Being furloughed and not being allowed to work, complete any paperwork, catch up on unfinished work or visit playscheme to complete my many maintenance jobs was extremely difficult for me and very sad. Whilst being at home for so long having lots of time to think about everything going on around the world the thought of how or even if we would ever be able to open again made me fill with worry and anxiety, the future of my beautiful playscheme and my wonderful team was hanging in the wind!
During the summer holidays the committee and myself worked extremely hard to think of ways of how we could possibly open to provide a much needed/valuable service to our hard working parents. Many different scenarios were voiced and put together, we all decided that the only and best way for us to open and move forward was for us to keep to the current guidelines and proposed school procedure of keeping the children in their year group bubbles.
This would require us to have seven spaces for each year group and seven members of staff to supervise each group. First I had to contact my wonderful team, I have 7 including myself, all work different days and hours, I had to find out if they all would be willing increase their workload to work 5 days a week all working until 6pm on the basis of us finding the seven spaces needed.
My team are truly amazing, although they all have jobs during the day and families they all agreed to work under the new requirements, willing to commit fully to ensure that we could re- open and secure the future of our playscheme.
The second task was to ask the head of Stoke Bishop Primary School if we could use somewhere in the school which would then enable us to work within the year group bubbles, I am a full time Reception teaching assistant at school so knowing what space would potentially work asked to use the school dining room. After meeting with him at school to discuss everything and running through all of my purposed plans and procedures he kindly agreed that it would work without impacting on school! Yay!
So it was full steam ahead, we only had 2 weeks before the start of term, 4 of those days I would be away, so the challenge was on! There was lots to do with so little time and the stress and worries started, we decided that it would be impossible to open at the beginning of term without sending me into a quivering mess so we chose to open a week later to ensure that we could put everything into place fully. I was back at school so I would get up early, spend hours working before school and go straight to playscheme afterschool working till late evening every day, I shopped lots, each group needed their own resources and equipment.
The team came in for several meetings to discuss all of the proposed plans that I had thought of and put into place, I’m no mastermind and as this was all very new to me as well as them it was great for us all to be together to talk everything through, I welcomed their feedback and ideas of what else they all thought could/not work. We all worked together to separate all of our toys/equipment/resources to ensure that each adult had their own individual bags of indoor and outdoor equipment. Each group needed pens, every day use equipment, hand gel, wipes, cleaning products, first aid kits, pedal bins, tissues, ppe and lots more!!!
We discussed how we could use our wide range of toys/puzzles/games between the seven groups, we have a great range but when you try to separate it all and share on a weekly basis realised it was sparse. Each group would choose toys dependant on the age of their children, age and abilities, we choose 2 boxes of toys and games to use on Mondays and Tuesdays and another 2 for Wednesdays and Thursdays, all of the toys would be stored each night in our now redundant t.v room in their individual year group space. On a Thursday night all of these are put together in one big space and not used for 72 hours, they are then all put away back in the toy cupboard on a Monday ready for everyone to start again and choose different things. On Fridays the group leaders choose a small amount of resources i.e games/puzzles to use and these are then put in a separate location on Friday night and put away on Tuesday after 72 hours.
It has been a very stressful and worrying time making the extreme changes but I am extremely thankful that everything that has been put into place has worked and all of the daily routines are running smoothly, the children and adults feel safe and more importantly the children are still very happy and are still enjoying their time spent at playscheme!
Its been very difficult to adapt, we pride ourselves at Cedar Park for the amazing ethos that our playscheme has, there is nothing more beautiful and rewarding than watching children from every year group playing together in harmony, being out of their comfort zone and not feeling any peer pressure whilst doing things that they wouldn’t normally do! The staff make our playscheme amazing, the energy that they all bring together with the children is fun, loving and warming which ensures that the atmosphere is home from home after a hard day at school.
To not all be together experiencing this is heart breaking but we are all working together extremely hard to ensure that we give our children the best experiences we still can and are just hoping that we will all soon be back together once again!!!
As told to BAND by Sam at Cedar Park Play Scheme .