How will extended schools work? Will I have to pay? I have four children and a nearby private nursery charges £17 a day for after-school club. Will this be cheaper under the government plan?
The plan for extended schools is laid out in Extended schools: access to opportunities and services for all which was published in 2005.
Under the plan, primary schools are required to provide access to activities and childcare services from 8.00am-6.00pm for 48 weeks per year. Secondary schools are required to provide access to activities and services for children from 8.00am-6.00pm during the term and more flexibly during holidays.
This does not have to be formal childcare; it may include activities (such as sports or drama) or homework clubs. Schools do not have to provide the services or activities themselves. They can arrange for it to be provided within the local private or voluntary sector. Schools must ensure that extended services and activities are available by 2010. There is no obligation for extended school services and activities to be provided for free. Each provider will determine its fees.
The Government has committed to investing in a subsidy scheme which will ensure that disadvantaged children have free access to extended school activities by 2011. If you use registered childcare (whether or not it is part of an extended school), there may be financial support available for you. For example, parents who are working may be eligible for the childcare element of Working Tax Credit or employer-supported childcare. Parents who are studying may be eligible for a variety of grants available through their institution or local education authority.
Contact Daycare Trust (the national childcare campaign) for more information: 020 7840 3350 / www.payingforchildcare.org.uk.