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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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  • 2 months later...

I used to run a PSLA pre-school until recently. The main problem around here (Bucks) with sustainability is difficulty in recruiting and retaining leaders and key committee members. I think this is due mainly to low pay and status (cf classroom assistant, for example) for leaders and complexity/heavy and wide-ranging responsibilities for both leaders and committee.

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  • 1 month later...

Hi

 

i also run a charity based pre school. I would say that 75% of the children that come to us do so because their mums want them to socialise and get ready for taking the step up to school, the other 25% are made up of mums that work part time and others that don't but want/need to have a break from thier children so demand as many sessions as possible.

We also find in our area it is hard to retain staff and committee as it is low paid or voluntary (i myself am lucky that i can keep the staff in my setting - luck or good management practise - im not sure). Sometimes it can be a struggle but on the whole we dont do bad!!! :o

other pre schools in the area are not so lucky as us (one has closed recently as they have run it for 35yrs but could not cope with the paperwork anymore). xD

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Hi,

 

I run a small rural playgroup in Scotland, which operates 3 mornings a week. We currently have 8 children on the role, which we expect to rise to 10 after Easter, although we are registered to take 24. Several years ago there was always at least 18 children attending. Nowadays many parents work and put their children in alternative childcare establishments and most children in their pre-school year attend the state run Nursery. The numbers at the Nursery are also low and they are now taking 2 1/2 yr olds to fill their places - further 'poaching' our business!

 

I am the only member of staff at present and don't anticipate that situation changing just yet. I have found this last year harrowing to say the least. Firstly there has been the huge workload which I've had to take on. As the playgroup is run from a community hall all the equipment has to be set out and put away again most sessions. I am also solely responsible for all the planning and associated paperwork. My present committee is completely unsympathetic to this and have no understanding of the amount of work I do. Not only that they are not interested. Last year I had a super committee who were extremely supportive and enthusiastic. How can you realistically offer good quality childcare when you are at the whim of a management made up of people who don't understand the issues and have no experience to deal with many of the problems they face? :o I don't know what the solution is but I just know it could be a lot better. I think traditional playgroups have had their day and need to be replaced. I also know that the hodge podge of childcare we have at the moment is the result of a lack of funding in the sector. If the government truly believe that pre-school education is so important they need to start putting their money where their mouth is.

 

I could waffle on all night but I think I've said enough for now. :)

 

Carol

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Being the only member of staff what would you do in a emergency?Maybe you have a Mum also helping out.Regarding committee think that some years you have good ones and some years not so good!!They have not a clue about all the work we now have to do.Good luck the children I am sure appreciate all your work!! :D

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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!

First time I've ever entered a chat page so I might make a hash of it. However, felt the need to join in!

 

I work in a community playgroup in Gloucestershire. We're registered for 24 children and have 15. Finances are always tight, committees are always precarious, the village hall we operate from is not the best. However, I feel that we have something special to offer, not just the children but the families aswell. Most of our children will go on to the small (80 children) local primary school. We are a community, friendships that will last a long time are made here. We all, staff and parents alike, work together for the good of the children.

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Hi Ruth -

Well if it was your first time, it was a first time success - welcome to the forum and thanks for your first very useful post! :D

 

Your playgroup sounds great. I know exactly what you mean about developing friendships that will last a long time. Our nursery has been open five years or so - we've got younger siblings of younger siblings of the first intake coming now, and I see many of the first generation every day when I take my children to our primary school - frequently standing chatting to friends they met at Fiddlesticks. And many of them still feel a sense of ownership over the nursery, referring to it as 'my nursery'.

 

And the parents of young twins - whose older has not been at the nursery for two years, just sent in a booking for two places, starting in september 2005 - just to be sure...

 

A big community arises around playgroups and nurseries - it's a big experience both for the children and for the parents who entrust their children to the care of the professionals who look after them.

 

Goodness - that was almost an early morning rant...

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I agree here with the community feeling. Even though we are in a large suburb which is very highly populated we still have a sense of being part of the community. It's lovely to go out shopping locally and bump into past, present and future attendees!!!

We have 3 younger siblings on our waiting list for January 2006!!!

