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Hi there

 

This is new to me. I was advised to try this forum as there may be lots of people out there interested in the same topic as I am researching.

 

I am doing a PDA in Childcare and Education and I am conducting a study to see if there is still a place for the traditional playgroup.

 

I am the Play Leader of what I would call a traditional playgroup in Scotland. We are managed by a volunteer committee, have paid qualified staff, are funded by fees, fundraising and grants and provide a safe, happy and stimulating environment for our 2yrs 3 months - 4 yrs children. Our main emphasis is on play and the social and emotional development of the child. We are very fortunate that we have a full complement of children and a healthy waiting list, however, this is not the case for all playgroups in my area lots are struggling or closing down. Part of this is the Scottish Executive's drive to put 3 year olds in nurseries and part of it is the increase of parents going back to work. A two hour twice weekly session is not really childcare and not suitable for parents who work and already pay a childminder.

 

I would like to hear from anyone who may run a playgroup, or works in a playgroup. Let me hear about stuggles or successes that you may have had, are you a playgroup considering changing to an Early Years Learning Centre and why? Have you been a playgroup and now an Early years Learning Centre, was it a success or not? What do you think, are playgroups a necessary part of the journey from toddler groups to nursery? What do parents want from a playgroup? There are lots of questions, these are just a few to get you thinking. I am looking for both positeve and negative viewpoints.

 

Thanks for reading my really long letter!

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You have an interesting point here, and it takes me back to when I was planning to open my own nursery nearly five years ago. I went round in circles trying to decide how long to open for; 2.5, 3 hours or whatever. When my son was a toddler he attended a lovely playgroup for 2.5 hours, and I was lucky to live just around the corner. However, I remember other mums saying that by the time they had driven home through the rush hour traffic, they only had about 1.5 hours at home, watching the clock all the time! It was even more difficult if they had a younger child who needed a mid-morning sleep, and who had then to be dragged out and put in the car to collect the toddler from playgroup!

So, I thought it would be better if we opened for longer than 2.5, and in the end we decided on four hours, which was the then maximum for a sessional group. I have to say that with roughly two-thirds of the morning child-initiated play (3 separate rooms for different activities and the outside area), and one-third music, movement, circle time, and snacktime, I don't think we would be able to fit it all in if we opened for fewer hours!

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Hi there

Just needed to ask some questions to see if I am on the right lines with this. What do you mean by an Early Years Learning Centre? We used to be a playgroup but changed our title to pre-school some years ago.

How long are you open for and how many sessions? We are open five mornings with our main session from 9am to 12pm. We also offer wraparound care before and after the main session.

We are a very successful group and I have to admit we have managed to weather the storms of the past few years very well. We are almost full with a very healthy waiting list. I can't say the same for a lot of groups in Stockport who have closed with others under threat of closure. This is mostly due to Stockport's one intake policy and the fact that they opened quite a few maintained nurseries a couple of years ago.

I don't feel that playgroups and pre-schools should be seen as a stepping stone from toddler groups to nurseries. We offer an alternative to parents, especailly those who don't want their child to attend five sessions or feel that nurseries, at times, can be too formal-I know some round here are even though they shouldn't be!!

Hope this helps.

Linda

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Dear Linda

 

Thank you for your interest.

 

In Scotland we, as playgroups, have the option of "going into partnership" with the local authority. This basically means you become an early years learning centre that can offer free three and four year old places. The local authority assist with funding, a teacher has to be employed and what originally was a playgroup basically becomes a pre-school nursery. There are lots of other conditions attached to becoming a partnership nursery but the above are the basics. Lots of playgroups are turning to this as a way of staying open, but we as a playgroup have resisted this a) because it is a lot of work for a volunteer committee which has little time to do what they do as it is and :o there is a lot of feeling that there is still a place for a volunteer playgroup as you say to offer parents an alternative. When I suggested that playgroup is a stepping stone between toddler groups to nursery it was based on the comments that I get from parents who do feel that the playgroup is a good way to get their child used to being left without them without having the committment of 5 mornings a week (we offer 2 or 3, 2 hour sessions a week).

