/ Rory Haynes
It’s Monday again and, oh my word, is that the time?! Need to organise school bags, homework projects, make sure clothes are on the right way round (for once) and navigate the morning rush hour in less than half an hour.
Sound familiar? That’s because households up and down the country are having to juggle hundreds of roles and responsibilities as soon as the day begins. Added to this the stresses of ensuring that you get to your child’s school at the end of the day for pick up, where is the time to actually fit in work?
Well to alleviate the burden on overstretched parents and guardians, many primary and secondary schools provide wraparound care to their pupils. So, what is wraparound care?
Though wraparound care is not a legal requirement, many schools put on breakfast clubs and after school clubs to ensure children are nourished, educated and entertained for a time extending beyond the traditional start and finish. These sessions aim to top and tail the school day and help to reduce the stresses of their caregivers who are in work. Studies have shown that wraparound care is crucial to students’ development across all age brackets and can improve outcomes both socially and academically. So, let’s start with The Breakfast Club (hey, hey, hey, heyyyyy) and find out why wraparound care really is a must have in schools.
You guessed it; breakfast club is the pre-school wraparound care provision which is in place to feed pupils and get them ready for a day filled with educational wonder.
The advantages of breakfast club are manyfold but one of the key factors centres on the financial implication for parents and guardians. In 2014, Kellogg’s undertook a study to look at the benefits of a breakfast club and found that, on average, breakfast club per pupil cost approximately £1.68. While this value will have increased due to inflation, the figure still represents a fraction of the cost likely incurred by using an early hours childcare provider. This price includes the cost of breakfast and when people tell you it’s the most important meal of the day, they’re not lying…
Fundamentally, children perform better when they are well fed. A breakfast containing high levels of fibre and protein help to improve academic results and mean that children can remain engaged with tasks for a greater period of time than if their tummies were rumbling. This is reflected in exam results too, with pupils who eat a healthy breakfast more likely to achieve higher grades across the board.
Yet it is from the social side where we arguably see even greater benefits.
Firstly, better behaviour and attendance. When you remove the rigours and stresses of a chaotic morning at home and provide a consistent schedule on the site at which they attend school, attendance is naturally going to increase. The structure provided here will be a comfort to students who will feel more at home within their educational setting.
This comfort also extends to building relationships and eating habits. Being able to socialise with both fellow students and staff outside the confines of the regular school day helps to establish long term relationships and increase want or motivation to go to school. Children, as many of you will be aware, can also be fussy eaters. Breakfast club can inspire them to try new things when they see fellow pupils eating different foods which they have not been introduced to. On top of this, breakfast club can also serve to reduce stigmas when it comes to different eating patterns or food preferences.
I won’t patronise you. You all know what an after-school club is, but I bet you didn’t know of all the benefits it provides for children.
Firstly, and this could go in either category, positive role models. Children are spending time with qualified educators or other school-suitable adults who have their best interests at heart. They are not leaving school and hanging out with individuals who may have a negative impact on their decision making, these people are there for their betterment. Additionally, it also means children are not immediately going home, buying all sorts of nonsense from the corner shop and immersing themselves in a digital appliance until an authority figure gets home. I’m sure we can all agree, the former is a far better option both in terms of mental stimulation and personal growth.
Healthier children are happier children. With after school clubs there is often a physical element (we will address the non-physical shortly). With many schools having access to sports equipment and facilities, children do not have to lead a sedentary lifestyle filled with junk food and social media, they can be off running, hopping, jumping and, who knows, this may even pave the way for a new hobby and the making of new friends.
Finding a passion is essential for all young people, irrespective of physical exertion levels. After school clubs can include cookery, art and drama all of which can be crucial in sparking an intellectual curiosity which may last a lifetime. In many cases, after school clubs also support the curriculum being taught at the time and it may well be that experiencing a subject through a different medium may spark engagement not seen in the classroom previously. Being able to explore these new opportunities is vital for pupil development and also leaves parents and guardians safe in the knowledge their child is being looked after while they are off making a living.
Ultimately both breakfast club and after school clubs are of enormous benefit to the entire education community. Teachers get more engaged pupils; pupils can access more of their education and parents get peace of mind and a few hours of childcare for a fraction of the normal price (in most cases).
So where do Bromcom come in? Well, we know how crucial wraparound care is and have tailored our product to ensure that the entire communities’ needs are met within these five key areas.
Bromcom’s mychildatschoolcommunication platform means wraparound care can be organised and managed anywhere, anytime. The portal, accessed by children, parents and staff alike, removes the need for lengthy administrative processes often associated with sending children to clubs. No more form filling or financial collection as both consent and payment can be issued via the app. This process also has the added benefit of reducing physical contact during a pandemic. If a school trip (part of the wraparound care configuration within Bromcom’s MIS) payment is overdue, this can be completed from the comfort of your own home, the same can be said for booking particular breakfast clubs or after school sessions. This is where flexibility comes in…
Bromcom’s wraparound care functionality means that schools can set the sessions that suit them. Create time slots which suit your needs and a pricing structure which is in line with school policy. As a school, you have the ability to create a wraparound care provision which fits the entire community. If something changes, be it absence or illness, simply modify the sessions and notify the necessary parties via the app. It really is that simple. This flexibility also extends to your accounts. If the school is not going to be the recipient of the finances accrued by the wraparound care, all money can be readily transferred to an account of your choosing, whether it’s the Local Authority or an external stakeholder.
Bromcom allows you to be prepared, a quality which is often hard to come by in schools. Our advanced booking system gives parents and guardians the opportunity to bulk book their children into different clubs throughout the academic year. Whether it only lasts a couple of weeks or the entire school year, this can be mapped out through MCAS. If you’re concerned about keeping track of this, then Bromcom also has you covered there. Our dashboards present all of this information in a logical format meaning you are never under any illusion as to which club your child will be attending on different days of the week.
When it comes to cancellation, create a system that works for you. You may want to exercise a three-day option where if a parent cancels within this timeframe they will still be charged. This process allows you to manage pupil numbers and know exactly who will be attending well in advance. So, if its preparing food or working out how many skipping ropes you need, you can be safe in the knowledge that you will be in command of all the facts more than five minutes before your wraparound care session is about to begin!
Wraparound care does cost money and it’s crucial that you can see where this money is being spent. The MyChildAtSchool app is transparent with all financial transactions visible to parents who will be left under no illusion where their money has gone. If its instalments for a ski trip or money for breakfast club on Tuesdays and Thursdays, this information is clearly presented in one of our easy-to-use tabs. Balances can then be topped up or settled accordingly meaning there are no hidden charges and children do not miss out.
Communication is arguably the most vital aspect of running a successful wraparound care provision and it is where Bromcom are at their best. Whenever a child is booked into a club or trip, a register is automatically generated within our MIS. Ultimately, this means that any unexplained absence or discrepancy with numbers is easily identified and quickly remedied. If a child has not turned up for a scheduled event, an automatic communication can be sent via the app querying this absence and parents or guardians also have the capability of sending a message direct to the individual in charge or the session. From a safeguarding perspective, the software is first rate in ensuring pupils are where they should be at all times.
This is not where the communication ends, if unforeseen circumstances mean a pupil may miss a session or a staff absence means the time of a certain afterschool club has been altered, all of this information can be sent in a matter of moments allowing everyone ample time to prepare alternative solutions. The manual process of ‘ringing around’ is a thing of the past with Bromcom and means that no child slips through the proverbial net.
Not only is wraparound care a fantastic initiative to support parents in need, it is also crucial to the development of children. With Bromcom by your side, your wraparound care provision is easily managed, allowing pupils to flourish both before and after school.