Over 2.5 million families want more extracurricular clubs to be offered at their school, according to new research commissioned by Clubs for Schools – that’s 60% of parents with primary aged children. Parents think clubs are important. Underlining this, a third of parents also reported that they’d consider moving their children to another school if they felt their school’s club provision was inadequate.
The pressure is on for schools to offer more extra curricular clubs. In the latest School Inspection Handbook, Ofsted states that it will directly consider “How well the school supports the formal curriculum with extra curricular opportunities for pupils”. Studies have shown that extra curricular activities support children’s development in ways that include improved behaviour and better academic outcomes, while boosting their time management and organisation skills and developing their curiosity through the learning of new skills.
However, it’s not a simple task for primary schools to increase the number of clubs they offer. I talk to school leaders and business managers every week, and while there’s certainly a clear trend towards schools doing more, it remains timeconsuming. One deputy head told me that it takes a week of his time at the start of each term, while another said that administering clubs takes her half a day each week.
Costs in time spent on admin, quality assurance and making the necessary space available continue to be big challenges that prevent primary schools from offering more extracurricular clubs – so how can they be overcome? I’ve seen lots of ingenious approaches on my visits to various schools, and would make the following recommendations:
Reduce the admin
Can you streamline your process of appointing coaches, managing payments and dealing with bookings? Do you use standard documents? Can payments be managed directly by coaches and other third party suppliers? Portals such as Clubs for Schools can simplify taking payments and administration.
Allocate more space
Evaluate all the possible spaces you can use for clubs. The hall and playground are obvious locations, but how about running a cookery club in the canteen or a classroom? In our research, a cookery club was the second most requested club parents wished their child could do.
Think beyond the typical
Our research found that parents were keenly interested in lesser-known sports like handball, archery, or volleyball. Not everyone’s a footballer or gymnast, but all children want to excel at something. One of the best ways of helping them to achieve is by providing a larger range of alternatives.
Build links with trusted suppliers
I know that there’s a real shortage of experienced gymnastics, fencing and code club leaders. There’s also the need to offer a broad range in order to appeal to more children. Build a network of trusted suppliers that won’t let you down, or outsource that job to a trusted partner.
I hope your school year gets off to a positive start, with children and parents alike excited by the extra curricular activities you have on offer. Good luck!
Michael Ledzion is founder and CEO of Clubs for Schools – a free resource to help schools find coaches and manage their extracurricular activities.