School holidays can be particular pressure points for some families because of increased costs (such as food and childcare) and reduced incomes. For some children that can lead to a holiday experience gap - with children from disadvantaged families less likely to access organised out-of-school activities; more likely to experience ‘unhealthy holidays’ in terms of nutrition and physical health and more likely to experience social isolation.
Free holiday clubs are a response to this issue and evidence suggests that they can have a positive impact on children and young people. It also shows they work best when they provide consistent and easily accessible enrichment activities, when they offer more than just breakfast or lunch, and when they involve children (and parents) in food preparation.
The holiday activities and food programme is being funded by the Depatment for Education.
The aim of the programme is to make free places available to children eligible for free school meals for the equivalent of at least four hours a day, four days a week and for six weeks a year. This would cover four weeks in the summer and a week’s worth of provision in each of the Easter and Christmas holidays in 2021.
BCP Council will be using the Department for Education funding to provide grant funding to activity providers to deliver (and develop) free holiday provision, including healthy food and enriching activities, for children who receive benefits-related free school meals. It will be optional for eligible children to attend this provision if they wish.
The funding should cover at least 4 weeks in the summer and a week’s worth of provision in each of the Easter and Christmas holidays. Providers are expected to make full use of volunteers to support delivery.
The offer of free holiday provision will be available for all children eligible for free school meals in the BCP Council area. We also encourage providers to make the holiday activities available to any children not eligible for free school meals, who can pay to attend. Thinking about ways of supporting our families who can’t pay in the longer term will be key from the start.
Further guidance around funding will be made available in the very near future which will be based on the DfE guidance attached. Please read the guidance in preparation for our grant process.