Linda

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I would never suggest that there should be no playgroups within a community, I too think they're really important. The trouble with a voluntary run committe, which most traditional playgroups have, is that the committee changes from year to year and their committment to good quality childcare changes with the individuals. Most of them just don't have an understanding of the standards which we're working to. This is particularly a problem in small rural districts. At the start of the year there were only 6 parents with children at my playgroup and 4 of them took on the office bearers jobs - not because they wanted to but because they had no choice. Without a committee there is no playgroup. These people can't wait to get to the summer and hand over responsibility to someone else. They take on the posts thinking their main responsibility is fundraising, as it was in the past, and get faced with a battery of paperwork etc. :o I actually know people in the village who would rather take their children 2 miles down the road to the next nearest nursery than face having to come on a committee.

 

Carol :)

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Don't you find that it's always the same when it comes to comittees, no matter what they are for? Whether it is school PTA's or local associations it always seem to be the same faces. Or there are no volunteers at all. Everybody has reasons why they can't do it, as we have at the moment with our local pre-school association. We have such difficulty getting people to volunteer for the comittee that we have made everybody a member and have our comittee meetings at the same time as our networking meetings. It works! They turn up because they are going to be able to borrow resources and get information and they can also make decisions about what the group should be doing.

I do find it easier being a small business. It means that all decisions are mine and I don't have to go to anybody else to decide what the money will be spent on etc. I consult with my staff and they make suggestions if they think we need a new piece of equipment but then it is down to me.

Linda

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Hi Linda

 

i would agree, our committee does as little as possible, its me and the chair that basically do everything.....

I dread the day when my chair goes as she is a real godsend and i cannot see any other chair do what she does for no money!!

so guess who it will be down too.......

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Wow,

 

I have not looked in on the forum much lately as my hubby has been in hospital but suddenly my topic has come to life again. At last people who are in playgroups such as mine, rather than pre-school nurseries seem to have found my question. I agree with all the grumbles about committees and also with the fear of losing good chairpersons, I have gradually lost not only good chairs but friends as they have moved on. At the moment I have a very functional chairperson but I don't have a great deal in common with her and this does make a huge difference to our effectiveness. It is very business like. However, she is enthusiastic considering her child left us at Christmas and she still has a few months of her role to go!

 

I always try to get the best out of my committee, I find praise helps lots!!!

 

Back to my research project! I am now trying to find background information into the decisison making process to the Governments Decision to provide free nursery provision for 3 and 4 year olds, I have the act which brings it into practice but can't track down background info on it. Anyone got any clues?

 

Cheers

 

Keep chatting

 

Marathon.

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Hi Marathon

 

there has been a variety of studies over the last 25 years in the UK, USA and europe which linked childrens experiences in the early years with their attainment later in life look up Head start programme or Highscope (there's a link to highscope from the home page on this site)

 

the government brought in the national curriculum in 1988 which then highlighted childrens attainment in comparison to european children and realised that somewhere our education system was not producing the same results as europe and comparing the head start and highscope research results concluded that investment in the early years was the way to improve childrens attainment.

 

Europe also introduced some form of child initiatives which led to the settimg up EYDCP's across the country..... and the surestart initiative

 

unfortunatly I cannt remember where I read all this stuff from..... but I know the information is out there. try sociology books and european education

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Hi Alison

 

Thanks for that. Since posting my note I stumbled accross lots of information on the internet with regards to The National Strategy, this was then followed up by the Scottish Executive's Early Years Strategy. Makes for interesting reading!!

 

Thanks for your help.

 

Marathon.

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  • 3 weeks later...

We operate two distinctly different sessions currently - two afternoons for children from 2 to 3 years of age. This then feeds into our morning sessions for the funded children, in our case 3 to rising 5's (due to change in January when we realise the impact of moving to 2 term entry). The advantage of our pm sessions (to all intents and purposes a playschool) is that the children can settle in, initially with their parents/carers. There is no pressure, the atmosphere is relaxed with the children able to access toys, games and adult directed activities as and when they are ready, gradually gaining confidence and independence (entirely at their own speed which I believe is vital). This in turn means that by the time they are 3 they are ready for the challenges of our Nursery and ELG's and take to it like a duck to water. There is continuity in the environment and the staffing! It works like a dream. Long may it last.

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