There are around 360 young people living within the Parish under the age of 18: around 80 are below school age, 120 are at primary school with most of the remaining 160 in secondary education. This part of the survey covers only those in full time education
Their Education & Care
For childcare for children aged 0-2 years old, the recourse for parents is to childminders or nurseries. However, the recent onerous legislation governing childminders has meant that now only one remains in Marshfield and, for Nurseries, one must go outside the Parish. It has, however, generated an increase in the number of nannies.
On reaching the age of 2, children may go to the Marshfield Pre School, a non-profit making organisation run by a committee of volunteer users of the facility. This provides the start of structured learning. As children are left there, the required ratios of paid staff/children largely determine the cost. To offset this to some extent, Government Nursery Vouchers do now cover the fees for 15 hours a week for those with children aged 3 or over. The capacity of 24 children per session is currently proving adequate but that number cannot be increased without extending beyond the current space. Recently the hours have been extended to 08.00 to 18.00 effectively creating a nursery in Marshfield for 2-5′s. That has enabled some working parents to now use this local facility rather than those in outlying areas. Another change is the return to continuing provision throughout the school holidays, rather than just in term time, with now only a short break at Christmas. This means that between terms, a Holiday Club for 2-11 year olds can be operated although it is still limited by the 24 capacity. The Pre School has in the past experienced some difficulty in finding qualified staff who are in short supply.
Marshfield C of E Primary School serves the needs of virtually all children, aged 4 to 11, in the Parish with the exception of those going to private school. In addition, around 20 children attend the Primary School from outside the Parish. The school has a capacity of 182 with an annual intake of up to 26. Despite the birth rate in the Parish being currently down to around 16 pa, SGC are forecasting an intake of 25/26 over each of the next 4 years. This is positive after the low intake in 2011 as government financing is based on a per capita system. There is no problem recruiting staff.
The previous absence of a Breakfast Club has now been filled by the Marshfield Pre-School who will allow up to 11 year olds for breakfast at 08.00 before they are then escorted to the School. Early take up is low but this completes the formal cover needed for children of school age for full time working parents.
At the school, an After School Club is run commercially by SCHOOLKIDZ based in Bath. Operating until 18.30 on most weekdays, this is used by working parents. It is currently operating below capacity.
Secondary education takes place outside the Parish and, as such, falls beyond the scope of the Plan.
SGC provides free transport only to Sir Bernard Lovell School at Oldland Common or 2 church schools in Bath. Fare paying buses run to Sheldon and Hardenuish and to private schools in Bath. The SGC position is that Sir Bernard Lovell School is the designated school, as it is the nearest, and their position is not likely to change particularly when that school is undersubscribed. However, despite the cost of bus passes, most parents have for some years opted to send their children to Chippenham. Much sport at these schools is after hours and the limited bus service means that children taking part must have parents able to pick them up. In contrast, it seems some private schools work on an extended day including sport.
Music lessons covering a whole range of instruments are available from private providers in Marshfield. As in other activities the main take up is at primary level with interest fading with age. Provision by SGC and private providers is available through the primary school at a fee. A new short-term initiative by the school, offering free ‘brass’ lessons to some pupils, is very welcome. The Chippenham schools do not appear to embrace music; pupils attending there are likely to go to the Wiltshire Music Centre after hours for support.
Provision starts with the Marshfield Toddler Group which requires that an adult attends with their children. Providing a free play based experience without any formalised learning, this volunteer-run operation is a valuable social meeting point for parents who can exchange views and share experiences. It has as members most of the children aged 0-4 in the Parish. By the nature of the operation, there are no paid staff although contributions towards the rental are asked for.
The Edward Bear Club meets in the Chapel on a monthly basis run by volunteers for semi-structured learning and free play. Attendance varies although numbers tend to be small.
Withyworld provides an excellent facility for free activity which is well used by children from 1-11. Misuse of the site by older children seems to have greatly reduced in recent years. The question has been raised as to whether a small children’s toilet could be installed but this has already been considered by the Parish Council and found to be impractical. It is felt that such a facility would be a target for vandals and the cost of maintenance would be out of proportion to the expected use.
At Primary School age, the more organised opportunities open up with membership of groups. Rainbows, Brownies, Beavers, and Cubs are available although some are running at capacity with Waiting Lists. They are very well supported and are attended by over 50% of the age group. The limiting factor to expansion is often the number of volunteers available and Rainbows recently was rescued from closure only when a new volunteer came forward.
