This year we were able to take full advantage of our new mezzanine level and children’s cloakroom, writes Fiona Ansdell. As I’m sure you have noticed, the extra space created, and the area for the bags and coats, has made a big difference to us.
It still can be a struggle to find the elusive lunch box, fleece etc, but gone are the great piles of bags and coats taking up large areas of play space. However, we are already thinking about our next project and ways to extend our space and reduce our reliance on areas within the school. We also intend investing in the building itself by introducing a maintenance programme to include cleaning, making good and re-covering the exposed beams which support the building.
The office space is a vast improvement on what we had downstairs. Three of us can work comfortably on our new level with storage space and room for staff to research and prepare activities. It has also made a difference having a more private space to talk to people individually when necessary.
We welcomed 30 new P1 children this year with 13 attending on average every day. Our daily average is 95 children. We don’t have a waiting list at the moment but the early part of the week is fairly full.
At present we have 13 staff including myself, plus a Danish student, a bookkeeper and cleaner. We do experience high turnovers of staff at the Club as people move on to full time jobs or to University. We are also finding it harder to staff the holiday programmes as staff have morning jobs or are studying and are unable to work all day. However, we are recruiting just now and have had some success. Recruiting new staff is becoming more challenging as the increasing legislative requirements placed on childcare facilities and their employees start to take affect.
Despite the turnover of staff we still hold a core team of workers -some with long service. They are the ‘backbone’ of the ‘Afty’ who are committed and work hard to ensure children are safe and have a variety of opportunities to get involved in a wide range of activities from gardening, sports, baking and arts and crafts. They play a big part in determining the activities and outings during the holidays and are able to convey what the children want through their knowledge of the children and previous experience. We owe them a big thank you for another successful year at Hyndland After School Club!
We are continuing with our SVQ Playwork training programme and short courses such as Child Protection, First Aid and Food Handling. Training during 2007/08 included Kitchen Health and Safety, First Aid, Child Protection, Fire Safety, Football Coaching, Circus Skills and ‘Top Sports’.
Qualifications are vital as the Registration of the Childcare Workforce with the Scottish Social Services Council continues. Most Managers (Lead Practitioners – including myself) and senior workers (Practitioners) are now registered and Playwork Assistants (Workers) are going through the process. The requirement for Childcare Managers to have a degree level qualification by 2011 will not apply to After School Care – at least not at present.
At the time of writing we are expecting our unannounced annual inspection. This will be our first inspection under the new Grading scheme. The 6 point grading scale ranges from 1 – unsatisfactory to 6 – excellent. The four areas to be graded are Quality of care and support, Quality of environment, Quality of staffing and Quality of management and leadership. We are confident we will get good grades from the Care Commission but are not complacent and will strive to ensure we offer the best possible service to our children and parents.
There is a big emphasis on child and parental involvement in the running of the Club. We are fortunate in having a strong parent Board and parents who are interested and supportive. Feedback from children and parents is vital so look out for this year’s questionnaires! Inspection Reports can be accessed on our Care Commission page.
We’ve enjoyed another bumper fruit crop this year and thanks to children, parents and staff who helped in the garden we also had potatoes, radishes and rhubarb. The School was successful in being awarded funding this year to spend on the garden. This has allowed us to build raised beds, buy a new table with seating, replace our greenhouse (still to buy) and to do some planting. We look forward to further joint projects with the school.
Finally I would like to thank the Board of Management for their dedication and support to the Club. As you know the Club cannot run without a parent Board and it is essential as members leave to replace them with new parents. We look forward to improvements next year, in our bookkeeping through the ‘Sage’ system, confidence in the longevity of the building, and excitement as to what we can do next to improve our service and the environment for our children.