The Hidden Risks of Banter in Day Nurseries, Pre-schools and Out of School Clubs

The Hidden Risks of Banter in Day Nurseries, Pre-schools and Out of School Clubs

June 11, 2024

Within a Day Nursery, Pre-school or Out of School Club the camaraderie among staff members plays a critical role in maintaining a nurturing environment. However, a seemingly harmless conversation known as “banter” can, if left unchecked, sow discord in this otherwise harmonious setting.

What is banter?

Banter, the light-hearted exchange of teasing remarks often brushed off as playful jest, carries hidden risks that can undermine the morale and cohesion of nursery staff. Though it might be initiated in good humour, banter has an ability to blur the lines between friendly teasing and hurtful comments.

The distinction between what is humorous and what is harmful is highly subjective and can lead to misunderstandings and emotional distress.

Educators are role models. It is crucial to recognise that actions and words are constantly observed and imitated by children.

Staff interactions inevitably serve as a blueprint for the social and emotional development of the children in their care. Your staff are role models. When banter turns sour, it not only affects the individuals involved but also the overall ethos of the nursery, potentially teaching the children that unkindness can be excused as humour.

Erosion of relationships

We find that persistent banter erodes relationships between colleagues. It creates an atmosphere where individuals may feel undervalued and reluctant to express their concerns fearing ridicule. This breakdown in communication can lead to increased staff turnover, creating instability that directly impacts the quality of care provided to the children.

Don’t forget the law

It is also important to consider the legal implications of unkind banter. What begins as a joke can escalate into a case of workplace harassment, exposing the nursery to legal risks and damaging its reputation.

Staff members who feel targeted or bullied may seek legal recourse, leading to a formal investigation, which can be both costly and damaging to the nursery’s community standing.

What should you do?

To safeguard against these risks, nurseries must foster a culture of respect and empathy. This includes implementing clear policies that define acceptable behaviour and the consequences of violating these guidelines.

Training at Staff Meetings can help staff understand the importance of maintaining professionalism and the impact their words can have on their colleagues and the children they serve. Open communication channels should be established, where staff members can voice their concerns without fear of judgment or reprisal.

Creating a positive, supportive work environment is not about stifling humour or camaraderie among staff. It’s about ensuring that the banter never crosses the line into disrespect. When every member of the nursery team feels valued and respected, it reflects in the quality of care and education provided to the children, which after all, is the highest priority of any day nursery.

By taking a proactive stance against harmful banter, early years settings can continue to be safe havens of joy, learning, and genuine, kind-hearted laughter.

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