A range of outdoor sports are available for the Primary age group. The Junior Cricket Club is supported by a healthy number of volunteers and, attracts over 60 young people, to support teams of Under 9 and Under 11. In the Junior Football Club numbers are again high with many of the volunteers keen enough to have FA coaching qualifications. There are teams, which can be mixed, through the age range: under 7, under 8, under 9 and under 11.
The regular Dance School sessions, 3 times a week, are very popular with this age group and well attended primarily by girls but with also a few boys.
At Secondary Level, there is steady progression through all the above organisations although Guides and Scouts effectively cut off at age 14. Then Explorers covers 14-18 attracting both boys and girls. While football and cricket are provided in age groups through to under 17, it is noticeable that support for these sports tends to fall off with greater age so that, for example, only 5 boys over 15 play cricket. This is felt to be partly a result of the greater pressure of school work as critical exams near but also a change of interests. Junior Football has put a lot of effort into encouraging older boys to keep playing .The girls’ football was discontinued as the numbers were insufficient to form a team and those interested now play outside the parish. Away games need parental transport although a small mini-bus is sometimes available. Dance lessons continue to be popular among the girls but interest also seems to reduce with age. Marshfield Players run 2 events a year, a workshop and a play, with up to 50 attending with the majority being girls and the availability of volunteers is the biggest constraint.
Clubs work hard to include children with disabilities and learning difficulties in their activities. SGC operates a ‘buddy’ scheme to enable children with additional needs to access mainstream out of school clubs. This funds an additional person to provide support within the club/activity.
The possibility of one’s own transport, from age 17, is remote for the large majority leaving them ‘trapped’ in the Parish unless chauffeured by their parents. However, the opportunities for things to do can change rapidly and the arrival of the Tennis Club, which attracted 204 under-18 members in 2011, may reflect a need as that number must be about 80% of those in the age group.
Free expression is available in the Skateboard Park and this is well used by the younger teenagers. The facility is so good that young people are coming from outside to use it, sometimes dislodging the locals. There is some evidence that recent problems in the vicinity, with anti-social behaviour and vandalism, may arise from non-residents.
Teenage activity is not all physical. SKIDZ provides an opportunity for discussion, although take up is currently small.
With the coming of school holidays, young people are free during the day and some activities are specifically organised for that period. There is now the Preschool Club plus the Holiday Club, operated by Marshfield churches for a week in August. However, they only provide for a small proportion of all the children in the Parish. However, while the Holiday Club is free and fully subscribed, SCHOOLKIDZ have again offered a Holiday Club but with no takers due, it is believed by the organisers, to the cost. The Tennis Club provides ‘teaching camps’ during the summer holiday covering 3 – 4 weeks and attracting, this year, 75 different young people for part of the time. Guides, Scouts and Explorers go away to camp. However, some of the older teenagers would like to spend their time doing something constructive. During gap years, students may go building facilities for communities in Africa and this type of activity was cited as the sort of worthwhile thing to do in the summer here in Marshfield with the personal bonus that it could then be added to their CV’s.
With the large range of available activities, at age 14, the young may be involved in 3 or 4. However, many still go outside the Parish to sporting activities not provided here. Keep Fit, athletics, and swimming have been the most mentioned with girls having to leave to play cricket and football.
Some teenagers have expressed a wish for other sports and most often repeated are table tennis, and netball/basketball/volleyball variants. Unfortunately, LTA restrictions prevent the tennis courts being laid out for other sports. However, there is a possibility that the new clubhouse could accommodate table tennis. The possible provision of a cinema was high on the wish list of those questioned.
However, when new activities are offered they are not always taken up. Whilst the Tennis Club is a massive success, recent efforts to start Karate and Basketball Clubs have not received enough support to continue. Tumble-Tots never got started and the Children’s Art Group has closed due to lack of numbers. One could ask whether there are enough activities already for the size of the community or whether stronger promotion would reach more potential users?
There are some who feel a Youth Club would be welcomed but this has been tried more than once here in the past. Attempts over the last 7 years by S Glos Youth Services have failed to attract any real interest and one attempt was spoilt by vandalism by non members. Indeed, there are some facilities, such as table tennis, stored in the Community Centre. The badminton court there is already marked out for basketball. The concept of a Youth Club does not seem to appeal to those asked, who see their various Group memberships as providing the social contact that they want. It may be that the ‘non-joiners’ of organised activities might see this differently. However, with SGC tending to withdraw their funding for such ventures, that could seriously hinder the setting up of such a facility.
Most of the activities require a subscription of some kind. Whilst there are no formal systems to help those parents with difficulty paying, most clubs seem to be aware of this potential problem and are sympathetic to need if it is brought to their attention.
It seems that all providers work well together to provide a comprehensive service although there are inevitably some clashes of timetables.