• 11 May 2020 8:50 PM | Anonymous

    Many of you will have heard the dreadfully sad news that Steve Franks recently passed over.

    Our thoughts are with his family and loved ones at this time.

    As CEO of Water Babies Steve was a driving force in the success of the business . Steve was a founding member of the CAA, during which time he very much helped to get things off the ground and to set a direction of travel for our association. Including the CAA independent accreditation, he also led the subcommittee to recruit business partners to the CAA and remained an advisor to the main board.

    Steve's drive in getting things done will be a loss to all he was involved with.

    His overarching care for the welfare of our nation’s children was further evidenced in his setting up the Children's First Alliance in the quest for a champion for children / a first minister for children within government. The CAA have been actively supporting this campaign with many of you having written to your local MPs to garner support.

    Hopefully this great work will be carried on and in time Steve's vision will be achieved. The CAA will continue its work towards this goal.

    Mike Dodd

    Chairman, CAA

  • 19 Mar 2020 10:17 PM | Anonymous

    These are dark and unprecedented times for a lot of people and especially providers in the kid’s activities sector.

    The keep calm and carry on stage is over and we’re into the social distancing stage, shortly to move into lock down, which means for the vast majority of providers many classes, holiday clubs and schools work has had to be put off.

    At this time, we have to be selfless and think of minimising the death rates and the wider population because although it affects us greatly, it’s the elderly and people with underlying conditions that it’ll affect most and we shouldn’t be blasé about this as it could be our loved ones it impacts, so this stage is all about limiting the number of deaths.

    In this respect, please do heed the advice of Government, Public Health England and the NHS and take it seriously please as we all have a responsibility to protect one another in difficult and challenging times.

    A secondary, but very important factor for our members, is the businesses in the sector, the staff employed by them and the customers they serve.

    Kieran from Stryde Accountants, who look after a lot of providers in the sector has helpfully put together a bit of advice around the government measures in place to help businesses that may be relevant:

    The government is still yet to announce the details of many initiatives, but here are the headlines:

    1) All business rates are reduced to nil for 12 months

    2) If your properties rateable value is 51,000 or less you may also be entitled to a grant

    3) 10,000 grants for up to 700,000 small businesses

    4) Loans of up to £5m for small and medium businesses (details here:

    The government has promised these will be in place by the start of next week.

    Already confirmed:

    Statutory sick pay paid from day 1 and up to 2 weeks for those choosing to self-isolate. - Details are here:

    Employment allowance raised to £4k so the first £4k of employers national insurance is reduced for small businesses:

    We’ll get more details on these in the coming days but, use these benefits, grants and loans if you require them to keep you going through these lean months, ready to bounce back when the social restrictions are lifted.

    In the meantime, there’s been a lot of innovation in the sector with people delivering online, either free as a measure of good-will, to keep supply going for customers who’ve already paid and indeed some businesses are charging customers for these services where possible to keep some revenue flowing in.

    The CAA released a previous blog below which had some good ideas and advice to help to mitigate your losses over this time and keeping cashflow coming in.

    It’s good to see people reacting and being creative and innovative in this area using online digital platforms to engage with customers, which will stand them in good stead when the crisis is over.

    Morton Michel, who are a major insurer in the sector will be issuing guidance shortly on adapting your services online as there will be some sensible precautions to take into account when running your classes digitally. Morton Michel’s existing policyholders have been sent an email regarding insurance and the Covid 19 outbreak. If you have not received a copy there is further details on their website.

    They’ve said they’re experiencing unbelievable levels of calls, emails, social media messages, which is impacting turnaround but bear with them as they’re doing all they can during this horrible time.

    Think Smart, who provide the CRM systems for a lot of the sector are developing tools to link their system through to these online tools like Zoom too as far as I understand.

