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Setting Manager Roles – What are Employers Looking For?

The role of a setting manager is to oversee the entire setting, ensuring (amongst other duties) that:

  • Children have a safe, caring and stimulating environment that nurtures them to learn through play.
  • Activities planned in the setting meet children’s needs.
  • Strong relationships with children’s families are maintained, giving them a high standard of customer service and providing regular progress reports.
  • Staff members and external professionals work together to make sure children’s needs are met.
  • The setting premises and equipment/furniture/toys are maintained and kept in good condition.
  • Budgets are created and managed correctly.
  • Child and staff records are maintained and kept up to date.
  • The setting is run in line with environmental, health and safety and fire regulations.

In terms of qualifications, to work as a setting manager you will need a nationally-recognised Level 3 qualification in childcare, as well as around two years’ post-qualifying experience of working with children. Experience of supervising other staff members would also be beneficial to your application – if you don’t have this yet you could volunteer to mentor newly qualified practitioners or junior staff members within your current setting. Experience as a room leader is also helpful in a manager application.

Photo by Leon on Unsplash

What skills does a setting manager need?

As in all early years practitioner roles, excellent communication and interpersonal skills are vital. As a setting manager you will not only work with families of children you’ve dealt with directly, but also support your team with any issues that may come up with families. Maintaining good relationships with children’s carers is one of the most important aspects of a practitioner’s role but, as a manager, if difficulties arise your ability to defuse tension and take charge of situations will be of the utmost importance.

Organisation is the cornerstone to running your setting efficiently and effectively. As a setting manager you will be in charge of just that – managing the whole setting. While different duties will fall to different people and you will be able to delegate, you will be the person keeping track of all the moving parts, and so being organised is key. There may be systems in place from the previous manager that don’t work for you that you may have to change but finding what works for you to keep on top of your work will be essential.

Signs of a good setting manager:

  1. Children are familiar with the manager – if you start as a setting manager, make sure you are interacting with children enough for them to confidently address you and feel comfortable with you around. It may initially be difficult to juggle “ground level” work with the new duties that come with a management role, but working on getting the balance right will definitely pay off.
  2. Children’s families are familiar with the manager – families should feel comfortable sharing any concerns they have with the manager, and to know that this person is invested in working with both them and their children. Even if you won’t be directly working in the rooms with children, it’s important that you build those relationships with families.
  3. Staff are supported – your setting’s team should be confident in your leadership and abilities and feel supported with any concerns or issues they may be having with their work. Creating an open atmosphere where people can speak freely will be vital to ensuring that your team know you’re on their side.
Photo by Kindel Media from Pexels

These duties and personal qualities are not exhaustive lists, but a good indication of what you should be aiming towards if you’re looking to move up in the early years sector and apply for a setting manager role.