If you are thinking of starting wraparound childcare in your school, how can you gather reliable feedback from parents on whether the club will be well enough attended to ensure it is financially viable?
Read on for some key insights based on our experience of working with schools starting their own provision.
Creating a reliable survey to assess demand for wraparound care can be a tough process. Schools will often use a survey to “put the feelers out” on levels of demand, particularly if they have received persistent requests for onsite childcare from a vocal group of parents.
On the surface this looks like a sensible approach, as schools can assess demand before committing too much time and resource to thinking about how the club might work. After all, there’s no need to do anything if the demand is too low to make the club viable.
But what if the results suggest ample demand to make the club work?
Beware overly optimistic results, and responses
We have worked with countless schools to help them survey parents, and have found that on the whole, most survey results come back with exaggerated attendance levels. The average attendances are frequently higher than actually materialise once the clubs first opens. That’s not to say that the club cannot grow to be very successful, or that sometimes, it is immediately busier than the survey suggested. However, treat the responses with a healthy dose of caution.
Why do parents not respond accurately?
We have found that parents will often overestimate their usage at the outset, for a variety of potential reasons:
By indicating they will use the club more than they intend, they hope to encourage the school to get it up and running.
Parents often have existing childcare arrangements, which may have notice periods. These notice periods can lead to a lag in bookings materialising at the outset.
Changes in parent circumstances between the survey and the club opening.
The “wait & see” factor: parents will often wait until the club is up & running before committing, even though they have indicated they need an immediate start.
Do the thinking first, before surveying the parents
Although it may seem counterintuitive, its better to do the thinking on how the club will work before surveying the parents. A generalised survey will not produce reliable results; however, if you are explicit about what the club will cost, and what the offer will be (in regard to food, opening hours, an outline of activities etc), then you are much more likely to get accurate responses, on which you can make your decision of whether or not to start a club.
It really is worth working through what the skeleton of the club will look like before going out to parents. If you need some help thinking this through, we’d be very happy to help you – do get in touch.
So, how do you create a survey that mitigates these risks and produces results that are as valid as possible?
6 key things to include in your survey
Take your time to get the survey right
Ask focussed questions
Don’t ask “Do you plan on using the club?” Instead, ask:
“Please specify on which days will you need a regular booking”, or
“How many days a week are you likely to require ad-hoc childcare?”
The more focussed your questions, the more precise your results will be.
Be specific about what you’re providing, and what you’re not
Providing before & afterschool childcare is different from offering extracurricular activities, and it is important to distinguish between the two. We would always recommend charging for the full session as a way of achieving this – for more on this important point see our blog post on pricing.
Tell parents what it will cost from the start
At the top of your survey, write a brief outline of the club, tell the parents exactly what the club will cost, and that they should answer the survey with the prices (and other details, such as opening times) in mind. If you need help on thinking about setting your fees, see our pricing blog.
Compare your results to industry averages
You can expect around 17.5% of your school roll to use your service, with parents booking (on average) 2.2 afterschool sessions a week, with breakfast club attracting around 60% of afterschool bookings.
Check your survey results against these typical figures:
|Expected childcare roll
|Expected daily attendance
Secure a deposit
If you have received a positive response, and the numbers look good, the last thing to do is to ask the parents for a deposit to secure their place. Once parents have to pay a deposit, this will often separate those serious about booking, and those not.
So, you’ve sent your survey, and the responses are positive. You feel confident that the club will be a success – now just the small matter of setting it up! There is a myriad of tasks to complete to ensure your club is set up correctly, and runs smoothly once open.
But – why reinvent the wheel?! Download our free start up to-do list to ensure you have everything covered.
Good luck – please do drop us a line if you’d like to discuss any aspect of your care, we’d be delighted to hear from you.
Are you a school that is running (or thinking of starting) your own Breakfast & Afterschool club?
We can help, whether that is just an informal chat, or to
discuss our service. Click here to get in touch.
About Childcare Bookings
Childcare Bookings provide our school partners with a fully outsourced booking, payment and admin service, together with an online childcare booking system that is taking bookings for you 24/7 – and even your own dedicated administrator to support parents.
In addition, we provide an Operations Pack, including template T’s & C’s, a best-practice Club Operations Manual, policies and childcare-specific forms and procedures.
Why not get in touch to see if we can help you?
Download our free new club start up to-do list
About the Author
Dan McCaffrey is the Managing Director of Childcare Bookings for Schools, the only outsourced payment, bookings and administration service for school-run childcare in the UK. A former primary teacher, he is also the owner of Pioneer Childcare, the 5th largest wraparound provider in the country, where he learned (the hard way!) everything he shares in these blogs. Dan lives in Sussex with his family.
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