    The team at What's On 4 Kids will also put your info about your digital activities and/or virtual classes online, in newsletters and on their social media channels.  This can be anything such as downloadables/printables, videos, apps or links to schedules and guides of how to take part in virtual classes.   Just contact them at

    Plus What's On 4 Kids are currently updating their search so you can add a new link to your classes pages that goes directly to your digital content PLUS parents can search specifically for class pages with digital activities so they can continue to enjoy activities at home AND find new ones.  This is expected to be live by 20th March and if you need any more information about this then please contact What's On 4 Kids on

    It’s a very small silver lining, but some businesses are using the time they may have available to do some things they’ve been meaning to do for ages like product development, planning, getting ready for all the marketing they’ll need to do when or if they’re able, just to spend more time with their family and loved ones, in line with social distancing guidelines of course.

    Keep monitoring the situation for any government advice that supersedes anything written in this and previous updates as this is such a fast-moving area that it’s very hard to keep up to date.

    Keep engaging with the rest of the sector and your membership group - the Childrens’ Activities Association - as nearly everyone is in the same boat and we can support and advise each other through various methods and social media forums. We understand what you’re feeling, as most of us work in the sector too, it’s deeply affecting us, so you have our sympathy.

    Rest assured we’ll be trying to think of ways to recover from this crisis, will try and engage with government where appropriate.  If anyone wants to speak to me directly to have a short crisis management call, I’m offering that as a service to the sector to chat with them and see if anything I can say will help at all now or when it all settles down again. So just private message me on Facebook, @Sport_Mark on Twitter, or via my website as if I can help or just offer some sympathy, I’m happy to talk.

    The main message is that parents, schools, nurseries and most importantly kids, needed your services before and will need your services more than ever when this crisis is over. So now it’s about riding out this storm, which won’t be easy but previous generations have gone through a lot worse. It’s time for this generation to show their strength and courage in adversity in these unprecedented and challenging times.

    Please stay safe and if anyone wants to have a chat about managing this crisis, I’m offering this service out to people who want to get in touch, as obviously I’ve been doing this for all of my clients.

    Kind regards

    Mark Rasche

    Director, Sport & Kids Activity Professionals & Childrens’ Activities Association Deputy Chair

  • 16 Mar 2020 5:25 PM | Anonymous

    Clearly the events of the past few weeks and the anticipation of what’s to come is creating a lot of anxiety in the Children’s Activities sector. There has been an overload of content on how businesses should react, but as the situation is changing daily, we would advise to be careful on what advice you are taking, and where possible only visit government websites for the latest recommendations. We would advise to regularly check the below websites, that have the most up to date content on how businesses should respond.

    Coronavirus overview:

    UK Government

    Coronavirus latest information and advice


    Coronavirus advice for employers and employees:

    Federation of Small Businesses

    Advice to small businesses and FSB members about the novel coronavirus COVID-19

    Ideas and Suggestion on how to operate through the coronavirus COVID-19 outbreak from the CAA

    Cash flow challenge or opportunity
    By Kieran James, Stryde

    In every challenge there is also opportunity, and we at the CAA believe that there are opportunities for businesses to deliver their outstanding services in a new and innovative way to their clients. Rarely is there an opportunity that invites customers to change their own habits to such a degree. Not all businesses involving children's activities operate in the same way, but the principles below should be transferable to almost any business anywhere:

    1. Remember, if self-isolation happens parents/carers will be looking for ways to entertain children and a lot will look for educational routes.
    2. Focus on the problem you are trying to solve and look for innovative ways to solve the problem if your normal service is not possible (for example, if you deliver dance classes, create and sell fun dance videos for parents or a dance exercise workbook they can follow)
    3. Be decisive with your time; remember, the single biggest indicator of profitability on pay per delegate courses is ‘number of delegates per class’. Look to merge workshops/classes together to ensure the sessions you do run provide maximum profitability.
    4. Plan for staff/subcontractor self-isolation: connect with similar businesses for sharing resource and offering work to those who have the skillset to support in your field
    5. Cut costs: review your bank account for the last 3 months and look for any non-essential spending. Things like unused software subscriptions are a common ‘waste’ in small businesses.
    6. Get flexible with customers; flight operators are offering transferable flights to ensure travellers continue to book. If possible, use the same principles to allow carry forward attendance. You’ll still feel this at some point, but it can even out any potential cash flow burden.
    7. Limit refunds; unless your policies prevent you, look to offer overpayments as credits against future classes.
    8. Make sure your customers can pay online
    9. Work out your burn rate, the amount you need as an absolute minimum to cover all business costs (and personal if you rely on the business for this)
    10. If you plan ahead and have periods where you’re not going to be able to pay all your costs, look at funding options that could bridge the gap.
    11. Explore purchasing cash flow forecasting software to help plan ahead