 

We are finding ink our area that playgroups are struggling to stay open for a number of reasons

 

a) Parents going back to work are already paying for childminders and don't want to have to pay for playgroup as well,

 

xD Parents don't have the time to commit to being parent helpers, committee members and being involved in fundraisers,

 

c) I don't know what England is like but we have the Care Commission in Scotland as our overseer and inspectors. Whilst they do a fantastic job it is felt that there is a lot of red tape involved in passing inspections, this is very difficult for a volunteer committee and it does put lots of people off getting involved.

 

These reasons prompted me to investigate just how bad the situation has got and so far my findings are that people really do still want the "traditional volunteer playgroup" as they like the family atmosphere that it has however, it may be that the above and other reasons may mean the end of playgroups in the future whether we want them or not.

 

Thanks again for your interest, I hope I have answered some of your questions.

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Thanks for the reply and yes you have answered my questions.

It must be very frustrating for you trying to keep things going. I think it is hard getting anybody to volunteer to do anything these days-especially busy parents!

I am a committee member on Stockports local support group for pre-schools and trying to get people to volunteer is very difficult.

Keep up the good work anyway!

Linda

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Hi Marathon

 

reading your coments it looks like we have chosen a simlar area to research

 

I am looking at the impact of the Nursery grant on preschool provision having found that in my own area groups that dont register close, I run a playgroup we have changed to "Pre-school", we were struggling and registering has ment we can give parents a choice some parents still use us as a step from toddler group to nursery and that is fine but we are now able to let parents choose to stay and recieve their free place in a group where they know their child is settled and many children have been attending for 12 months and so it seems a shame to move them for what will probably be around 18 months. Another major benifit is the increase in income to the sessions it will mean that staff will start to be paid a fair wage and we will have a bigger budget for equipment

 

I am in mixed minds Im not enjoying the paperwork! but so far there seems to be more advantages to registering. like yourself we have been putting it off for quite a while

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Dear Alison

 

Thanks for your reply. Do you feel that your group has lost the feeling of a family/mum run playgroup and has become more of a nursery? That is the main concern I have. I have visited a few of our local nurseries and nursery classes in schools and Nursery Nurses and teachers both say that they feel we have a valuable place in the educational world. We prepare our children for the big nursery world by helping them leave Mum and still remaining happy. The nurseries I visited said that they can see the children who have been at playgroup, they are confident, happy to leave Mum, know how to "work" the room ie understand role play, know what to do at the gluing table, can sit in a circle and listen, are happy to join in group games. I feel we achieve this by still being able to let Mum stay as long as is necessary, we have room and equipment to cope with older and younger siblings and also welcome other carers. The Committee and our Mums all say that they feel that we are very family orientated compared to other nurseries, no disrespect to other nurseries but we don't focus on all areas of the curriculum in quite such a structured way we tend to really focus on social and emotional skills and encompassing all the other areas as part of the play, therefore we have lots of time to settle the child. The parents feel that if we were to go into partnership we may loose that "cosy" feeling that we have.

 

I would welcome your insight into how you feel you may have changed good or bad since becoming a pre-school nursery.

 

Thanks

 

Marathon

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I run a playgroup in Essex. Five years ago I decided to change the name to a pre-school.The only reason I did this was to value the learning that a child developed through our "hands on" curriculum.I felt it was very sad when parents judged their childs attainment during the morning by how much art work their child had produced . If parents ask their child why they haven't produced something to take home now I give them a copy of the E.L.G's and our daily plan.

Recently we extended our provision to include a lunch and holiday club for which we were awarded lottery funding.We are now open for 4 hours each day throughout the year This extended time enables parents to work,study or pursue their own interests.Children bring a packed lunch which must include healthy foods.

Children register with us at 2.6yrs then go to school between the ages of 4&5 depending on which schools their parents choose ..A nursery tends to be a setting that offers day care whilst still providing sessional care, if required They are not a stepping stone.A nursery charges twice as much as a pre-school/playgroup.

I receive funding for 33 weeks per year . but we stay open for the school term without charging a top-up fee.Parents pay for their child to attend during the holidays.

Children are funded in the term of their 3rd birthday .

Before children come to us they attend our Parent &Toddler Club which is run by volunteer mums."Most parents choose either nursery or pre-shool to to educate their child Some parents decline the offer to send their children to school before the age of 5 and they stay with us.

