I said last year was one of our busiest years ever but I think this year has been even busier, writes Fiona Ansdell. The refurbishment work and all the necessary flittings and temporary office did have an impact on staff, children and the smooth running of the organisation.
We were disappointed when the building work was delayed in the Spring, then when we did get started during the Summer holiday, the contractors had difficulty with the stair and it had to be remade causing further delays! However, was it worth it? Yes, it was, and it has given us all a new perspective on the building, creating new areas, fresh ideas and scope to utilise all the spaces.
While all that was going on we continued to meet the challenges of running our busy Club, including maintaining staff levels, meeting the standards, the qualification requirements and the new registration conditions of the Care Commission and the Scottish Social Services Council, and also ensuring adequate premises and maintaining the quality of care.
We welcomed 34 new P1 children this year, with 15 attending on average every day. In total we have on average 95 children daily. Our waiting list continues to grow for term time, and our Holiday Clubs continue to be well attended.
We have a new Assistant Manager. Ross MacDougall took up the post just before Christmas. Ross has management experience and was involved in childcare before he took up a Playworker post here last summer. His appointment has spread the office management work load and has also helped with all staffing issues. Irene Smith our book-keeper continues to keep all the finance running smoothly and is an invaluable support.
Our staffing levels are a bit low at the moment, but we are recruiting. However, this puts a strain on staff and I’d like to take this opportunity to thank them for the extra effort and all their hard work, especially through the building work and all the upheaval that created.
We are continuing with our SVQ Playwork training programme with Clydebank College, with several staff undertaking their qualification at present. Congratulations to those who have completed the course. Training this year has included: Infection control (Health Board) Child Protection (Reid Kerr College), Food Hygiene, Care Standards, Health & Safety. Qualifications are vital as the Registration of the Childcare Workforce with the Scottish Social Services Council continues. Most Managers (Lead Practitioners – including myself) are now registered, and practitioners (seniors) are currently going through the process. Playwork assistants (workers) will follow next year.
At the time of print we are waiting for our unannounced inspection – so no report yet. This year the focus includes child protection, active children and infection control.
During our annual inspection we will be able to show that our strengths lie in core staff providing consistency, that we take up appropriate training whenever available to us and that we have policies and procedures in place. We also have good communications with parents, a committed and effective Management Board and we survey parents and children for their views.
We have, over the past year or so, improved our recruitment and vetting, we are more aware of healthy choices in our snacks and the children have benefited from the introduction of more sports activities during our holiday programmes and during after school.
Finally, this year (our 15th anniversary) sees a significant change in our Board. Three long-standing members will be stepping down after several years of unstinting support, help and guidance. They are Ann Marie Docherty, Rosanne Law and Allyson Doig. I personally will be very sorry to see them go and would like to take this opportunity to express my gratitude, which I’m sure is shared by all. In particular, Ann Marie (our resigning Chairperson), has been a great mentor, helping me address the numerous challenges which have included staffing, finance, premises, legislation etc. over the years. She has been instrumental in developing our Board of Management and putting in place procedures which will ensure the smooth running of the organisation for years to come. Thank you very much, Ann Marie. However, I will be welcoming our new office bearers and any new members joining this month.