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Flamingo Playgroup staff members and children at St Robert's Church Hall, Morpeth. The staff members pictured are (from left) Maddy Neison, Cher King, Susan Gladstone and Veemalah Reid.
Flamingo Playgroup staff members and children at St Robert's Church Hall, Morpeth. The staff members pictured are (from left) Maddy Neison, Cher King, Susan Gladstone and Veemalah Reid.

A community childcare group is urging parents to take up Government funding for nursery places.

Flamingo Pre-School and Out-Of-School club is one of the longest running such groups in Northumberland after it was established in St Robert’s Church Hall in Oldgate, Morpeth, more than 25 years ago.

But managers say many parents are not aware that the club exists, or that funding is available for all three-year-olds to attend, as well as two-year-olds who meet certain criteria.

Overall Manager Linda Neal said: “The Government wants all three-year-olds to be in nursery and starting to learn, which is a good thing.

“Mothers do tend to teach them at home, but when they come to nursery they are all learning in the same way. We can also identify a gifted child, or one who is falling behind, and can assist them to meet their needs and make sure they are on the right road.

“The take-up of the funding is not what it should be because a lot of parents aren’t aware of it and that places are available for them, even if it is just one or two sessions a week.

“The children get used to other children and communicate with adults as well. It helps them to socialise and helps their wellbeing.”

Flamingo offers the pre-school from 9am to 3pm, with morning and afternoon sessions available, while the out-of-school care runs from 8am to 9am and 3.10pm to 6pm. It takes children from aged two to 12.

Run by a parents’ committee on a not-for-profit basis, the club is Oftsed registered, with eight qualified staff, and teaches Early Years Foundation Stage.

Pre-School Manager Maddy Neison said: “Everybody thinks that because we are based in the grounds of the church you have to be a Catholic to come to us, but we accept anybody, all cultures and religions. The problem is that a lot of people don’t know we are here.”

One of the parents who uses the pre-school is delighted with its work with her son, who has autism.

She said: “My little boy is three years old and is autistic. He is way behind children of his age, cannot communicate, gets very frustrated and likes routine. Maddy and the rest of the team are fantastic. They totally understand Freddie and his needs and he has changed so much since starting there. He learns a lot of new things and thrives there. He knows his alphabet, numbers, colours, shapes and is learning to read – something we never thought would happen.”

Details can be found at www.facebook.com/FlamingoPlaygroup