Preferred Out of School Activities
The consultation sought feedback in relation to the sort of out of school activities that families want or need. A total of seven questions were asked, including:
- Q1. What range of services are needed? Can you tell us why these services are important?
- Q13. What ages of children do parents/carers need provision for?
- Q11. What flexibility do parents and carers need from out of school care services? Can you tell us why this flexibility is important?
- Q12. What is important for parents and carers in terms of location of out of school care services? Should they be delivered in school, community facilities, outdoors?
- Q14. Do parents/carers need food provision as part of after-school and holiday clubs?
- Q6. What do children and young people want from out of school care services and does this differ depending on age?
- Q7. What different activities or provision might secondary school age children want?
Range of Services Needed
Q1. What range of services are needed? Why are these important?
Respondents were asked to select those services they felt were needed from a pre-coded list. A total of 1,203 (95%) respondents answered the question and the results are detailed in the table below. Most of those who provided a response highlighted a need for regulated out of school care (92%), followed by activity-based clubs and programmes (85%), and childminders (56%).
Q1 What Range of Services are Needed?
|Regulated out of school care||1107 (92%)||1022 (92%)||85 (96%)|
|Activity-based clubs and programmes (such as sports clubs, creative arts clubs, outdoor activities)||1020 (85%)||955 (86%)||65 (73%)|
|Childminders||678 (56%)||615 (55%)||63 (71%)|
|Other||126 (10%)||111 (10%)||15 (17%)|
1 This includes data from individuals, groups of young people and events where this question was discussed.
2 67 respondents either were not asked or did not provide an answer to this question.
It should be noted that multiple responses were possible for this question and, indeed, many respondents (n=1,017, 85%) identified a need for more than one service type.
Other services which were described as being necessary by more than one respondent each included:
- services that can accept children with disabilities and additional support needs (both in mainstream and specialist services);
- wrap-around care, or care for specific times, such as breakfast/morning clubs, after-school clubs, holiday clubs, and bank holiday, in-service day, and Election Day clubs/care;
- different types of provision, including outdoor forest schools/outdoor provision, youth/social clubs, homework clubs, childcare agencies/sitter services, and irregular/drop-in provision;
- clubs held in the school grounds/facilities;
- options for a wider range of age groups, including pre-school age children/ under 5s attending school nursery, and secondary school age children;
- services offering Gaelic and foreign languages and/or which cater for other cultures and children from BME backgrounds; and
- alternative solutions such as family and friends providing care, and encouraging flexible working among employers and parents/carers.
Reasons Services are Considered Important
In total, 1,184 respondents (93% of all respondents) provided feedback on why they considered these services important. Responses broadly followed two themes, focusing either on the needs of the parent(s) or the needs of the child(ren).
In relation to parents/carers, out of school care was considered by many respondents as important or essential to allow parents/carers to take up and maintain employment, training or educational opportunities, or to have some respite. It was noted that school hours and holidays are not consistent with current working hours, with a few noting that current societal norms and the cost of living means that both parents/carers often need to work, and thus out of school care is essential:
"All parents acknowledged the importance of out of school care in impacting their ability to take up and maintain employment." (Event, Parents/Carers)
Availability of a wide range of different service types was seen as important in meeting the needs of parents/carers; fitting around different work patterns and care needs; being suitable for the different ages, stages, and preferences of the children (including those in secondary school); and to provide choice. It was also suggested that a range of services was required to ensure suitable services were available for children with additional support needs and for those with caring responsibilities:
"A range of services are required so that families can select what works best for them and their working patterns." (Individual, Parent/Carer)
"All parents needs are different, some need after-school care due to work/ training commitments, others only want activity based services as childcare [is] not required, and some wish for their child to be in a smaller setting e.g. childminder." (Organisation, OSC Provider)
Other issues/factors that were considered important included:
- the flexibility, affordability, reliability, and accountability of services;
- that services provide a fun and safe environment;
- that services provide a range of opportunities and keep children active;
- that services support children's development;
- that services contribute to food security;
- that holiday clubs could alleviate boredom and avoid an over-reliance on screens (i.e. tablets, computers and smartphones); and
- the potential benefits for children from poorer socio-economic backgrounds, such as reducing levels of child poverty, closing the attainment gap, and providing equality in access to opportunities:
"A flexible, affordable number of options for children before and after school and on holidays and in-service days is essential for parents to be able to get and hold down a job." (Individual, Parent/Carer)
"They support the wellbeing of the child to grow and develop and play outside of school." (Individual, Parent/Carer)
"OSC contributes to raising families out of poverty by giving parents greater opportunity to participate in the workforce, and giving children equality of opportunity which may reduce inequalities later in life." (Organisation, Public Body)
Regulated Out of School Care
Regulated out of school care services were praised for offering children the opportunity to try a range of different activities, to spend time with friends, and to be active/burn off energy. The fact that services were regulated was seen as important in providing assurances over the quality of the care being provided:
"I feel that regulated out of school care is extremely important… so that there is a safe and secure environment for a child to attend... A child who attends regulated out of school care is not only safe and secure but are cared for within a nurtured environment that provides a variety of learning experiences and play activities that can help develop a child's physical, social, cognitive, linguistic and emotional development." (Individual, Not Specified)
The need for childminders was considered important as they provide local services, often undertaking the school run and providing longer/more flexible hours, and provide a nurturing home based environment for children to be cared in. They were also considered to benefit from providing lower child to adult ratios compared to other clubs and care settings:
"Childminders are particularly important because being able to leave school and relax in a home setting is the ideal after-school experience for a tired child." (Individual, Parent/Carer)
A few respondents across the consultation, however, identified a shortage of childminders in their local areas.
