Are you doing too much? Blog 3 - part 1
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    Default Are you doing too much? Blog 3 - part 1

    Unnecessary paperwork

    In blog 3, part 1 of my series of ‘are you doing too much?’ blogs, I want to tackle the myth of ‘I need it in writing because…’ paperwork.

    Nancy Stewart, a teacher, consultant, trainer, co-author of Development Matters and expert in all things EYFS recently stated (2016): ‘The burden of keeping evidence comes from misinterpretation by others, while the EYFS explicitly says paperwork should be kept to the absolute minimum of what’s useful for supporting children’.

    You can read more of her comments here - “The EYFS is often wrongly blamed for faults which lie elsewhere” “The EYFS is often wrongly blamed for faults which lie elsewhere”

    You can find part 1 of my ‘are you doing too much?’ series of blogs here – http://www.childmindinghelp.co.uk/fo...-too-much.html

    And you can find part 2 of my blog which tackles misunderstandings about how to use ‘Early Years Outcomes’ here – http://www.childmindinghelp.co.uk/fo...-post-2-a.html

    How do we know what is essential… what is useful… what is a waste of our time? Very often excess paperwork pops up because a Local Authority adviser has said that a childminder should write something down when it’s not really needed; sometimes childminders have long memories and remember something an Ofsted inspector suggested they put in writing many years ago which is now no longer required; other times the childminding grapevine throws up ideas for paperwork that are totally unnecessary.

    I followed a link to a paperwork selling website the other day – a friend sent it me for evaluation so I thought I’d have a look. It boasted that the CD it was selling came complete with ‘50 policies’ and ’26 record forms’ and my heart sank – no wonder childminders are getting into a muddle about what they need to do and feeling overwhelmed!

    Over the years I have seen some very silly forms and documents to record all sorts of odd things such as –

    Sleep checks – yes of course we have to take cot death seriously and it’s very important to check sleeping babies and children regularly, but who on earth is going to look through 4 or more years’ worth of sleep check forms (assuming 4 years between inspections)? Your risk assessment (which can be in your head – it doesn’t have to be on paper to comply with the EYFS) should say: ‘Sleeping babies children are in a suitable place with clean bedding. The room is kept at an appropriate temperature. I check them regularly and inform parents how long they have slept’ – job done!

    Nappy changing records – it is important to be able to tell parents when their child has had a nappy change and they really need to know whether it was a wee or a poo. This can be recorded in the child’s diary (if you do one – it’s not a requirement). We are not huge settings with multiple members of staff who might forget whether child A’s nappy has been changed all day!

    Daily cleaning schedules – we are required by the EYFS to keep children safe and healthy. We do this in a variety of ways including cleaning our toys and equipment regularly and doing a deep clean at the weekend or if a child has been sick on a toy box or fallen ill in the provision. We do not need to tick a cleaning schedule every day to show evidence that we have done it – who is going to look at it and what does it prove?

    Daily risk assessment checklists – we can keep children safe without ticking a checklist every morning. They were the ‘in thing’ a few years ago, with lots of childminders ticking lists while drinking their morning cups of tea but, as written risk assessments are no longer a requirement of the EYFS, so daily checklists are considered unnecessary. A good Ofsted inspector will see that you are doing it properly… fire escape doorways will be uncluttered, cables will be hidden away, toys will be safe. By all means make yourself a prompt list if you find it useful but what are you proving by ticking something every day?

    Visitor log books – I am sorry to all those sellers on eBay who make money from childminders by selling them things they really don’t need, but visitor log books are not a requirement of the EYFS. A week per view diary is all you need - it is good practice to make a quick note in your diary when visitors come into the house and you must be able to explain your ‘visitor policy’ ie. What you do with visitors when asked by Ofsted. All you need to record in your diary is time in, visitor’s name, reason for visit and time out.
    If you really want a sheet to record visitors you can find a free one here - https://www.childcare.co.uk/free-childminder-paperwork.

    Multiple policies and procedures – have them by all means if they are useful to you and parents read them but you don’t need them to comply with the EYFS. The only policies and procedures you need in writing are safeguarding and child protection and complaints (to comply with the Childcare Register) and it is good practice to have some core written policies and procedures on subjects such as behaviour, medication administration and, of course, fees (more advice to follow). Apart from that, you can give parents information verbally or share short ‘information sheet’ style documents with them as and when you want to provide them with information about, for example, toilet training, admissions or the 2 year progress check.

    Safeguarding and child protection policy and procedure writing tips - https://www.facebook.com/groups/inde...9765447378196/

    Complaints procedures writing tips – Sarahs complaints form

    Note – policies and procedures should be accessible if parents / Ofsted want to read them but they do not need to be displayed.

