It’s been a long seven weeks for a lot of parents. But now the summer holidays are over, life can go back to normal and working mums and dads across the country can go back to their typical 9 – 5. Or can they? Campaign groups are warning that the cost of after school clubs and extra childcare is going to skyrocket, meaning that, if some parents can’t obtain basic flexibility at work, they won’t be able to afford to work at all.
We’ve always known that nurseries are extortionate – the average annual cost of a full-time place is now £14,836 – but after school clubs don’t seem to be much better.
National charity, the Coram Family and Childcare Trust conducted a childcare survey and found that prices were up 3% this year compared with 2022. The average cost of an after-school club in Great Britain is £67.42 a week or £2,629 during term time.
Like most things, going private can be costly. But, with demand for after school care outweighing capacity, many parents don’t have the option for school-provided after school clubs.
Catherine in Newcastle says:
“I moved house last year and the local school has no space for my daughter. I didn’t have the flexibility at work to take 40 or so minutes to drive across town and pick her up so I had to use a private after school club since the school provided club was full and had a ridiculously long waiting list. The private club cost £15 per day and I needed to use it three times a week. That £180 a month practically crippled us.”
The struggle is real for working mothers. The general opinion is that nursery is expensive but as soon as the kids are at school, it’s easy to work around them but with after school care in such high demand and so expensive, it’s not always the case.
The Early Bird
This is true for most areas of parenting but early planning is key. The most affordable option for most parents is the school-run after school club rather than the private clubs. However, these clubs are very popular and fill up fast. Parents who realise that they need after school care once their children are already in school tend to miss out.
To give yourself the best possible chance, it’s recommended to get your child on the list before they start school. Even if you’re not sure you’ll need the space. It’s better to be prepared.
Activities Instead of Childcare
It’s not the case for all but some schools offer after school activities for a small cost that can also serve as after school care. Catherine from Newcastle found this to be a better option when moving her daughter’s school:
“When we were finally offered a place in the new school, I found that Mondays were tricky for me to leave my desk for school pick up. I noticed that the school offered French lessons after school for £7.50 a class. School finishes at 3.10 and the class starts at 4pm. But, since she’s 7 now, the school allows my daughter and her friends to wait in the hall until the class starts. Which means I don’t need to pick her up until 4.45 which makes a huge difference to my working day. It’s also a huge saving from £15 a day and she might learn a bit of French!”
Flexibility Would Save The Day
The most frustrating thing about after school care for older children is that they don’t need a lot of it. Working with a toddler in tow is near impossible. But school age children tend to do their own thing and enjoy some downtime after a day of learning. If parents have the option to work at home in the afternoon and the flexibility to nip along to the school gates for pick up, we wouldn’t need expensive after school care at all.