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Monday, 13 March 2017

Timetable Meltdown!

You wouldn't think that putting together a timetable for a swimming school is that complicated. We have a set number of children who fit into a set number of age brackets and we have a set number of pool hours. Even someone with a cursory understanding of the laws of mathematics such as me should be able to divide X children into Y classes. But sad though it is to admit it, as I stare into the abyss of the task before me I realise I am paralysed by the sheer complexity of it all. Parents like to keep their times and days consistent from term to term, but the children are growing up and so they naturally move up into new age group classes. Some mums are going back to work, or have had another child, or nursery days have changed - and they need to be accommodated too. Puggles has always offered a tailored service and never advocates rolling enrolments, because children progress so much more effectively together, feeling comfortable with each other, being of similar capability in the pool environment and forming trusted bonds. So how on earth do I keep all parents happy, allow for new children to join and keep my sanity all at the same time?

Enter stage left my long suffering swimming widow, problem solver, web designer and general dogsbody husband who amongst other things happens to have a degree in Maths from a posh university. Let him sort it. Five hours later he is looking somewhat worse for wear, has lost even more of his hairline and is surrounded by piles of paper, post it notes and varied scribblings. "This is a lot more difficult than you'd think". No shit Sherlock.

I love love love all the kids who come to Puggles and I care deeply that they are learning the right things about swimming, water safety and how to love being in the water - doing everything at their own pace feeling 100% comfortable in the water. I never force submersions and always take cues from the child. So the task for hubby was clear - given all this, just make it work. And true to nature he has come up with what I think is a solution.

Enrolments will be run in separate phases to allow clients to secure their places in classes on the day they prefer.

Phase 1 – priority is given to all swimmers enrolling on the same day. Obviously as children keep getting older, some of them will naturally move up into the older time slot, which may not be at the same time as the class in the previous term. Any child who is within 1 month of the age group will be able to enrol into that class - e.g. A child who is 11 months old at the beginning of term will be able to join a 12-18 month class.

Phase 2 – if you want to change the day of your lessons then you will be able to if there are spaces left once Phase 1 is complete.

Phase 3 – all available spaces left will be offered to the growing list of people on the waiting list.

Phase 4 - brand new classes for total beginners in all groups - obviously not relevant for anyone  who has had at least one term swimming with Puggles.

All aquanatal yoga mums-to-be are also guaranteed a space in the newborn flotation classes, which are completely gorgeous and a fabulous way for both mum and dad to bond with baby.

Another challenge is that as all the children get older the age groupings adjust, so right now we have a lot of children in the 12-18 months bracket but as those children get older and as new children join, we may see a shift in the number of classes available.

When I first started Puggles I originally thought that by the age of four, Puggles kids would be moving to independent lessons. What I'm actually seeing is that for the kids who started with me as babies, when they get to about two and half years they are able to move up. As such the number of classes for the older age groups is diminishing, but of course I try to put on classes for beginners in those age groups.

I know that I can't please all the people all the time and so inevitably I will upset some people and for that I am truly sorry. But as always, I genuinely value the loyalty and trust all the parents put in Puggles and I am committed to providing a very high quality offering :  bespoke lessons in small class sizes, with kids of similar ability.

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