Banyan Park – Building project update
The last few months have been a flurry of activity for everyone involved in Banyan Park, and saw the completion of phase one of the Banyan Park redevelopment, the ‘big move’ of all the resources and equipment to the new building and relocation of the original Banyan Park building.
The Norfolk Island Pistol Association and a team of builders prepared the original building so that it could be relocated to its new home at Anson Bay. The building was cut into 5 sections and moved over 4 days, which of course took centre stage through town over that period. We thank the Pistol Club, the relocation team, the police and the community for their patience and support throughout the process, which was emotional for many.
Two community groups have mutually benefited from this relocation! The Pistol Club gained an indoor range, and space has now been cleared so the 4th Banyan Park pavilion, accommodating children 0-3 years old, can complete the ‘Awas Letl Salan’ project. This construction phase has just begun and should be completed by December.
The New Facility
The new buildings are everything we hoped for. An official opening won’t take place until the entire centre is complete, so informal (pre-arranged) visits are welcome!
The new centre includes two new play rooms, a fantastic children’s bathroom, commercial grade kitchen (a requirement under the incoming regulations), staff rest and programming space, laundry and bathroom facilities and an entry hub with Director’s office and storage.
The playground, though still a work in progress has come together beautifully and draws inspiration and materials from natural elements on the island. A creek bed meets a huge sandpit, and a wooden tee pee and stepping gum tree trunks are nestled amongst the native trees. It has easily the best view of any early learning centre, anywhere (we think)!
The new facility has been purpose-built for early childhood and provides facilities which suit the children, and the staff who educate them. Importantly, it has ensured local parents are able to access the much-needed fee relief associated with early childhood education and care. We have reached a record 50 total enrolments, with the centre already at capacity (35 daily enrolments) on several days per week. The quick uptake of positions is due to the reduced cost, and increased quality of care and education enabled by the new facility.
The project has been funded by the Australian Government's Building Better Regions Fund, along with a significant contribution by the Tony Redstone Foundation, which was donated to Banyan Park several years ago
With growing enrolments, the team of staff at Banyan Park has also grown! Our Director, Emma, has accepted a permanent position with Banyan. We feel fortunate every day for her experience in leading our centre, and the creation of such a high quality learning environment has enriched the preschool education provided. Vinnie, Sandi, Leilani and Lisa have also continue to provide amazing commitment and care to the children, and went more than the extra mile during the busy April school holidays - packing, cleaning and moving, as well as providing the ‘business as usual’ child care and vacation care at the school – a challenge in itself. A huge thank you to the team who do so much for auwas letl salan. We are also very grateful to NICS and Principal, Brett Carr, for so generously allowing us to use their facilities during our transition period.
Paige Adams has recently joined us as a Certificate III qualified educator. One of our goals in creating the new centre was to encourage our young salan to return, with the prospect of employment in a high quality and purpose built facility. We’re overjoyed this has happened already, and we hope it will continue! Banyan also gains Ally as a casual staff member. She comes to us from Melbourne, and also holds a Certificate III in Early Childhood Education and Care. As we move into accommodating the 0-3s, we will need quite a few more educators on the team, so get in touch if this is something that might interest you!
Thank you to the Norfolk community
The project team and Banyan's management committee are grateful to the Norfolk Island community for their continued positive feedback, support and ongoing commitment to Banyan Park. Banyan Park has become a rite of passage for most locals - a ‘place’ where most people have attended as a pre-schooler for the past 40 years. Through this process of redevelopment, it will be a place awas letl salan gwen continue to groe en lern thru plieh into the distant future.
The returning children are enjoying being the ‘big kids’ and helping the new ones with the routine.
As you would have heard, I will be leaving Banyan Park. However, I want to assure everyone that I am committed to staying and continuing to provide quality care and early learning teaching until a replacement Director can be appointed. As soon as I know when I am finishing I will let parents know.
CHANGES TO LIBRARY
Due to timetabling changes at the school, our library day has changed to Monday from 9.40 to 10.30. I have amended the permission forms and I will see you one afternoon this week to get your signature. I will also need a volunteer each week to assist the educator taking the children over to the library, so if you have spare hour on a Monday morning once a month and would like to assist, please let Katherine or one of the other educators know and we will create a roster.
If your child doesn’t come on a Monday but you would like them to be involved in library (it is a great school readiness experience) then please join us at the library from 9.40am to 10.30am.
There appears to have been a rise in head lice recently, so please check your children’s hair regularly for the little critters. If you discover your child has lice, please let us know. Once your child has had their hair treated they are allowed to return to Banyan. You can purchase lice shampoo at the chemist and it is easy to use and effective. You can also purchase products that deter lice and I have heard a tea tree oil and water solution sprayed onto hair each morning is also an effective natural deterrent. Don’t forget to treat all family members!
If your child becomes unwell or injures themselves enough to require treatment at Banyan Park, educators complete an illness/injury/accident form after treatment has been given. If your child’s injury or illness is significant, we will contact parents immediately (if parents are uncontactable, we will call your emergency contacts).
If the injury is not deemed significant (scratched knee etc) we will complete a form and present it to you to be signed at the end of the day (or, as per policy, within 24 hours if an approved contact other than a parent collects your child).
And just to be on the safe side, to ensure we don’t miss anyone at pick-up time, we will now highlight your child’s name and write a note in the ‘additional comments’ section of the attendance register if we need to speak with you before you go. So if your child’s name is highlighted when you sign them out, please make sure you see an educator before you leave.
