The government wants to give more parents in England the right to request their school provides childcare for a full working day.
Education secretary Nicky Morgan wants schools to take measures to offer this service before and after school and during the school holidays, if it would prove popular with local families.
Speaking at the Conservative Party conference in Manchester, she said: "If enough parents call for childcare at their local school, we will expect the school to take reasonable steps to accommodate it, in a way that works for them.
"Because we want working parents to have the confidence their child is in a happy and safe environment."
However, the idea has been questioned by the National Association of Head Teachers, which said steps need to be taken to ensure this is "not just a populist gimmick".
General secretary Russell Hobby accepted that offering wraparound childcare in schools is a good idea.
However, he said there are many reasons why some schools are unable to offer it. For instance, he said budget cuts have placed a squeeze on their finances, while others do not have enough staff to extend provision beyond 38 weeks.
"Parents can ask but the government must guarantee that a school's decision is respected," Mr Hobby commented.
"Otherwise, it is merely going to provoke conflict between schools and their communities and would undermine the decision-making of head teachers."
Mr Hobby added that the policy needs to be implemented "extremely carefully" if it is to deliver the desired results.
Posted by Tim Colman