    Permissions – if a child falls over you need to use your first aid skills and clean them up and apply a plaster (as long as you have checked they do not have any allergies to plasters)… to comply with the EYFS you have to observe children during play… if a child is tired and you are about to go out walking on the school run you will need to pop them in a buggy to go to sleep. What would you do if a parent refused to give you permission to do these things? You wouldn’t be able to do your job would you? So you’d probably lose the work… when they are not required permissions in the first place. As a general rule - don't ask permission for something you need to do to comply with the EYFS or care effectively for the child!! Instead inform parents about what you do and why...

    Other permissions that are no longer required by the current EYFS (they used to be in older versions but they are not in the latest framework) include permission to take children on outings and permission to travel in a car; you do not need permission from parents before you get a new pet either (and Ofsted do not want to know about your new puppy).

    Extra learning and development documents - the EYFS requires all early years providers to record children’s starting points, observe children’s play, assess their learning and development, note what learning characteristics they are using at the moment (how they are learning) and use these observations to plan activities which will support them to make progress in their learning. We also need to track children’s progress – in the simplest way we can find that makes sense to us and parents.

    The EYFS does not require providers to fill in complicated planning sheets, write multiple observations every day or week, colour in flower petals or print ‘wow’ sheets with pretty pictures and lots of colours on them. Of course, if you want to use these types of documents, go ahead – but don’t turn round and blame ‘burdensome paperwork requirements from Ofsted’ if you then find yourself falling behind.

    Outside planning sheets – all activities should be available across all areas of your provision. For example, children should have access to books, mark making and role play in the house and garden equally. You don’t need to write separate outside planning sheets – in fact, you don’t need to write group planning sheets at all if you are happy to work without them. Your Ofsted inspector will see the children playing outside and recognise that they are as independent and confident in their play in the garden as they are in the house.

    Printed copies of DfE documents – I feel it’s important to have a printed copy of the EYFS and Childcare Register because I refer to them regularly when I am finding bits of legislation to share with colleagues and I have used them both to audit my provision. The rest of the documents such as those relating to, for example, the Equality Act 2010, ‘What to do if you are worried a child is being abused’, the latest safeguarding inspection handbook, other inspection documents and SEND requirements can be read online and kept in your computer files.

    Monthly / termly planners – yes, of course it’s important to know that Easter is coming up or it’s Pancake Day next week and to have the ingredients and / or craft materials ready to help the children learn more about a range of national and world festivals and celebrations. However, you cannot possibly know what actual activities you are going to cover with the children months in advance because their interests change so frequently. If you want to have a file of medium term / monthly planning for reference then you can have one – nobody is stopping you – but remember there are lots of free guides online and you don’t have to put yourself under pressure to do it all yourself from scratch.

    You can find my planning guides for gold Childcare.co.uk members here and there is also a free 2016 annual group planner - https://www.childcare.co.uk/informat...ildminder-plus.

    Parents newsletters – they can be useful for sharing information, don’t get me wrong – and I do one every month for our parents because they work for me but they are not a requirement of the EYFS. Neither is it a requirement to spend hours writing newsletters, putting information in colourful boxes with pictures and different typefaces. If you find parents are not reading them then have a chat with them and find out what they will read and change your ways of working. For example, some parents might prefer to receive information by email or on a closed Facebook group. The requirement in the EYFS is to work in close partnership with parents – how you do that is your choice.

    Fire drill assessments – it is not a requirement of the EYFS to do fire drills but it is very good practice to plan them every month or so. When completed you can put a note in your diary and let parents know their child has taken part in a fire practice in their diary or verbally. You do not need to fill in forms and assess how fire drills went unless you find them useful – if your Ofsted inspector asks the children ‘what do you do in a fire?’ it will be clear whether you have practiced or not!

    If you want to record fire practices you will find free paperwork here – https://www.childcare.co.uk/free-childminder-paperwork.

    I hope you find this series of blogs useful - please let me have your feedback.

    Part 2 of this blog is coming soon ... and blog 4 will talk about what paperwork you DO need to comply with the Eyfs and related handbooks and documents - but I will probably wait until the Eyfs has been updated before publishing that one!
    Last edited by sarah707; 18-10-2016 at 06:36 AM.

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    thank you Sarah. I found this very useful.

    Jenny

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    Thank you Sarah very helpful.

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    Thank you. Really useful.

