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I am currently working as a mid-day supervisor (dinner lady) at the local village primary school. I have been employed there for a few years and I thoroughly enjoy it.
A mid-day supervisor or dinner lady, which ever you prefer to call it, is someone (male or female) who supervisors children during the lunch time period. Not to be confused with the kitchen staff, who are the people who prepare, cook and serve the school meals.
As a mid-day supervisor you will be expected to work outdoors as well as indoors. This includes all weathers, so during the cold, winter months it is advisable to wear warm suitable clothing. Should it be raining however, this is what is known as "Wet Play" and all the children and yourselves included remain indoors. The children remain in their own class rooms and each mid-day supervisor is allocated a class, to which they supervise during the lunch time period. You remain in that class room with the children, until they leave to have their lunch, then you accompany them into the dining hall. When your class finish their lunch, they will return to their class room along with yourself where you remain until the end of the lunch time period, and the teachers return to their class.
Outdoor duties include making sure the children are kept safe from harm, being on hand to help and advise children, should the need arise. To maintain a pleasant atmosphere amongst the children including teaching respect for adults and their fellow school friends alike.
Indoor duties include seating the smaller children, in order for them to consume their lunch whether it be a school dinner or a packed lunch. Assisting the younger children by cutting up their meals should this be necessary, making sure each child has a drink to accompany their meal. Making sure tables are wiped clean once a child has finished their lunch, to ensure a clean eating area for the next child who happens to sit there. Overall, maintaining order and keeping the noise in the dining hall to a bare minimum.
At the end of a normal (not wet play) lunch time period, the bell is rung and the children line up in their individual classes, where they wait, along with the mid-day supervisors, until the teachers come out to collect their own classes. This is when any incidents that may have occurred during lunch time, such as children fighting or a child obtaining an injury or simply not feeling well, is reported to the teacher.
Although the majority of mid-day supervisors are female, they do in fact try to encourage males to apply for these positions not only for the equal rights side of things but also for the simple fact, should there be more male mid-day supervisors, then it would even things out as far as the male children are concerned, they would benefit from having a male adult to help and assist during the lunch time period, especially the older (Year 6) boys in school. As it is, they usually have to make do with the female mid-day supervisors to assist in anything they may have a problem with. I personally think male mid-day supervisors are a good idea for this very reason.
--What is expected of you, holidays and pay--
You will, most probably be expected to attend any meetings that are scheduled for mid-day supervisors and you will have to attend school at an agreed time on every inset day, even though no children are in school, you still have to attend for meetings or training.
Mid-day supervisors work on average, an hour a day, but schools do vary. A secondary school mid-day supervisor can work anything up to 2 hours a day, having more complex duties to maintain.
The rate of pay currently stands at £6.18 per hour, this includes an extra £1.04 per month for laundry. (Washing your own tabard)
You are paid throughout the whole year, even when the school is closed. (school holidays) All that is expected from you is that you attend school for an hour, whenever there is an inset day.
A tabard or overall is provided for you to wear, in order to protect your clothing and help the children to identify who you are, you are also provided with a Hi-Viz (High Visibility) jacket to wear over your coat for outdoors, as your overall/tabard is concealed by your coat during the winter months.
To work as a mid-day supervisor it helps if you like to work around children and are able to communicate with a child at their level, this is why a mid-day supervisors position is ideal for parents with children of school age, who, do not already work, giving them a little something extra, pay wise.
Positions for mid-day supervisors are usually advertised on your local job sheet which can be obtained from your local library or can be found on your local councils website.
Interviews for the position of mid-day supervisor will be held in school, usually the heads office. Fairy straight forward interview usually conducted by the head teacher and senior mid-day supervisor, who in turn ask you various questions to which you should answer accordingly, you will be asked of experience e.t.c and you will also have to undergo a C R B (Criminal Records Bureau) check, which will be paid for by the school. If successful you will be allowed to start working before your C R B results come through, you will not however, be allowed around a child without supervision until you have been cleared.
