Jamieson tells heads to let care clubs use schools

SCHOOLS and local authorities have been told to make room for out-of-school care facilities.

Cathy Jamieson, Education Minister, told the Scottish Out Of School Care Network's annual conference last week: "Lack of suitable premises can be a problem for out-of-school care clubs, and we must make the best possible use of the school estate.

"Schools are not only places for formal learning. Many of the best schools are valuable community resources. While I accept that school premises are not always suitable for after school clubs, where they are I would encourage local authorities and head teachers to accommodate out-of-school clubs wherever possible."

There was no room for turf wars over premises, Ms Jamieson said. "I attach great importance to the worth and benefit of out-of-school care services, and if we are talking about providing a range of services we have to get our act together, talk to one another and find solutions."

Irene Audain, the network's chief executive, confirmed that access was a matter of concern throughout Scotland. "In some areas you could have free or low-cost lets while in others, if the headteacher doesn't like you, you can't get in."

An Executive-funded report on the benefits of out-of-school care showed that many parents of new pupils asked whether such a service existed, and many headteachers recognised that this made their school more attractive.

Ms Audain called for an end to distinctions between providers. Teachers should be working in partnership with "people who are extremely professional but don't get the recognition and status they deserve".

Scotland currently has 38,000 places used by 60,000 children - twice as many as four years ago. There are 850 services ranging from small rural groups with 16 children and two to three staff to multi-site facilities with up to 50 staff, depending on the time of year.

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