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Playgroups – a dying breed?

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By Harriet MackeviciusGuest Editor, playgroup deputy manager and early years teacher.

Guest Editor Harriet Mackevicius shares her concerns about the struggles that local playgroups face in today’s society

Guest Editor Harriet with child

After four years as a primary school teacher, I made a move to join the local community playgroup, Barbican Playgroup, based in the City of London. I was amazed by the huge differences between the different types of early years settings.

The Barbican Playgroup has a much smaller number of children and staff than that of the average nursery school or children’s centre. Nearly all aspects of its running and maintenance fall to the two full-time members of staff. This not only includes the planning and resource orders that are expected in these roles, but also the admissions and cleaning, which surprised me, having had experience in places where people are employed to carry out these tasks.

Despite being hard work for the staff, the playgroup provides huge benefits for the children, including its home-from-home atmosphere and commitment to delivering the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS). But with the only other playgroup in the borough having closed in the last 12 months, I began to wonder if smaller settings, which are inevitably open shorter hours than most day nurseries and children’s centres, were star ting to be pushed out of the early years sector.

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