Activity Based Clubs and Programmes
Activity based clubs were seen as a welcome option within the range of services on offer. They were generally considered to be particularly useful for encouraging children to be active and to allow them to pursue their interests. These were also seen as a helpful option where after-school clubs were perceived to be over-subscribed or to have large waiting lists, and they were considered more accessible by a few respondents as (some activities at least) were free or low cost options:
"Families have told us that these sessions are more accessible to them than registered childcare as they are almost always free or very low-cost and they usually take place close to where families live." (Organisation, Third Sector/Charity)
"Activity based clubs also benefit children where childcare is not needed but allow the children to participate in activities that are of interest to them. This also supports their social development and allows them to develop abilities out of school hours in their own communities." (Individual, Early Years Practitioner)
It was noted by some, however, that many activity based clubs did not offer any form of school pick-up which made them less viable as an out of school care option for some.
Age Range for Provision
Q13. What ages of children do parents/carers need provision for?
A total of 1,162 (91%) respondents provided substantive feedback in relation to the ages of children that provision is needed for, with a wide range of responses given. This included some respondents who simply indicated the age of their own child(ren) who currently use after-school care, and those who indicated specific age ranges, as well as others who provided more general narrative responses (without specifying ages/age ranges).
The table below details the various age ranges given by respondents. Again, this records multiple responses, so where a respondent indicated that provision was required from birth to age 14, both age limits are recorded below.
|From under 1||112||10%|
|From age 1-2||44||4%|
|From Nursery/Pre-School age or aged 3-41||228||20%|
|Primary school age||515||44%|
|Up to age 12||22||2%|
|Up to S1/age 13||96||8%|
|Up to S2/age 14||210||18%|
|Up to age 15 or 16||218||19%|
|Up to age 17 or 18||62||5%|
|To include teenagers2 (no specified age)||50||4%|
1 It should be noted that a large number of respondents said from age 4 without qualifying if this was those at school or in their pre-school nursery year.
2 Respondents typically indicated children needed out of school care until early secondary school, early to mid-teens, or stated it was necessary into secondary school without specifying a cut off age/year group.
This highlights that the largest perceived demand for out of school care was for primary school aged children, although there was also a notable perceived demand for services to cover the nursery/pre-school age group as well as for those in their first few years at secondary school.
While many respondents did not provide any reasons for their chosen age groups, some did provide additional detail. It was suggested by several respondents that primary age children would be the main users of out of school care as older children and young people would be considered more capable of looking after themselves and/or be less likely to want to attend any form of care setting or other activities, while younger age groups would have access to nursery/ELC provision.
Some explained that young people should be able to access out of school care until the age of 16 as this was the limit of parental responsibility, or 18 as this matched school provision, while others were more flexible and indicated out of school care was needed until the child was responsible enough to go home alone (with some suggesting this was around the time they went to secondary school and others suggesting this was between the ages of 13 and 15):
"0 to 18 just like education, although it is more of a need up to age 14 young people over that age still need guidance and something productive to do." (Individual, Parent/Carer)
Several suggested that, while parents/carers may be happy for secondary school age pupils to be home alone for a short period before/after school, some were not comfortable leaving them alone for the whole day. As such, it was felt necessary that holiday clubs should be provided for this age group.
