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The Holiday Activities and Food (HAF) Programme is vital to enabling schools to continue providing essential support to pupils and their families outside of term time. The programme, which is funded by the Department for Education, provides enriching opportunities and activities to support disadvantaged pupils during the school holidays.
As a Trust, we know that children are in the best place to learn when they are happy, healthy and well supported. A key part of this is ensuring, to the very best of our abilities, that their environments outside of the classroom are also facilitating this aim.
Family support is of paramount importance to our Trust. Many of our schools have created family support rooms for any parent or carer to utilise. Over the school holidays, and especially in the six or seven weeks off during the summer, not having access to the support of schools can be detrimental to parents and carers who may otherwise feel as if they have no where else to turn.
Through the HAF programme, we are able to provide essential support to families who may be struggling to make ends meet, provide adequate childcare or to make healthy lifestyle choices for their children.
The programme provides parents with a point of contact during holiday periods that is vital for them accessing support and services.
Maximising the impact
To maximise the impact of the HAF programme, we would encourage schools to fully consider the needs of the distinct communities in which they serve and then tailor the support available to these needs. Different aspects of the HAF programme will be more impactful for certain communities than others.
For example, families based in large cities may struggle to provide their children with access to safe green spaces to exercise and enjoy fresh air. Schools can utilise the HAF programme to offer parents free outdoor and safe activities that will support their child’s physical and mental health. This, however, would be less of a focus area for schools in rural locations, who may instead need support with helping their child socialise during the holidays.
Additionally, utilising community involvement in creating these HAF opportunities can help encourage engagement in the programme, while also supporting your local community. Last Christmas, we partnered with a range of local businesses that enabled us to provide families with healthy and locally sourced produce which has encouraged them to think more widely about the food they eat.
At the Learning Academy Partnership, we unreservedly believe that a school should be at the very heart of its community and a part of that is supporting parents in ensuring their child gets the very best start to life.
The HAF programme has helped our schools support children and their families to eat more healthily, be more active over the school holidays, have a great knowledge of health and nutrition and be more engaged with school and other local services. This is alongside providing activities to help parents/carers bond with their children and foster a healthy relationship.
Ensuring pupils time off from school is happy and fulfilling is crucial to their wellbeing, and this vital support helps our pupils returns from the holidays in the best position to learn and flourish.