Agenda item

Coventry Holiday Activities and Food Programme

Briefing Note of the Director of Education and Skills


The Board considered a Briefing Note and video presentation of the Director of Education and Skills which provided an update on the Coventry Holiday Activities and Food Programme.


The Holiday Activities and Food programme is a national initiative, aimed at addressing holiday inequalities through a blend of free positive activities and experiences coupled with health food and support to families.


Coventry City Council receives an annual Department for Education grant (for 2023/24 with a further £100,000 Coventry Building Society investment) and leads a multi-agency partnership to deliver activities in the Easter, Summer and Christmas school holidays.


The core eligibility criteria are school-age children (reception to year 11 inclusive) on benefits-related free school meals. Local Authority areas have discretion to broaden eligibility and Coventry have extended this to: child in need, child protection plan, child looked after and children assessed (through an early help assessment) to be in financial hardship or part of the Ukrainian Family Scheme (Professionals can refer appropriate children).


The national roll-out of HAF took place in 2021, with the first Coventry face-to-face delivery taking place in the 2021 summer holiday. HAF funding is committed until 31 March 2025, with Christmas 2024 currently being the last funded holiday. Coventry City Council is part of the national HAF network and there is a key focus on building the case for funding to be continued post-2025 in the context of increasing needs.


Councillor Dr K Sandhu (Cabinet Member for Education and Skills) began by highlighting the great achievements of the programme to deliver such a successful and wide-ranging set of activities for over 4000 children in 2023. Alongside being an exemplifier of partnership working, the programme has been able to offer opportunities to children with a wide range of different needs. Additionally, support from sponsors such as Coventry Building Society has been greatly beneficial in building confidence and support for families. She concluded by stating that these achievements speak to a wider impact than just food and activities, and thanked officers for all their hard work in delivering the program.


The Board questioned Officers and received responses on a number of matters relating to the HAF programme:


·  The 2024 programme of events and its circulation to the Coventry Board of School Governors.

·  Day trips for children and insurance policies.

·  Opportunities for children and families to pay to be part of the programme if they don’t qualify.

·  The relationship between HAF and the Household Support Fund – the end of the Household Support Fund, current provision for vouchers for free school meals, and a current campaign underway to secure government funding for both programmes by the Cabinet Member for Education and Skills.

·  HAF being a core service that links hard to reach families to other council services.

·  Core eligibility criteria and its expansion to newly arrived families.

·  Expanding provision for children to festivals and cultural events.

·  Cooperation with other Local Authorities at a regional and national level.

·  The special school pilot program and ensuring that all schools sign up.


Arising from the briefing note, video presentation, comments from the Cabinet Member, and questions to officers, the Board shared their thanks to officers and the Cabinet Member in successfully delivering the programme so far.


RESOLVED that the Board:


1.  Notes the information in the report about the Coventry Holiday Activities and Food (HAF) programme.


2.  Promotes the Coventry HAF programme and enables the programme to continue to develop and to contribute to the national HAF Framework case for continued funding post March 2025.


3.  Thank officers and the Cabinet Member for Education and Skills for their delivery of the Holiday Activities and Food (HAF) Programme.


4.  Formally supports the campaign of the Cabinet Member for Education and Skills to secure government funding for the Holiday Activities and Food (HAF) Programme and Household Support Fund beyond the committed end date of 31 March 2025.

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