Kelly to offer 'dawn-to-dusk' care for pupils

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Ruth Kelly, the Secretary of State for Education, will reveal a £680m package tomorrow that offers "dawn-to-dusk" care for all schoolchildren under the age of 14.

Children will be able to arrive early at school and stay late for extra-curricular activities including language clubs, indoor rock climbing and first-aid courses, as well as music, drama and arts events. Ms Kelly hopes the extra time will become known as "Kelly hours" - just as days earmarked for teacher training are called "Baker days", after the former education secretary Lord Baker.

The so-called "extended schools" programme is designed to appeal to working parents who, over the next five years, will be able to drop children off at school before work and not have to pick them up until 6pm. The scheme will be funded with £680m of government money by 2008.

Primary and secondary schools will offer "breakfast clubs" and a range of after-school activities. They will be supervised by volunteers or paid private companies. Teachers will not be ordered to take part, officials said.

A prospectus for the scheme will be sent to schools and local councils to give advice on organising activities. Schools are free to choose what services are offered.

Writing in the document, Ms Kelly said: "Children will be better placed to achieve their full potential if they are in childcare that allows them to complete their homework, keep fit and healthy and have fun." A senior Department of Education source said: "The days of schools opening 9am to 3pm are over."

Edward Davey, the Liberal Democrat education spokesman, said: "These plans sound promising but Ruth Kelly will need to answer questions on whether this is new money."

Tony Blair has said the government's plans for opening schools from 8am to 6pm would end the phenomenon of "latch-key kids" arriving home to empty houses after school has finished.

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