Creating a staff buddy system in your setting
Starting a new job can be very daunting especially in the early years when each setting can vary greatly. The statutory guidelines will all be the same (if staying in the same area of the country) and the framework will be the same. However, each setting will have their culture, ethos and different policies and procedures.
A buddy system ensures practitioners easily fit into the setting and quickly pick up on the settings unique traits so that practice can remain at its best and there is a level of continuity for the children even with new practitioners starting. Often a buddy system will informally be filled by a head of the room, and it is down to each setting whether they feel this is the best way to implement a buddy system.
The downside to using a head of room as a buddy is that room leaders already have quite a large workload and can sometimes be seen as part of the management structure so some new staff may not feel they can fully turn to a room leader in case it jeopardises their new job role.
What is the job role of a ‘buddy’?
A buddy will do several things which will all help the new practitioner, current practitioners and the practice in the setting. A ‘buddy’ usually:
- Will show a new practitioner around the building and introduce them to the other practitioners in the building This is important for team building, making a new practitioner feel welcomed and valued instantly and also in helping a new practitioner learn the culture and ethos of the setting. They can also point a new practitioner in the direction of any useful materials or displays such as the EYFS display showing how the setting implements the EYFS or a safeguarding board showing the designated lead and the settings procedure.
- Be available to answer any questions or concerns a new practitioner may have – Although an induction will have taken place sometimes it is difficult to take in so much information in one go so having a buddy means a new practitioners can go and ask questions and can give answers or point them in the right direction to get the answers
- Offer support, advice and feedback – This is a reason it is useful if the buddy is not seen as someone who is in management because they will feel comfortable to approach with any concerns or when they need advice. Starting a new setting can be tricky so it is important for a new practitioner to feel they can talk to someone when they need to.
- Understand the culture of the setting – All early years settings are different for example some may be Montessori, Forest schools, free flow, natural materials, minimalist environment, teach writing or not teach writing, this list is endless and having a buddy ensures that the new practitioner quickly learns the culture or ethos of the setting so practice is consistent and the children are not negatively affected.
How does a buddy system work in your settings?