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Wraparound childcare expansion

The Wraparound programme

The government is investing £289 million to support the expansion of wraparound childcare forprimary school-aged pupils in reception to Year 6.In October 2023, DFE published a handbook for local authorities (LAs) that sets out our ambition for all parents of primary school children who need it to be able to access term-time childcare in their localarea from 8.00am to 6.00pm.

This will help to ensure that parents have enough childcare to work full time,more hours and with flexible hours. The programme aims to improve the availability of wraparound childcare for parent/carers and isdesigned to fund the initial setup or expansion of wraparound provision where there is clear demand. The funding will also remove the financial risk of setting up or expanding wraparound provision wheresufficient demand is not guaranteed to sustain provision from the start, but where the guarantee ofplaces could help build sufficient demand over time as parents/carers are assured of the supply of places.

The programme should be built on existing assets and understanding of the local community,which incorporates and does not disrupt and displace the existing wraparound childcare market. Parents should expect to see an expansion in the availability of wraparound care from September2024, with the programme ambition being that every parent who needs it will be able to access term time wraparound childcare by September 2026.

Parents will still be expected to pay to access this provision, as this programme aims to increase the availability of childcare rather than subsidise childcare. Support with the cost will continue to be available to eligible parents through Universal Credit childcare and tax-free childcare. LAs, schools, trusts and private, voluntary and independent (PVI) providers, including childminders, are expected to make parents aware of this support and be set up in a way to enable parents to use it.

The role of the LA in the programme

All LAs are expected to support parents to access childcare, where they need it. This programme, and funding, will be delivered through LAs, given their existing childcare sufficiency duty. LAs will work with schools and PVI providers, including childminders, to introduce or expand before and after school childcare provision in their area. LAs recognise the different challenges schools and providers face, and should work collaboratively, encouraging professional respect across the sector.

The expectations on schools and trusts

In February 2024, the government published wraparound childcare guidance for schools and trusts, which sets out their role in relation to wraparound in more detail. It outlines the support they can expect, in particular from their LA, to meet these expectations including where wraparound provisionis delivered on school site.

This guidance is designed to support schools and trusts, regardless of their involvement with the national wraparound childcare programme. Schools and trusts are central to the delivery of the programme as they operate at the heart of the community, understand the needs of local families, and are usually the first port of call for parents for wraparound childcare. Delivering school-led or PVI provider led wraparound on a school sitewill support parents to access the childcare they need.

The government expects that all schools who educate primary school-aged pupils, with the support from their LA, will:

  • Work with the LA wraparound lead and others in the sector to support parents at their school to access quality wraparound childcare
  • All schools are expected to have school or PVI provider (including childminder) run wraparound childcare on the school site, unless there is a reasonable justification not to (having considered all support available, in particular from the national wraparound childcare programme)
  • Schools who are unable to have wraparound on the school site are expected to work collaboratively with their local authorities to ensure parents are, at a minimum, signposted to appropriate provision. These must not require parents to pick up or drop off their children between the school day and wraparound
  • Schools will promote and support government subsidies such as Tax-Free Childcare and Universal Credit Childcare, which can help parents with the affordability of childcare and supports schools, trusts, and PVI providers with the sustainability of provision

Schools are expected to:

  • Support the LA to understand parental demand and, where relevant, existing wraparoundprovision on school site
  • Adhere to the right to request guidance, which describes their role in considering and responding to parents’ requests for the school to deliver wraparound childcare and PVI providers’ requests to use the school site to deliver wraparound childcare.

Next steps

We are currently mapping demand and supply options with schools. We will be able to decide how best to use the grant funding to achieve the programme outcomes. This could include allocating funding to schools and/or PVIs, including childminders, to contribute to the start-up, expansion and running costs of provision, as well as costs for staffing, training, and resources.

We will be able to decide how to disperse the grant funding and will need to set out a transparent process for dispersing funding to childcare providers / schools and ensure robust funding agreements are in place. Funding can be used to contribute towards running costs while demand is growing, before provision is made self-sustainable through parental payments, taking away any short-term financial risk to providers. Individual local authority grant allocations were published at the end of October along with a programme handbook that specifies how the wraparound grant can be used.