Despite the current financial climate and the unfortunate consequences some parents are experiencing our numbers have not dropped significantly, writes Fiona Ansdell.
Our latest daily average is around 90 children, with the Breakfast Club, Holiday Club and pick-up service from Notre Dame all showing steady numbers. However, we do have places available, both regular and drop-in.
Our Summer Holiday Club was well attended (up slightly on last year, averaging 36 per day) with many of the activities and outings proving popular, including the Titan Crane at Clydebank, visit from the Dogs Trust (with dog!) and several visits to country parks and beaches including Calderglen and Troon.
One parent quote from 2007, which appears on our web site, says – ‘always striving to improve – never making do’. This year is no exception.
We didn’t have major works going on as we had in 07-08 but were still busy doing the less obvious maintenance jobs that improve the look of, and lengthen the life of our building. We had the beams which support the building cleaned and recovered, the floor sanded and our windows made easier to open. We’ve added a sign to the gable end so everyone can see that we are here! We also had curtains made which helped to keep the sun out during the summer and I know will help keep the heat in during the winter. We’re still on our ‘maintenance mission’ – plans include getting the guttering fixed and the outside of the building repainted.
One of the few disadvantages of the mezzanine levels has been the temperature – both during the winter when the heat rises from the heating system, and in the summer when the sun beats in. It has become intolerable on occasion. So, despite the new curtains and the ceiling fans, we have had to install air conditioning units. I’m sure they will resolve this issue.
As you’ve probably seen the garden has been transformed over the last few weeks. Thanks to the Coach House Trust, the garden is now safer, more accessible and more user friendly. Our next purchase (carried over from last year) will be a greenhouse which will open up further opportunities for activities for children both during school and after.
Lastly, we are hoping to purchase a shed which will be situated near the front door – the ground is already prepared. This will provide us with much needed accessible storage.
Thankfully, we still have most of our core staff with us, a committed team who never cease to meet the demands of the club by ensuring versatile and fun activities for the children whilst ensuring their safety.
However, turn-over can be high due to staff moving to full time work, further studies or to try something else. Recruitment will become more challenging as the Scottish Social Services Council’s (SSSC) deadlines approach for all childcare workers to be registered and hold a suitable qualification. This will change things for our Club as we have always had a rich mix of staff – many of them students – with diverse skills and qualities which have enhanced the service we offer to children and parents.
Approximately half of our staff have childcare qualifications at the moment with a new round of training coming soon. The requirement for childcare managers to hold a degree by 2011 does not, at present, apply to out of school care. However, when the BA Childhood Practice degree became available at the University of Glasgow I thought I would take the plunge and apply. Encouraged by the Chair and supported by all the Board members I am now almost half way through.
We were inspected in January this year by the Care Commission. This was our first inspection under the new grading scheme – 6 (excellent) being the highest grade. We were pleased to be awarded an overall 4 (good) Of the 8 statements within each theme (Quality of Care & Support, of the Environment, of Staffing and of Management & Leadership) we received four at grade 5 (very good) and four at grade 4.
Of the 30 questionnaires handed out to parents 23 were returned to the Care Commission. All were positive and comments from parents were very complimentary of our work and much appreciated. The following comment in particular helped make staff feel valued and recognised for the worthwhile job they do.
“HASC has provided excellent care and facilities for my child. I feel that my child is being well cared for in an inclusive and stimulating environment with a wide range of activities run by people who genuinely care about children. HASC is well run as a care provider and I feel that it is helping me as a parent not just to look after my child between school and work finishing but to raise a confident and well rounded individual. My child loves going to the Afty”.
The inspection report is available from the Care Commission at www.carecommission.com or from the Club website.
My thanks to the staff who meet all the challenges of running a busy service with dedication and enthusiasm. They are the ones responsible for the continued success of the Club, for providing new and exciting activities for the children and for keeping them safe and happy. Also the Club would not run smoothly without our bookkeeper and cleaner.
Particular thanks to the Board of Directors for once again giving up valuable time to support, govern, advise and maintain the safe management of the Club. We are sorry to lose three Directors this year – so if you like what we do here and are interested in getting involved, please do not hesitate to get in touch. I would also like to mention our continued good relationship with all the school staff and in particular the Parent Council. We have been working together on the garden and sharing skills and resources for the benefit of all.