Several respondents who suggested that out of school care was required mainly for primary school children or for those up to ages 13/14 highlighted that additional provision would be required for older children with disabilities and additional support needs, with ages up to 16, 18 or 21 all being mentioned specifically.
Particular gaps were also identified in the current provision, including for those at high school, and for those aged under three. For high school pupils, it was suggested that more informal and less supervised drop-in sessions and/or activity style clubs would be preferred, while those with children under the age of three highlighted that the only provision available currently was a private nursery or a childminder - both of which were considered oversubscribed and cost prohibitive for some families.
OSC providers and other organisations typically described the age ranges they accommodated and/or that typically used their services. They highlighted that it was generally primary school aged children who accessed their services, even where the service was registered to accept younger and/or older children.
It should be noted, however, that there was a lack of consistency between the types of care being referred to by respondents. Some restricted their response to the age groups suitable for out of school care only (indicating that private nurseries, ELC provision and activity clubs etc. were more suitable for younger/older age groups), while others appeared to be more inclusive in their response and stated the age ranges of children that would require some/any form of care, activities or clubs:
"That is a subjective question particular to individual families. It would also be skewed depending on the definition of 'out-of-school care'. If the term after-school activities was used, many families may state a higher age than if it was described as care." (Organisation, Third Sector/Charity)
Q11. What flexibility do parents and carers need from out of school care services? Can you tell us why this flexibility is important?
A total of 1,085 (85%) respondents provided a usable response in relation to the flexibility required from out of school care services.
Most felt that flexibility was highly important for parents/carers as working patterns no longer adhered to the traditional hours of 9am-5pm, that childcare was needed for school holidays and other closures, that shift workers are currently poorly catered for, and that working parents/carers often require to deal with short notice changes to their schedules for a wide variety of reasons.
The nature of the flexibility required included:
- services that are open from 7.30/8.00am and until at least 6.00/6.30pm to allow parents/carers the ability to travel to/from their work (although a few suggested that even longer hours would be required);
- to accommodate parents/carers with irregular shift patterns, shifts that change week to week, evening and weekend working, and zero-hour contract requirements;
- to cover the school holidays, in-service days, voting days, etc.;
- to be able to book and pay only for the time used/not have to commit to or pay for large blocks of time and/or additional days when it is not all needed;
- to be able to change and/or access ad hoc slots as required, and at short notice should there be an emergency, change to parents'/carers' schedules, or they are running late;
- not having to book and pay a month in advance or on an annual basis;
- not having to pay for holidays in order to retain a space;
- for a range of service types to be available, including regulated out of school care clubs, childminders, activity clubs - this was considered important to allow parents/carers to choose the service most suitable for their/their child's needs and not to simply have to accept the only place available; and
- for out of school care clubs to collect children from school or other activity clubs.
Three organisations indicated the Flexible Childcare Services Scotland model as a system which could assist in the provision of more flexible services. One noted that this model uses a week by week booking service where parents/carers only pay for the childcare that they need, there is no deposit, no upfront fees and no retainers or holiday fees. While it was suggested that this model could be utilised more widely, it was also suggested that this would require accompanying business support to ensure services could operate such a system.
A few (typically organisations), however, noted that the required levels of flexibility makes managing a service challenging and could make services more expensive to ensure that overheads and staff costs can be accommodated, or could result in cuts to the service. One OSC provider also indicated that the demand for spaces can also make offering flexible places difficult (as parents/carers have standing bookings and the space and staff numbers mean there is no room for expansion):
"Some parents also require OSC provision at short notice, or the flexibility to change their requests. This requires a level of flexibility for OSC services that can be expensive to maintain re staffing and space." (Organisation, Local Authority)
"It again comes down to cost. Our flexible online booking system gives all the control to the parents and they expect the service when they need it. This makes budgeting and planning extremely difficult; then when a service is full because we reduce staffing to match income parents complain the service is not available." (Organisation, OSC Provider)
Despite the flexibility required, it was also considered vital that services were reliable and that parents/carers could be certain that a place could be secured when it was needed. It was also suggested that consistency was important, particularly for children with additional support needs.
Finally, it was also suggested by a few respondents that greater flexibility in employment opportunities and working patterns was required to support parents/carers into work and to allow them to maintain work, and to fulfil childcare commitments (i.e. introducing flexibility into out of school care was insufficient on its own to meet parents/carers' needs).
Location of Out of School Care
Q12. What is important for parents and carers in terms of location of out of school care services? Should they be delivered in schools, community facilities, outdoors?