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    really interesting and useful.Thankyou. I think my DO needs to see this. Shes obsessed with documenting everything
    Julie X X

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    Quote Originally Posted by julie w View Post
    really interesting and useful. Thankyou. I think my DO needs to see this. Shes obsessed with documenting everything
    This is a big problem as I see it. EYFS states most of this isn't necessary but then a DO visits and you're told you need to do this, this and this. Even with the EYFS in front of them.

    If something ISN'T required we should not do it. Yet we all continue to do x, y and z because we've been advised to and told its "good practice".

    Its all so contradictory!

    No one dare NOT do any of these advised things incase it goes against them at inspection so we all continue to do "too much"...........

    Here endeth my rant (sorry!)

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    Quote Originally Posted by mumofone View Post

    This is a big problem as I see it. EYFS states most of this isn't necessary but then a DO visits and you're told you need to do this, this and this. Even with the EYFS in front of them.

    If something ISN'T required we should not do it. Yet we all continue to do x, y and z because we've been advised to and told its "good practice".

    Its all so contradictory!

    No one dare NOT do any of these advised things incase it goes against them at inspection so we all continue to do "too much"...........

    Here endeth my rant (sorry!)
    I only do anything if it helps me.

    For example ...
    I probably don't NEED to copy and file each weeks plans, BUT I currently find them helpful to look back over at a glance rather than looking at each individual child's file. In time I may stop doing so!

    I was doing termly summaries, then 6 monthly ... I've now decided to stop as I know where children are and where they are going. But it's MY decision, not anyone else's.
    Last edited by loocyloo; 18-10-2016 at 09:07 PM.

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    Wonderful blog Sarah I shall read the other two tomorrow.

    Just to support a lot of what you have said. I was last Inspected in Sept 2015.

    The only written Developmental Paperwork I had for the Inspector to see was my 2 year Check File which has copies of the 4 2 year checks I had done up to that point and there are now 2 more in it.

    I had nothing else written down. I have lots of photos and I do do photo books for the children with short anecdotes about what they were doing or where we were.

    I have two multiple frames above the children's coat hooks so the children share photos with their parents.

    I have a digital frame which I often load pictures on and put on for the children to look at and a large album.

    I have a folder on my table with EYFS, Development Matters and The Early Years Outcomes because I refer to all f them all the time.

    I play with my children and I observe them when they are happy playing themselves. I know the children inside out but I work on my own and I will only ever have a max of 4 children under 5 at one time and usually only 3 so I get to know them very well indeed. I know where they were when they started with me, I know how they learn, their individual interests and maybe I am lucky but I have never had a problem with the concept of 'Next Steps', children will naturally progress or may need a little intervention or particular activity to encourage the moving on but it is common sense. I get to know the children inside out and again maybe I am lucky but I can talk about them and where they are. That is what happened during my inspection. The inspector observed me with the children and asked questions, she also looked at the photographic evidence and actually watched the children watching the photos and talking about where they wee and what they had been doing.

    The Inspector walked in saying she did not expect or want to see written Planning.

    She did ask to see my CPD file and asked about some training I had done and what impact had it had on my setting.

    She looked at all the Attendance, Permissions, Accident/Incident/Medication Folder and checked the Information I had on address, contacts numbers etc. She also looked at my Child Protection /Safeguarding folder in which there was a copy of my 8 page 13 Policies and Complaints Procedure document as most of the Policies cover Protecting the children and their Welfare in some way. I just have the first page of each of the documents I saved on the computer, the ones Sarah mentions SEND, What to do if you worried about a child etc. Really so I have a quick check of what I have saved and what version.

    That is it.

    The only paperwork I do out of working hours and I have to say even this is rare now, and that is my Accounts. Everything is done during the working day.

    I always feel so sad when I see cm be moaning the fact they are bogged down in so much paperwork. Why? Every piece of cm paper has to justify it's place for me now. I question Why do I have it? Who is it for? Do I really need it?

    So much went in the bin after my last inspection, my family were amazed!

    I hardly ever print anything these days.

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    Totally agree sarah - time and time again I see minders saying thats their weekend gone because of catching up on their paperwork. Weekends are family time it be will never be paperwork.

    If what you do works for you and does not bog you down with needless paperwork which you are not needing - stop and look at what and why you are doing it.

    My DO came yesterday and told me I was duplicating myself but it suits me doing it this way so i will carry on doing it because it SUITS me.

    I like my ljs and i like to flick through to see what progress the children have made with me so that will continue for me but i do snapshot obs. I write a bit more for another child as he is undertaking speech and I like to note all the new words and sounds because I wouldnt remember for the next time he attended a speech session.
    When someone tells you nothing is impossible, tell them to go slam a revolving door

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