Show and Share
You will find a little note in your message pockets which has your child’s Show and Share day on it. Your child can bring in something special from home to show their friends during Show or Share, or they may have something special to tell us. Show and Share is an important opportunity for children to develop language skills and confidence in front of a small group. We have a special ‘Show and Share Box’ which all the special things go into when you arrive in the morning. This box then stays in Katherine’s office until it is Show and Share time to keep special things safe.
TOYS FROM HOME
If it’s not your child’s Show and Share day we ask that children not bring in toys from home. They inevitably get lost, dirty, broken or taken home in someone else’s bag.
We have at least one distressed child a day who has lost or broken a special toy they have bought in from home. Thanks for your understanding in this matter.
NEW ADDITIONS TO ROOMS
Ensuring we continue to provide a quality and safe environment for your children, you may have noticed we have a few new items including a fully stocked and compliant First Aid kit, which sits on the wall (out of the reach of little hands!) opposite the front door. The new kit contains EpiPens, Ventolin and asthma spacers in the rare case of asthma or anaphylaxis.
New soap and paper towel dispensers have also been installed in the bathroom, supporting healthy handwashing practices.
splashing around in the water. We made a slip and slide out of a tarp (even Katherine, Emily and Ellie had a slide!) ran under the sprinkler, played with ice and generally had a cool time.
Welcome to the September edition of Banyan Park News. Well here we are at the end of Term 3 and the roll to Christmas is on! We have had lots happening at Banyan Park, with a 40th birthday celebration being held, excursions to the Botanical Gardens this week, as well as our usual busy programme of learning experiences on a day to day basis.
Friends of Banyan Afternoon Tea
A fantastic afternoon tea was had on Wednesday 28th June with members of the Wives and Mothers Club joining us to hear about the incredible past and exciting future of Banyan Park. Celia Bigg, Pat Anderson, Fenella Evans and Jan Reeves came to share their memories and the original vision and purpose of the Wives and Mothers Club, established in 1966. We all agreed that their meetings sounded a lot more fun than our current committee meetings (!), but that much has changed in the sector in nearly 50 years. The other purpose of the gathering was to communicate the changes we're going through at Banyan Park to meet the National Quality Standards. These changes will not only improve the quality of care and education we offer our preschoolers, but will also allow many families to access the Child Care Rebate and Child Care Benefit, providing significant fee relief. Those in attendance were very supportive, especially the Wives and Mothers Club. They are extremely proud of the centre and want it to continue, and flourish, into the future. It was an engaging and positive afternoon; we only wish that more parents had attended. If you are keen to attend events such as these, but are unable to, please let us know if there are times that would better suit your family.
5 Days a Week
Following a number of parent requests, commencing in Term 3, Banyan Park will be offering a 5 day program. This will mean that parents can enrol their children on any day they need to, for the full term. There will be no requirement to attend core days (which were Mon-Wed for 4/5 year olds and Thurs-Fri for 3 year olds), although we expect this split of days will still be the base for a while. We will use Term 3 to gain a feel for the spread of numbers (whilst obviously still delivering a high quality preschool program!). We recommend at least 3 days a week for the 4/5 year olds so that they are receiving the preschool they need to transition to school as easily as possible and there is a 2 day minimum for all enrollments.
For any enrolment changes, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Pupil Free Day and New Policies
The staff are having a ‘pupil free day’ on Monday 17th July, and Term resumes on Tuesday 18th. This is valuable time for Katherine to have with her team to reinvigorate after two weeks ‘off’, work through plans for programming and also introduce some new policies which Banyan Park has adopted. Whilst the 18 policies being introduced will ensure we are working towards the National Quality Standards, many will simply put into writing what is already practiced at Banyan. These policies have been written for us and provided free of charge by our childcare expert Lisa Bryant. These policies can be considered best practise in the industry, so we are very pleased to have them! Once the staff are across the policies, they will be rolled out to parents for viewing.
Unfortunately we were unable to offer Vacation Care for this two week break. We are having some building work done which would have been very disruptive. The work is being carried out on advice from the childcare experts we have had on island recently. The walls between the toilet block and the main play room are being taken to half height, with a tinted window placed on the wall above the sinks in the toilets. This ensures educators can have a clear line of sight from the main room into the toilet block, whilst still maintaining some privacy for the kids. If you have any queries about this, please feel free to speak to the committee. Thanks to Jimmy Quintal (Hunter's Dad) who has made himself available during a busy time to undertake the work. We’re also very grateful that the staff have taken on the kids who needed care during the holiday period and filled that gap privately! We hope to offer Vacation care for Term 3/4 break and will be asking parents what their needs are closer to the time.
Upon reading our articles of association more closely, it has been identified that parent(s) of children attending Banyan need to be ‘Members of the Organisation’ (the organisation being Banyan Park Playcentre Inc.). A nominal $1 fee will be added to the invoice for each child attending Banyan for Term 3, and this will carry through until the AGM in March 2018. This membership is separate from the role of the committee. The Management committee elected at the AGM will still be responsible for the decision making at Banyan, though of course we welcome involvement and constructive comments from parents to improve Banyan Park for our children and the community.
The centre will only work if we are working together.
Thaenks f' Aklan,
The Management Committee (Heather, Angie, Victoria, Carrie, Sarah, Crystal & Leanne)