Wollaston pre-schools join forces to help children of village's key workers

Both pre-schools have been serving the villages' under fives community for several generations

By Alison Bagley
Wednesday, 22nd April 2020, 4:30 pm

The managers of two Wollaston pre-schools have put aside any rivalry and joined forces to help the children in their care during the coronavirus pandemic.

Staff of Busy Bees pre-school based in Wollaston Village Hall not only had to adjust to life with fewer pupils coming through the doors but due to the lockdown their rented premises were closed as an emergency measure by the hall's committee.

To make sure that children of key workers were still able to access their Ofsted 'outstanding' education, manager Kerry Wright contacted the manager of Wollaston and Strixton Pre-School, Kerry Gay, to see if they could host her and her pupils.

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Kerry Wright (manager Busy Bees Wollaston) and Kerry Gay (manager of Wollaston and Strixton Pre-School)

Mrs Wright said: "When I was told that the village hall was going to close I thought 'what on earth am I going to do?'.

"I know they wanted to keep the village hall safe, so I rang Kerry and she said 'Let's do it'."

The children of key workers who usually attended Busy Bees' High Street base have now moved into the WAY building where Wollaston and Strixton Pre-School is located. Mrs Wright has been providing continuity and a familiar face for the children.

Kerry Gay, manager of Wollaston and Strixton Pre-School, said: "We were happy to help and it's been nice to work with Kerry.

"It's all a bit strange but it's fun. Some days we only have one child in but it's so important to be there for the parents.

"We will just keep going and wait to see what happens."

Of the 34 children on Busy Bees' register seven initially required their nursery place but as parents organised their rotas only three children needed a place.

Mrs Wright has had no choice but to furlough four of the staff who have been topping-up their training at home.

She said: "It's been really stressful and this could put us under financial pressure. Parents can't come and look round and children due to start in April and June won't now start until September.

"We can't help the children with the transition to primary school. I'm so gutted that we can't do our PE sessions to prepare them for dressing themselves.

"All that work we do taking them to look around the classrooms, the toilets with the noisy hand dryer, the big playground.

"We do yoga to help them if they get a bit panicked. My staff are keeping in touch with them and keeping their well-being up."

Mrs Wright, who has been involved with Busy Bees for 14 years, six as manager, is hoping that the money from the government's coronavirus jobs retention scheme will be enough to keep the pre-school going.

The staff had been fundraising before the Covid-19 outbreak to help with rising costs.and are now waiting to hear from the Early Year Alliance how much pre-schools will be able to claim back.

Mrs Wright added: "We just want to keep our little people safe.

"It's been great to see another educational setting and we have been able to offer consistency and they are still learning through play.

"It's all about the children. Without Kerry we would have had to close and the children would have had more disruption. We are so thankful and so are the parents of the key workers."

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