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Just wondered what other peoples thoughts are on this. We are a sessional pre school

which opened three mornings per week in the village hall. Last easter increased to five mornings then in september moved to new premises. Since then nos have gone slowly down tried advertising questionnaires etc but not one extra child from this. Last half term committee decided to close at easter. After half term said staying open but gave a weeks notice to cut our hours two staff then left. We now have two remaining. We are now open three mornings again. On average we have 4-5 children per session which is sad to watch them. The committee have got some funding from somewhere to keep it running until summer when their children go to school. They say there is 8 names down for september but we only have three but not for all 3 days. Have tried telling them enough is enough and would be better for children there now to go somewhere else but ends in arguments. Now talking about moving back to village hall. I said to development worker on Friday it is making us look silly sending out all these mixed messages to which she replied well dont you think you look silly anyway with no children.The staff think it would be better to close but committee & development worker have other ideas(keeping it open for another 6 months with funding). They are keeping us dangling not knowing what is happening, it is our lives they are messing with. Need reasons why it is a bad idea keeping it running as it will never turn around now. We are both looking for other jobs as we have to think of our own lives as well

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Do you have strong links with the local primary school?

 

We took the local playgroup on site as they had nowhere to go and we have reception and preschool together which works beautifully! It might be worth investigating to this as to whether they would be interested... it would be a shame to lose such a wonderful provision.

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I can totally empathise about how you feel, being in the same situation last year. The children didn't seem to lose out by being in a small group, however it was difficult to motivate staff each day as the children were so independent of us, enjoying their access to all that was offered.

You say that funding has been made available, if this is 'sustainability' funding from your LA then the committee, during the application process would have had to produce a 3 year business plan to show that numbers would rise etc, they should have evidenced this with research of the local area, numbers of children/families compared to provision already available, they would need to show 'a need' for your provision. Why not ask to see the business plan and application.

I made the decision to close for many reasons, one being the loss of income but also I was concerned for my staff, would they miss an employment opportunity if I kept them hanging on (they were loyal to me and I didn't want to exploit that fact).

 

Jesters idea is good, is this an option?

 

If I was you I'd let your committee know you are actively seeking jobs elsewhere, reasons being that you have had no real indication from them that your current jobs are safe. maybe they will be able to reassure you.

If the committee think there is a future then they may have to advertise for new staff.

You say they are keeping it open for 6 months until their children leave for school, I can understand their reasoning in this, to move their children to another group just for the summer term would not be of benefit to their children. If this is their plan then they really should consider giving the current staff notice of redundancies, including paying out redundancies and paying for your time off to search for new jobs.

 

Lots of issues seem to be left in mid air so to speak, I would arrange to speak to your committee and advisor asking about their plans for you the staff when the funding runs out. If they move then as employees yu either move with them or give notice, not easy I know. Some difficult decisions need to be considered and made, before making decisions ask for more information of future plans when funding is not available.

 

Peggy

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Can you pinpoint why numbers have dropped off so much recently? You don't say whether numbers were fairly healthy before the initial changes, as a move back to your original premises may well in itself bring in extra children.

 

I don't want to sound harsh but perhaps the best thing is for you to leave and for someone more enthusiastic to take over. When I took over the running of playgroup it was in a pretty dire situation. We were open 3 sessions a week, there were very few children and one member of staff (me!) and I had to work each session with a duty mum. However, I put alot of hard work into the playgroup and it has now paid off. The group is open 5 sessions a week, has 4 members of staff and is thriving in terms of numbers of children. Sometimes these things can be turned round but only if everyone is fully committed. Be honest with the committee and let them know that you are looking for employment elsewhere and don't intend to stay on after the summer, as this will radically affect their plans to keep the group going.

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I too think that as they have the funding it is reasonable to keep it open until the children leave for school, they would not benefit from a move at this time, it would mean they have to adjust to one move and then another in a period of a few months which can be very unsettling.

 

must admit I really enjoy the sessions with low numbers, and find that the parents do too, and children also benefit from it, we always have low numbers in September (except last year ) and while we can afford to we will stay open all sessions (10 a week) but we can close some if we need to .. but it is really hard to reopen them again , we ask for a minimum of 4 children booked to open them. It allows us to do so much with just 4 children, more outings, and adult input where needed. All the staff really enjoy it.

 

As said, how was it before you moved? location can have a big influence on numbers, we did consider moving but the location is so good decided to put up with the church hall problems to remain there for the parents and children.

