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WAC Provision could be the final straw for School Budgets

With the government requiring all schools to offer wrap-around care up to 6pm from 2025, this could have serious negative consequences for school budgets.

Although schools will have access to some limited start-up funding, many headteachers are going to struggle to be able to afford to offer childcare to 6pm. Unfortunately this isn't simply an opinion - it is plain and straightforward mathematics.

The truth of the matter is that schools in areas of high deprivation will have two major issues:

  1. There will be a lack of demand for the service as many children will come from families where both parents do not work and where they do they are likely to have family support living locally who can provide their childcare.

  2. The cost to parents will have to be so low that it will not cover the running costs.

Whereas, in a more salubrious area a school may get away with a charge of, say, up to £10 per night for a child this will not be the case for most schools in the North-East who may find the maximum charge they can make is closer to the £5 mark.

The question schools must then ask is what will likely be the uptake for this service. With the current NLW at £11.44ph (and whereas we recognise that schools will be paying more than this due to LA/Trust pay scales - in order to be prudent we will use the NLW rate for our maths.) The minimum staffing level a school will require would be two people for safeguarding reasons and these two people will require some set-up and tidy-up time either side of the childcare hours then a school will be paying for both childcare workers for a minimum of 3 hours per night at a total wage cost of just shy of £70 per night. This will exceed this figure by the time the school has paid it's employers NI and pension contributions. There will also be a requirement for the school to provide some form of food for the children - so in reality the cost to run ONE evening of childcare to 6pm will be in the region of £85.

For argument's sake lets make an assumption that our example school is a single-form entry school in an area with a relatively high deprivation rate - the likely cost therefore for the parent will be set at approximately £5 per night. The school will therefore require 17 children to attend that provision EVERY DAY simply to break-even.

From our experience of running wrap-around programmes - this is a very high target number and one that we struggle to reach in some TWO-form entry schools! In all honesty some schools will only have less than 10 children attend their provision. Can schools afford to run a provision that runs at a loss of nearly £7k per year? The simple answer is "No"!

PEAK have experience of WAC provisions in schools that have only attracted an average of 1.7-3.8 children per night - how on earth can a school afford to run a provision running at a loss of over £13k per year?

Fortunately PEAK can help schools in a number of ways. Schools need to protect their budgets - so maybe it's time to drop us a line, we can either develop a WAC provision that appeals to more children (and more importantly their parents) or we can assist you in recruiting and training an apprentice to vastly reduce your overheads. Either way schools need to act quickly, as we can attest to, it is very easy to commit to providing a service that once you begin could see you running up debts of nearly £600 every week!

For schools that are rightly nervous about this - NOW is the time to drop us a line at

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