SCHOOL'S OUT: Framework for the Development of Out-of-School Care
We have a number of important policies that are all relevant to developing OSC services. We have mentioned some of these within this document, where they are an important part of the sections dealing with certain issues. These include the school-estate strategy, out-of-school-hours learning (OSHL) or study support, New Community Schools, PE and sport in school, accessibility strategies, youth work and diversity and equality.
We have other important policies and initiatives that are discussed below.
Early-years and childcare strategy
We are working on proposals to set up an early-years and childcare strategy that will draw together the current childcare strategy and Sure Start Scotland, and reflect recent developments in wider children's services, including those delivered by health services. The aim is to reflect the move towards a more integrated (joined-up) service delivery, especially in closer links with health, education and social work, but also reflecting wider initiatives such as welfare-to-work.
We plan to develop a set of outcomes that this strategy will deliver. We want it to be easier to judge the difference being made by the funds to deliver the strategy. It will allow us to better monitor developments, for example, through the Children's Services Plans. We aim to issue the draft strategy document in 2003 for wide consultation to organisations such as health boards, local authorities, voluntary organisations and others.
Closing the opportunity gap
Good-quality affordable childcare can make a vital contribution to closing the opportunity gap by supporting parents into work or training and making sure that Scotland's children get the best start in life. A key to creating a truly inclusive society is not just providing support to children in relation, for example, to educational attainment. We need to help their social and emotional development in less formal ways, and OSC has much to offer. The 'For Scotland's Children ' report highlighted the role that less formal, often voluntary, provision can have and the way in which it can often seem more inviting and less stigmatising to parents and children. 11
Integrated children's services
Precisely because of its informal nature, OSC can have much to offer in the wider context of integrated (joined-up) children's services. Services should support the 'whole' child, who will need, and have rights to, play and enjoyment just as much as to education and attainment. Children may often be more relaxed and willing to 'open out' in such a setting.
Where a child is having difficulties of some kind that come to light in the OSC setting, it will often be appropriate for staff there to involve social workers or other professional staff who are best placed to deal with them. Developments in a more integrated approach to children's services, such as New Community Schools, and the range of work being funded through the Changing Children's Services Fund, should help with this.
In North Lanarkshire, OSC services and New Community Schools can co-operate to support children. At Muir Street Primary School in Motherwell, the OSC club, run by Lanarkshire Childcare Services, is represented on the local authority Joint Support Agency Group, led by the head teacher. Psychological services, social work, the home-school partnership officer and a representative from the OSC team meet every six weeks to discuss the needs of individual children. At these meetings the group puts strategies in place to tackle a range of needs. OSC contributes by offering care sessions to support children and families. Importantly, since parents collect their children from the club, the club can provide opportunities to support the parents. The children are helped in the club to develop better interpersonal, social and behavioural skills. And the children's parents have opportunities to rest and relax. The progress of each vulnerable child is discussed at the joint meeting.
New Deal for Lone Parents
The New Deal for Lone Parents (NDLP) is a voluntary programme aimed at lone parents on Income Support. Jobcentre Plus Personal Advisers provide advice and support on job-search, training opportunities, childcare, and in-work benefit calculations. Childcare costs for those involved in NDLP will be paid if the childcare is registered.
The role of local enterprise companies (enterprise bodies)
We have referred to the role of the enterprise bodies in the section on the workforce. Both Scottish Enterprise (SEn) and Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE) have agreed to involve the enterprise networks in supporting the childcare sector.
Childcare is part of the strategic direction for the enterprise bodies set out in A Smart, Successful Scotland - Ambitions for the Enterprise Networks (see www.scotland.gov.uk/library3/enterprise/smart-successful-scotland.pdf ). It links social and economic policies by opening doors to employment or education for parents across Scotland. LECs and childcare partnerships need to work well together to make sure every child gets the best possible start in life in an economically successful Scotland. We have encouraged childcare partnerships to take a more active role in involving LECs in their planning, while LECs are encouraged to recognise the ways in which they can contribute to the childcare strategy and meet their own aims under A Smart, Successful Scotland.