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Hi Bubblejack

 

Thanks for your comments. It is interesting that most of the replies I am getting are from playgroups which have changed to pre-school settings. This really is the basis for my research project. At our playgroup we are not a nursery, when I say a stepping stone between toddler groups and nurseries I am saying this based on comments from my parents. They feel that we are a really helpful step for their child to take from the safety of being with Mum at the toddler group and then having to go to a state nursery at 3 for five mornings a week. We offer two 2 hour sessions per week with the addition of another morning when the child is a little more settled.

 

My worry is that what was traditionally a place for mums to take their children to have a bit of fun and make new friends whilst they go for coffee and make friends is being swallowed up by the drive to provide pre-school nursery provision for 3 and 4 year olds. We don't want to be a pre-school nursery, we just want to be the "bit in between", the bit where Mums have the opportunity to "give up" their child for the first time. I feel we have a really important role to offer parents, it can be very hard for parents to leave their 2 year old for 2 hours let alone for a 5 mornings and I think playgroups are a good way for them to do this. We have just had our new intake of parents and children and a good part of my time is spent comforting and reassuring parents as well as the children. I am a nursery nurse and fully understand the importance of the development of the whole child and as a team we do make plans in accordance with the 3-5 curriculum and The Child at the Centre, but I also think at a playgroup parents really are looking for their child to develop socially and emotionally and just want somewhere for their child to play and be children.

 

The fact that there does not seem to be many playgroups not considering changing to a pre-school nursery does seem to back up my research question

 

"Is there still a place for the traditional playgroup"

 

My worry is that there may not be in the future, we may just be old fashioned.

 

Thanks again for your interest.

 

Marathon.

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Hello Marathon,

I really find this topic interesting. Although I have changed the name of the setting I have not changed the quality of care offered. I have only changed the name. If a playgroup is concerned that they have become old fashioned they can change to a pre-school or a nursery as far as I know an establishment can call themselves what they feel is appropriate.

Before children attend they have an open invitation to attend with their parents for 6 weeks .After this settling in time children are usually ready to attend by themselves but if the child is upset the parent is asked to stay. Children attend for 1 session initially .this is reviewed termly and the sessions are increased gradually.By the time the child is a rising 5 they may be coming for 2-5 sessions depending on parental choice .This is the way I have operated for the past 25 years.We work through the E.L.G's with all the children but we find we have to focus more on the personal and social skills with the younger ones.By the time they have learnt how to play in a group,listen to an instruction and concentrate they they will be achieving all their stepping stones and reaching their learning goals.

Recently I have had children who have moved into my area attending .They previosly had attended "full time school".They were at the same level of our"less able children".

All funded providers in Early Years are working towards the E.L.G's so it should make no difference whether it be a school/nursery/playgroup or pre-school.

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Hi Bubblejack

 

I agree with everything you say, however, what if we don't want to become a pre school nursery. I am not sure about the red tape in England but here in Scotland there is quite a lot of it and for us to change to being a pre-school nursery there are lots of conditions

 

eg we have to employ a part time teacher

we would have to have so many 3 year old children on our books at a

certain time which is a tall order considering in a fairly small village

there is already 9 pre-school nurseries.

paperwork would grow to the point that we would have to employ

a clerical assistant

our voluntary committee would have to become more formal, when

getting a voluntary committee is hard enough this does not bear

thinking about.

 

It may be that the role playgroups have in England differs from that in Scotland or the definition may be different but we are most definately not a pre-school nursery and don't want to be one, we have enough of them in our town already. we offer an alternative to Mums who don't want their children in the formal education system just yet.

 

I don't think our playgroup is old fashioned I just think that the idea of playgroups may be becoming a less favourable alternative for parents when they are offered free pre-school nursery provision for their 3 and 4 year olds. "free" is a very attractive option for some families.

 

Thanks for your thoughts.

 

Marathon

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Hello Marathon,

I have been thinking about pre-school 24/7 to-day, which is not unusual.I have just remembered why I changed from a playgroup to a pre-school.When the P.P.A changed their name to the P.S.L.A. they invited us to change our status to keep in line with them.This was to emphasize on the learning aspect to keep up with current trends.

