Holiday Club: Covid-19 Update

Below is the latest guidance provided by – https://www.outofschoolalliance.co.uk/holiday-clubs-covid19-update

“The DfE published its long awaited guidance for holiday club providers on 1 July. This guidance applies to all types of out of school settings that will be open to children over the summer holidays, and includes settings such as sports-based clubs, tuition classes and Cubs and Scouts groups, as well as Ofsted-registered settings providing holiday childcare.
Download the guidance for holiday clubs

It confirms that holiday clubs can open to children of all ages from the date on which the state schools in their local area close for the summer holidays. This varies according to local authority but in many areas it means that holiday clubs can open from 20 July. All holiday clubs must meet the protective measures set out in the guidance. Most of these measures are sensible and achievable with some thought and planning. However there is one condition that causes a great deal of concern.

The protective measures contained in the guidance state that children should be kept in small consistent groups of no more than 15, but then goes on to say that the children should be in the same group whenever they attend the setting:

“This means that at the first session children should be assigned to a particular class or group and should then stay in those consistent groups for future sessions.”

This requirement for any one child to always be in the same group of children at every session is not practical for a club which provides holiday childcare throughout the summer holidays. In these types of setting children attend for different time periods over the school holidays: some children are booked in for whole weeks at a time, whilst other children will be attending for a few days here and there depending their parents’ childcare needs in any one week, and on changing shift patterns.

We have raised this issue at a meeting with the DfE. They said that they have received feedback on this specific issue from a number of sources. They will be reviewing the requirement for children to be in the same group of children whenever they attend the setting, and will be issuing clarification in the form of a Q & A section which will be added to the guidance. However they indicated that they had limited room to manoeuvre on this point as they have to follow the recommendations from Public Health England on restricting the mixing of children as much as possible. They do not want to enable a ‘free for all’ with children being allocated to different groups of random children every day. It is therefore unlikely that the aim of keeping children in the same group for every session will be entirely removed, but we are hoping to see the introduction of some wiggle room to make it feasible for holiday clubs to function within the guidelines.

We emphasised the importance of publishing any such clarifications with urgency, as there’s only a couple of weeks before holiday clubs are expecting to open. They indicated that they hoped to have something out next week.

 

Update 3 July: The DfE has confirmed that the phrase “as far as possible” will be added to the requirement to keep children in the same group at every session. They are in the process of updating the guidance to make this clearer. This is excellent news as it gives providers some flexibility to allocate children appropriately, whilst aiming to keep groups as static as possible.”

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