The Scottish Out of School Care Network (SOSCN) has produced Childcare Staff and Business Development - a guide to the support provided by local enterprise companies in Scotland. This guide helps childcare services find out the support available from the LECs. The guide is on: www.soscn.org/LECGuide.pdf .
Community regeneration and Social Inclusion Partnerships (SIPs)
Social Inclusion Partnerships (SIPs) were set up in 1999 to deliver a multi-agency approach to the problems of deprivation. There are 34 area-based partnerships focusing on a set geographical area and 14 concentrating on a specific theme, for example, young people and young carers.
After-school clubs, playschemes, nurseries and crèches have all received SIP funding. There are also a number of local projects to train local people in childcare or to become registered childminders.
The North Edinburgh SIP helped to fund the Greater Pilton Childcare Centre which was set up by the local childcare action group. The centre provides 'wraparound' childcare for children aged between 0 and 16. There are also mobile and onsite crèches, after-school clubs in local primary schools and playscheme provision.
In June 2002 Margaret Curran, Social Justice Minister set out our future regeneration policy in 'Better Communities in Scotland - closing the gap'. We are committed to building a better Scotland, where a child's potential, not their background or postcode, will decide their future. The statement recognises that while much has been achieved in regeneration terms, more needs to be done. Community planning is highlighted as the way forward in terms of making sure that all agencies work with deprived communities - and with each other - to deliver better and more responsive services.
To that end, management of SIPs will move over to community planning partnerships from 2004 onwards. Services and outcomes in deprived areas need to be improved and resources should not be taken away from the vulnerable communities that depend on them. Resources will be available to:
- fund work at the neighbourhood level;
- support local networks that plan and deliver services;
- develop local skills and confidence; and
- provide improved or extra local services.
Review of breakfast services
We have completed a review of breakfast services. This review will help to influence decisions about the best way to use a grant we have. The grant will be targeted on vulnerable children from low-income communities. These are the children who are most in need of the wide-ranging benefits of a breakfast service - reducing inequalities in health, providing play opportunities, and helping parents into work. We will be announcing soon how this funding will be awarded.
A good breakfast service is particularly important to disadvantaged and vulnerable children because it:
- increases concentration and improves learning at school;
- promotes their physical wellbeing;
- provides emotional and social support;
- makes sure the children at least have a breakfast; and
- promotes health initiatives.
Child health is a priority for us as a good start in the early years will improve health in later life. We have many initiatives on the go to make sure of the best possible start in life for children. These include the breakfast service review. After-school clubs can also promote healthy eating initiatives. Two examples are as follows.
The First Nursery in Peebles, which provides OSC, has a healthy eating policy. The health board gave the service a 50 voucher to buy fruit and vegetables. The service offers a wide range of healthy snacks and the children are involved in decisions about snacks. The healthy eating policy was put in place at the suggestion of a parent who is a dietician. The parent encouraged the owner of the nursery to contact the British Heart Foundation (BHF) for information. This year, BHF have provided 'exercise passports' where children keep a record to see if they are doing the recommended 15 minutes daily exercise.
The Dalmuir OSC Group teaches children the importance of a healthy diet and lifestyle in a fun and educational way. Events have included a 'make your own chef's hat' and a 'fruitfantastic' tour arranged by the local Sainsbury supermarket. The group had a large food pyramid to show the correct amount of food types that should be eaten every day. There are regular visits from a local chef in charge of a healthy eating café. John has prepared dishes and given the group recipes to try, a favourite being fruit smoothies. The group arranges visits to the local youth information service that runs courses and workshops on a wide range of health-related issues.
We are also encouraging all schools to be Health Promoting Schools. The HPS approach is to be part of the overall ethos of the school. The emphasis will be on personal and social qualities to help children make balanced choices about how best to lead their lives. Existing new community schools already embrace the health promotion concept. Breakfast clubs and after-school clubs may well form part of the HPS approach.
