Nursery Management

Q&A: Supervisions and Appraisals

Jo Baranek, lead early years adviser, NDNA, answers five frequently asked questions about induction, supervisions and appraisals…

Q: Why is the induction process important?
A: Induction is the process of helping new employees – or current employees who have changed role, for example, through promotion – to settle into a new role effectively. It involves familiarising them with things such as the work environment, their role and responsibilities, the people they will be working with, nursery policies and procedures, and children and families who use your setting. This process is important for giving new staff the opportunity to embed into the setting, promoting good practice, measuring performance and defining responsibilities and codes of conduct, as well as helping with staff retention. Section 3.18 of the revised EYFS states that “Providers must ensure that all staff receive induction training to help them understand their roles and responsibilities. Induction training must include information about emergency evacuation procedures, safeguarding, child protection, the provider’s equality policy, and health and safety issues.”

Q: What should the induction period involve, and how and when should it take place?
A: An induction should not just be one day or one week, it should be delivered over several months dependent on the individual (ideally, six months). However, there are key areas that need to be covered in day one and week one, such as health and safety (including evacuation procedures), information regarding policies and procedures to be followed, and basic child protection. Policies and procedures are key to the success of any nursery business. Your inductee needs to read these but also understand and put them into practice as soon as possible. It is also important that employees understand why they are in place and where they have come from. Inspectors will expect all staff to have a good knowledge about why you have policies and procedures in place. You should use an induction form during the induction period, which should be signed and dated as information is given or as understanding is demonstrated by the inductee.

Q: How long should the probation period for a new employee last, and what should I do during this time?
A: A probationary period is used to assess the suitability of a new employee and usually lasts 3–6 months. The new staff member should be given guidance, support and appropriate training opportunities, and performance should be assessed periodically. Where areas for development are highlighted, every opportunity should be provided to assist in the improvement of performance. A review form is usually completed at the end of the period.

Q: What is the difference between supervision and appraisal?
A: Supervision is regular contact between a team member and their manager to check progress, prioritise tasks, check individual children are being supported appropriately, provide and seek guidance and support and identify areas for improvement. Appraisal is a more formal process. It involves reviewing a practitioner’s performance over a period of time, then looking forward and reviewing set objectives, job description, strengths and areas for improvement and identifying how training needs will be met.

Q: How often should supervisions take place and what should this involve?
A: Supervision is an ongoing process, but the need for meetings to discuss observations and feed back depends on your policies and the needs of the individual. Supervisions allow you to:

● make sure that all children in the nursery are being supported and that there are no concerns;

● share success;

● provide support for team members around any issues or concerns;

● ensure any issues and concerns are solved or supported;

● identify any need for further support, and encourage staff to identify these needs for themselves.

Supervision meetings provide an opportunity for confidential information and concerns to be discussed, but should not be the only avenue for this; concerns should always be raised as and when they occur.

Visit the NDNA website for more support on all aspects of running a successful nursery business.