In total, 1,139 (90%) respondents provided a usable response in relation to their preferences and requirements for the location of out of school care services.
The table below provides a breakdown of the frequency with which the suggested locations were preferred by respondents. This shows that out of school care delivered within school premises was preferred by the largest proportion of respondents overall, and within each of the respondent groups (although it should be noted that some respondents stressed that they preferred facilities away from school).
|Total Sample||Parents/ Carers||Other Individuals||Youth Workers/ Early Years Practitioners/ Education||Local Authorities/ Public Bodies/ Regulatory Bodies||OSC Providers||Third Sector/ Charity|
|In School||493 (43%)||331 (46%)||100 (41%)||11 (41%)||5 (42%)||38 (35%)||8 (40%)|
|Mix/Variety||258 (23%)||148 (20%)||70 (29%)||10 (37%)||3 (25%)||22 (20%)||5 (25%)|
|Access to Outdoors||224 (20%)||138 (19%)||41 (17%)||4 (15%)||2 (17%)||35 (32%)||4 (20%)|
|Near to school||201 (18%)||142 (20%)||38 (16%)||5 (19%)||2 (17%)||13 (12%)||1 (5%)|
|Community Facilities||140 (12%)||75 (10%)||28 (11%)||2 (7%)||2 (17%)||30 (28%)||3 (15%)|
|Any location||103 (9%)||78 (11%)||14 (6%)||3 (11%)||0 (0%)||5 (5%)||3 (15%)|
1 Multiple responses were possible/provided.
Services Based In Schools
Across all respondent groups, many felt that the best location for the provision of out of school care was the children's own school. This was generally considered helpful as:
- it provides convenience as the children would already be there and would remove the need for children to travel or be transported between school and the out of school care service;
- avoids the need for multiple pick-ups by the service;
- is a setting the child is familiar with;
- they would have access to the school facilities, such as the playground, library and gym hall;
- parents/carers would likely find the school accessible for pick-ups or drop-offs; and
- parents/carers would typically trust that the facilities were safe, secure and of high enough quality for their child to spend time:
"It will be very easy if the location is within the school. They can use the same resources like the library, gym hall for activities." (Individual, Parent/Carer)
"Ideally located in the premises children are educated in. This makes drop off and collection easy. Parents and carers could also trust that premises are safe, risk assessed, fit for purpose and familiar for their children." (Organisation, OSC Provider)
A few respondents (across a number of different respondent types) also highlighted that running out of school care services within schools could be beneficial for children with disabilities and additional support needs. In particular, it was felt that the familiar surroundings of the school would be less stressful for some children, and the challenges associated with transporting some children with mobility needs between school and the out of school care service would be minimised.
Mixed Venue Provision
Many respondents felt that a mix of venues were required. Some parents/carers suggested this would provide an increase in available spaces, while others (across all respondent groups) felt this was desirable to provide families with choice. The main concerns were that the venues were safe for children, accessible for both children and their parents/carers, and suitable for the type of activities being undertaken:
"The greater the choices, the more chance of finding something that suits your children." (Individual, Parent/Carer)
Several respondents also suggested that any approach should be collaborative in nature, and regardless of where the out of school care service is based, they should utilise community facilities (e.g. including trips to local leisure centres/sports facilities, swimming pools, museums, etc.) and outdoor space (via trips to the local park, etc.) wherever possible:
"In schools so that the kids don't then need to be shipped somewhere. They should make good use of outdoor space and community facilities to change the scene and maximise benefits." (Individual, Parent/Carer)
A few respondents also suggested that the type of activity to be provided might impact on the location/facilities required, and that a range of provision may be preferred for different types of care. For example, it was suggested that, while schools may be the best location for breakfast clubs and after-school clubs, a community facility or outdoors location may be preferable for holiday clubs to ensure that children feel they are getting a break from school.
Near to Schools
Many respondents wanted to ensure that, if out of school care was delivered outwith the school it was nearby and could be easily accessed by a short walk. It was also highlighted that transport would need to be provided if the service was not based in the child's own school, and several parents/carers stressed that children would need to be accompanied during any travel between school and out of school care services. Several respondents also suggested that the school was not the preferred location as the children will have been there all day and might therefore benefit from a change in location, and/or school may not feel like a safe or relaxing environment for some children who have adverse experiences at school (e.g. bullying), or may not be accessible for children who have been excluded:
"The best location is at the school but if that's not possible it should be as close as possible to the school." (Individual, Parent/Carer)
"I think they should be delivered in schools or if that's not possible with school commitments then in a building within walking distance for the children to get to." (Individual, Parent/Carer)
Having something close to the school, but independent of it was, therefore, welcomed.
