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This summer the Children’s Minister Vicky Ford visited the summer holiday club at St William’s Primary School in Thorpe St Andrew, Norwich. This valuable initiative is part of a scheme that gives children from vulnerable or low-income families the chance to take part in a range of summer holiday activities and access healthy food.
The holiday clubs, run by both Premier Education and St William’s Primary School, have a large number of places being funded as part of the Big Norfolk Holiday Fun Scheme, known nationally as the Holiday Activities and Food (HAF) programme. Run in partnership by Norfolk County Council and Active Norfolk the scheme funds 50,000 holiday club places and is aimed mainly at children who would get free school meals during term time.
The minister met children taking part in forest school activities which included picking raspberries in the school allotment. She was shown a new wildlife garden before joining in a game of kick rounders led by Premier Education’s expert coaches.
The last 18 months have been highly disruptive for primary school children – at a key stage of their personal development. Summer clubs provide the opportunity to catch up on missed social interactions with other children and adults in a fun yet educational setting. This is important as it plays a role in their ongoing personal development and has a real positive impact particularly on vulnerable children as they prepare for the new school year.
Strategic lead for Active Norfolk, Steven Hulme, also commented, “In a difficult year for children who have faced interruptions and challenges to their development the Holiday Activity and Food Programme is vital in providing children with opportunities to connect again, socialise, eat well, learn and be active. Coordinating a programme of this scale in a short space of time has been a real challenge and we have relied on the expertise and experience of activity providers like Premier Education.”
Kevin Holland, Head of Child Journey at Premier Education, agrees that summer activities, independent of their parents or family unit, underpins a successful school year for primary-aged children.
Kevin explains, “Before the pandemic, many children had more autonomy to build their own skills to overcome barriers, show where they can and can’t be resilient. From the conversations I’ve had with teachers, schools have really struggled with that following lockdown. Young children have gotten used to an adult stepping in when faced with barriers of all kinds, whereas those children would have started to develop the skills to work through things themselves.
“This all relates to a child’s intrinsic level of resilience and their self-confidence. That’s an important part of the learning journey we take young people through at Premier Education clubs and a huge number of schools work with young children over the holidays to start embedding that. We know that physical activity and play, as well as outside and exploratory learning is crucial to help children understand how they deal with barriers, their emotions and other children, as well as grow an awareness of how they learn and what best suits them.”