--My experience as a mid-day supervisor--
I got my job as mid-day supervisor as I already worked at the school, and had done for several years as a cleaner. I used to work 2 hours cleaning 3.30 till 5.30 each school day. I was quite happy doing this job, however things changed for me health wise and I had to stop the cleaning job. I didn't want to give up working at the school as I had worked there for a while and wanted to continue to do so. I was diagnosed with Rheumatoid Arthritis and couldn't continue with my cleaning job. I approached the head teacher and asked if it would be possible to swap my cleaning job for that of mid-day supervisor, I knew a position had become available as someone had previously left, it would mean cutting from 2 hours to 1 hour but I was prepared to do this as I couldn't manage the 2 hours cleaning anymore anyway.
It was arranged for me to attend an interview, as I had to go through the correct channels in applying for the job.
Basically what happened was, I gave up my 2 hours cleaning after school and took on 1 hour mid-day supervising during the school day. As I had been diagnosed with RA I was asked to go through the correct channels with the occupational health, which I did and they confirmed I was fit for the job of mid-day supervisor.
In the school where I work, There are ten mid-day supervisors including the senior mid-day supervisor. We each have a class allocated to us, this is made known to the children. so if anything should occur during the lunch time period, the child or children concerned will go directly to their own class mid-day supervisor, then, it is noted down, dealt with immediately if possible, and reported to the teacher at the end of the lunch time period.
The class I supervise is a mixed class of year 5 and 6 children. Most of them are lovely children, I say most as there are a certain few that do have to be dealt with quite often. I do enjoy my time at school and wouldn't mind working more hours during the school day.
I remember when I started, my son had just three weeks left at the school, before he left for secondary school. It was lovely to see him at play enjoying school and playing with his friends. I wasn't allowed to supervise the class he was in at the time, due to the rules and regulations of the school. When the new school year started in the September, I remember feeling a great sense of loss as I scanned the playground, but already knowing my little boy wasn't there any more, he was now all grown up at big school. It took me a while to get used to the fact he wasn't there anymore, and of course I did eventually.
The ladies I work with are lovely, I couldn't wish for a nicer atmosphere in which to work. I suppose you could call me a "special case" mid-day supervisor due to my condition, (RA) although there is no visible evidence of this disease, only me personally (or anyone who also suffers with RA) can appreciate what the suffering from this, is really like. I'm lucky in one respect, as I am not allowed outside during the real cold and damp winter months, as this causes my condition to worsen and so I get to stay inside where it's nice and warm. I do feel guilty as the others still have to go outside, but they all totally appreciate my situation and respect the fact, that I'm a little bit different from them.
In my place of work, meetings are scheduled each week, The senior mid-day supervisor heads this meeting and all mid-day supervisors are expected to attend, but the meetings are scheduled within work time. This means the teaching staff have to finish their lunch break a little earlier in order to take over supervision of the children.
These meetings enable the mid-day supervisors to discuss any issues or problems they may have regarding their position as mid-day supervisor at the current time. Or to discuss any other matter that may have arisen.
--"School Policy For Physical Interventions"--
Recently, we have been given a copy of the "School Policy For Physical Interventions" this, for anyone who is unfamiliar, is a written policy basically telling us what is and what is not acceptable, for anyone working with children.
The reason I have written this in my review is because I was interested to see what parents in general (not just the school where I work) think is acceptable, as far as physical intervention goes.
We were given a few "For instances" during our meeting. As a parent myself I feel very strongly about this issue, if my child had been in any of these next situations, I would indeed want a mid-day supervisor to help, in any way they could, to prevent my child from injuring himself.
If a child is stuck on top of the play apparatus: As mid-day supervisors, we cannot assist/help that child down, even if the child concerned asks for help.
If a child looks like they are going to, or indeed, do fall from the play apparatus: As mid-day supervisors, we cannot attempt to stop that fall from happening. We have to just let it happen.
If two or more children are fighting: As mid-day supervisors, we cannot physically stop them, we have to tell them to stop (like they are going to listen) and hold up our hands in a stop position.
