Marlow Opportunity Playgroup
Registered charity no. 1177581 Ofsted Registered
Special support and development for pre school children with special needs
MOP, an affectionate term for the playgroup, is unique within the area, providing early intervention for pre-school children, most of whom have a broad and varied range of diagnoses including: Autism, Cerebral Palsy, Down's syndrome, visual impairments, speech and language delays, and various other genetic and neurological problems. We have a team of trained, experienced and motivated staff who are knowledgeable about, and supportive of the children's needs and learning requirements. We offer 1:1 support (aiming for a minimum of 1:2) where required; ensuring that every child is able to access all available activities, including many that would otherwise not be accessible to these children. We also give valuable help and support to their carers and families.
Marlow Opportunity Playgroup was in operation as part of the British Red Cross for over 30 years. In April 2005 we became an independent registered charity. Previously based in Marlow, our playgroup relocated in January 2011 to its current site: The Scout Hall, Wooburn Green. The space is large, light and airy and is utilised effectively by sectioning it off into focus areas, enabling the children to work with minimal distraction. There is an enclosed garden and a safe tarmac area where children can engage with the play equipment at all times of the year.
MOP is Ofsted registered, and received an 'outstanding' judgement in its last two inspections: in June 2011 Download 2011 Ofsted report(.pdf) and in November 2015 Download 2015 Ofsted report(.pdf). The Early Years Foundation Stage Curriculum (EYFS) is adapted to meet the needs of the children who attend. Our staff work very closely with all speech, occupational and physiotherapists who visit regularly, as well as associated parents or carers; this holistic approach enhances and enriches the children's development.
We are well-known by medical professionals in the local area as the ideal setting for children who would find it difficult to access a mainstream playgroup; children are often referred either by paediatricians at the local hospital, or by other health professionals. The sessions, which are limited to 20 children, are generally full and we operate a waiting list. In addition to our staff, we have 2 carers with special needs, whose involvement is vital in providing a positive role model to the children and parents alike.
Marlow Opportunity Playgroup follows a modified version of the Revised Early Years Foundation Stage Curriculum. The EYFS promotes effective practice through each of the seven areas of learning to support children through various stages of maturity and development. These are reflected in each child's learning journey, individual record folder and personalised IEPs, they include:
Creating choices and opportunities is an everyday occurrence at MOP: by offering a wide variety of stimulating daily activities as part of a development programme, help is given to enhance fine and gross motor skills. Activities include: 'messy play', painting and craft work, sensory play (including a sensory area), construction activities, role play, small world play, music and movement, visually stimulating stories and outside play. The children enjoy the experience of playing alongside their peer group with the required level of adult support to coach and direct when necessary. Specialist visitors are a regular occurrence for musical activities on a weekly basis.
Communication is a key element within education; all children are encouraged to express themselves and make choices by either: talking, pointing, eye pointing, use of Picture Exchange Programme (PECS) or Makaton signing. We are sensitive and supportive in order to help each child communicate their needs and Makaton signing is used throughout the session.
We hope to ensure that all children, however complex their needs, are able to access an outstanding pre-school education; without the playgroup the majority of these children would miss out on this important stage in their development. We want all our children to move to their next setting with a growing confidence and independence in their own abilities, and equip them with skills that they will need in their schooling years, whether this is in special or mainstream educational settings.