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One-day holiday club

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Location Tried: Any or All Locations
Estimated costs: Inexpensive
Suggested frequency: One-Off
Hosted by: Church
Activity: Community
Author: sandygunn
Published: 22/04/2015


'In-service day (INSET Day) holiday clubs' or 'One-day holiday clubs' started in 1994 with Aberfeldy Parish Church.  Holiday club days have since spread throughout Perthshire and onto other parts of Scotland.

One day holiday clubs could be run by churches, or groups of churches who are already running week long holiday clubs.  There are similarities between the two types of club, but they are not identical. Here are some suggestions and pointers for running a one day Holiday Club.

What do we mean by an in-service day holiday club?
Scottish schools have 5 days each academic year when the teaching staff are working, but the pupils are not in attendance; these are 'In-service Training Days' or INSET Days.  One of these five days is usually the first day back from the school Holidays in August the other four days are spread throughout the year at the discretion of each local council, often attached to mid-term weekends, the start of other terms or occasionally an isolated pair of days. An 'In-service day holiday club' is offered on these days for the duration of the normal school day (e.g. 9am to 3.30 pm), or for as long as the team are able to offer, while maintaining quality and still benefitting families.

Where does the team come from?

Any teachers who would normally volunteer for a summer holiday club team are at work that day – unless they work at an Independent School with different work patterns – so who else could join the team?

  • Retired members of the congregation (who might have been called on to look after their own grandchildren anyway.)

  • Parents of school age children.

  • People who work part-time may be free on the day of your club, but are not usually able to offer the continuity to help at a summer holiday club.

  • Parents and others who are not on holiday that week.

  • Senior pupils who are off school and are happy to be involved in the holiday club team, over the summer.

  • S1/2 pupils who don’t want to stop coming to holiday clubs (assuming that your programme is just planned for Primary children.)

  • Some volunteers may only be available over lunchtime but they would give the rest of the team opportunity have a break.

  • Many people, with adequate notice, are able to arrange their shifts or take a flexi day off.

What does the programme look like?

  1. Typically all the features of a summer holiday club may be present, but the balance may well be different.  

  2. Teaching material and themes for the year or for a day can be found from many sources. A number of Scripture Union (SU) holiday club materials now have follow up books intended for weekly use, but suitable for termly events when two or three sessions can be covered. For example: 'Rocky Road' follows Moses out of Egypt after 'Pyramid Rock' led Joseph in. 'Dress Rehearsal' uses some of the “must know stories” that were not part of the 'Showstoppers' material. Other stand-alone material in SU’s 'Eyelevel' series may be appropriate such as 'Streetwise' (the houses that Jesus visited in Luke’s Gospel) or 'Awesome' (Miracles from John’s gospel).

  3. More time is available for crafts, so they may well need to be more challenging for the children. More intensive crafts may be more expensive than the 10-15 minute crafts used in the summer. Companies such as 'Baker Ross' provide wooden, glass, cardboard or metal crafts, all of which give good results (provided that children are encouraged and directed to slow down and plan their activity.)

  4. Crafts can make for good starting points to the day, as children help to decorate a frieze or make, or decorate, on arrival name badges, with names in large letters. It has been found that good quality crafts, can be a helpful investment as parents appreciate them more.

  5. Children will arrive with their packed lunch, and will be wearing more layers than a July or August holiday club. There needs to be careful thought to the organisation and storage of their personal items. We have found this is best done in primary school class groups. Parents should  be responsible for providing lunch and its temperature control, as would be the case in schools (this avoids complications of storage and catering for allergies).

  6. Games and other physical activities are needed to burn off excess energy.

  7. A break, with a snack will be needed to regain energy.  Typically a team would provide this mid-morning and mid-afternoon, possibly with children having made or prepared the snack related to the teaching theme. 

  8. The lunch break offers an opportunity for down time for the team, providing a change of pace in the programme.  Typically tables are set up for lunch, followed by a DVD (e.g. 30 minute Veggietales story) with chairs for the children to sit on (even if they are normally on the floor). This reduces the supervision role for the limited number of team or 'lunchtime volunteers.'

  9. Children do tire as the afternoon wears on so expect to do most of the fresh teaching in the morning with quizzes, games and crafts in the afternoon. A story telling, or drawing activity may be enough for some children, while other (older) pupils still need energetic games. That said, be careful not to offer too many options or choices, as they still need structure and direction.

  10. Bringing the majority of people back together for a period before the end of the day, allows a review of the teaching, and enables other team members to get started on clearing up the craft and other areas.

How do we promote these days?
Essentially the same way that you promote and publicise your summer club.

  • You could ask local primary schools to hand out forms? Would they accept forms back e.g. in a “post-box” you provide for the school office?

  • A new venture like this can an opportunity to visit homes and introduce yourself to parents , whilst distributing forms.  This limits your contacts to those you already know, but you could offer them more forms for their friends.

  • Do you need to set a cap on numbers? How will the bookings system reflect fairness in that case? (ideally you will want to know how many children are coming before the start of the club.)

How do we pay for these days? 

  • This can operate the same as a Summer Holiday club, although the budget will need to reflect that the crafts/materials used may be more expensive.

  • A donations box may be appropriate and even be asked for by parents, if they are dropping off and collecting their children.

Other things to consider:

  1. Could you provide lunch for the team? Will they bring their own, or return home?  Be sure that everyone knows the plan in advance.

  2. A hot chocolate, or coffee together after each day seems to be well received.


Making contact with non-churched, as well as churched children and young young people on inservice days. This could be seen as a service to the community, as parents will not need childcare.
To present authentic Christian faith in word and deed. Children are able to explore and respond best when a good ratio of adult supervision is present. (This would be the primary aim for any church holiday club, but is worth re-stating this as our primary aim, rather than offering a child care service.)
To keep an ongoing contact with children and families from summer to summer.
To provide a service for the local community.
To develop and train team members throughout the year.
To allow for greater breadth and depth of the material covered.


Children learn biblical truths.  Parents are supported and children enjoy themselves.

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