By Sue Wilson

Identifying Resources

Resources divide into a number of areas:

Physical resources that are used up during the scheme e.g. Paint and paper, food for snacks, cleaning material, etc. It is important to keep track of these items to ensure they do not run out when they are needed. This can be achieved by regular stocktaking and ensuring and item running low unexpectedly is reported to who ever is in charge of reordering. (e.g. when some child decides to paint the whole garden blue)

Physical resources that are available things that do not get used up, but might need to be replaced due to wear and tear or keeping them up to date. E.g. Books, Computers, Climbing frames, furniture, Board games.

Regular inspections of these pieces to ensure they are in good working in order can be achieve by adding them to the regular hazard checks, and having a system for reporting problems.

Also "fashion" by effect whether a particular piece of equipment is popular (e.g. the Play station 2 and Bay Blades are currently very popular) and thus more of these items may be required for a while.

Once again regular stocktaking and a system for reporting of problems can help to keep track of these resources, especial (as in our case) the scheme runs at different locations and equipment might be stored and used at different places. In these cases a 'booking out' system can help to keep track, and would also allow children to borrow equipment for a short time (e.g. a book you have that they would find useful for a school project).


The people running and organising the activities and the scheme. They could be paid staff or volunteers. The times and hours staff can work can be limiting. Staff may be working either with the children or 'behind the scenes' (e.g. admin or cooking) keeping the scheme running smoothly.

This resource can be managed by having clear schedules so every one knows when they are working and the task that they are involved in. Also having a system so people who cannot carry out their duties (e.g if they are sick) can quickly inform the person in charge so that they can find some one else to replace them.

Things that are known, eg. skills or ideas. This resource can be gained: The great advantage of this resource is that it can be easily shared - Just because one person is using a skill or an idea it does not stop others using it. Also giving children a chance to share their ideas with others is a great opportunity for building their self esteem and confidence.

The resource can be managed by


The money required to pay the bills, buy new equipment and consumables, pay the staff etc.

It is very important to keep track of this resource, not only to stop the scheme from getting into financial difficulties, but also because funding bodies (e.g. NOF or SRB5) often require proof of where the money has been spent. By law, the treasurer will be required to give a report at least once a year explaining where the money has come from and gone to.

Typically the resource splits into 2 considerations:


The buildings or places the scheme runs in. These might be owned by the group or rented.

If they are owned, the maintenance of the building may place extra strain on resources and require more consideration of health and safety procedures.

If they are rented, the scheme may be limited by how they can use the environment. (For example limits on activities, how equipment is stored, times the location is available for use by the scheme)

Regular safety checks and keeping on good terms with any landlords or neighbours will help to keep this resource. These considerations are important as major changes to the location may be very disruptive to the scheme. (e.g having to have major building work done to repair a serious fault, or having to move the scheme to a different location because a building is no longer available)


A resource that is difficult to create! This could be the hours your staff and volunteers work or are available for training etc. It could also be the time the children have at the scheme. It is important to make sure time is not wasted, and the following may help:

Keeping track of resources

Helpful paper work/ administration tools.

It should be remembered that these items are useless if they are not kept up to date

  1. Stock taking lists.
    Should contain a list of every item stored in a particular location so they can easily be checked. May also contain details of exactly where the equipment is stored, the current state of the equipment and a way of recording how much is left for use with consumables.
    These lists may prove useful if the scheme is subject to external audit by funding organisations.
  2. Resources request form (
    These forms can be used to request new resources (e.g. a game that the children have recommend) or to replace old ones that are running low or have become worn out. The resource may be 'non physical' e.g. training opportunities. There should be some one in the scheme who's task it is to read these forms and take requests forward to who ever decides on purchasing. It may be helpful to have a 'wish-list' of things that the scheme would like, but which can not be afforded currently in case there is a sudden windfall (e.g. the end of the tax year) to ensure such money is spent wisely.
  3. Time sheets & Holiday booking forms.
    These allow staff availability to be kept track of. A large diary planner may also help to make it easier to see when people are off and when extra staff may be required.
  4. Order book
    This is essential to help keep track of what has been ordered (to prevent duplication of resources) and what has arrived (to ensure things are not lost in the post). It is also useful during auditing to show where the money went.
  5. Skill assessment forms
    These help to keep track of the knowledge of the staff. It is also useful to fill one in after training or a conference to show what was gained from the experience and to decided if the course is good value for money and worth sending other staff on in future.
  6. Activity/events form
    Used to share ideas for activities. It should include how to do the activity, the resources required for it, and any observations on safety or how to run the activity smoothly.
  7. Petty cash books and Financial records.
    Needed to keep track of the money both for auditing and to reduce the risk of theft/ fraud. It is very important that these are kept up to date.
  8. Booking forms and booking out forms.
    Allow the equipment and location resources to be managed and kept track off.
  9. Database of Equipment
    Enables equipment owned by the setting to be kept track of and allows list of equipment currently out on loan, in need of repair or replacing, and checklists to be easily produced.

Deciding on resources.

All resources can be limiting; Equipment and knowledge can limit the activities that can be done, Staff hours and location can limit when the scheme can run, and Financial resources can limit everything else. As a result it is important that resources are used efficiently and wisely. There are a number of ways of ensuring this:

Consultation and feed back with team members and other staff about resources.

Team members are in the front line of the use of the resources. They will be the first to notice what is being used up quickly or becoming 'shabby', which resources the children enjoy and thus were worth buying and which are being ignored, and if there is something the children are repeatedly requesting that might be worth gaining.