Community facilities, such as community centres, church halls, village/town halls, leisure/sports centres, were also considered to be suitable locations for out of school care provision by many. Some felt this was more desirable than holding the out of school care service in the school to provide children with a variety of locations and a change of scene throughout the day and to allow children from different schools to mix:
"Much better to have a mix of children from different schools than to have it in schools and the children be segregated." (Individual, Parent/Carer)
Indeed, several OSC providers suggested they preferred to provide services outwith school premises for a number of different reasons, including:
- a lack of space in schools, with increasing competition from ELC and other clubs often taking higher priority;
- a lack of storage and private space in schools for out of school care purposes;
- issues generated by shared spaces, including teachers using classrooms/facilities beyond the end of the school day, having to vacate/reduce space to accommodate school discos, sports and other ad hoc events, limited/no ability to display children's art work, etc.;
- difficulties in creating a professional relationship between school and out of school care staff;
- that children were often more settled upon arriving at the service after a short walk from school, helping them to mentally transition between the two services;
- teachers taking pupils away to do school work or asking them to help them with other tasks during out of school care time when based in schools;
- community centres providing more flexible accommodation, with some allowing activities to be spread over lots of smaller rooms rather than all children being accommodated together in a school dining or gym hall; and
- services that could accommodate children from a range of schools allowed the development of wider friendship groups:
"…being in somewhere other than the school building has benefits for children. It helps them know this is their time, to relax, play or learn in a less formal environment. Our centre provides care for four local primaries, and it is lovely to see the friendships that form with children from different schools, and the confidence this gives the children in their ability to mix with others." (Organisation, OSC Provider)
A few (both parents/carers and OSC providers) suggested that purpose built or dedicated facilities would be preferred, so that the venue was designed around the needs of the children and the activities to be provided:
"Would be fantastic if we had our own space somewhere instead of waiting on the school day finishing and trying to get set up and ready for 54 children in the 5 minutes we have, makes life so difficult." (Individual, OSC Provider)
Being outdoors was seen as important to many respondents:
"Outdoors is really important. More activities should be outside - even those traditionally done inside could be moved outside where possible." (Individual, Parent/Carer)
Respondents were largely in favour out of school care services having access to outdoor space and/or making trips to a local park, local woodland, etc. It was felt that the Scottish weather could make outdoor access challenging at times, however.
A few respondents also supported forest schools, hiking clubs, etc.
Having specified locations or venues was a secondary concern for many parents/carers, or at least just one of many considerations. Other issues mentioned as being important when deciding upon the location of an out of care service included knowing that children were safe and well cared for, that the location/venue is suitable for the activities being provided, that children are collected from school by the service and/or easy and safe travel/transport is provided to allow children to access the facilities, and is easily accessible for parents/carers for drop-off/pick-up (with a few highlighting the need for services to be accessible via public transport and by walking for those who don't have access to a car):
"I would have no preference as long as set up was good with appropriate facilities and equipment and transport provided if necessary." (Individual, Parent/Carer)
"Location wouldn't bother me as long as my child was safe. (Individual, Parent/Carer)
A few third sector/charities also highlighted the benefits of keeping facilities together or near to each other, in particular out of school care services, nurseries, and activity clubs in order to facilitate the drop-off/collection of more than one child. It was also highlighted that, where activity clubs are close to or co-located with out of school care services this allows children to attend/move between the activity club and the out of school care service as required:
"Out of school care and other providers being close to one another in holidays also helps as a number of services only run from 10am till 2pm or 3pm and children can easily attend OSC until parents arrive between 5pm and 6pm." (Organisation, Third Sector/Charity)
A few respondents also suggested that local childminders could be used.
Q14. Do parents/carers need food provision as part of after-school and holiday clubs?
A total of 1,158 (91%) respondents provided a response to the quantitative element of this question. The table below shows that most respondents (both overall and between individuals and organisations) felt that food provision was needed as part of after-school and holiday clubs.
|Yes||937 (81%)||857 (80%)||80 (91%)|
|No||221 (19%)||213 (20%)||8 (9%)|
1 This includes data from individuals, groups of young people and events where this question was discussed.
2 112 respondents did not provide an answer to the quantitative element at this question.
