Case study: White Road Preschool
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An interview with Tracy Taylor, Manager
We are a local community charity, and feel strongly that we have a corporate and social responsibility to work with our local schools, college and university to offer placements for students to experience the world of work.
Our T Level placement students follow the Education and Childcare, Early Years pathway. These give students the opportunity from day 1 to build their confidence towards a potential career if they go for an actual job. In early years our work with children (aged 2-5) involves both their personal care as well as their education and it is the latter that we feel our students can really get experience, with support, through placement activities.
Working in a close relationship with our local college we carry out interviews with potential students. Safeguarding is our priority and we need to ensure that we are fully prepared to support any students prior to their placements being agreed. DBS checking is done by the college however students are never left on their own with our children in any of the areas within or outside our buildings.
The placement model
We have had students on a range of different models of placement, from one day a week, long term childcare qualification placements to 1-2 week blocks for work experience. We also have students that struggle with the fundamentals of school life, preferring to be in a work environment.
How does this work for us?
Our safeguarding protocols are clearly explained at induction when we outline what is expected of students throughout their placement. For example, we explain they report if they see an accident, to call over a member of staff immediately to inform them of potential issues as they arise and not to try to deal with this themselves.
We explain how we work with our children, emphasising the importance of engaging through talking which is fundamental to our approach. In the preschool we have a range of activities covering all areas of child development; all things creative, painting, drawing, learning to use scissors, number games, reading and song time as well as using the outdoor environment to look at the world around us, exploring the weather, seasonal changes and living creatures. Alongside this there are cultural activities on offer in our role play areas to encourage imagination and creativity through play.
We encourage our students to start off using our materials so they can see how they work before they create their own. If our students have got an idea I ask them to bring their suggestions to me. I always encourage students to come up with their own ideas about things which we can discuss as part of our team working.
How does it work for students?
We find it valuable for our placement students to work on the educational development with our children. This involves, for example, getting involved in school trips, working with the parents as well as Reading and Writing, Maths, Knowledge and Understanding of the World and Physical Play. So, our students watch our qualified staff and then, when they are confident, are observed by a practitioner. All education areas in the Early Years Foundation Stage can be covered with us except toileting. Students will observe all aspects of personal care but will not be allowed to carry this out on placement with us.
As the T Level Technical Qualification requires that students have experience from baby to 2, then 2-5, 5,6,7 and then year 1 and year 2, our students need to flexible placements to gain experience with the range of groups.
Whilst on placement, the college asks that we assess students in certain areas of their work with us which we are very happy to do.