Out of school care - draft framework: consultation analysis

This is the summary report of the 2019 consultation on the draft framework for Out of School Care in Scotland. It will inform the final Framework and provide evidence for future development of School Age Childcare policy.

National Policy Support

The consultation sought to identify how national policy could enhance and support out of school care. To address this, views were invited on the name and terminology that should be used to describe the sector and feedback on the three key aims for out of school care provision.


Q3. What name should we use for the range of out of school services and activities? Is there a better term than 'Out of School Care'?

A total of 912 (72%) respondents provided a substantive response in relation to the name/terminology that should be used to describe the range of out of school care services.

Many respondents (n=277, 30%) felt that the term 'Out of School Care' was satisfactory and/or saw no reason to change it. It was generally felt that the term was well understood, that parents/carers and children were familiar with this, and that the terminology was suitably descriptive and accurate. A further 90 respondents (10%) indicated that they were less concerned with what the service was called (and therefore felt that rebranding was unnecessary/not the main priority), and were more interested in there being sufficient, affordable provision of high quality services.

Several felt the term 'Out of School Care', and particularly the inclusion of the word 'care' allowed the sector to highlight its professionalism, the fact that it is regulated, and set apart from other activity clubs, etc. A few suggested that it would be important to maintain this presentation of professionalism should the terminology be changed:

"I don't like the term club, it removes the professionalism we have." (Event, OSC Provider)

"A new name that clearly defines the sector as one of its own, not an add-on to statutory services would help with driving forward public perception of the sector as one delivered by professionals and support the work force to feel valued and recognised for the work they do." (Organisation, OSC Provider)

Alternative or new names were, however, suggested by 246 respondents (27%) (with some providing multiple suggestions), although, in most cases respondents did not make clear whether they supported the need for such a change or were simply suggesting alternatives because they had been asked. The most common suggestions included terminology such as:

  • Breakfast clubs, before and after-school clubs and holiday clubs - although alternatives to 'club' were also suggested, including care/activities/ programmes/services/café/fun/youth hubs/activity dens/zone/etc. (mentioned by 161 respondents);
  • Wraparound care/childcare/clubs/activities/etc. (mentioned by 53 respondents); and
  • To include the word 'play', for example, play academy/play and learn/active play/etc. (mentioned by 18 respondents).

Other options suggested by a few respondents included kids club, school's out, terminology related to health and wellbeing, being active, extended learning/day clubs/care, and the Scandinavian model of Leisure Time.

Arguments provided in support of making a change to the name included a need to move away from references and links with 'school' and 'care', particularly for older children and young carers, and to place more emphasis on the child, promote inclusion for both children and the range of providers involved, focus on the activities undertaken, and include words such as 'play', 'activities' and 'clubs' in the name. Some respondents (both individuals and organisations) indicated that they were happy with the 'out of school' element of the term but felt that 'care' should be changed, typically to 'activities' or 'club', to be more inclusive, supportive and engender belonging.

A few also indicated that they would like to include the word 'learning' or 'education' within the terminology, while others felt it was important to prioritise fun and play.

A few respondents also felt that there was confusion over the current term and what provision was included. For example, respondents were unsure whether nursery provision for pre-school children was applicable, whether this referred only to services which are located away from school buildings, whether weekend provision was included, whether this referred to only regulated services or included unregulated services as well. As such, they felt the terminology needed to be clearer.

Aims for a Future Out of School Framework

Q4. Do you agree with our 3 key aims for a future out of school framework?

The consultation document set out the three key aims which would need to be met in order to realise the vision for out of school care. These were:

1. High quality services which provide children with life-enhancing experiences.

2. Out of school care is accessible and affordable and meets the needs of children and young people, parents and carers and communities.

3. Out of school care services are embedded in communities and enable children and young people to access a range of spaces including the outdoors.

The table below shows that most (95%) respondents who provided a response (including both individuals (95%) and organisations (97%)) agreed with the 3 key aims.

Q4 Do you agree with our 3 key aims for a future out of school care framework?
  Total Sample Individuals1 Organisations
Yes 1129 (95%) 1041 (95%) 88 (97%)
No 57 (5%) 54 (5%) 3 (3%)
Base2 1186 1095 91

1 This includes data from individuals, groups of young people and events where this question was discussed.
2 84 respondents either were not asked or did not provide an answer to this question.

Of those who indicated at the closed element of the question that they agreed with the 3 key aims, 705 (62%) also provided comments to explain their answer.