A total of 1,089 qualitative comments were provided in support of the responses given to the pre-coded part of this question (representing 86% of all respondents).
Of those who said 'yes', 853 (91%) provided qualitative comments to explain their answer. Of those who said 'no', 193 (87%) provided a qualitative comment. Of those who did not provide a response at the quantitative element of the questions, 43 (38%) provided qualitative comments.
Preferred Food Provision
Many respondents (including both individuals and organisations, as well as parents/carers and OSC providers) felt that a snack (with many highlighting this should be a healthy snack) and a drink was needed for children attending after-school care. However, there were mixed views regarding who should provide this. Many suggested that parents/carers could/should provide a snack for their child if it was considered necessary, while several parents/carers and out of school providers felt that the services should provide this in order to provide exposure to and encourage children to try/eat different foods, develop both healthy and social eating habits, provide equality with all children being offered the same foods, provide convenience for parents/carers, and improve food security for children:
"…children eat better when they eat together. It also encourages healthier options and reduces stigma if one child has a different lunch from another." (Individual, Parent/Carer)
"It's not necessarily practical for parents/carers to provide fresh food for their children which will last through the day for the children to consume after school." (Individual, Early Years Practitioner)
Similarly, mixed views were expressed regarding whether a packed lunch, hot food and/or an evening meal should be provided by after-school clubs and holiday clubs. Again, some felt that this was not necessary as parents/carers could/should provide this, while others felt this might be appreciated by parents/carers who work late, or provide additional support in areas of deprivation or for families who struggle with food security:
"Some parents do not leave their work until later. They then need to collect their children, rush home, cook a meal, ensure homework is completed, therefore it is difficult to spend quality time with your children. If a meal was to be provided then it would alleviate some stress from the parent and allow time to be spent as a family." (Individual, Parent/Carer)
"Provision of food at holiday clubs may help alleviate holiday hunger." (Individual, Not Specified)
Tackling Food Insecurity
Many (individuals and organisations) supported the provision of food by out of school care services as a means of tackling food poverty/insecurity. Several suggested that the provision of breakfast (via breakfast clubs), the availability of snacks after school, and having food provided by holiday clubs was helpful for those who struggled with food insecurity. Some stressed that if the child is entitled to free schools meals during term time then the same provision should be available for any holiday clubs they attend. Again, several (individuals and organisations) also highlighted that providing the same food to all the children attending a service would remove any stigma or embarrassment for children:
"For holiday clubs it was important to have food provided. The mums noted the struggles with feeding all of their children and some of the difficulties around free school meals not being available in the holidays and the added stress this caused them." (Event, Parents/Carers)
However, a few felt that having an out of school care service provide food for children from deprived families was not the best way to tackle food insecurity and that alternatives had to be considered - e.g. through tackling the causes of poverty:
"While it is important that breakfast clubs, after-school clubs and holiday provision provide food for children where this is needed, we do not believe that this should be a long-term solution with schools being normalised as places for food provision rather than education... Rather we believe that parents should be given the agency and resources they need to feed their children through adequately paid work or social security benefits." (Organisation, Third Sector/Charity)
Safety/Risks for Children with Food Allergies/Intolerances
Food allergies and intolerances were also discussed by respondents. However, mixed views were expressed regarding the implications for safety/risk for children with food allergies and intolerances. Some suggested that food allergies could be more easily managed if the service provided food, as this would stop children bringing in unsuitable food from home:
"It means allergies and the like can be more easily managed if everyone is having the same." (Individual, Parent/Carer)
Others, however, felt that the only way to ensure that food allergies/intolerances were properly managed was for parents/carers to pack and send appropriate food in for their child. This was considered necessary, both due to concerns over the quality and variety of food which would be provided by services for children with food allergies/intolerances and to ensure the child did not consume something inappropriate:
"Due to increasing numbers of students with food allergies, it will be safer and easier if the carers/parents pack their children's own meals." (Individual, Parent/Carer)
Concerns Over Cost Implications
Another concern raised by both individuals and organisations, parents/carers and OSC providers alike was the implications for the price for parents/carers and/or cost to the services of providing food. This was linked not just to the cost of the food, but also the need for additional training and qualifications for staff in relation to food hygiene, preparation and cooking, as well as the need to access a kitchen or other suitable food preparation area:
"Adds to costs of running a club which drives up prices...." (Individual, Parent/Carer)
Some who did not support the provision of food at the closed question did suggest that food provision may be helpful, however, they felt it was not essential for the services to provide, or suggested that this could be provided as an 'optional extra'. Indeed, many parents/carers indicated that they would be happy to pay a little extra to cover the cost of food provision, although some acknowledged that not all families would be able to meet this cost. A few suggested that perhaps a means tested method of charging with free provision for those eligible for free school meals may be necessary to ensure children living in poverty could still access/benefit from food provision (without stigmatising the child).
