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Now the campaign must turn to after-school care

Your headline "Labour seeks to turn playclubs into work" to describe the outcome of the Kids' Club Network Conference (TES, February 2) could generate more heat than light.

The case for pre-school childcare and learning is clearly won. The task for the 1990s is to ensure that school-age children have the right to care, play and learning after school. The Out of School Childcare Initiative has made a brave start but more can be done. Some 38 per cent of the 2,500 new clubs are based in schools and the educational benefits are self-evident. As a partner within the initiative, Education Extra was, therefore, delighted with the statement by Mrs Shephard from the platform of the conference that she would set up a working party to look at the educational links which could be made and, equally, by the clear enthusiasm of the Labour party to open up space, time and support for homework after school.

All our experience of working with schools and training and enterprise councils shows that they are coming forward with increased enthusiasm now that they can see the proof that after-school provision works. The next step is to build the local partnerships which will ensure that many more children and parents all round the country have better access to quality playcare after school.

Equally important, however, is that we should build on success, and, without extending the school day or diminishing the benefits of rest and play, enable clubs to provide that extra enrichment which could be a boost to individual learning - whether that is literacy, maths or music. Although more provision for study support across the age range is urgently needed, not every Kids' Club could or should become a homework centre. More can, however, be done after school in many different ways to help lift attainment. With the support of parents and schools, Kids' Clubs can play a vital role in making that happen.

KAY ANDREWS Director Education Extra 18 Victoria Park Square Bethnal Green London E2

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