 

Let the committee know you are job hunting and they may need to look for staff if something comes that is suitable.. of course leaving before they close means they will save on redundancy money! (if you are eligible that is)

 

we too were in a bad position when I started, and it has taken a long time but we are now actually in some profit for the first year in 10 , allows us to buy some of those items on the wish list instead of make to and mend, or beg and borrow!

 

Inge

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Forgive me if you made this clear - very tired today and brain not really working. It sounds as if they're keeping the pre-school open until their own children go to school and no longer require the service. If true, that doesn't sound as if they are working towards what is best for the group, but merely for their own interests. Presumably when their children leave pre-school they will stand down from the committee - will there be any committee members left and how motivated are they to keep the group open long term?

 

I can only sympathise with you: it must be very hard to maintain momentum and keep motivated with this hanging over your heads. The group would find it very hard to recruit high quality staff to run a group which is nearing the end of its life should you find another job with a more secure future. That said, we are always at the mercy of numbers and nothing can be guaranteed - but the situation you describe doesn't sound healthy.

 

As Peggy suggested, in order to secure funding the committee must have had to put together some sort of plan to demonstrate what they are doing to make the long-term future of the group sustainable. It sounds as if you need to have a meeting with the committee to honestly explore all the possibilities and opportunities - and perhaps your local authority could send a representative to chair it. After all they now have a statutory duty to ensure there is sufficient childcare provision for local families, so it would be useful to have someone on hand to offer advice and guidance who is not connected with the group either as staff or parent.

 

Good luck - let us know how things go.

 

Maz

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and your childcare development officer needs a kick up the bottom, suggesting that you 'look silly' being open with so few children.her job is to support you not make you even more despondant. So, consider the options:

can you advertise any further afield??New building sites, with lots of potential families moving in??ASsk if you can leave leaflets at the show home.local libraries/doctors surgery/dentist/leisure centre/toddler group (in fact, how about holding the toddler group at your setting if you can.....and invite the health visitor to come along to do the weighing/developmental checks every week?)

is there a local big company which has staff needing childcare?

Is there a college which has no childcare facility attached,

and needs childcare?

What about your local 6th form...single mums needing care so they can continue studying?

does your health visitor know of families needing childcare, but unable to afford it?/S/he could help them apply for social inclusion funding

As suggested, could you join up with a local school and have your group there??

 

Come on, remember why you do this job............is it worth fighting for or not?? If the answer is yes, then put your thinking cap on.If the answer is no, then hand in your notice and walk away, or apply for a new job elsewhere. I hope things turn around soon

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Tried the local school - dont want to know. The school house became available last year. it has always been said when it did nursery would move there but in actual fact they got the police to move in there. The committee know we are looking for work elsewhere as I am the only one working in our house and need some security. We have put posters up everywhere around the village and in doctors, dentist shops etc.I did research through the school & mothers & toddlers One mother & toddler group is holding their meeting with us one morning. We will need a new committee in september as these parents children will start school and we have 2 definate children for sepember so no committee so no job. I think they need to look further ahead than just getting through the year they are on the committee. There is also a problem trying to talk to them as they dont seem to listen to what people are saying and if you dont agree with them they get really annoyed. They have complained because when I did the questionnaires for research the ones I got back I passed on to them to follow up which at the meeting with the parents complained to the parents I hadnt followed them up and they were having to do it themselves. It just feels all such a mess. The staff have tried really hard since christmas to promote it but we havent had one name out of it all

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hi Maximoomoo

 

not sure I have any suggestions...

 

you said that numbers have dropped since you moved premesis.... could you go back to the village hall for the funded 6 months and see if the numbers pick up?

 

our numbers dropped drastically a few years ago because a drop in the local birth rate, (they picked up over time) could that be the problem in your village? local health visitor might have some know about the numbers of children in the area

 

I hope you manage to find a solution to you problem it seems a shame to hear of yet another prechool closing

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Hi

 

I think there is a low birth rate as mother & toddler group had to close 2-3 years ago because there was no children so this is the knock on effect from that. It has since opened up again as there are lots of babies but that doesnt help us at the moment.

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If the mother and toddler group is healthy now, could you look at somehow combining the 2 to make 1 group perhaps? Just a thought- I saw this set up the other day in a local children's centre with an identified space for the babies- partitioned off for safety, but alongside them some 3 and 4 year olds were doing craft activities having had a story and before their rhyme time. You may increase your numbers if parents can take different aged children to the same place? Good luck.

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