Schools should be open to 6pm


The school day could be lengthened and parents drafted in to run after-hour clubs to reduce the burden of childcare on working mothers and fathers, according to new government proposals to increase ‘school wrap-around childcare’.

The proposals will set out plans for longer school days, which could see local childcare providers called in to look after pupils from 3pm or parents asked to run local school clubs.

Michael Gove, the Education Secretary, recently called for longer school days and a cut in the length of holidays to make  life easier for working parents.

Education Minister, Liz Truss, said: "We are hoping to have new proposals out shortly, particularly on schools-based childcare and how we’re going to enable more schools to offer that."

She added: "This doesn’t mean teachers working longer hours. It can mean private sector nursery providers, voluntary sector providers or parents running an after school club."

Under the proposals, the minister also wants school nurseries to be allowed to admit two-year-olds, in order to help parents return to work.

Currently nurseries have to seek permission and are only entitled to take on three to four-year-olds.

"Our parents pay more than double what parents in France and Germany are paying on childcare," she said, adding that government money put into the system doesn’t ‘flow through to the frontline’ as well as it should.

She also defended controversial changes to the childcare vouchers system, which at present is only available for a fifth of employees. The new system will make tax breaks available per child, although it will be less generous to higher-rate taxpayers.

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