How to provide the best wraparound care in your school

24 May 2023

‘Wraparound care’ is childcare that schools provide outside of normal school hours, such as breakfast clubs or after school clubs. Strictly speaking, schools do not have to provide wraparound care, but there is government advice in place which allows parents to request provision in some way (more on that later). Providing wraparound care is an important way in which schools can support working families, contribute positively to the local community, and encourage better collaboration between the school and its parents. Breakfast and after school clubs are also a key opportunity to provide learning and study support to school children, and are a chance to prevent children from going hungry, improving their overall wellbeing and setting them up for good learning outcomes during their day at school. When managed effectively and efficiently, clubs can also represent a valuable source of income for schools.

Research by NatCen and Newcastle University demonstrated that key factors that influenced take-up of after school clubs included “low cost, ease of access, flexibility, familiarity with the environment, choice and variety of activities and positive relationships with club staff”. Clearly, wraparound care provided by schools has a lot of boxes to tick, and organising and managing wraparound care presents its challenges, but ParentPay’s club management solution is here to help. You can find out more about ParentPay Clubs here. In the meantime, here are some ideas to get you started with your wraparound care offering, or some ways in which you could optimise your clubs going forward.

Engage with parents and children

Parents have the legal “right to request” wraparound care, and there is government guidance specifying how schools should respond. The guidance states that schools should first make parents aware of their right to request wraparound care, inform them of how requests will be collected and set out a reasonable threshold at which the requests will be considered. Schools must then make the decision and inform parents of the outcome in a timely manner – and crucially, the school should not refuse a request without a reasonable justification.

Families should always be central to the care in place for their child(ren), so providing the best wraparound care starts with engaging parents and involving them in the process. If your school will be offering wraparound care for the first time, engaging parents with a survey or similar opinion-collecting exercise will give a clear indication of what they are looking for from the provision, and provide insight into how to meet their needs. If your wraparound care is already in place, it’s certainly not too late to collect opinions on the existing provision and take suggestions for improvement; in fact, parents will likely appreciate the collaborative approach and the chance to express their opinion on the care being provided.

quote extracted from blogConsider asking parents about topics such as what time(s) they would like wraparound care to be available at, what activities should be on offer, how much they would be willing to pay, and anything else that is important to them when it comes to care provision. This holistic approach could also extend to social workers, if they are involved at all, and anyone else such as extended family members who are involved in the child’s care, to ensure everyone is on the same page.

You could also involve the children attending the club in deciding the activities. Not only does it guarantee their engagement and enjoyment, but you could also choose things that help them to develop their confidence and life skills, such as by encouraging them to run simple activities themselves, or by supporting the older children to provide mentoring to younger pupils.

Develop a whole-school approach

The holistic approach to wraparound care doesn’t stop with engaging the children’s families. Implementing a whole-school approach to childcare – that is, ensuring that breakfast clubs and after-school clubs are seen as an opportunity to support and be supported by the school day – will result in better outcomes for the children attending.

An important balance to strike is the one between making sure breakfast clubs and after school clubs are seen as separate to school time by the children, and maintaining enough familiarity that they feel safe and comfortable. Kids Club HQ highlight that “it is important that the children see the club as separate from the school and not as a continuation of the school day”. Equally, NatCen and Newcastle University’s research found that “Pupils described feeling ‘comfortable’ and ‘relaxed’ on school premises with familiar staff”, and that pupils appreciated the opportunity to create relationships with staff members in a less formal setting. This balance can be achieved by hosting the breakfast club or after school club at school but not in a classroom, or in a classroom made to look different for club time, to create the distinction.

The whole-school approach can also involve choosing club activities that are linked to the curriculum, perhaps with exercises provided by teaching staff to support what children are learning in class. Activities could also be linked to ongoing school initiatives such as mental health, anti-bullying or healthy eating.

Organise and manage effectively

It’s often easier said than done, but effective organisation and management is essential in wraparound care.

You will know how much planning is appropriate for the wraparound provision at your school; it will likely depend on numbers, the facilities you have available, any additional needs the children attending may have, and so on. If you only have three children attending, you likely won’t need to plan out sessions and activities as thoroughly as if you had 30 children.

The key to successful wraparound care is all staff keeping to an agreed plan, and having a structure in place that allows accountability when the plan isn’t followed. Equally important is having contingency plans in place for situations like staff illness, school closure, and other occurrences that may disrupt your wraparound care, to minimise the risk of disruption and to avoid letting down families.

Staffing is an essential part of organising wraparound care. According to the Out of School Alliance, the statutory minimum is just one staff member to every 30 children aged eight or below – but this is far lower than the practicable level at which clubs will be able to run safely. The Alliance recommends a ratio of around 1:8 for children up to the age of eight, and 1:10 for children above.

Quote extracted from main blogYou will also need to have a solid foundation of policies and procedures in place, for a few reasons. Firstly, there are some policies that are explicitly required by the Welfare and Safeguarding Requirements of the Statutory Framework for the Early Years Foundation Stage (2017), and others are implicitly required or imposed by other legislation. These include administering medication, complaints, missing child, safeguarding, staff behaviour and visitor policies, to name just a few, so it’s essential you cover off these requirements in order to operate legally.

Secondly, even if a written policy or procedure isn’t required by law, it certainly helps to ensure the smooth running of your wraparound care. It will help new or less experienced staff members to quickly find guidance on how to deal with situations, and give parents and families peace of mind. Some additional documents you may want to have include a behaviour policy, a thorough risk assessment, a central DBS record, and permission forms for things like administering medication, applying suncream and taking photos.

Make it easy

The simplest way to increase uptake and run effective wraparound care is to make doing so easy for everyone involved. Too often, school staff are bogged down with administrative tasks that only make running wraparound care more difficult, and schools are required to impose strict booking rules, such as termly bookings and upfront payments, to make running the club even manageable. That’s where ParentPay Clubs comes in.

ParentPay Clubs is our new club management solution, allowing schools to organise, manage and take payment for clubs within ParentPay. You can configure individual clubs and customise their settings based on how you want them to run: for example, you can choose to require a child to be booked in for a whole term of sessions, or allow sessions to be booked on an ad-hoc basis.

Forget envelopes of cash and keeping paper records: Clubs lets you offer flexible cashless payment options with digital reporting and invoicing. You have the option to require upfront payment or let parents go into arrears, and to take termly payments or ‘pay as you go’. This allows parents to pay in a way that suits them, and for flexibility for children as they’re free to try as many activities as they want until they find what they really enjoy. It’s also easy to apply childcare vouchers and other financial help means within Clubs, permitting inclusivity and peace of mind for all parents.

Quote extracted from the blogThe intuitive booking system is designed to let parents view all the clubs a school makes available to them c, making it simple for schools to get the word out about new clubs and encourage children to try a variety of things. You can allow parents to make, edit and cancel bookings online, or only permit school staff to make bookings, and set number caps to avoid oversubscription and effectively plan your staffing according to demand.

Finally, ParentPay Clubs lets you communicate easily with parents and keep pupils safe. Using the integrated messaging function, you can instantly communicate with parents of club attendees, either in bulk or individually: no more notices on doors or frantic phone calls when clubs are moved or cancelled.

To find out more about revolutionising your wraparound care with ParentPay Clubs, you can request more information.

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