Clarke to extend school hours

School opening hours are to be extended from 8am to 6pm to help
working parents with childcare, the education secretary Charles
Clarke has announced.

Ninety per cent of working parents will be able to use family
tax credits to pay for school-based nursery care, and breakfast,
after-school and holiday clubs, Clarke told a 4Children

He said that childcare is often not flexible enough, despite one
million new places being created in the past seven years.

“Parents and children too often have to move between
nursery, school, childminder and childcare club to obtain the
childcare they need,” he said. And the provision often stops
during school holidays.”

A 4Children survey of 1,100 schools showed that almost half
already run breakfast clubs, a third have after-school clubs and 39
per cent run holiday play schemes. Two thirds wished to become
“extended schools.”

Clarke acknowledged that it would take time for schools to offer
complete “wrap around” childcare and stressed that
private and voluntary sector partnerships would be needed to make
it possible.

Clarke also pledged that by March 2008, all under-fives in the
20 per cent most deprived wards in England will have access to
Children’s Centres, offering early education and childcare
and support services for parents.

Childcare and parents charities have welcomed the announcement.
Jan Fry from Parentline Plus said: “We are keen to see that
the extra-curricular activities provided by schools are not all

Steve Sinnott, general secretary of the TUC, said:
“Crucial to extended schools must be the availability of
social services and psychological support to help vulnerable

More about the schools survey can be found at:

More about the plans for wrap-around school based child care can
be found at:

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