EDUCATION minister Elizabeth Truss is about to announce measures that will encourage schools to open for the whole of the working day in a bid to solve Britain’s childcare crisis.
“It’s crazy we have so many schools in this country that are open 9am-3pm and then closed afterwards, when they have brilliant facilities and many parents need to work longer than 9am-3pm,” the Conservative MP told a City audience this afternoon.
As a result she believes schools should become bases for childcare services.
“We’re doing work to enable schools to offer more of those services. There’s some very good examples of schools at the moment that offer 8am-6pm provision, either using teaching staff, teaching assistants, [or] local nursery staff. Schools that do it often generate extra revenue and provide a service that parents want.”
“We’re hoping to have new proposals out shortly, particularly about school-based childcare. I think that's a big part of the solution.”
Truss, who became a minister in September 2012, is considered to be a rising star of the Tory party and has been tasked with bringing down the cost of childcare.
But earlier this month Nick Clegg thwarted her proposal to increase the ratio of children that can be looked after by each childminder. This was a key part of her plan to boost competition and increase both standards and wages within the sector.
Her comments were made at a meeting of Citymothers, a fast-growing organisation that offers peer support to women attempting to balance their careers with a family life. It aims to help members maintain their career trajectory during and after maternity leave.