    Delivering Value Online
    By Adam Lovelock, Coconut Creatives

    I’m sure every business in the sector is currently considering how they deal with delivering their services in the coming weeks. At this point in time (14/03/20) the Government advice would be to continue in your normal way of operating, while of course being extremely diligent to the risks of the virus. However, this is likely to change, so how can you continue to deliver value to your customers if you have to stop delivering your classes?


    It is important to remember, that even in isolation parents will still be looking for activities for their children, especially to keep active and stimulate the mind. Recording the content, you deliver on video and delivering to customers is of course never going to replace your normal service, but for many this could provide welcome value through a difficult time.

    Live Classes

    There are many free to use online webinar systems that would allow you to deliver live content to groups of children watching from home. A good example would be Zoom ( where you can deliver up to 40 minutes live content to 100 people for no cost at all!

    Closed Groups

    Create closed groups, such as Facebook Groups, for all your customers would provide the platform to deliver videos, creative ideas, tasks for children and so on! Look to develop a real community spirit in these groups and offer ongoing value to your customers even if you are unable to run classes or deliver your content.

    Of course, none of the above is ideal, however we believe the more value you deliver to parents and children in these tough times the more goodwill you will receive in return. There is of course going to be concerns over bookings over the coming months, but if you can show you are offering flexible ways to deliver your content you can work towards easing the possible disruption.

    Marketing, Communications and your Brand

    Sam Willoughby, What's On 4 Kids

    This might not be top of your list right now but in exceptional and worrying times we also want as much of the familiar and normal as possible.  Therefore, keep up with your planned promotions and activities that support your brand and promote the wonderful things you do. 

    Think how you can bring a little bit of joy into the world and the lives of your customers and team - a funny photo, a cute vid or a snap ‘just because we can’ mini competition :) And particularly good news - no matter how small - tell us! 

    Consider other additions such as promotion of some at home activities in line with your current programmes and themes. Recommend your own and other resources such as videos and websites or apps. 

    Do acknowledge the coronavirus situation but keep information to government sources only and how you are applying the government recommendations. Decide now any changes or enhancements to your refund/credit policy if classes have to be cancelled and communicate it to reassure parents.

    Your existing team and prospective franchisees will also be reassured that you are continuing to promote your brand and programmes.

    Large events you are due to attend such as conferences, expos and family shows and festivals may be rearranged. This is disappointing for everybody but try to attend on the new dates if possible, so you hit the ground running on the other side of all this.

    Even if some classes have to be cancelled keep your brand in front of parents online, via email, social media and they will return when classes resume.

    Use any unexpected downtime to look forward to work on your marketing and business plans for later in 2020 and in to 2021.

    And remember a collective shock like this often makes us reassess our lives and do things that we wish we had found time to do before. This may well include spending more time with our children doing fun and exciting things - so get ready for an upturn in enquiries too! 

    A refresher on simple, effective and low-cost local marketing can be found here


    We will continue to offer advice and support in the coming months to the Children’s Activities Sector. For all members of the CAA, remember our Facebook Group is a fantastic resource to raise any questions or issues you may have, with many industry experts on hand to lend support -

  • 08 Mar 2020 11:38 AM | Anonymous

    With the upcoming release of our ‘2020 Children’s Activity Sector Report’ Mark Rasche, Deputy Chair of CAA has provided a review on the current state of the sector. The report has been created based on research of over 1,000 businesses and will provide a unique benchmarking tool for any business owner in the sector. To register to receive the report via email on its release please visit –

    As someone with 26 years’ experience in the sector and having helped hundreds and hundreds of businesses within it, it falls to me to give a report on the state of the children’s activities sector in 2020.