When funding was available for the 4 year olds it was automatically assumed that all provisions nursery,playgroup or pre-school would be involved in the partnershop.I don't know any provision that declined in my area.Initially the first Ofsted was a bit scary but I just played the game and complimented the inspector on her efficiency and thanked her for pointing out minor faults.

The partnership allocated us a teacher who visited us to give advice termly or more if we needed it e.g before an Ofsted.

Apart from the operational plan which we had a basic version of and have enlarged.The extra paper work consists of a portfolio of each child containing observations and checklist.

We do not have to have a minumum of funded children to access the funding but of course we have to have enough to be viable to pay wages.

I do not have a commitee the decisions are made by myself with the consultation of staff and sometimes parents.

Changing from a playgroup to a pre-school has made my provision more viable because the funding exceeds the ammount paid by non-funded children.The money is guaranteed each term and I don't have to collect it and waste time banking it.I can easily afford to pay more staff giving us spare time to observe the children and record it. also the finances have become easier to do.

I was still viable before funding but finances were stretched.New equipment had to be purchased with funding from jumble sales,sponsored activities and second hand equipment was relied upon more.

The E.Y D.C. relies on all providers to be in the system and gives us all the help we need because there is not enough free places for children.

Also I would feed guilty about charging parents of 3/4 year olds when they needn't pay.

Changing our title hasn't benifited us as much as becoming a "funded provision "has.It is unfortunate that you need a minimum number to do this.

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Hi! I am new to this response idea, although I often read the site.

Hopefully this reply will be of interest because at our setting we operate as a Pre- school each morning for funded children (3 yrs to school entry - the term they turn 5 years old in Shropshire) and 2 afternoons a week we are, in effect a playgroup, for children from 2 to 3 years old. During the afternoons we offer up to 5 places a family session places where a child can between 2 and 2.6 yrs can be accompanied by a parent/carer. Then when, and only when we feel the child is ready, they are left by the parent/carer. This has proved to be an invaluable way to settle the younger children into our setting so that when they are ready we can respond appropriately, and as we all know the timing can vary considerably from child to child. The parent/carer too feels relaxed with this approach as sometimes it is the parent that struggles to separate - not the child! When the 3 year old (term they turn 3 in Shropshire) is due to move up to our Morning Sessions (where we deliver the Foundation Stage Curriculum) we offer taster sessions in the term before. Again, the parent/carer visits with their child so that they both gain a flavour of what we offer and how the a.m. & .m. sessions vary. Once again this has met with tremendous support from the parents. What may make an impact on your research is that we are essentially a middle-class area catering for middle class families, some of whom work - some of whom prefer to be stay at home parents/carers. This definitely affects our uptake and we are pleased to support those parents who do not want to take up 5 sessions per week, even in the term before their child enters school (this can be for rising 5's in Shropshire which currently has 3 term entry and will not move to 2 term entry until Sept. 04). I have this is of some help.

LJW

PS We are a Christian Nursery although we cater for everyone from all walks of life. Additionally we operate in a large village on the outskirts of a county town and we are in direct competition with 2 other sessional pre-schools, one day-care setting and an LEA Nursery all within a mile of one another!

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Hi all, can't comment on this directly as I am a reception class teacher but what intrigues me is the disparity that still exists on the school entry age, although I realise of course that compulsary schooling is the same everywhere!

 

2-3 years ago the LEA in which I work changed from a 3 point to 2 point admission. Last September at schools discretion we were able to admit children in September, we could offer to children on our waiting list but were not allowed to defer entry. The LEA agrued that this brought them into line with other LEAs, which I thought was more universal than it obviously is!

 

I understand & appreciate all the arguements that preschool providers have for delaying the entry into school but in ourschool the 1 point entry works well.

The children are offered appropriate learning experiences and rise to the challenge & thrive on the slightly more formal aspects that we introduce. I agree that numbers are too large but children all definitely benefit from settling altogether as a single group!

 

Susan

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Hi there

 

Thank you to Bubblejack and to Lisa.

