An increase in work and time pressure on both schools and parents has led to a greater demand for aftercare and holiday care for children. Internationally, 10% of primary school children are currently enrolled in aftercare.
Within the South African context, schools are averaging between 20% and 30% of their pupils in aftercare. That amounts to a vast number of children spending up to 5 hours a day in the aftercare environment.
We spoke to Emma de Bruyn of Sherpa Kids South Africa, a company that offers a professional aftercare solution for schools. She says that there is currently a scattershot approach to aftercare and holiday care in South Africa.
Schools are outsourcing, ‘Tannie Susan’ across the road is supervising children after hours, overburdened teachers are put in charge of running the aftercare or schools are hiring staff, outside the school, to manage their operations.
Parents want to know that their children are being safely looked after in an educative environment. It is not unheard of to hear that parents pull their kids out of aftercare because they are bored, have no planned activities and no stimulation.
Emma believes that ‘what is being seen in the primary and preparatory school environments are services that are not scalable, suitable or sustainable. In essence the triple-S threat’.
According to Emma, schools should ask the following questions before committing to an aftercare solution and also in evaluating your present setup:
- Can your aftercare cater for the boom in numbers?
- Is your out of school hours model a comprehensive solution for parents, i.e. is holiday care a permanent offering or something that gets advertised 2 weeks before the holidays as an income generator?
- Are quality assurance checks in place to ensure that the service is performing?
- Does your school’s offering have trained and quality staff engaging with children?
- Are they carefully selected or are they opportunistically just given this service to run because they do not have extra mural strengths?
- Does staffing of aftercare and/or holiday care form part of a retention strategy where school teachers earn extra income?
- Do you only offer this service at your school as a means of generating more revenue? If so, the question must be asked: Is the service to enrich the school or to enrich the lives of children?
- Are staff comfortable in handling emergency medical situations?
- Are they up to date with medical needs/allergies at the aftercare?
- Does your aftercare have the correct OHS system in place?
- Are the children monitored in a safe environment, with suitable access control?
- Are the staff providing a professional service to the school and to parents?
- Are they reaching out and building relationships with children and families?
- Are they engaging with young, growing minds and challenging these spirited beings?
- Is there a structured activity programme in place, or is it merely a glorified baby-sitting service?
- What happens when your current solution no longer supports the needs of your school, where do you turn? Do you have systems in place that are replicable and sustainable? Does a change of staff mean disarray as there are no processes to follow?
Is your aftercare and/or holiday care service a PROUD element of your school and a positive representation of your BRAND? Is your school unlocking real value for you and your families? These are key questions that schools need to ask about aftercare.
Sherpa Kids is SchoolAdvisor’s top rated aftercare provider. Click here to see their rating and to find out what other schools think about them.