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WEST END Playgroup in Barry, part of the Vale of Glamorgan Council’s Healthy and Sustainable Pre-school Scheme, has won an Early Years Wales Award.

After work to improve their outdoor space during the pandemic, the group triumphed in The Best Outdoor Area category. The Early Years Wales Awards are held annually and aim to highlight the passion and dedication within the childcare sector in Wales.

There are seven award categories recognising excellence in practitioners and settings. Entries are assessed by a panel of expert judges who represent to the sector.

“The outside play area is truly inspirational, including climbing frames and bikes, a water wall, tunnel, fruit trees, gardening areas, mud kitchen, quiet and reflective area, all in a very small space!”

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Debbie Maule, Children’s Partnership Co-Ordinator for the Vale Council and Chair of the Healthy & Sustainable Pre-school Scheme, said: “Congratulations to West End Playgroup on your award, your hard work and dedication paid off.

“As mentioned previously, it has been a very challenging time for childcare providers in the Vale of Glamorgan.  The constant requirement to change their practice at short notice in line with Welsh Government guidance has put an enormous strain on the sector.

“It is with thanks to Catherine Perry, other services such as the Family Information Service and early years and play team that have supported the sector throughout.”

Cllr Lis Burnett, Vale of Glamorgan Council Cabinet Member for Education and Regeneration said:

“It’s great to see the hard work of the staff at West End Playgroup recognised in the Early Years Wales Awards.

“Their resilience throughout the pandemic has resulted in an exciting new garden that will benefit the wellbeing of many.

“I hope that the new facility provides much joy to the staff, children and local community that it serves.”

Other childcare settings in the Vale of Glamorgan were also recognised in the awards. Teddy Bear Nursery at Llandough Hospital was nominated for the fantastic outdoor opportunities it offers children, and Gibbonsdown Children’s Centre in Barry was also shortlisted.

The Vale’s Healthy and Sustainable Pre-School Scheme recognises that early years practitioners have the potential to make a huge contribution to the health and wellbeing of children in their care and actively promotes creating healthy environments.

Throughout the pandemic, the Vale’s childcare sector remained open, wherever possible, adhering to Welsh Government guidance for childcare and play work.

A prominent message throughout the guidance was the importance of being outdoors to reduce the spread of Coronavirus. West End Playgroup in Barry embraced this concept and developed an attractive and inviting outdoor space for their children and staff to enjoy.

Previously, the garden’s uneven ground made it unsafe, the bushes reduced space for play, and a step between the concrete and grass posed a hazard.


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