 

Lisa,

 

Your afternoon sessions sound just like our playgroup. This is a wonderful opportunity for your parents and children, to have the facilities to offer playgroup sessions to 2 and 3 year olds and then to be able to move them on within the same facility to a nursery.

 

I really do feel there is a distinct difference between what a playgroup does and what a pre-school nursery does and I think your example explains this difference perfectly. We are not linked to a particular nursery but our children all move on to the nurseries in the area when they are 3.

 

Thanks for your interest.

 

Dear Bubblejack,

 

Don't spend all day thinking about pre-school, not good for you, take up marathon running, keeps me sane!! Thanks for your thoughts it has been interesting talking to you.

 

Marathon.

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Hi Marathon I hope you finding all this info useful!

 

Initially we didnt want to change from playgroup to preschool we were proud of our play centred approach to the sessions and we are still proud of it

 

there seem to be some big differnces in the regulations,

 

I have been told (and I hope this proves to be true) that when OFSTED come to do the combined inspections and look at our educational provision they will be looking at what we provide for children aged 3+ and we will not be expected to be providing the same level of educational provision for the group as a whole and the children under 3 years will still be getting a play session rather than one that teaches the ELGs

 

we only have 5 children who we claim grant for so we made a small key group just for them to deliver the ELG's we changed the sessions slightly so that there was a news time at the start of the session which the children love to share their gossip but other than that the main structure of the sessions has remained unchanged the children havent seen a major difference from playgroup to Preschool

 

we the staff have seen the changes and we have explained them repeatedly to the parents who still come and ask lots of questions

 

our main decision to change the name was to let parents know that we were providing a "preschool" education and the word "playgroup" didnt seem to carry the same message most parents ask questions about what we do during a session but many assume we "just play" so it was a step taken to imply that we are doing more than "just play"

 

We are finding that we are benifiting parents who normally leave the group when their child is 3 are choosing to stay we are able to offer care for children from the age of 2 right up until they start school and I think the children benifit from staying in the same provision for 2 1/2 years we spend the first 12 months teaching the children the routine, social skills and building up a relationship with child and parents so when they are old enough work toward their ELG's we can start assessing imidiately no settling in period the child has a head start.

 

I think the period from 2-3 is important and that all children are given the chance to experience playgroup away from mum its sad that so many groups have closed because parents seem to want to wait til they can claim their free sessions before starting their child in any kind of preschool group

 

In our neighbourhood we are the last playgroup still open.... 6 years ago there were 4 groups we have only managed to survive because we have changed to extend our serviced if your group is thrieving without the need for nursery grant (or the equivalent) then I see no need for you to be worrying about changing "if its not broke.....?"

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Hello Alison,

I also changed the name of my setting from a playgroup to a pre-school because many parents think that children that are playing are not learning.I have been running this setting for many years and have always focused on many of the things that are now called learning goals.

I don't feel I am teaching children any more now than I did then but I have less time to do it because of having to write everything down.The time spent on doing this is time I could be spending with another child.I always try to do an observation discreetly so the child does not feel intimidated.

Yesterday I was working with a funded 3yr old just using a checklist and she said to me "have I passed".

I am updating my qualifications and working with other supervisors and have found that we all run our setting basically the same .The name is irrevelant the difference is whether the setting is funded or not .

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You are right bubblejack the name is irrelevant to us but parents don't see it that way. We changed to a pre-school to give us a better image. And I have to admit it has worked!

I have owned and managed this group for 14 years and the changes over the past 5 years or so have been enormous! Especially with the paperwork that now has to be done!! But it hasn't all been bad and we, as a staff, find we are more focused and organised than say 10 years ago. It helps us work better therefore giving the children better quality play opportunities.

Linda

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Dear Marathon,

Why does the wording have to make so much difference - we are back to parental education - the fact is many establishments call themselves a playgroup and offer pre school education and are in receipt of nursery education funding. The emphasis of the foundation stage is I believe in Learning Through Play - correct me if I am wrong - so what anyone chooses to call themselves is neither here or there. However, it is perceived by the general public, and I believe incorrectly, that if you call yourself a nursery or pre school setting then somehow they feel they are getting something better. Why? It seems to be all in a name. However, if I felt that my numbers were decreasing then perhaps I would but they are not and one of the reasons is the fact that we run a carer toddler group that feeds through to our Playgroup at 3. This works really well for us and the parents like the idea of being able to settle their child, chat to the staff each week, find out what we do and how we do it in the year prior to their coming into our Group. We have very, very few problems with settling a child - they are all familiar with the routines and the group and come bouncing in on their first day without even looking back. It's mainly the Mum's in the car park who need a bit of tlc.... and a few tissues....