Should any of these instances occur, we are to send for a member of the teaching staff, as they are allowed to physically intervene. But in my opinion, waiting for a teacher to appear on the scene could take a while and therefore be to late in dealing with any given situation.
We were given more "for instances" but it was these three in particular that bothered me the most, I personally think, that as mid-day supervisors, we are with the children when they are most at risk of causing injury to themselves or others and if a child asks for help we should indeed, assist them. I also think that it is a natural instinct, for anyone to help a child, in any of these given situations.
I would really appreciate any comments you may wish to add here, as the mid-day supervisors at my school have decided to comply a letter to the governors, explaining how and why we disagree with their decision.
I've given the position of mid-day supervisor 5 stars because I love every aspect of my job.
Thank you for reading my review which is also posted on Ciao
I've been the assistant cook in a primary school for 4 years now. It's not the best paid job in the world, but if you've got kids at school, and want to be off with them at holiday times, it's really handy. That's the main reason I applied for the job. I get paid £7.27 an hour but because we get paid during the holidays, it ends up around a pound per hour less.
At my school I start at 8.00 am, where we start preparing for the day ahead. We have three main meals per day to make, one of them being vegetarian, and a pudding. We also make our own bread. Later on, 3 more staff come in, to help with serving the lunches, then it's tidy up time.
We have a three week menu, and I must say, school dinners have come a long way, everything is healthy and prepared from scratch.
I also have to do stock control on a weekly basis, and do food orders.
We don't have much interaction with the kids, apart from over lunch time, while serving their meal.
What is your idea of a dinner lady? Grey-haired sixty year olds spooning thick pink custard over unrecognisable dessert? Or maybe the women in light blue from the Victoria Wood sitcom? Well, I’m here to help you think again… ~~ What’s In A Name? ~~ I’m a dinner lady. Oh yes. But we have many names. Admittedly, the Dooyoo category title of ‘looking after the kids at school over lunchtime’ is rather long winded, but it is what we do. Our official title is either lunchtime supervisor or S.M.S.A (School Meals Supervisory Assistant). ~~ So How Did I Get The Job? ~~ I hadn’t really been looking for a job, but then one of my friends said she had been covering for one of the dinner ladies at school, which got me thinking. She mentioned they always needed more staff, so I went along to talk to the Headteacher and she asked if I could do supply work for two weeks, then we’d see how things went from there. I finished the trial period and was asked if I wanted to be taken on permanently. I initially said no, but after working for another week, I changed my mind and accepted. I now have to fill in a load of forms, but you get these with all jobs really. I get just over £5 an hour, but as I work 1 ¼ hours, I end up with just over £6 per day. Obviously, this is no good as a main wage-earning job, but fine for a bit of pocket money for housewives and mothers who need jobs to fit in with school hours. (You also get paid over the holidays!) ~~ What Does My Job Entail? ~~ Well, this may vary in different schools, but I will tell you what happens where I work. I am part of a team of four dinner ladies who work with the Juniors, which is kids aged 7 to 11 (Years 3-6). Two of us work together, alternating between staying inside until 12:15pm and until 12:30pm. The former means I work in the large hall where the kids eat packed lunches until 12:15pm (this is
usually with the Year 1 kids, as the older ones come in later), when I spend the next hour out in the school playground (or patrolling the corridors and classrooms, if it’s wet play). The latter means I work in the dining hall, supervising the kids eating school meals. I have to cut up food of the smaller children and take their plates away, scrape them and put the dirty pots in containers. I also have to wipe down the tables and chairs, and make sure the kids are behaving sensibly. Then I go outside at 12:30pm. While looking after the kids eating, we also have to make sure no-one chokes or has an allergic reaction to anything. We have to deal with any arguments or swearing, open crisp packets, fetch them spoons from the kitchen, peel apples and try to persuade them to eat their sandwiches! ~~ Out In The Playground ~~ There are up to four dinner ladies out in the Juniors playground each lunchtime, supervising some 200 or so children. You have to deal with any bad behaviour (breaking rules, swearing, fighting, etc.) as well as any accidents that may arise. So far, I have only had to deal with nosebleeds, cuts and bruises, but we have two epileptic girls in the school and in the past, kids have been concussed after falling and broken the odd bone. Let’s put it this way, the job is never boring! You always have plenty of disputes to deal with – from girls falling out with each other to full-scale fisticuffs from the older boys. You get your little ‘fan club’ – the same kids who follow you round, chatting and asking you things. You also get the regular kids who keep pushing, until they know where the boundary is – the ones who get all mouthy, to see what ‘Miss’ does about it. You see all sorts in the playground – it’s a real microcosm of life out there! As with any age and any situation, you will see loners, bullies, attention seekers, trendies, chat
