Ribbons Preschool is the newest kid on the block in Dinas Powys. After a few setbacks and a certain ‘C’ word, Kate and Jo Watkins-Freeman were finally able to open their doors early this Summer. Married in 2019, the couple both left their careers in primary teaching to embark on their very personal business journey. Kate has over ten years teaching experience as an early years specialist. She has a Master’s in Early Childhood Education and a vast knowledge of little ones and their development. Jo, a music specialist, actually brings her teaching background from Shanghai, China, where she taught for two years in a multicultural setting. Vale Life caught up with the busy couple to find out about their new, exciting venture.
What are your roles within Ribbons?
Kate and I both take a very active role within the preschool’s day. We plan and organise the children’s activities and areas so that things are varied and interesting for our Ribbons (that’s what we call the kids). We run a tight ship and have an excellent team which, like our business and our little Ribbons, always seems to be growing.
What’s the most rewarding part of your role?
We are very lucky to be working with children. It is so rewarding when the Ribbons enjoy their day and literally can’t wait to get back here. Lots of parents have thanked us for what we’re providing as a business. Kate and I are striving to deliver more, and it is very rewarding when our families show their appreciation with positive feedback.
What services do you provide to each age group?
Ribbons is a wraparound day care setting that provides childcare to nursery children aged 3 and 4. This is a specific and niche service whereby our little ones have the run of the preschool. They have access to all the areas, some organised tasks and activities if they choose so, a structured day and a set of passionate practitioners who are at their beck and call! During school holidays, older children are welcomed to our Foundation Phase setting and the preschool is a hwb of transition and energy. We provide both half and full day sessions and are very flexible to our parents/carers needs.
What do you believe sets Ribbons apart?
Ribbons is first and foremost childcare. However, because of our background in education we act like a hybrid facility providing education as well as care for all our Ribbons. Due to the fact we do not accept children under the age of 3 the care and experiences we provide is focused and designed purposefully. The children who attend Ribbons have access to everyone and everything at all times, meaning we can offer so much more than other day care settings.
What geographical area do you service?
Ribbons is situated in the quiet village of Dinas Powys and is easily accessed via Cardiff, Barry, Penarth, Sully, Wenvoe and other areas of the Vale of Glamorgan. We are placed between two train stations and on a major bus route.
What do parents look for and why do they choose you?
As a brand new and unknown business we have been working hard to introduce ourselves to the community and nearby catchments. Whilst doing so we are trying to maintain an outstanding quality of care and facility. So far this is proving to work! On visiting our setting, parents are amazed by the space and provision we provide. They are always particularly impressed with our outdoor area which boasts a purpose built sandpit, mud kitchen and shelter. Thankfully the preschool is all on one level so we are able to open our garden doors and allow the children to have access to both inside and out at all times. Lots of children really enjoy being outside and we are particularly proud that we can offer this. Other feedback has taught us that parents are pleased we stick to a structured day and the children can relax knowing what’s going to happen next. Our children enjoy the familiarity this brings. We are blessed with a lot of natural light that relaxes the children and makes the space quite remarkable.
What do children love about Ribbons?
Children love to play! We offer them plenty of choice, freedom and activities to take part in. They also love our reward system and making us and their grown-ups proud of them. Our children thrive from the routine and structure we offer them. They very much enjoy meal and snack times as well as making new friends.
What have been the challenges during Covid-19? Have you been open?
Due to Covid we opened a month later than we were due to. We are fortunate that Covid, so far, hasn’t been evidently transmitted or spread by children under the age of ten so we are able to interact with the Ribbons as normal. We have had to take away quite a few of the resources in the areas such as dressing up clothes and other soft furnishings. We have a strict cleaning regime and our staff are very careful to keep things at a high standard. We also have a one-way system and socially distance from each other as much as possible.
Are your services affordable? How do you compare with others?
We are priced extremely competitively with the other day care providers in the area. We also take part in the 30 Hour Vale Childcare Offer. Lots of our parents benefit from that.
We accept childcare vouchers and always go above and beyond to make sure our parents understand our pricing system, what it is they’re paying for and how it’s worth every penny for what we provide to their children.
Ribbons Preschool Ltd
75 Cardiff Road, Dinas Powys, near Cardiff CF64 4JT
029 20 512 838
Photography courtesy of (and copyright) Owen Mathias
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