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Boom in after-hours clubs demands more training

Standards of childcare could suffer as primary schools expand after-hours clubs to meet the Government's extended schools agenda, said a leading charity.

Amanda Argent, the chief executive of Schoolfriend etc, which runs 500 clubs across the country, said better training was needed for the thousands of staff who will be needed to run the breakfast, after-hours and holiday clubs.

The Department for Education and Skills has ambitious targets for out-of-hours care to be offered to 50 per cent of primary children by 2008 and to all four to 11-year-olds by 2010. At the moment there is provision in just 2,500 from a total of 17,500 schools.

"You can't keep opening clubs without making sure the quality is there or there will be problems," said Mrs Argent. "We want to make sure that where there are clubs they are being run to the highest standards."

Schoolfriend etc has this week launched its own national training programme to prepare staff, offering level 2 and 3 NVQs and other courses in first aid, sports and drama. Mrs Argent said: "Training can be done on the job so when people qualify they know the practice and the theory."

Mrs Argent, who hopes to open up to 1,000 more clubs in 2007, said the take-up of the extended schools agenda had been slow up until now because there was still a lot of confusion about what needs to be done.

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