Charity urges schools to open for longer to support working parents

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4Children has called for schools to stay open after lessons to help working parents.

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The charity's chief executive Anne Longfield says that 'schools are a practical location for childcare'

It comes as findings from a survey carried out by the charity to coincide with the start of the school year, highlight the struggle parents face finding childcare arrangements to fit with their working patterns and school opening times.

Challenges faced by parents include not having access to after-school clubs at their child’s school and a lack of available flexible childcare.

Of the 500 parents polled by Opinium on behalf of 4Children, between 26-28 August, nine in ten whose child’s school does not have an after-school club would like one, and four in five would like a breakfast club.

Government figures show one in five primary schools do not provide any before or after-school childcare or activities.

Nearly half (47 per cent) of parents said they were even considering giving up their job or intended to do so because they could not find childcare for the start of term. Most of these parents were either young or bringing up a child on their own.

The poll also found that one in four respondents (27 per cent) have not received any assistance from their employer such as allowing them to work more flexibly, fewer hours or from home some of the time.

4Children is now urging more schools to work with local childcare providers to offer parents wrap-a-round childcare between 8am and 6pm.

The charity’s chief executive Anne Longfield said, ‘The start of school can mean the start of childcare challenges for families lasting until their child is into their teens.

‘Parents agree that primary schools could offer more childcare support. Schools are a very practical location for childcare - close to home with space and great resources at times needed. Many primary schools already open their buildings and host the breakfast clubs and after school clubs which parents depend on.

‘4Children would like to see even more schools working with childcare providers to help create the places needed to meet the growing demand as the numbers of children starting school continue to increase each year.’

She added, ‘Employers can help to ease the pressure on families who have children at school by allowing parents to work more flexible hours but schools can also do much more by keeping their doors open after school hours.

‘Services need to modernise to help families find the childcare they need at the times they need it and childcare hubs, which we are developing, will be at the forefront of this.’