It may be helpful to hold these consultations in the open and in groups; Team members may be able to provide a resource that other members of the team have requested (E.g. "I have a book on that at home") and "relaxed chats" may reveal skills that the team member did not realise was useful (e.g. an interest in origami). Both of these can reduce the pressure on the finances and make team members feel valued and useful.

Training requests should come from the team. However they will probably only arise if the staff are aware of training being available. Thus it is important to keep them informed of courses and conferences that may be going on (e.g. using a notice board in the staff room or a regular staff newsletter. Financial and time restrictions may make it possible only to send a representative to a conference or course, so it is important to give an opportunity of feed back

Keep an eye on local trends and developments

A number of trends and developments may effect any scheme

  1. The number of places required at the scheme.
    Changing the number of places required at the scheme will effect the number of staff required and the amount of money coming into the setting. The scheme may need to move to bigger or smaller premises, or may have to introduce waiting lists or selection criteria for children to attend the scheme.
  2. A change in use of a part of the local area
    - for example Glossop Street being demolished removed a large number of children from the area and effected to role of the local nursery and play schemes, or the planned redevelopment of the Rolls Royce site bringing many new families into the area.
  3. New financial breaks for working parents
    - e.g the Working families tax credit which pays of OFSTED register child care. This will increase the demand for places at OFSTED registered providers and may have a negative impact on those not registered (e.g only providing care for over 8s or less that 2 hours)
  4. A new alternative provider opening in the area
    - Check if there is an overlap, for example when PATCH started St. Barts was worried it would effect their scheme, however we only have a limited number of spaces and target them at children in need of the extra support P.A.T.C.H. can provide.
  5. The availability of trained and/or police checked staff.
    This has been a constant problem to PATCH as it takes a while for the CRB checks to reappear, and often volunteers loose interest whilst they are waiting. The shortage of staff has marked implications on the play scheme, limiting the number of children that can attend and the activities that can be carried out.
    It can be addressed by supporting internal training (e.g. having NVQ assessors on staff) and ensuring good working conditions/ respectable rates of pay.
    PATCH uses uncleared Parent Helpers to allow people to get involved before the lengthy CRB process is finished. These helpers are limited to what they can do with the children as they have to be supervised at all times, but at least they can become involved. Also volunteers waiting for their CRB are encouraged to join the PATCH management committee, where CRB's are not required as the people do not work with the children.
  6. Service users wanting specific resources.
    Computers and access to the internet, the current 'in' toy (e.g. Bey Blades) and parents wanting children to do their home work at the club. All these may place strain on resources, especially if it requires expensive equipment (e.g. computers), people with knowledge or skills (Help with home work) or dedicated space (a quiet area to do home work). Regular feed back sessions may help the children come up with these suggestions.

Have an understanding of long term plans.

Systems are rarely stagnant and for anything to survive in the long term it is essential to plan ahead.
Funding is an area where it is often hard to plan ahead as money from grants usually has to be spent and accounted for with in a certain time limit, which can result in the scheme yo-yoing between feast and famine. Thus it is essential to plan ahead and ensure that resources bought now are carefully maintained so that they will still be available in the future.
It also helps to keep the staff well briefed as to the long term plans of the scheme. This allows the staff to make helpful suggestions regarding the scheme and keeps things running smoothly. For example if staff know that the scheme plans to go for OFSTED registration and expand into all day care it will help them realise why certain procedures are having to change to bring the setting into line. They will also see how this could benefit them (e.g. full time jobs).

Monitoring the quality and value for money of the resources acquired.

Value for money is very important, and never more so in a setting with limited income and it is important to realise the cheep does not always equal cheerful children. As a result it is vital to keep an eye on the quality of the resources and ensure that they are good value for money. There is little point in saving money by buying cheep but diluted paint at a third off if the children are having to use twice as much to get it the effect they want.
In this task playworkers feed back is vital. As they are at the 'front end' of the use of any resources they will be the first to see the quality, and the first to hear the complaints. Thus it can be very helpful to get their opinions of any items, especially consumables where you will want to know if it is worth using that supplier again. Regular team meetings where comments like these can be raised will help.
If items are of really poor quality then you can take action under consumer law. To allow this, and for financial records, keep all receipts, invoice numbers, and delivery slips. Any complaints should be done in writing and signed and dated and copies kept in case the complaint has to go further. Buying in bulk can be cheaper but is only practical if you have some where to store the items.

Environmental impact of the resources used.

It is important to be aware of the environmental impact of the resources you use and the activities carried out as it is everyone's responsibility for the world we live in, and this can act as an ongoing role model for the children using the scheme.

Controlling resources

The benefits of controlling resources.

Keep tight control of resources will insure that resources are always available when they are needed. This makes thing run smoothly and helps staff and service user moral.
To ensure this the following are important.

Who should be responsible for resources and how to support them.

Control of some resources are dictated by law. For example the special responsibility the treasurer of any organisation has to look after the money. In other cases it may be more beneficial for a worker in charge of an activity to be in control of those resources. The obvious example being the chef being in charge of food or the cleaner being in change of cleaning supplies and equipment. Distributing responsibility for areas of resources around the team can help to spread to work load and allow staff members to feel involved in the process and give them a sense of responsibility. Record systems, regular stock takes and monitoring can help these people keep and eye on their materials and provide evidence of where their finances have been spent.
Discussing the efficient use of resources at team meeting and being open to suggestions.
Some people might benefit from appropriate training courses.
Open door policy to discuss problems, informal chats and covering the subject in staff appraisal interviews can all help.

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