It’s a busy time, where everyone is up, arisen barely half an hour ago, but still, up and about. There is that noise that you get in shopping precincts, buzzing bodies are busy all doing their own thing. The little children are talking gibberish and holding on the pram while the mum chooses the direction. Only she knows they have milk around their mouths, dry and crusty, the sort that won’t rub off with just a tissue. The school is not really school but is a school to learn, play and share and basically to have fun.
The mum and child can both enjoy it. The mum enjoys it as she gets rid of the little nuisance for the morning and get a chance to catch up on the latest ‘goss’ with their friends, later pottering on to the hairdressers. ‘ The child can enjoy it as they get to catch up with all the ‘goss’ about fire man Sam and Thomas the tank engine whilst building the twin towers with Duplo blocks, later moving on to a drink of milk to refresh the moustache and a custard cream biscuit. Both meet up once again for lunch and to greet their little brother in the pram.
The job, is a pre-school leader, working only half a day, but said to be enough. Her name is Bronwen Flood, pre-school leader for nearly 10 years. She is 5″3 and has blonde coloured hair, She is of very slight build and when the wind blows you can hear her as the wind whistles through her ribs Whether it be snow, wind, sun or rain the determined leader arrives at work on time every morning. Her body is like a mileage gauge, clocking up many miles a year. Only with this model the mileage makes no difference, just gives a rough idea of how far the journey is.
She averages 2 miles there and 2 miles back, with an extra quarter of a mile added on for the way home, as she diverts to do the banking. Extra minutes are added to her journey each morning as she stops to greet her early morning ‘friends’, the cats on the route, waiting to have their chins tickled. Bronwen wasn’t always a pre-school leader. She worked for the Police for many years before taking a break to raise her two children. When the eldest started the local pre-school, Bronwen decided to offer her services as a helper.
She became part of the furniture and was offered the job of Leader of the group when the two ladies in charge decided to retire. Bronwen and a colleague became the new Leaders of the group. Ten years later she is still there, along with the same colleague. She comments on her employment as follows, “The job was originally just supervising children playing basically. Parents stayed and had coffee and chatted whilst their ‘little ones’ played and made new friends. Over the years the job changed drastically. It all started with Social Services suggesting we kept records on the children.
The Government then decided that all children should have free nursery places (paid by the Government. ) They decided that all Nursery groups would have to offer the same facilities for early education and that they would set the standards. This way the child will not miss out at one place when compared to the other. The next real major change within the following few years was that OFSTED appeared. These people check up on standards of the building i. e. qualities and faults. They also make sure the nursery is being run appropriately, and that the child is being taught the right things.
The leaders have to show their plans in long , medium and short term formats. They have to observe and evaluate the extent to which children are making progress towards the six early learning goals. It is taken into account what the children are doing, how worthwhile it is, whether they respond well and are keen to learn and the quality of learning opportunities provided to them. All this entails lots and lots of paperwork, leaving very little time to spend with the children some days!
Pre-school leaders average about 7 an hour which by today’s standards is pretty good. When I first started doing this work I got 6 per morning. Also extra is given for planning at home. ‘I often volunteer for planning as you get paid quite a bit extra. ‘ The money for the pre-school comes from funding in general. This is basically the government. This is where the government offer children of three to four years of age free education in approved nurseries. This way the parents do not have to pay and get their child supervised for a morning free of charge.