Providing structured support inside the organisation for staff with caring responsibilities: Establishing a Holiday Child care Scheme

Problem (evidence)

Staff found it challenging to combine their caring responsibilities with their professional activities during periods of school holidays (half term break, Easter and summer breaks) that do not coincide with University breaks. Often the burden of caring responsibilities is gendered, falling more on women rather than men.


To establish a holiday scheme to support staff with caring responsibilities during holidays (half term beaks, Summer and Easter when schools are closed and the University is not).


  • Personnel to discuss with potential providers, plan and make arrangements
  • One or more willing providers to create and offer a programme
  • Resources/budget to be allocated towards the Holiday Scheme 
  • Liaising with different services in the organisation to develop and embed a holiday scheme; e.g. nursery, sports clubs and local organisations etc.
  • Clear guidelines regarding who is eligible to use the services and how to register
  • Development of related website

Brief outcomes

Support for academics with childcare responsibilities.

Key area

Work and personal life integration

Type of action

Availability of supports/resources


University of Warwick
Higher education institution

Action level of implementation

Researchers/professors and technical and administrative staff


  • The scheme was initiated after staff consultations about the challenges they faced as parents with school aged children where there are fewer options available compared with for pre-school children (where nannies, childminders, or nurseries that operate in school holidays are available).
  • The University nursery had capacity in summer and Easter holidays and the scheme was started with a pilot scheme in the summer and Easter holidays
  • The pilot proved so successful that it was extended to half term breaks, which parents find the most difficult (as school half terms take place during the university’s term time when academics have teaching responsibilities).
  • The University supported this initiative and it was developed in conjunction with the Nursery and the Delivery Assurance team. Additional nursery helpers were recruited to support the play schemes. The nursery administrator supports the organisation of the play scheme.
  • The Holiday Scheme is open to school children aged 5–14 years, who may be children of University staff and students, members of partner organisations on campus, workers at the University of Warwick Science Park, or other children attending local schools in Coventry and Warwickshire.
  • The aim of the Holiday Scheme is to offer an inspiring range of educational, cultural and sporting activities to challenge, entertain, and develop children’s knowledge and skills and utilise the fantastic resources available on campus.
  • The diverse programme contains a balance of physical and creative/intellectual activities every day, as well as plenty of time for both structured, instructor-led sessions and free play. The programme includes a wide range of experiences: environment/nature-related activities outdoors; a range of sports and games (including coach-led sessions such as tennis, cardio fitness etc.); fun academic related sessions; performance/theatre/visual arts workshops; dance and music workshops; art, design and crafts; language sessions; and much more. (you can visit the Holiday Scheme website here:


Participation in the holiday schemes is expensive (since it is run by well-paid trained staff). There are discounts for university members who book early and for those who have more than one child participating. 

Identifying rooms at the organisation to support these activities can be challenging if there are events such as conferences taking place at the same time.

Tips/strategies – Lessons learnt

To develop such a scheme it is helpful to already have in place nursery or other child care provision within the organisation which can support the planning and implementation of such a service (including advice on operating standards).

Ensure collaboration of different stakeholders within the university community if they are available (Nursery, sports center etc.) to establish an activity that will be embedded and be sustainable.

Discuss with institution leadership team about subsiding the scheme.

More detailed Outcomes/Impact

More than 1500 children have attended up to date. The continued attendance levels (how many places and are they all filled) show that it is valued by families.

Individuals have the option to use these play schemes within the institution and they feel that the institution is supportive of their childcare duties.

Change of university culture to better reflect the needs of academics with childcare responsibilities.