terboxes, tell-tales and gossips. ~~ Rules vs Intuition ~~ When you start, you should be informed of the main school rules and the discipline procedure. It is pointless telling every child off for every offence, you have to pick and choose. There is a big difference between a one-off falling out which will be forgotten about the next day – and a group of bullies who regularly cause fights. You can have a quiet word with the children concerned in the first case, but the second should certainly be reported to the teacher and possibly the Head. We are told to carry round a notebook and pen with us. This is a necessity some days, when incidents come thick and fast and you are noting down several names and classes. It is also a surprising deterrent too! At some point every day, kids will suddenly start behaving well because “Miss has got the book out!” or they’ll plead their case, insisting they’ll be good from now on. ~~ The Bad Times ~~ As with all jobs, there are good and bad things about being a dinner lady. One of the worst things is the frustration – when you can’t get the kids to ‘kiss and make up’ or to see the logic behind what you are telling them. It often feels like you’re banging your head against a brick wall. There are some kids that never seem to change, no matter how you handle them. I find it depressing that the respect we had to adults when we were younger has dissipated so much. Of course, it’s only a minority, but it’s still unpleasant. You do get bad days, when you end up with a hoarse voice from shouting and a headache from the noise and stress. One day this week, I was told I looked pregnant (I’m not), a boy thought I was 57 (I’m 32), someone else didn’t like my hair colour and criticised my make-up! The biggest disadvantage I have found though is how much it impinges on your time. The
job is only from midday til 1:15pm, but I usually start getting ready around 11am. As I don’t get back from taking my kids to school in the mornings until gone 9am, this means I have just two hours in the morning to do all my housework, writing and emails. By the time I have been round the teachers reporting on how various children have behaved, it’s often gone 1:30pm. So instead of going home for an hour or so (until it’s time to pick up the kids again), I often go and help in one of the classes as a parent helper. All this is a complete change from having six hours of child-free time a day at home to get everything done! ~~ The Good Times ~~ Overall, I love this job. It isn’t a full day’s work, so even if you feel a bit under the weather, you can usually manage to make it to work. (If not, you do get sick pay too.) I get on well with the other dinner ladies and we often have a cup of tea and a chat afterwards. They also organise social outings together, although I haven’t been there long enough yet to go on one. As my four children attend the school where I work, I get an insight into their lunchtime. I can see what they eat, how they behave and I’m there if there are any emergencies or bullying going on. They like me being there too, which is an advantage! I think the best bit of the job is the little victories – connecting with the kids, sorting out problems, being there for them. When one of the kids who are notoriously difficult ends up chatting with you on a one-to-one basis, it is very rewarding. I have had several occasions when I have had really good discussions with the older boys especially, who are often insolent in front of their peers, but can be real softies away from them. You find out about their families and background details which enable you to understand them more and hopefully allows you to work out how to handle them better in the future.
There have been two boys this week – one in Y4 and the other in Y6. I had previously found them both rude, violent and hard to talk to. Since spending some more time talking with them, the Y6 boy asked his teacher if I could sit next to him in class and the Y4 boy walked round the playground with me all day today, being the complete opposite of his usual hyperactive, destructive self. It is for these reasons that I do the job, not the £5 or £6 we get! ~~ Overall ~~ Being a dinner lady is a job that women tend to do almost exclusively. They are usually mums with kids at the school, but continue to work for years after their own children have left. I can see myself doing this too. The hours also mean I still get time to write, which I am hoping will be another career I can pursue at the same time.