Update: 7 December 2015
General Secretary Deborah Lawson said:
“We will give a detailed response to the consultation on childcare using school facilities. There appears to be a change of emphasis in the ‘right to request’, from parents to providers, so we will need to study the details when they are published.
“However, I remain concerned about the ‘right to request’ schemes, whether it is parents requesting schools provide childcare or childcare providers requesting the use of school facilities. Great care is needed before this policy is implemented for it to deliver positive outcomes for children, parents and schools.
7 October 2015:
‘Right to request’ or responsibility to provide?
By Deborah Lawson, General Secretary, Voice: the union for education professionals
I welcome Nicky Morgan’s acknowledgement of the ‘hard work’ of heads, teachers and school staff in her speech to the 2015 Conservative Party Conference.
However, on parents’ ‘right to request’ that schools provide childcare, we need to know more details about how this will work and be funded. Will it be for pre-school children as well as children of school age?
This seems to be a return to the Extended Schools programme that faded away when the Coalition Government came to power.
Back in 2013, when the Government published More affordable childcare, I warned about the readiness and ability of many schools to deliver services on top of their core purpose of education, and the impact on them of taking on those extra services.
My concerns remain. Great care is needed before this policy is implemented
If schools set up in competition with existing providers, rather than in partnership with them, this could destabilize the local childcare market, resulting in less, not more, childcare.
The Government should be investing in existing providers to meet the needs of families.
In her speech, Nicky Morgan said ‘there isn’t a one size fits all way of running a school’. Although the Government seems to think academies and free schools are the only ways to run schools, there is no ‘one size’ way for childcare.
All childcare, whatever its setting, should be provided by trained, specialist professionals with appropriate terms and conditions of employment in a suitable environment. It should not be a hasty bolt-on to an education provider that has no experience of childcare.
I look forward to exploring these plans with ministers and the DfE.