In visiting a large number of schools, it is clear that they have made a small recovery, thanks to teacher goodwill.
It is possible to develop a format for after school clubs that does not rely on the existing teaching staff. On becoming a head in 1990, after a settling period, I explored the potential of bringing in outside providers to run specific clubs. This got off to a good start, with several groups offering a range of mainly sporting clubs. However, this began to run into difficulty as these groups sought to extend themselves, without necessarily providing any contingency, so we might get a late call to say that someone was not available on an evening, so that club needed covering. As I had organised them, I’d often be the one to do so. This came to a head when one particular organisation began to, in our terms, take a few liberties. Despite us providing cover, they were still charging children their going rate.
So, I got to thinking and, with a supportive and very interested teaching assistant, came up with a business plan for an in-house club organisation which became the template for the next ten years.
We provided a breakfast crèche, with a TA aid from 8am to receive children into the school hall, where they could do any outstanding homework, read to each other and play a variety of board games, until 8.45am, when they went out onto the playground with other arrivals. This had a nominal cost, £1 from 8am and 50p from 8.30am, so it became a reasonably priced drop-of service. Numbers warranted two staff, whose pay was (easily) covered.
After school clubs were largely based on the availability of interested adults, both in-house and external, with expertise that could be effectively used, for example, a French national parent ran a language club. Some teachers offered to run a club. This time the difference was that they could claim some payment if they wished.
Clubs were charged at £1 for an hour, which later rose to £1.25; still a modest cost. In the latter incarnation, there were clubs from 3.30-4.30pm and 4.30-5.30pm, with the first for infants/lower juniors and the later clubs for years (4), 5 and 6. If children were staying for the 4.30pm club, an hour’s crèche was provided on the same basis as the breakfast crèche, supervised by a paid TA.
Additional clubs were provided through the use of A level students from the local college, working in a pair, each earning £3.50 an hour. As many of them were doing sports coach qualifications, or Duke of Edinburgh Award, they earned while they were undertaking aspects of their practical coaching or community needs. In this way, a range of sports were offered, as were art, drama and dance. After a while, the varied skills of the TA group came to the fore as well, so several volunteered their services. If you were near a university, the student population might be a source of well-educated and successful tutors.
All staff were CRB checked.
The clubs were restricted to a dozen attendees and most were full.
There were clubs running every evening. My supervising TA took overview charge, supported by colleagues willing to undertake extra, regular hours.
Some children preferred not to attend a formal club, but their parents asked that they could be looked after, so another layer was added with a generic after-school club organised by yet another TA, who took registers, organised activities and fed the children a snack. She was supported by one or more college student(s) acting as her gofer. This did incur an additional cost, but still ran at £3.50 a session.
The essential part was that the arrangement should pay it’s way, be regular and reliable and provide something of quality for the children. Quality Assurance was provided by the supervising TAs and me, doing an occasional wander, on an evening when I was not actively involved.
Along with a number of others, I didn’t claim payment.
Over time, the whole melded into a seamless organisation, under school control, providing a quality product that was the envy of other local schools. We were asked by a number to share the details of the organisation and, on one occasion, were asked by a local council to mentor schools in their area.
Everyone benefitted as a result; the school with extended offering; the children with a wide range of clubs; the staff (especially TAs) with additional hours; the students, with an opportunity to earn while developing something of quality for their CV.
Financially, too, the whole became self-funding, with any surplus put back into school in club-friendly resources. It was a self-sustaining business alongside the school, providing a much needed and valued resource.
It is well worth while considering taking charge yourself, as the demands of negotiating with other organisations can be disproportionate to the benefits.