The Christchurch Civic Creche Case

News Reports Index

1993 June-Dec

The Press
June 16, 1993.

New school on creche site
by Martin Glynn

A new pre-school will soon open in the extensively remodeled premises of the former Civic Childcare Centre in the Cranmer Centre.

Little but the shell of the old centre remains as renovations continue to prepare for the opening of Portobelo Pre-school on July 1.

The former Civic Childcare Centre was at the centre of the long-running child-abuse trial that resulted in the conviction 10 days ago of a creche worker on 16 charges.

The new pre-school will cater for up to 30 children aged between one and five. The children will be supervised by one part-time and three full-time staff.

Measures have been introduced to protect the safety of the children attending the pre-school.

"There's nowhere (in the preschool) that anybody can go without being seen," said the coordinator, Miss Tessa Grigg. Where possible, doors had been removed. In the children's bathroom there were no doors on the toilet cubicles.

Where doors were essential, clear glass was to be fitted to a low level. The only exception was in the staff bathroom where the toilet doors would be cut off at the top and bottom.

"All potential staff are being thoroughly checked as to their suitability and safety with children," she said.

"There will also be a very clear policy as to how children are to be handled in all situations," Miss Grigg said. For example, staff would not be able to take children out on their own.

The pre-school had strong management that would ensure staff adhered to policies, she said.

Parents would have significant input into important decisions made at the pre-school. They were free to participate in any of its activities, and could drop in at any time they wished.

Educational Kinesiology or 'brain gym’ would be a major part of the pre-school's education programme.

It attempts a balance between logical processes that use the left side of the brain, and creative activities that involve the right side of the brain, Miss Grigg said.
Portobelo Pre-school would also concentrate on developing children's physical co-ordination.

Miss Grigg believed children with a diverse range of motor skills found intellectual activities easier to accomplish.

Children would be engaged in structured activities about 30 per cent of the time and free play for the remainder.

Interest in the school was high and several children had already been enrolled, she said.