The DfE published its long awaited guidance for holiday club providers on 1 July, and updated it on 10 July. This guidance applies to all types of out of school settings that will be open to children over the summer holidays, and includes settings such as sports-based clubs, tuition classes and Cubs and Scouts groups, as well as Ofsted-registered settings providing holiday childcare.
Download the guidance for holiday clubs
It confirms that holiday clubs can open to children of all ages from the date on which the state schools in their local area close for the summer holidays. This varies according to local authority but in many areas it means that holiday clubs can open from 20 July. All holiday clubs must meet the protective measures set out in the guidance. Most of these measures are sensible and achievable with some thought and planning. However there was one condition that caused a great deal of concern.
The protective measures contained in the first version of the guidance stated that children should be kept in small consistent groups of no more than 15, but then added that the children should be in the same group whenever they attend the setting:
"This means that at the first session children should be assigned to a particular class or group and should then stay in those consistent groups for future sessions."
This requirement for any one child to always be in the same group of children at every session is not practical for a club which provides holiday childcare throughout the summer holidays. We raised this issue with the DfE on 2 July, and they said that they have received feedback on this specific issue from a number of sources. They reviewed the guidance and published a statement on 9 July clarifying that providers should aim to keep children in the same groups "as far as possible" and then on 10 July published an updated version of the guidance document itself. The guidance now says that providers should "seek" to keep children in small consistent groups:
"...providers should seek to maintain small, consistent groups of no more than 15 children and at least one staff member."
But then goes on to acknowledge that this will be difficult to acheive in all settings and that therefore:
"providers must use their best judgement in creating and frequently reviewing groups in order to minimise the amount of ‘mixing’ (for example, the number of different people each child comes into contact with); and should also ensure they are keeping up-to-date records of the children attending their settings, including the specific groups and members of staff they have been assigned to."
This therefore gives providers a certain amount of flexibiility when assigning children to groups. so long as they are always aiming to keep the mixing of children to the minimum possible.
Clarification on early years children at holiday clubs
As soon as we have any further updates for holiday clubs, we will share them here.