Summer school holidays are here and with it come days of adventure and freedom for kids – and headaches for parents who need to keep their kids occupied on a tight budget.
The pandemic means many parents cannot get to their usual summer clubs due to the closure, and grandparents and other relatives may not be as available as they usually are.
Working parents all need affordable childcare and supportive employers. Frances O’Grady, general secretary of the Trade Union Congress (TUC), said child care has been more difficult to obtain during the pandemic.
The Government has announced £220m in funding for councils to provide holiday activities and healthy food through the Holiday Activities and Food Programme, to support disadvantaged children receiving free school meals.
Oxford City Council, for example, funds community groups to offer arts and crafts and dance workshops, while Cheshire East will run workshops on technology.
And there are other options that won’t break the bank so everyone can have a good vacation…
Although the childcare voucher system closed to new applicants in 2018, hundreds of thousands of families still use it to pay for childcare. Since the beginning of the epidemic, some have raised large sums.
It is worth considering summer vacation clubs as they can be used for payment. The provider must be registered with Ofsted.
The FunTech Computer School accepts them. It has holiday clubs in London, and virtual courses can be taken anywhere.
PGL Outdoor Adventure accepts partial or full payment vouchers for excursions – albeit not for school, group or family vacations. Its courses run from three days to entire weeks, and include baking options, video games, and sports.
Ultimate Activity Camps, which has 39 locations mostly in the south, accepts vouchers, as do Active Camps in south London.
Cinemas and theaters
Many movie theaters offer cheap tickets to select family movies. At Odeon Kids, he works every day during school holidays, and adults pay children’s ticket prices. The Vue chain runs a similar scheme called Mini Mornings, again every day on the school holidays, with both adults and children accepted from £2.49.
In London, the annual promotion for free children’s theater tickets, Kids Week, runs throughout August this year, with deals for adults and children starting at £12.50. For select shows, child attends free when accompanied by a full price paying adult, with two additional two half price children’s tickets – all tickets will be offered at half price, but it’s the same deal for what you pay.
At the time of writing, adult as well as kids ticket deals are included billionaire boy At Garrick’s Theater from £19.50 and musical phantom of the opera At Her Majesty’s Theatre, from £30.
Elsewhere, the Royal Shakespeare Company, Stratford-upon-Avon, for example, offers half-price tickets for up to four family members under 18 with each full-price adult.
For some of the UK’s biggest attractions, including Legoland, Alton Towers and Thorpe Park, Kellogg’s offers its annual package of cereal and snacks. Clip the voucher, present it upon entry or book online, and get one adult free when you purchase a full-price child or adult ticket. Be aware that the gate price can sometimes be much higher than the direct online price. For example, at Alton Towers, a day ticket costs £34 pre-booked online, while the typical gate price is £53. Do the math to make sure you have good savings.
The National Rail two-for-one deal offers a free second attraction ticket if you’re traveling by train. The scheme has a long list of attractions including Alton Towers, Legoland, Chessington and Thorpe Park.
There are many schemes that offer discounts for an upfront fee. LittleBird costs £1 for a month’s trial, then £3.49 a month, and you can cancel at any time. It claims to offer up to 50% off admission to several major attractions.
They train sports
Many councils offer free cycling lessons for different abilities to children and entire families, as well as lessons in different environments such as busy city streets or quiet local roads.
If you live in London, you may be able to book through the Cycle Confident website – they organize lessons for several boards.
The Lawn Tennis Association (LTA) runs thousands of free events, from training to competition.
Junior Parkruns run across the country with 2km races free of charge, although pre-registration is recommended.
The great outdoors
The Get Creative Outdoors campaign, which includes a number of art organizations, runs through September. Their website lists free or low-cost events across the country. These range from a beach sculpture festival in Swansea, to storytelling in the woods in Bristol.
The National Trust – annual membership is £126 for a family of two adults – has ‘Get ready and Go’ cards in many places that have different activities that children can participate in during their trip.
The Woodland Trust, the campaign group that plants millions of trees each year, lists a series of activities in locations across the UK. These include a historic walk through the Fingle Woods in Devon to the Burntollet Wood Wildlife Trail in Derry.
This is one of those areas where coupon code and discount deal sites – like Martin Lewis’ MoneySavingExpert – come into their own. Subscribe to the likes of VoucherCodes, vouchercloud, hotukdeals, MyVoucherCodes and Groupon and you will find plenty of offers for restaurant chains and takeaway apps. At the time of writing, VoucherCodes was offering 30% off orders over £25 at Domino’s Pizza, while vouchercloud was promoting two-for-one on appetizers, main courses and desserts at Prezzo.
The family-oriented Giraffe series pops up a lot. Includes breakfasts for kids for £1 until 12pm with no voucher required – much cheaper than many of its competitors.