 

Nikki

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Hi there Nikki

 

Somewhere along the way my initial question seems to have gotten all caught up with changing the name of a playgroup to a pre-school. That is not really the basis of my research, the basis of my research really is to find out whether the idea of a 2 hour 2 sessions a week facility is being lost in amongst pre-school centres, school nurseries and private day care nurseries. In our area we have gone from having nearly 30 playgroups to now only having 11. There has to be a reason why playgroups are not surviving. It may be that there is a difference in what playgroups do in England but in SCotland we do offer a different kind of facility to a pre-school centre. It is definately the case that in Scotland playgroups do appear to be on the way out, sad as it is to say.

 

All my present and past Mums say that Playgroup is and has been a vital step on the road to going to nursery. It is definately seen as "what you do for your child before they go to nursery". This has always been the case in Scotland. My Mum said that my brother went to playgroup before going to nursery. She said that all the Mums used playgroup as a way of getting their child used to being on their own for a short time before they had to go to nursery for five mornings a week.

 

It has also been commented to me that parents are not choosing playgroup because it does not fit in with their childcare arrangements, parents may already be paying a childminder and do not want playgroup fees in addition to this. That is not saying that they do not want their child to experience playgroup just that they can't afford us.

 

Our committee feel that there is a place in our community for the playgroup but worry that there are so many other pre-school and private nurseries that we may not be the most favourable choice for parents for the reasons mentioned above.

 

So the debate is not really about what we are called but what we represent and whether there is a place for us in the community.

 

Thanks for your continued interest in this topic.

 

Marathon

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Have finally realised where you are coming from Marathon-takes some time for the old grey cells to kick in sometimes!!! :D:D

Yes there is a place for playgroups as a stepping stone before nursery! Very much so. They give the children and parents the opportunity to be away from each other before the more formal and structured nursery element of their "education". We have a very informal and unstructured approach to the very young children in our group. They can be involved in all the activities that take place within the group but if they choose not to then there is no pressure. Having said that, the same applies to all of the children-if they don't want to take part in an activity then they don't have to. We may use some gentle persuasion but if they are happily playing elsewhere then we leave them. They can always do it another day if they so wish. I think this is the great thing about playgroups and pre-schools.

The LEA nurseries always tell us that we have done the hard work before they get the children-most of them settle very quickly! No tears and tantrums. They tell us that they can tell the children who have been to us because they come in happily, sit nicely for stories and are keen to take part in activities. So, although we are now a pre-school and children can stay with us before they go to school we do have a lot of children who only stay with us for a short time and then go on to nursery.

But we have a great shortage of such places for children in Stockport. We had 8 playgroups in our area of Stockport about 6 years ago. Now there are 3. Two of them have not taken up the opportunity to take funded children and struggle for most of the year. We are the only group to take the nursery grant and we always have a waiting list. I don't think this is just because of the funding but I do think it helps. Parents know that if they choose not to take an LEA place then they can have a free place with us once their child reaches nursery school age.

It is difficult to know what the position is for most areas as they don't all have LEA nurseries, or there is a shortfall on places. So, for some areas in England playgroups and pre-schools are all they have. Not a bad thing I think at times!!

Linda

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I think there is a clear decline in playgroups nationally

 

in England the majority of playgroups that are surviving are those that are providing a combination of care and education and become "preschool playgroups" hence the diversion in discussion to changing names from playgroup to preschool (oops sorry for the distraction!) the majority of preschools in England are still playgroups under your discription "offering session for 2 mornings a week" but are also preschool in catering for nursery aged children. so in one aspect playgroups are evolving rather than declining

 

Playgroups in my neighbourhood first started to show a decline when free places at nursery became available and there has been another decline more recenly because the age limit has dropped to offer free places for 3 year olds this has ment that nationally 1/3 -1/2 of children attending playgroups are now in nursery a term earlier

 

I agree with you that the changing need of childcare is another valid influence in the decline in parents sending their children to playgroup

 

I worry that in a few years in many areas of the UK there will be little or no playgroup provision for children under 3 there will only be toddler groups and nurseries

 

money is the big persuader..... many parents dont think their children are missing out and wait for free nursery places before leaving their children. maybe the government should think of offering some kind of funding for playgroups (tell me to shut up if I am distracting the discussion!)

