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Volunteering in Early Years -Bridging the gap in Early Years provision 1

Volunteering in Early Years -Bridging the gap in Early Years provision

So, who am I and why am I writing this article for Capture Education? I am Fiona Ainsworth, Mum of two, teacher and assessor at The Sixth Form Bolton and volunteer for SNUFS.

I have over 25 years’ experience in the early years sector, starting when I was a Nursery Nurse in a Private Nursery many moons ago! I have worked in schools, social services nurseries, creches, high schools, ChildLine and have been teaching in post 16 education for over 10 years. So, it’s safe to say I have a wealth of varied experience.

I have been asked to write an article for you to read as some of you will be at home now isolating from the world that you normally inhabit. I have been working from home, teaching online, marking and supporting learners remotely.

However, the one thing that I cannot do remotely is my volunteering role. I am missing this part of my week but due to social distancing and school closures it is impossible to continue.

I work four and a half days of the week in the college and the last half a day I spend supporting a child in a school reception class. I have done this for 4 years now and have supported children in both nurseries and schools.

early years

SNUFS-Special Needs Under Fives Support is a service that supports children in the early years to attend and thrive in mainstream settings. They have been established since 1990 and support over 120 children in schools all over Bolton each year.

As you will know there are funding issues in early years and many settings struggle to provide enough support to children who require differences in their provision. This is the gap that SNUFS fills. For children who may have been overlooked for support or where the setting may have struggled to keep them in mainstream then the SNUFS service provide support.

Volunteers have varied backgrounds and are varying ages, but all give their time for the same reason, to support the children. Volunteers usually give up either one or two afternoons a week to provide 1-1 support to a child specified by the setting.

I am volunteering in a reception class now and my afternoon is directed by the staff who support me to work 1-1 with my specified child. Within that afternoon I will support them in P.E, with carpet time, playing games and much more. I just work with my specified child and my time is spent with them. This frees up staff time and gives the child support that they may otherwise not receive.

In this role I get a great insight into the children’s day and I am with them on their level so I can appreciate their day from their perspective. I see the progress they make and would like to think that some of that is down to the support given through SNUFS.

I have been working with the TA to learn signalong for the child I am with now and this is to benefit our interaction and communication during my time there. I have great feedback from the school and they really value the service.

Any school or nursery within Bolton can refer a child for support and then once it has been considered they will go on a waiting list until a volunteer can be matched to them. There is always a waiting list as there are more children waiting than there are volunteers.

Volunteering in Early Years -Bridging the gap in Early Years provision 2

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