    The sector is continuing to grow, with in excess of 40,000 businesses operating within it and rapidly growing in number, too. There are nearly 500 franchisors within the sector running a huge vast network of franchisees within them that represent a large chunk of the 40,000.

    There are new entrants to the market all the time too, with the sector representing great opportunities for recent graduates to start their own business, mums looking to get out of the corporate world, and former staff of other businesses to strike out on their own and run their own businesses, rather than work for someone else. 

    The default method to growth appears to be franchising with people building up a successful business, then thinking how to scale and distribute it more widely, this model offers a low-cost, low-risk solution. Many businesses are also growing organically in their own regions and focusing on the opportunities that are arising.

    The whole sector is still relatively new, with some of the oldest businesses being only 20 years old. Most are less than 10 years old, and a great proportion will be less than 5 years old, with new ones appearing all the time.

    The opportunities have arisen, in my opinion, due to a fundamental change in society. Twenty odd years ago, I went to the USA to coach for Major League Soccer and was shocked that kids didn’t play out, or go ride bikes around their neighborhood in between organised coaching sessions in various sports and activities. They played on computer games and watched TV. Our society is sadly moving this way, precipitated by societal changes in that there’s a lot, lot more cars on the road so kids can’t play out in the streets, the green spaces and parks are disappearing, being sold off by cash strapped local authorities, and also parents are much less willing to let their kids just play out around the neighborhood, worried by greater perceived threats of doing this and because our country just isn’t as safe a place for kids to play out on their own anymore.

    This presents an opportunity because parents want something safe for their children to still get great experiences in their life. Nowadays, they want a kid’s activities class with a qualified instructor who’s DBS checked, fully insured, first aid trained, and has been through a safeguarding course, among other things. In short, they want professionals to look after their kids and are prepared to pay for this quality of service. This is not to denigrate the grass-roots sector where kind-hearted and well-meaning people give up their time to coach kids and this sector is still very important, the professional sector is just in addition to this.

    The other societal changes are that the traditional model of the bread-winner family is changing, and a lot more mums are going back to work a lot earlier than they would have a generation before, thus necessitating the need for much higher levels of childcare in the form of after school clubs.

    The ever increasing obesity epidemic that will bankrupt the NHS and mean that this generation of children will be the first to live a shorter life than their parents on average, and the tragic increase in mental health challenges that young people face, means that kids activities businesses are needed more than ever, as they are some of the very best tools against these two twin threats to our kids’ health and well-being.

    So, there’s huge driving factors behind the rapid rise and increasing growth of the sector as between the 40,000 businesses there’s an estimated £12.5bn in revenue being spent but I’d actually argue it’s probably at least double that in reality because primary schools have nearly £20,000 a year to spend on PE, a lot of which is going out to 3rd party companies in the sector to deliver, and schools & nurseries are the source of a lot of business for the sector.

    The industry is also relatively protected from Brexit due to its nature and also any economic slow-down as a result shouldn’t impact it too much, as the last thing people do is cut back on their kids. Parents will cut discretionary spend on themselves before they cut their kids activities.

    The sector is also innovating both in terms of activities that kids do, reflecting what’s cool at the moment i.e. Ninja Warrior & Parkour type activities coming in to complement traditional gymnastics, climbing, and other related activities. Kids will always need to be active, how they do that might shift a bit over time. Organisations are also innovating in the method of delivery, as direct delivery has been going for years and years, franchising has proven really common over the last 10 years and now some organisations are looking at virtual delivery, where they, their staff, or franchisees don’t need to be there at all. It’s a new sector and fast-growing but also an innovative one, which is a great sign.

    The size of the businesses in the sector is growing too. We have a huge range, from lifestyle businesses, providing someone with flexible working around their family, to businesses whose revenue is huge, have institutional investors, and we may have the first kids’ activities business listed on the stock market soon. The range is very important though, as we need to be a broad church that is open to the start up just looking to find that balance between family and work and the huge business employing thousands.

