For many parents, finding after-school care is a headache, especially somewhere that’s local and reasonably priced. Parents in Splott are lucky, however, as there is a thriving gold star service on their doorstep. This week, Inksplott interviews Anthony Simms, Manager of Goldstars After-School Club.
Inksplott: Hi Anthony! Can you tell us who you are and what you do?
Anthony: Hello! My name is Anthony Simms and I run an independent run after-school club called Goldstars. We started up in 2015 for Ysgol Glan Morfa and Moorland Primary School. Since 2015, we’ve taken on Baden Powell and Adamsdown primary schools as well.
Inksplott: When and where does the club run?
Anthony: We run from 2.45pm, which is pick-up time for Glan Morfa, until 6pm, but two of the schools differ with times, as Moorland doesn’t finish until 3pm. We run here at the Old Splott Library on Singleton Road, Monday to Friday in term time. At the moment, we haven’t run a summer school, but we will be looking at this for next year!
Inksplott: What would happen at summer school?
Anthony: We would look at doing trips to a farm, cinema, plenty of activities, and we would run from 8pm all the way through until 6pm.
Inksplott: Fantastic! How much does the current afternoon club cost?
Anthony: It’s £8 per session, but most parents can claim child tax credits, which is up to 70% of the cost.
Inksplott: Do you help parents claim back these costs?
Anthony: If they require any help, then we send a letter explaining how many days the children attend the club (I have an authentic stamp which goes on the official headed paper) which can be passed on to HMRC.
Inksplott: For the £8 per session, what do the children get?
Anthony: We provide child care until 6pm and within that, the children are provided with food, so we do a healthy snack, which is sandwiches or wraps, yogurts, cheese crackers and cereal. Also we run activities with the children, such as arts & crafts like salt dough, plasticine, colouring in, mosaic, making things. We have Lego, a dolls house, X-Boxes, a projector and DVDs so they can watch cinema on the wall. We have a wide variety of activities.
Inksplott: Is there any age restriction on the children who can participate?
Anthony: The youngest child we would take would be three years old, but we do take the children up to age eleven, which is as they go to high school. We have had a few children come back to us; even though they’re in high school, they don’t yet feel confident enough to be by themselves directly afterwards.
Inksplott: Do parents have to drop their children off at the club?
Anthony: Not all, no. For Glan Morfa, we pick up the children. For other schools, Adamsdown and Baden Powell, the parents bring the children. With Moorland Road, the teaching assistant, Donna, brings them to us. She’s amazing!
Inksplott: How many more spaces have you got?
Anthony: We can take up to 30 children per day and we are on roughly 25 children a day, so we have around 5 left.
Anthony: No, I do have help! I have many volunteers who love to help look after the children. I also have a co-worker, Debbie Grey. I’m Club Manager and Debbie is Deputy Manager. We both have qualifications; Debbie has Play Works Level Three and I have Teaching Assistant Level Three as well as the Play Works Level Three qualification and we both have DBS checks.
Inksplott: What about the volunteers?
Anthony: The volunteers all get DBS checks before they start. Obviously making sure that the children are safe is our highest priority. We don’t allow volunteers ad hoc, off the street, as it were. If people do want to volunteer, they need to give us plenty of notice so that we can arrange the DBS checks.
Anthony: We’ve been here since 2015. We started off really small and all of a sudden, the numbers have rocketed! We never expected the numbers to go so high! The Old Library is a really good place to run the club; the landlord is really good with us, we have plenty of room for the children’s activities, especially as we have access to both rooms. In the smaller room we allow the older children to play football, dodgeball, parachute games – we use this more as an activity room. The larger room is for DVDs, X-Boxes, arts and crafts and board games.
Inksplott: Any funny stories since you started? Kids are funny; there must be something! Anyone got their head stuck in a cone?
Anthony: No! No cones! It would probably be the day some of the children decided to have a water fight without telling me (or asking permission!) and I ended up being prime target! You can imagine how drenched I got!
Inksplott: What about the best thing to have happened? Do you get a sense of worth from your job?
Anthony: I get a huge sense of achievement looking after kids as all children are individuals and you get the satisfaction of knowing, for example, that some children aren’t that confident and we help them through the activities like arts and crafts achieve things that they never thought they could achieve. For example, we do a batik activity, which lots of children have never heard of before, and involves using wax to dye fabric and make art. The sense of achievement when a child produces a batik picture is huge. When you get to teach children new stuff, even basic arts and crafts for many, stuff they didn’t know they could do, and they get to show their mum and dad what they’ve produced. The smile on their face gives me a huge sense of achievement.
Anthony: There aren’t many people who can say that they really enjoy their job, when I can say that every day I go home looking forward to the next one.
Inksplott: What are your contact details?
Anthony: We are in the process of organising a Facebook page, but we have an email and mobile if anybody needs to contact us. Other than that, parents can pop into the schools and they are happy to provide our information (and we have application forms in the schools). Other than that, parents can come in and ask us – we don’t bite! We’ll provide any information they would like to know.
Inksplott: Thank you Anthony. Good luck with your business, and continue to have fun!
You can email Anthony on firstname.lastname@example.org or call 07849632193.