The team at Jellytots are actively encouraging new members to join their morning or afternoon sessions to keep their long-withstanding playgroup alive.
The playgroup is situated on the grounds of Brookfield School on Cartwright Drive, West Swindon.
It offers three hour sessions in the morning and afternoon, during term time. Currently, there are spaces available for both. The group usually has up to 16 children per session to maintain an effective adult to child ratio.
The Jellytots team is made up of five fully qualified practitioners with over 30 years of experience who are keen to invite more members. The team say they currently receive a lower funded rate per hour. They said this is because the type of childcare Jellytots offers is falling as a proportion of childcare in Swindon, and currently accounts for only around a third of settings. The other two thirds receive between 9 and 17% extra per child per hour.
The Jellytots team say they are being offered a 3% increase in funding this year. The last rise was in 2017. In that time, the National Living Wage (NLW) has risen by 26%. This has meant the playgroup team have had to increase wages accordingly.
The playgroup's staff said Swindon Borough Council were very supportive when they were not allowed to open during the first lockdown.
Jellytots' Jan John said: "We appreciate that funds are limited, but as things stand, and with further NLW rises expected, it won’t be long before we will have no choice but to sadly rethink our place in the Early Years sector in Swindon, after over thirty years in the area."
The Jellytots team say there are many reasons why members of the public should bring their children along to their morning or afternoon sessions. One of which being the fact the playgroup prides itself upon approaching a variety of different and interesting topics in its sessions. The most recent topic on the Jellytots schedule has been climate change.
Jan said: "We felt that doing a topic about looking after our planet would be a great way to teach the children about the importance of caring for the environment and the world they live in. We called it Guardians of the Planet. The children have learnt how special our Earth is and where it sits in the solar system."
The Jellytots teams said they feel it is important for children to understand that the Earth is the only planet that is widely known to have life on it.
Jan added: "The children have been like little sponges and soaked up all the information we have shared, the new words and songs that have helped to reinforce it and we are only just at the beginning. There are some super child-friendly books about our planet, which we have used to help the children see what wonderful things our Earth has on it.
"Teaching our youngest generation how to be Guardians of our Planet will help them to learn how to begin to change some of the things we can do, to help our lovely planet to regenerate to survive."
The children made an Earth display made of recycled blue and green paper and card, along with some imaginary planets. The playgroup team say they will to continue to thread this topic through the next term, linking ideas of recycling, reusing and repairing into the learning.
Jellytots staff have also contacted the local Enviro Crime Programme for Education in Swindon who have are loaned out some of their learning resources to the playgroup.
Cllr Keith Williams, cabinet member with responsibility for climate change, said: “Learning about sustainability and reducing waste at an early age is one of the most important lessons we can teach children today.
“Jan and the Jellytots team have been doing a great job at sowing the seeds of environmental awareness."
More information can be found online at jellytotsplaygroup.org.uk.
Members of the public can also contact Jellytots' Enrolment Secretary via firstname.lastname@example.org.