The BBC is reporting that parents in England are to be given the right to request schools provide childcare for the full working day during term time and in the holidays.
Education Secretary Nicky Morgan said schools must take “reasonable steps” to ensure this is provided.
Ms Morgan said her party must champion the interests of children and parents.
Head teachers warned that the idea would have to be handled “extremely carefully to ensure it is not just a populist gimmick”.
Speaking at the Conservative party conference, Ms Morgan said: “We’re going to give more working parents something the best schools already do.”
“We will be giving families in thousands of schools a ‘right to request’ their school provides childcare for a full working day, before and after school and during the school holidays.
“If enough parents call for childcare at their local school, we will expect the school to take reasonable steps to accommodate it, in a way that works for them.
“Because we want working parents to have the confidence their child is in a happy and safe environment.”
But Russell Hobby, general secretary of the National Association of Head Teachers, warned that while wraparound childcare in schools was generally a good idea, there were many reasons – such as budget cuts or recruitment issues – why some schools were not in a position to offer it.
He added: “Extending provision beyond 38 weeks, providing care outside of term time, can also prove very difficult for schools because of staffing and a lack of private provision.
“Parents can ask but the government must guarantee that a school’s decision is respected. Otherwise, it is merely going to provoke conflict between schools and their communities and would undermine the decision-making of head teachers.
“This needs to be handled extremely carefully to ensure it is not just a populist gimmick…”
What’s not clear from this report is how the funding is expected to work: is this supposed to be free childcare or charged for? How much will parents pay? And will schools be expected to run it or outsource it to others?
Also, how many requests will be deemed “enough” to trigger the need to offer provision? Clearly lots of details still need to be announced (or worked out) on this one.
Please let us know what you think about the proposal in the comments or via Twitter…
Don’t forget you can sign up to receive our daily email bulletin every morning (around 7 am) with all the latest schools news stories. Your details will never be given to anyone else and you can unsubscribe at any stage. Just follow this link