As many as 12,000 children will be able to attend summer holiday clubs each day as part of Essex County Council’s (ECC) efforts to help youngsters catch up with lost learning due to COVID-19.
Cabinet member for children Louise McKinlay said the scheme will also be extended into the Easter and Christmas holiday periods, adding that ECC will continue to provide targeted holiday hunger support in the half terms.
The free holiday club scheme – funded largely from a £4 million grant from central government is a significant markup from last year’s offer when ECC provided 22,850 free activity camp sessions to children across the six-week holiday at a cost of “£262,000.
ECC is also funding an expansion of the scheme working with its community partners for a range of activities. Not just physical, but in the fields of arts, science, technology, engineering, and mathematics.
The holiday activity clubs, developed by ECC and Active Essex, aim to encourage children, to be physically active and socially connected while supporting parents who are seeking to return to work over the coming weeks by providing some safe and localised childcare options.
Cllr McKinlay said: “We are mindful of the lost education that children have experienced over the past few months and studies show that children who attend extra and co-curricular clubs – whether that is after school or at weekends – tend to have higher confidence, greater sense of wellbeing and belonging, better social skills, improved team work experience – all of which will be vital in helping children catch up after lockdown.
“Our focus is very much on supporting and nurturing these elements and this summer camp programme is the cornerstone of the work we are doing in this area.”