Playgroup facing closure as leader doesn’t have degree

Granton Parish Church. Picture: Andrew O'Brien
Granton Parish Church. Picture: Andrew O'Brien
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A PLAYGROUP with a 100-year history could be forced to close because of strict new rules requiring the woman who runs it to have a degree in childcare.

Granton Toddlers Playgroup, based at Granton Parish Church, provides much-needed places for up to 20 children 
every weekday morning.

But because playgroup manager Linzi Douglas, who has been running the group for the past three years, has an HNC in childcare rather than a degree, she will no longer qualify for official registration with the Scottish Social Services Council (SSSC) and the group will lose its funding from the city council.

Now parents have launched a fundraising campaign in a bid to save the playgroup.

Ms Douglas, 37, said under the registration rules she would require a degree and her assistant, Sharon Martin, 35, would need an SVQ3 qualification in childcare.

She said there had been plenty of notice of the changed requirements, but she had not had the money to fund a degree.

Some smaller playgroups have already closed because of similar problems, she said.

Ms Douglas stressed that she believed in regulation and was not criticising the requirements for measures for the protection and safety of children.

She said: “Everyone is in the same boat and some playgroups have managed. We were given five years to have a manager in place with a degree, but unfortunately we have never managed to do that. It’s nobody’s fault, it’s just the circumstances.

“To stay open we now have to fund ourselves, so we’re trying to raise as much money as possible keep it going.

“There has been a playgroup in the church for 100 years and the current set-up has been operating for about 50 years. ”

She said the group needed £6500 a year to continue operating.

Clare Evans, whose daughter attends the group, said: “It would be a huge loss for young families. It’s absolutely vital.

“It’s unfortunate they don’t fit the criteria for council funding any more. But maybe there is some rich benefactor out there who would like to help.”

The playgroup is holding a summer fair on Saturday, June 27, 10am-2pm, at Granton Parish Church. It has also set up a Gofundme page where people can make donations online.

An SSSC spokeswoman said research had found childcare run by degree-level qualified staff led to the best possible outcomes for children.