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Hi to Alison and Linda,

 

At last someone has got the gist of where I am coming from. I kind of see us as the "bit in the middle"!

 

However, worryingly(is that a word?) so, I think we will see the end of playgroups in perhaps the next 10-15 years. I don't think they are a favourable enough form of childcare, and as I said somewhere else, I think we may be a bit old fashioned, not in what we do we a very much in favour of all the modern ways of thinking, but just in the type of care we provide for parents. In my Mum's day there were only playgroups, now parents have a huge selection of facilities to choose from and I just don't think playgroups are the first on their mind any more for their 2 year olds.

 

Thank you, your comments are very valuable.

 

Marathon.

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Hi Marathon

 

how is the research going?

 

one point I told my lecturer this week is that when training the course contents seem to focus the majority of the training on the 3-8's and ignore the 0-3's other than adding a little bit into one module to cover child development. my placement for my course is at the preschool I run and I am always being asked to observe the 3+ year olds which I find hard as the majority of the group are under 3 recenly surestart produced a pack birth to 3 matters which seems to be the first acknowledgment that under 3's have skills to learn.

 

My question to the lecturer is "are the under 3's less important?"

 

she came back to me and said thanks to the valid point and they will look at the way under 3's are covered in the syllabus next year.... that doesnt help me now but its a start

 

now I know this point seems to be irrelevant to the question about playgroups and preschools but the thought is that if in colleges the teaching focuses on training staff to work with 3+ what message does that send out to the professionals and in turn the powers that be?

 

I feel that as a playgroup we get forgotten inbetween toddlers and nursery.

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Hi Alison

 

My research is now at the stage that I am starting to focus in on certain areas to make my arguements stronger. I have decided to concentrate on play -v- structured curriculum. I feel that a structured curriculum like our 3-5 Curriculum is too structured for the children we have at playgroup (2yrs and 3 months -3) most of my Mums agree they feel that they just want their child to come to playgroup to learn how to make friends and share toys and space. If they learn something along the way then great but not necessary, they can get that at home. I feel that we can offer the children slightly more than this. For example this Friday we had a huge fundraiser where we invited all the families to come and join in some St Andrews Day Fun. We had lots of tartan, shortbread, pipe music, sang scottish songs, played scottish circle games and heard the story of St Andrew. Now I explained to my parents that when we tell the children a story such as that of St Andrew we rewrite it to make it more understandable and I demonstrated by telling the children the story, they made me proud as they asked questions, shouted out answers to my questions and joined in excitedly when I asked them to dig holes, go fishing and wave a flag. All of these children are under 3 but after a few short weeks they had got the hang of new songs, new games, indepth stories about saints, churches and fishing. They made thistles, flags, stained glass windows and "the wee kirkcudbright centipede's" hundred feet. What I am trying to say from this is don't underestimate the understanding of 2 year olds. I don't feel there is a need for a full blown curriculum that may be used in a nursery but some sort of structure is helpful and makes for an interesting plan.

 

The trouble is there is no formal curriculum for playgroups but I think most play leaders have enough knowledge to know how to plan a full and stimulating session for the children. "Birth to Three Matters" is a new curriculum being formulated by Sure Start at the moment, I don't know if you have heard of it but it can be found on the internet, just go to google and type in Birth to Three Matters. It is not in use at the moment but it is worth reading the consultation document. I think it may only be a Scottish Thing but it is interesting to read.

 

I agree with you that we have perhaps been forgotten about, I am not sure people really know what playgroups do any more, I think the assumption is that we are another nursery and not something different. Just my opinion.

 

Keep researching!

 

I'm off for a run now.

 

Marathon

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