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Now that we have got the information back from everyone, digested the latest information and made some plans I can give an update on places and capacity.

When we sent out the questionnaire we had no idea how many people would want a place, and only had a rough idea of how many children we could have in the building. We have now firmed these up as far as possible and have made our plans.

It is important to explain the situation with regards to capacity. We, like most early years providers, have worked out what is a suitable number of children for the space we have. We have arrived at 32 as a workable figure, though the legal requirements would allow us to have slightly more.

32 is the number of children in a Pre-School session, not the number of children we have on roll at any one time. We don’t expect everyone to do 5 full days a week and we effectively share those full-time places out amongst several families. That is why mornings full up and afternoons dont. We have 53 children in Pre-school this year, 32 of whom will go to school in September.

With the younger age of the children (compared to schools), staffing and the building we have, we have decided we will start off with no more than 10 in the building at any one time. As stated in previous communications, we are running 2 bubbles of 2 1/2 days each, giving us a total capacity of 20 spaces for children. Bubbles also wreck our usual flexibility – telling you what we are giving you is not the Teatimers way and I am not enjoying having to do it.

A school with 30 chidren in a class is required to divide the children into 2 groups of 15. If they have the space then the children can come back for most of the week. If they dont have the space then the children can only come back for half the week.

As explained above, we have 53 children and 32 leavers. We cannot cut this group in half in the same way as a school can.

We are required to create small groups that stay together and don’t change much. This means some very unpleasant decisions have to be taken. 32 does not go into 20 any better than 53.

We do plan to keep the bubble sizes under review. As we get a bit of experience of working in a new way, I hope to be able to be able to grow the bubbles slightly to accommodate another 4-6 children. To be honest though, I see the term ending before the preventative restrictions are lifted.

I’m afraid this means that some families who want to return to Teatimers this term may not be able to.

I have considered cutting times and adding a third bubble but the costs are prohibitive. We try not to appear money focussed at Teatimers, but the current climate means we have to be far more conscious of it and also more open about our situation. Pre-school only survives in the way it does because it shares its overheads with the other services we run. Without them pulling their weight I have to make some very tough decisions, balancing your current needs against our need to stay in business.