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Last Updated: Monday, 13 June, 2005, 07:54 GMT 08:54 UK
School extends into childcare
children at breakfast club
Children can have cereal and hot breakfast
Ministers are promising to give all parents access to school-based childcare before and after school and in the holidays.

BBC News education reporter Angela Harrison visited one extended school in London to see what goes on.

It's 0800 and the first children are trickling into what is known as the play centre at the Sir John Lillie School in Fulham.

"Hello, do you want to have some nice drinks with us?" asked five-year-old Hesham.

"I like coming here. There are nice things to do."

Hesham is one of the 20 or so children on the roll of the before-school club, which is run in a homely classroom of the large Victorian-built school. Today about a dozen children are in.

Parents pay 2 for a breakfast session, which runs between 0800 and 0855 and 6 for an after-school session, which runs from 1530 to 1830.

So a parent who needed childcare for before and after school would pay 40 a week.

But the operating costs are far higher.

North Fulham New Deal for Communities said it provided the school with 281,458 for 70 after-school childcare places, 24 breakfast club places and 50 places for holiday schemes.

Community

"It's extremely important to parents, who might be going back to work or to college" said head teacher Sue Haywood.

By 2010 children should have access to a whole range of activities
Ruth Kelly
Education Secretary

"We have excellent facilities where we can provide a safe, secure environment, where children are greeted warmly and can have a good breakfast to set them up for the day as well as do various activities."

She said the club was also good for the school community because it mixed different groups and ages of children together.

On the menu this morning there is cereal and fruit and children are taken to the school canteen - which is also open before school - to pick up hot breakfasts and hot chocolate too.

"We only give healthy food," says play centre leader Lorna Jackson.

"Not all children will eat breakfast with us, some have eaten before they come."

Taome, who is 11, is enjoying a bacon sandwich and hot chocolate with five-year-old Natasha.

Without this, I would be sitting at home
Hannah, parent
"I come here some mornings," Taome said. "I like colouring in and playing here."

Seven-year-old Sian thinks coming to the play centre is better than going straight to the playground.

"You don't get cold and I like playing with all the things here," she said.

There is plenty to do for those who want to. The room is kitted out with toys, arts and crafts, books and a play-house area complete with toy food and dolls.

Today children are busy playing draughts, making models and sewing.

Parents say the club makes a big difference to their lives.

Sue Haywood, head teacher
Head teacher Sue Haywood: "We're very proud of what we have"

Hannah, who is a single-parent, usually drops her two children off "dead on eight" before rushing to work at the local magistrates court for 0830.

"Without this, I would be sitting at home and would not be able to work," she said.

Her children go to the club before and after school and she moved them from another local school to Sir John Lillie because of the extra childcare available.

Another mother, Andrea, goes on to work in the City after dropping off her seven-year-old son.

"It is very useful to me. I can drop him off and get to work on time and then my husband can pick him up after school.

"If we did not do this, we would have to find someone to take him and I like this because they are doing things; they are not just watching TV.

"I think all schools should have something like this."

Other schools

John Garrett comes in with his son and and says the club has meant his wife has been able to return to work two days a week.

"It is very useful to us as a family," he says.

The after-school club is a bigger operation, with activities going on in the play-centre, the school hall and the playground.

It is also be used by children from other schools, who are collected from their classrooms and walked around to Sir John Lillie by play centre staff.

Just over 70 children are registered, but numbers vary, as some might be doing other school activities before joining the club later.

The play centre closes at 1830.

Children playing board game
There is a variety of things to do

"After six we might still have 15 or so children," says Lorna Jackson.

"We used to close at six but we asked the parents and they said they would like care for longer.

"Some parents were working through their lunch-breaks to get here by six."

Head teacher Sue Haywood thinks the school also benefits from having the play centre - which also provides child care and activities throughout the holidays.

"If something has happened to a child at school, a teacher could tell the play centre worker about it and pass on a message to a parent," she said.

"Although we do use the telephone as well for keeping in touch, the play centre also helps with communication.

"It works so well in conjunction with the school, because in that freerer environment, children have more time to talk and can share their worries and concerns," she said.


SEE ALSO:
Blair's childcare speech in full
11 Nov 04 |  UK Politics
Money remains heads' main concern
17 May 05 |  Education
School clubs crisis for parents
04 May 05 |  Northern Ireland
Extended school clubs 'voluntary'
27 Apr 05 |  Election 2005
Schools 'centre of the community'
22 Feb 05 |  Oxfordshire
Cash 'not just to renew schools'
23 Mar 05 |  Education


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