Families in north Oxfordshire will once again be able to book children, aged five to eleven years old, onto council-run school holiday hubs this summer. The popular sessions in Banbury, Bicester and Kidlington, have been running for ten years but were forced to take a break in 2020 due to COVID-19.
Work was completed earlier this year to allow the hubs to safely restart over Easter for families facing financial hardship, providing no-cost childcare for pupils receiving free school meals in Cherwell. These are now being expanded to include traditional, bookable places for fee-paying families.
More than half of the 300 daily places will be given free of charge to children entitled to free school meals, thanks to a grant provided by Oxfordshire County Council’s holiday activity funding. These places are bookable through individual schools and include a nutritious, freshly made lunch alongside healthy fruit and yoghurt-based snacks.
The hubs are being expanded this year and will be available in six different locations across Cherwell. The traditional sites at the North Oxfordshire Academy in Banbury, Warriner School in Bloxham and The Cooper School in Bicester will run alongside sessions at Spiceball Leisure Centre, Kidlington and Gosford Leisure Centre and Bicester Leisure Centre.
The activities start on Monday 26 July and will run throughout the school summer holidays until Friday 27 August. Fee-paying places are available at £15.60 for a short day (8.45am – 3.00pm) or £19.80 for a longer session (8.45am – 5.00pm).
Bookings for the sessions are now live and can be made at cherwell.gov.uk/holidayactivities or by calling 01295 221803.
Lunches can also be provided for an extra £5 per day and must be booked a week in advance. This can be done either online or by calling the sport and leisure team.
Councillor Phil Chapman, Lead Member for Leisure and Sport at Cherwell District Council, said: “The school holidays can be a challenging time for families trying to juggle work commitments with childcare provision. Our holiday hubs are now available to all families in Cherwell, providing fun, active sessions for children to enjoy over the six-week break.”
Councillor Liz Brighouse, Cabinet Member for Children, Education and Youth Services at Oxfordshire County Council, said: “We are proud to be working in partnership with Cherwell District Council to support local families. We look forward to expanding programmes like these across the county to maximise children’s engagement with projects supporting their physical and mental wellbeing.”