    I’m personally very proud of the UK Children’s Activities sector as I’d argue we’re the best in the world at this stuff, as we’ve probably got the most mature sector in the world from my travels and my experience of master franchising overseas. It’s UK brands that overseas people want to see.

    Overall the sector is very buoyant, very robust, growing rapidly, innovating, and employing hundreds of thousands of people to work with millions of kids each week.

    At some stage every child in the UK is going to experience a children’s activities business, whether that’s as a pre-schooler, in nursery, a school, a birthday party, event, or just a regular class that they attend. It highlights the need for greater compliance and regulation that the Children’s Activities Association provides to protect nurseries, schools, parents, and, most importantly, kids, so it’s important that a greater percentage of the 40,000 businesses in the sector engage with the CAA and join to help protect those kids.

    Mark Rasche, Deputy Chair, CAA

    To register to receive the ‘2020 Children’s Activity Sector Report’ via email on its release please visit –

  • 20 Feb 2018 1:25 PM | Anonymous

    Children’s Activities Week is an exciting NEW national event celebrating the hundreds of thousands of activities, clubs and classes benefiting millions of children every day across the UK - helping them stay fit, healthy, engaged and happy!

    The Children’s Activities Week mission is to

    • Showcase the huge range of activities which take place every day throughout the country – from sport to languages, science to yoga and art to bush-craft and the fantastic teachers and coaches making it all happen.
    • Raise vital funds for 2 fantastic causes. Caudwell Children does amazing work to enhance the lives of disabled children and their families, providing access to services and support and raising awareness with the motto ‘whatever it takes’. The Children’s Activities Association is the first not-for-profit, industry-led independent organisation to raise standards in all organised children's activities and at last offer parents, schools and nurseries a swift way to get peace of mind when choosing activities.
    • Highlight the positive impact children’s activities have on physical and mental health and wellbeing for children (and for parents) along with the huge potential benefits developmentally, educationally and socially that participating within activities can bring. This is at a time when concerns around childhood obesity and levels of screen time rarely seem to be out of our press.

    With the focus on FUN, hundreds of thousands of children (and some grown-ups!) will be dressing up to attend their favourite activity, club or class around the theme '#WatchMeFly'. Look out across social media or on the streets of Britain during Children’s Activities Week for a wealth of bees, pilots, butterflies, dragons, rockets, ladybirds, superheroes, fairies and more, all in celebration of the week and all the exciting things taking place.

    There'll also be amazing competitions, VIP visitors – such as sports personalities and Olympians - to clubs and classes and a world record breaking attempt with Sid Sloane from CBeebies sponsored by Morton Michel! Participants from anywhere in the UK can sign up and join Sid at 10.15 on Monday April 30th as we blast-off Children’s Activities Week in style! Sid will then be visiting a wealth of different kids’ clubs and classes, ending his tour also sponsored by Morton Michel with a guest appearance at ‘Under 1 Roof’ in London as the exciting week comes to a close.  Find out more about What's On.

    Thousands of children’s activities and over 200,000 children and more than 1000 kids’ activity providers are expected to participate and with no charge to be part of the action and so much to enjoy and benefit from it’s no surprise that Children’s Activities Week is set to be the most inspiring and remarkable event of its type ever witnessed in the UK.

    And, the children’s activity or group who raise the most money for charity and show the most energy and passion for the week will also be rewarded with a very special prize – a visit from singer, TV presenter and personality Peter Andre!

    A wealth of sports personalities and celebrities are also supporting Children’s Activities Week to include celebrities, children’s TV personalities, Olympians and Paralympians.

    Children’s Activities Week will run from April 30th to May 4th 2018 UK-wide.

    For full information and see how you can be part of the action - visit

  • 20 Oct 2017 12:39 PM | Anonymous

    Initial Response from the Children’s Activities Association (CAA) to the report by the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on a Fit and Healthy Childhood: Physical Activity in Early Childhood

    The CAA welcomes the report and supports the call for increased priority to be given to physical activity in the daily lives of young children.

    The report was made possible by CAA Founding Member and Fully Accredited Gold Member, Water Babies.