A few respondents provided suggestions over how the additional costs and preparation needs could be tackled without the need to increase costs for parents/carers. These included government subsidies, developing links with local supermarkets/shops to donate food which is either nearing its use by date or as part of their Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR), developing links with local holiday food programmes and charities, and joining Food Share schemes.
A few organisations in support of food provision by out of school care services indicated that this should align with the current healthy food standards and guidance designed for Early Years Childcare and schools. A few parents/carers also commented that food provided by out of school care services was not always healthy or nutritious in their experience, and felt that this needed to be addressed if food was to be routinely provided. It should be noted, however, that this appeared to vary by service, with others being satisfied with the food options available.
Finally, it was also suggested by some respondents that food provision could provide useful learning activities for the children, both in relation to food preparation and cooking, as well as serving and clearing food, planting and growing food, understanding healthy options, and providing links with science and religion.
Service Provision by Age
Q6. What do children and young people want from out of school care services and does this differ depending on age?
A total of 1,184 (93%) respondents provided a usable response in relation to what children and young people would want from out of school care services. Responses are detailed below, grouped into feedback provided by adults and from children and young people.
Many agreed that what children want from out of school care differs by age, although others suggested that the ethos of what is required (i.e. to feel safe, welcome and respected) remained consistent - only the level and nature of the activities required would vary by age. A few suggested that they would prefer to keep children of similar ages together to help with play, communication and peer relationships, whereas others suggested that older children could be involved in assisting the younger children, suggesting a desire for mixed age group sessions. A few also indicated that younger children will require more hand-on supervision and engagement from play leaders and staff while older children will require much less supervision and prefer to be given more independence:
"…younger children will need more supervision and play leaders whereas older children just need to know that someone is there if they are needed." (Individual, Parent/Carer)
Several, however, felt that what children would want from their out of school care would differ based more on their personality rather than age. A few also mentioned that gender may create a difference in what children want.
Many stressed the need for a fun environment as well as friendly and supportive/nurturing staff. A variety of spaces/activities were also considered important as some children will simply want 'down time' to relax and hang out with their friends while others will enjoy participating in more structured or active tasks. Indeed a wide range of possible 'wants' were outlined by respondents:
"All children are different with individual needs and preferences, which, broadly could be incorporated in to OSC development. Children want to have fun, socialise with their peers and experience a range of activities that cater for their needs and abilities, while giving them the opportunity to expand their skills and knowledge, supported by caring adults who have the knowledge and experience to deliver these services." (Organisation, Third Sector/Charity)
The needs outlined by respondents in relation to what they felt children and young people would want from an out of school care service included:
- the need to feel safe;
- to be able to make and maintain friendships;
- to have access to both free play and a variety of activities - this ranged from access to toys, to more active sports and games, to more creative activities such as arts and crafts, music and dance, reading, messy or sensory play, dressing up, and life skills such as food preparation/cooking;
- watching TV, playing computer games and having access to IT - these were mentioned by a few parents/carers, however, others felt these should be limited and indeed children having too much access to these was an area of complaint and/or worry in response to other consultation questions;
- having a quiet space for 'chill-out time';
- having access to outdoor space for both play and learning;
- needing to feel different to school and not have an educational basis to activities;
- having a space to do homework (or a study group for older children); and
- to be provided with a snack or food (healthy food was mentioned by some while others made no distinction regarding the nature of the food):
"My child loves her after-school care because it's a chance to stay with her friends for longer. The social aspect is very important for the older ones." (Individual, Parent/Carer)
Children and Young People's Views
The consultation also sought the views of children and young people, both directly (via Citizen Space and the events) and via the organisations that took part. Many organisations who contributed to the consultation ran their own consultation sessions with children who attend their services. However, it should be noted that most comments identifiable as being from children and young people came from those of primary school age.
Children and young people generally wanted to meet new people, maintain friendships, to be in a safe environment, develop new skills, build their confidence, have food provided, and decide for themselves which activities they wanted to participate in. The relationship with staff was also considered to be important, with young people seeking trust and respect, a non-prejudicial and non-judgemental environment, and support from staff with relevant qualifications and experience.
