Chancellor Jeremy Hunt outlined an “ambition” last year for primary schools to provide wraparound childcare, with £289 million funding to implement the scheme.
Guidance on Thursday outlines how primaries should offer the provision. Here’s what you need to know …
1. Do all primaries need to do it?
No. While the government “expects” all schools to provide wraparound childcare, this is only non-statutory guidance.
Also, schools that have a “reasonable justification” are not expected to provide it. This includes not having space, insufficient demand or where there is already similar provision in the area.
However all schools are expected to “identify how you can support parents” to access childcare.
Where schools can’t provide provision, they are expected to work “collaboratively” with councils who should provide a list of available childcare locally.
Schools should then communicate this to parents and include it in the published SEND local offer.
According to DfE, 80 per cent of schools already provide some form of wraparound childcare.
2. Childcare shouldn’t interfere with school learning
Using school premises outside of the school day is normally the responsibility of governing bodies or the academy trust, DfE said.
Schools should check if wraparound fits within permitted use, including where children are not pupils at the school. Consent may be needed from the council or religious authority (if it’s a faith school) for letting the space out to providers.
Schools should agree who will lead on wraparound childcare and ensure activities do not interfere with a “high quality and safe teaching environment”.
3. ‘Robust safeguarding’ needed
Schools have responsibility to make sure wraparound provision meets the minimum standards. This includes having robust and effective safeguarding practices.
Even if another organisation is running the provision on-site, schools are responsible for making sure children are safe. This includes adhering to the keeping children safe in education guidance, as well as following health and safety guidance.
Provision should also be inclusive and accessible for all children, including those with special educational needs and disabilities.
4. Charge parents ‘affordable’ fees
Schools will have to charge parents for childcare, but this would be affordable and in-line with guidance on charging for school activities.
When setting fees, schools may want to look at benchmarking prices with other provisions and how to maintain financial viability.
Schools are expected to support the use of government childcare subsidies. This means provision must be registered with Ofsted or subject to inspection.
Food is an optional element of wraparound provision.
5. TAs can staff provision (but not teachers)
Schools can use staff or volunteers to provide the childcare. This can include school staff, such as teaching assistants, specific childcare staff or staff from private providers, including childminders.
But DfE does not expect teachers to be used. Schools should exercise “financial prudence” when taking on extra staff.
Schools will need to look at staffing ratios, depending on children’s needs and their ages.
6. Ofsted will inspect as part of school visits
A school will not need to register its wraparound childcare with Ofsted for the following reasons, as it falls under the education inspection framework.
- They are offering it directly as part of school activities
- They employ the staff working in the wraparound childcare, and
- There is at least one registered pupil of the school attending
Where the governing body manages the childcare provision, Ofsted will consider this as part of the school inspection. Inspectors may observe pupils at before and after-school clubs if the school leads and managements them.
Inspectors would consider evidence “proportionately and appropriately in the context of the wider evidence base for the inspection”.