    The CAA would like to draw the APPG and the Government’s attention to the raft of examples of best practice that can be found within the growing list of CAA Fully Accredited Gold Members and we encourage health professionals, social workers and early years educators to adopt a coordinated approach to signposting families to developmentally beneficial activities to promote healthy, holistic development. 

    The CAA is particularly pleased to see that recommendation 4.6 includes an 'inspection system that challenges ineffective delivery (of active learning)’ as this is what is being delivered to all CAA members through the CAA independent accreditation process. The CAA is well-placed to assist with the ‘creation of National Quality Guidelines’ as the CAA accreditation process assesses the developmental benefits of children’s activities and makes recommendations for increasing the health benefits of the activity sessions for children.

    The CAA is also well-placed to support EY PD/PA professionals as recommended in point 5.8 and would certainly make a valuable contribution to a EY PD/PA taskforce.

    The CAA is developing a programme of training opportunities including the first Children’s Activity Leader NVQ Level 2 developed with Icon Training and would be willing to develop this to meet the needs of the PA/PD professionals.

    CAA particularly welcomes the focus on activity for children with additional needs, and the recognition of the need for better understanding of the diversity of different communities and the impact this has on the access to activity by young children.  The CAA is proud to highlight that inclusivity is criteria for successful completion of the training, programme and delivery modules of the CAA independent accreditation pathway. We welcome initiatives that further support participation in physical activities for children with additional needs and those that meet the needs of specific cultures.  This is high on the CAA agenda evidenced by the recent announcement of the partnership between the CAA and the Caudwell Children charity that provides practical and emotional support to disabled children and their families.

    Full report

  • 27 Jun 2017 1:24 PM | Anonymous
    As the CAA grows in terms of members and stature it's very important that we start to establish ourselves as the 'go to' experts in children's activities and related issues such as physical and mental well-being, 'screen-time', fitness levels in children etc.

    It's fantastic to see therefore the CAA featuring in 2 national campaigns this week and next. The Children's Health campaign launched in The Guardian yesterday and our article is positioned at the top of the online platform:

    Other influencers and advocates alongside The Guardian include Royal College of Paediatrics and Children’s Health, Meningitis Research Foundation, Asthma UK, Royal College of Midwives, Jenny Aguter, Action for Children and UK Active.

    The reach of this campaign is in the millions but also includes the targeting of Primary to higher education professionals and Teaching assistants. 

    We will also be featured as part of Parental Advice Week from 3-9 July with:
    Seven Reasons Why Kids’ Clubs And Activities Are Brilliant For Your Children!
  • 24 Apr 2017 3:55 PM | Anonymous

    Find out more about Gold accredited EdStart, our latest featured member.

  • 02 Nov 2016 3:18 PM | Anonymous

    We are delighted to welcome celebrated Atlantic rower, adventurer, author and speaker, Sally Kettle, to the Children's Activities Conference on 25th November 2016.

    Sally speaks and writes of her adventures at sea. Her experiences have inspired and changed the lives of others. As the first woman to row the Atlantic Ocean twice from East to West, Sally tells of rough seas, wild storms, harsh living and encounters with marine wildlife, including sharks. Yet it is Sally’s experiences of people, which provide illumination and insight.

    Sally has raised £500,000 for charitable causes. She is an Ambassador for Girlguiding, and Chair of the Trustees at The London Sports Trust, and has served on humanitarian aid missions.

    She has delivered hundreds of talks around the world, to corporates, community groups and schools. Her ideas have been developed into workshop and training options, commentary, and thought leadership. Recently her ideas found a global audience via the missions of listeners to Radio 4. Sally’s FourThought talk, “Does Hope Help?” expounded her hard won personal philosophy of action overcoming procrastination. She continues to write and present pieces for Radio 4’s ‘From Our Own Correspondent’

  • 21 Sep 2016 2:01 PM | Anonymous

    Charlotte Bedford, Technical Manager at Tumble Tots, explains why the CAA and achieving CAA Gold Accreditation is so important.

    Congratulations to the whole Tumble Tots team for making it very easy for parents to see at a glance that all aspects of the Tumble Tots programme have been independently reviewed and meet expected standards.

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