Publication - Research and analysis

Out of school care parent survey: report

Published: 30 Aug 2019
Early Learning and Childcare Programme Directorate

Details the views of parents/carers of five to 13 year old children regarding out of school care, including term-time and holiday care.

Out of school care parent survey: report
5. Conclusion

5. Conclusion

  • The use of out-of-school childcare was similar across both term-time and the school holidays, with more than half of parents using term-time care (58%) and holiday care (61%). Half of all parents (50%) used both, while 23% used neither.
  • Families in which all parents were working were the most likely to use out-of-school care and, relatedly, by far the main reason for using it was to allow parents to work.
  • Those least likely to use out-of-school were families earning less than £20,000 per annum, those living in the most deprived areas (SIMD 1) and larger families (with three or more children). The main reason parents gave for not using out-of-school care was that is was not currently needed, since they/their partner could look after the child.
  • The use of informal and formal care was fairly similar across term-time and the school holidays. During term-time, 33% of all parents used informal care only, 12% used formal care only and 13% used both. During school holidays, 42% used informal care only, 7% used formal care only and 12% used both.
  • Grandparents were the most commonly used type of out-of-school care (used by 37% of all parents during term-time and 43% during school holidays). Previous research has shown the benefits of this type of care include allowing the grandparent(s) to spend time with the child, and providing parents with convenient, flexible, cost-free childcare[24]. However, a reliance on grandparents to provide childcare can also be problematic for parents. For example, it can cause difficulties if grandparents have other commitments or are away or ill, while parents can feel guilty about relying on grandparents, particularly as they get older and/or if they have health problems. Therefore, the availability of other forms of affordable and accessible childcare is important to help reduce any burden upon grandparents providing childcare.
  • In terms of the use of formal care, similar proportions used breakfast clubs (13%), after-school clubs (14%) and holiday clubs/playschemes (16%). These types of care were used mostly for younger children (aged 5 to 7), and by families living in the Lothians. Further, use of breakfast clubs was more common among those living in the most deprived areas (SIMD 1), most likely due to the introduction of free or subsidised breakfast club schemes in these areas by local councils. Meanwhile after-school clubs and holiday clubs/playschemes were used more by families in the least deprived areas (SIMD 5) or on a higher income (more than £60,000 per annum).
  • Users’ views highlighted that the convenience and affordability of formal care is crucial in ensuring access to these services. Indeed, some of the main reasons parents gave for not using these services were because they were unaffordable and/or difficult to access (due to location or unsuitable timings). It should be noted however that those most likely to use formal care tended to be families in which all parents were working, those on a higher income, and/or living in the least deprived areas, and so consequently more likely to agree that they were affordable.
  • A third of all parents said they did not need term-time (33%) or holiday childcare (32%) because they/their partner could look after their child, and only fairly small proportions said they would interested in using an affordable breakfast (5%) or after-school club (8%) or holiday clubs (13%) if one was available near to them.
  • The main reason non-users said they would use breakfast clubs and after-school club was to allow them/their partner to work. It could be that parents who said they were not interested in using affordable, formal out-of-school care were considering these services primarily as childcare to enable them to work, rather than as opportunities for their child to participate in extracurricular activities, and so may not have reflected on whether access to out-of-school care could have other benefits. However, since the survey was designed to be brief and straightforward, it was unable to probe in depth into the reasons parents did not use out-of-school care.
  • The provision of free or subsidised food was more likely to be a reason parents used breakfast clubs than after-school or playschemes/holiday clubs. Just over a third (35%) of breakfast club users agreed that free or subsidised food was a reason they used the club. In comparison, 16% of after-school club and 11% of playscheme or holiday club users said one of the reasons they used these clubs was for the provision of food.
  • Single parents and those living in the most deprived areas (SIMD 1) were more likely to use term-time and holiday care for the provision of free or subsidised food.