Young people listed the types of activities they would like to have access to. These activities were typically consistent with the categories outlined by the adults above (i.e. sports, creative activities, toys and games, IT, etc.), and specifically included:
- colouring in/drawing/painting/other crafts;
- quiet room/chill out area;
- reading materials;
- access to phones, games consoles, laptops, TV/movies, etc.;
- making and playing with slime;
- playing with Lego;
- access to toys;
- social games (including role play, hide and seek, chess, cards, etc.);
- dressing up;
- building dens;
- access to outdoor space and outdoor toys, going for a walk and/or being taken to the park, gardening and planting, looking for wildlife, riding bikes; and
- trips and outings (examples given by children included trips to Asda, McDonalds, Astro-Turf, museums, swimming, the cinema, the beach or to woods).
Older children (aged 8-12/P4-P7) also said that they enjoyed and wanted to be involved in planning activities.
Provision for Secondary School Pupils
Q7. What different activities or provision might secondary school age children want?
A total of 925 (73%) respondents provided information in relation to what activities and provision secondary school age pupils might want. A further 84 (7%) indicated they were unsure/did not know, largely because they had younger children who were not yet of secondary school age.
Some respondents also referred to the responses they had given previously (at Q6). As such, any comments given at Q6 which were specific to secondary school children have been analysed and included here. Again, feedback is considered from both adults and young people themselves.
There was a general concern that a lack of existing opportunities and options for young people of secondary school age meant that they were more likely to engage in drinking and other anti-social behaviours and get into trouble. However, a few also questioned whether there was a need for out of school care for this age group as they felt young people in secondary school would refuse to use a 'care' service as they would consider that they were able to look after themselves. As such, respondents suggested that the emphasis perhaps needs to be moved away from the 'care' aspect and be placed more on the 'activity' in order to appeal to/cater for secondary school pupils and their families.
Several respondents suggested that this older group would prefer to have a space away from younger children, and that they would prefer more independence from staff and to be given greater responsibility and input to the activities compared to primary school age children, while at the same time allowing the young person to decide for themselves what activities they want to engage with and when they just want to relax.
Specific activities and needs respondents felt would be required by secondary school age young people included:
- space (and possibly help) to do homework/study clubs;
- access to technology, e.g. phones, tablets, computers and consoles, with access to wifi and the internet both to help with homework and for access to social media, games, etc.;
- teaching life skills and/or interest based activities/clubs/workshops, such as cooking, mending and making clothes, make-up/health and beauty, woodwork, repair skills, learning about finances and budgeting, music and DJ skills, dance, art, photography, science, movie groups, drama clubs, coding clubs, glee clubs/choir, etc.;
- sporting activities - including activities like football, badminton, table tennis, snooker/pool, yoga, boxing, swimming, etc.;
- a chill-out zone facilitating a more unstructured format and allowing young people a chance to talk and 'hang-out';
- access to food, perhaps via a café/tuck-shop, or access to a kitchen to make their own food;
- advice, discussions and workshops, or access to confidential support services e.g. mental health, sexual health, drug and alcohol services, etc.;
- outdoor and more adventurous activities, such as hillwalking, canoeing/kayaking, mountain biking, climbing, archery, etc.; and
- other options for young people including volunteering or having some community involvement, Duke of Edinburgh, Princes Trust Award:
"…secondary school aged children would want to learn new skills or learning about jobs they could see themselves doing in the future." (Individual, Not Specified)
Young People's Views
Very few young people of secondary school age responded directly to the consultation. While several organisations may have consulted with young people in order to develop their response, such responses were returned as an organisational based response and only one organisation returned a response which specifically detailed the direct views/comments of young people of secondary school age.
Activities suggested by young people themselves via this one response included:
- learning life skills (taught in a fun and engaging way);
- teaching public speaking/reading;
- homework support;
- learning technical skills (such as programming, game design, multimedia editing, 3D modelling, web design, music technology);
- having invited speakers (such as community workers, paramedics, zoo keepers, lawyers, engineers, STEM politicians);
- having days out;
- therapy pets;
- reading; and
The lack of identifiable views and experiences from secondary school age young people represents a possible gap both in consultation results and in understanding around what this group might like to see in after-school services aimed at their age group. Without a deeper understanding of what this group want, any provision runs the risk of not engaging with the target service users, respondents felt. As such, more detailed work may be required with this specific age group before the draft Framework can be finalised to incorporate their needs, it was suggested.