Parents fear playgroup closure is on the cards

editorial image

Peterhead Community Education Centre playgroup is hoping it won’t suffer from the brunt of council spending cuts this year.

The town’s playgroup located in the community centre caters for 26 children at the moment, and the playgroup parent committee is keeping its fingers crossed that the playgroup won’t be forced to close.

Chairperson Alison McBain said: “A lot of the parents here think that their child at the anti-pre school age of three isn’t ready to be put into a school nursery, attending up to five session a week.

“And if they were to attend a school nursery and not take the full five session they would be allocated elsewhere, meaning the child could never build up their time.

“We also suffer the problem of the extra costs of a private nursery, and a price cannot be put on the benefits of this playgroup.

“The playgroup workers Ann Grant, Val Paterson and Deborah Thom allow the children to settle into a new environment at their own pace, allowing them to develop in leaps and bounds. They have such a rare talent and they playgroup is highly sought after in the local community.”

The main fear of the committee at this particular playgroup is that the current population in Peterhead is increasing.

Alison added: “Every year there is a battle for school places, and last year Clerkhill School couldn’t run an ante pre-school setting due to the demand for pre-school places. The last school built in the town was Dales Park primary in 1978 when the population was 12,763 (1975 consensus), now it’s thought to be 17,873 and rising (Aberdeenshire council small area population estimates and forecasts 2007).

“A study carried out by White Young Green Consulting (commissioned by Aberdeenshire council) earmarked land for 4,500 homes to be built alongside 4 primary schools, a new academy, a hospital and a community centre to cope with the predicted 9,000 population rise.

“We can’t understand the sense in closing an excellent playgroup that caters for 26 children when the future projections clearly show that we will need more schools not less.”

A spokesman for Aberdeenshire Council said: “We carried out an extensive review of our early years service in order to bring it into line with Scottish Government guidance and to provide the most efficient, consistent support to families in the area whilst also delivering best value.

“We are now implementing the findings, working with parents and staff at every stage.

“The review highlighted many issues and allowed the authority to analyse experiences across the area to deliver a better service.

“We are operating within best value principles to ensure resources are targeted appropriately to meet the needs of young children and families across Aberdeenshire.

“At the heart of our approach is to continue to provide parents with access and a choice of childcare whilst balancing local needs related to changing demographics.

”We will provide support and advice to playgroups affected by any changes that wish to move to independent status.

“We encourage families to work with us as we implement changes that will effectively deliver a better service for the future across Aberdeenshire.”