Physical activity strategy
It is clear from the focused consultation with children that many children like sport and physical activity. Being able to let off steam after school is important to them, whether this is through organised games and sport or by playing unsupervised by adults.
The importance of physical activity for children and young people is recognised in our physical activity strategy. We are particularly concerned with high levels of inactivity among teenage girls and the need to include children in need or with additional support needs in physical activity.
Active primary school co-ordinators and school sport development officers are promoting physical activity for young people. They will have a key role in promoting and co-ordinating physical activities in OSHL and OSC. They will tackle the needs of children who are currently inactive or less active than they could be.
We will make sure that childcare partnerships and active primary school co-ordinators and school sport development officers know about each other's responsibilities so that OSC services can benefit from this programme.
The importance of play opportunities is mentioned throughout School's Out. Play is an essential part of OSC. Active play has clear health benefits and it also helps with physical and emotional development.
Within OSC, the role of the play leader or play worker is vital to the quality of the play experience. They can provide appropriate support and guidance where the child needs it. They can let the child pursue their own play activity too, without any support from the adult.
The Right Honourable Frank Dobson, MP, is chairing a review to develop a
UK-wide strategy for improved children's play facilities. The New Opportunities Fund might take forward the programme resulting from this review with 200 million that will be used for new and improved children's play facilities. The review will cover play services for children up to the age of 16. Highest priority will be given to those neighbourhoods and communities with most need and least facilities. Special attention will be paid to children with disabilities and to ethnic groups who may feel excluded at the moment.
Cathy Jamieson, the Minister for Education and Young People, welcomes the review.
National Cultural Strategy
The purpose of the national cultural strategy is to create a climate in which arts and culture can thrive and are accessible to all. It promotes the social benefits of culture and the important strengths of creativity as a resource in education and
lifelong-learning. The Cultural Co-ordinators programme in schools is a vital part of the strategy, ensuring that children and young people in Scotland are aware of and given the chance to participate actively in a wide and exciting range of arts and cultural activities.
Cultural Co-ordinators in primary and secondary schools will have a key role in developing links with the arts communities and these connections could be tapped into by OSC providers.
Local authority and voluntary sector relationships
We will be issuing guidance in 2003 on partnership funding arrangements between the statutory sector (mainly local authorities and the National Health Service) and the voluntary sector. (We issued the draft guidance to a few organisations on 21 January 2003 asking for their comments). The guidance may be helpful when local authorities and others are considering funding to voluntary OSC provision. Among other things, the guidance will set out the range of options available for long-term, stable financial relationships between the statutory and voluntary sectors.
The social economy
The 'social economy' means not-for-profit organisations that are independent
of the State. They provide services to people that complement or meet gaps in public service provision. Such organisations can take many forms. They include
co-operative housing associations, charities and small local community groups.
We believe that a well-developed social economy can make an important contribution to extending service delivery options in important areas such as childcare. A strong social economy also plays an important role in creating new jobs and growing social capital. We are working with other interests, including the voluntary sector, to develop a strong and healthy social economy in Scotland.
Our Social Economy Review, published in January 2003, provides the basis for action.
Additional support needs
In January 2003, after consultation and a review of arrangements for assessment and recording of children with special educational needs (SEN), we published a draft Bill on additional support for learning. At the same time, we, with the Special Educational Needs Forum (a forum of professionals, officials and parents) published a framework for meeting the needs of children who require additional support for learning. These documents complement each other and give more detail on the policies for making better the provision for additional support needs.
The national debate on education
The Minister for Education and Young People recently published our response to the key themes that emerged from the national debate on education in: 'Educating in Excellence - Choice and Opportunity '. In the context of OSC, the response said the following under 'the vision for the future'.
'Improved life chances through better out-of-school care within the school environment.'
Some issues raised during the debate, and acknowledged in our response, are relevant in the context of OSC. Many people wanted the education system to emphasise life skills; to focus on skills and attitudes as well as knowledge; to recognise the importance of pupils learning outside schools and classes; and
to have multi-agency working in schools. OSC services help schools deal with these concerns and will have an important part to play in delivering the future of education .