have any other comments?
We all got the same, blanket response sheet back. The meals have improved (although the girls are still scarfing down a snack when they get home) and the staff seem friendlier (apart from the one that now blanks me totally) but I still don’t really have a sense of what they get up to. We were told to look at their learning folders but on past experience I know that they are full of post-its with no sense of cohesion.
Six months to go….