Respondents typically agreed with the overall aims, supporting the need for affordable and accessible care, which utilises a range of spaces including the outdoors, and provides a range of opportunities - albeit that a few acknowledged these were aspirational and challenging aims to achieve (particularly in relation to affordability). Many felt that all three aims were important:

"I feel it is important to have all three of these aspects to ensure all children have access and to support parents and carers to continue to learn and/or work." (Individual, Parent/Carer)

Encouragingly, some respondents noted that services they were aware of already achieved all three aims, while others highlighted that work would be required to ensure all services met these aims:

"This is the ethos that most out of school [services] already work with." (Organisation, OSC Provider)

Providing Children with Life-Enhancing Experiences

In relation to providing children with life-enhancing experiences, respondents typically related this to the provision of high quality care, with high quality staff providing a caring and nurturing environment. They also aligned it with allowing children to try different activities, develop life and social skills, and develop bonds with the care staff. It was felt that this aim was important in ensuring the service is not simply seen as 'babysitting', and to tackle some of the perceived poor/low quality provision that currently exists for both out of school care and holiday clubs:

"I believe that the first area is beneficial in ensuring that children are given the opportunity to mix in a social setting with peers. This is of particular benefit to children who have limited opportunity for other out of school activities such as sports, outside play, clubs, etc." (Individual, Parent/Carer)

Several respondents also felt that this aim was important in ensuring that all children were given equal opportunities and that those from more deprived socio-economic areas/families are provided the opportunity to experience activities and situations they may otherwise not have access to:

"Giving an explicit guarantee to ensure all children receive the same life-enhancing experiences is crucial to safeguard against the problems of ongoing austerity and poverty for many families across Scotland." (Organisation, Third Sector/Charity)

Accessible and Affordable

Accessibility and affordability appeared to be the most important and the most commonly discussed aim. This was seen as critical to allow parents/carers to work, undertake training or study and have affordable childcare which supported their working patterns. Examples were given where the majority of parents'/carers' salaries were needed to pay the childcare costs, and where parents/carers had to reduce their working hours in order to reduce childcare costs and better manage their finances:

"…as a family it would cost us £70 a day to send our 3 kids morning and afterschool, that's more than a day's wage, so I can't get back to work." (Individual, Parent/Carer)

"Accessible and affordable out of school care is essential for parents, without affordability the care would not be used and would cease to be a provision." (Organisation, OSC Provider)

Respondents typically considered that 'accessible' referred to a service's location to ensure it was geographically accessible for families and schools, being accessible for children with additional support needs, and that there was sufficient capacity/availability of spaces to meet demand:

"It needs to be accessible i.e. sufficient places available if you should find yourself needing one. At present if you aren't lucky enough to get a requested place at the start of the term, it is unlikely one will become available due to high demand for a low number of places." (Individual, Parent/Carer)

Embedded in Communities/Access to a Range of Spaces

The location of services was also seen as key, and should be easily accessible to pupils before/after school - although a few suggested that locating the out of school care service in a school was not necessarily desirable for children that have been at school all day. Support was also expressed for the use of/access to community facilities and spaces to support out of hours care. This was considered important to ensure that children integrate with and feel part of the community. It was also suggested by a few respondents that such an aim could help to generate links between out of school care services and other local services:

"Communities are fundamental and children need to know they are valued by their community and mix with different members of the community so that other members of the community feel valued by the children - creating a sense of community, sharing of life skills." (Individual, Parent/Carer)

The aim of providing access to outdoor spaces was also considered to be important by many respondents, and links were made between the use of outdoor space and the benefits of outdoor learning, being more active and thus tackling obesity, tackling mental health issues, and providing children with different opportunities:

"Given the issues of childhood obesity and poor mental health, outdoor spaces have become more important than ever." (Individual, Parent/Carer)

Aligned with Other Policies

A few respondents (largely organisations) also noted and welcomed the parallels between the draft aims for out of school care and early learning and childcare (ELC) and associated Blueprint 2020[6] policy. Others (again, largely organisations) highlighted that these aims would be consistent with the Health and Social Care Standards[7], the Getting it Right for Every Child (GIRFEC) principles, and Children's Rights as set out in the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC).

Reasons for Disagreeing with Aims/Caveats to Support

Of those who indicated that they disagreed with the three key aims, most (n=55) provided their reasons for this. Others who agreed with the aims also provided caveats/qualifications to their support. Both groups raised similar issues, including:

  • the need for funding in order to make the aims achievable;
  • that the aims should include 'flexibility' and consistency in provision;
  • that the aims should more specifically include all children/families, including children with disabilities/additional support needs, covering all geographic areas, all families regardless of income, older children, and ensure there are enough spaces for all children/families who need them;
  • that the aims should specifically mention the word 'safe'/'safety', or 'play'/'fun';
  • questions or concern over the meaning and implications of terms, such as 'life-enhancing experiences', 'embedded in communities', and 'affordable';
  • a need for experiences to be suitable for the cultural and religious backgrounds of children from black and minority ethnic (BME) families;
  • a need for all services to be regulated to provide a consistent standard; and
  • that the aims were 'vague' or lacked clarity about how they could be achieved.


Email: outofschoolcare@gov.scot

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