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Choosing an out of school club

  • An out of school club is any activity that takes place out of school hours or during the holidays
  • This includes breakfast and after school clubs; holiday childcare and activity groups; homework and booster clubs, sports, arts and leisure activities.

Some will be registered with Ofsted either on the Early Years, Childcare or Voluntary Childcare Register; some will be registered as part of a school; some will not be registered at all because they are not required to be.

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Questions you might choose to ask include:

  • What are the club's opening hours?
  • Is the club registered with Ofsted? (ask to see their certificate or letter of confirmation)
  • Are you open during school half terms and/or in-service training days? (applies to after school and holiday clubs)
  • Have you got a parents' folder which contains your policies including safeguarding children?
  • Will there be additional costs, for example, trips, snacks, transport?
  • Can I see a prospectus, registration certificate and/or inspection report?
  • Have you received a Quality Assurance Award?
  • Do I have to pay if my child does not attend?
  • Do you arrange collection from my child's school and by whom? (applies to after school clubs)
  • Can children choose their activities, or do they have a structured timetable?
  • Is a suitably trained first aider always present or on site?
  • Have all the staff and volunteers got enhanced CRB checks?
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  • Cater for school aged pupils
  • Places need to be booked
  • No requirement to be registered if open less than 2 hours and not connected to other care for example an after school club
  • Parent sees that the child reaches the club, the club ensures the child reaches school
  • Fees include the cost of breakfast
  • Most are run on school premises, many as part of school's wrap around care
  • 1:8 adult to child ratio
  • Staff are encouraged to have a playwork qualification
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  • Cater for school aged pupils
  • Places need to be booked
  • Registered and inspected by Ofsted
  • Club generally arranges transport from school, parents arrange collection from club
  • Usually open until 6pm
  • Charges include the cost of a snack
  • 1:8 adult to child ratio
  • Majority of staff have a playwork qualification
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  • Cater for school aged children and sometimes younger
  • Places need to be booked
  • Registered and inspected by Ofsted
  • Parents ensure the child gets to and from the club
  • May be open from 8am to 6pm in school holidays
  • 1:8 adult to child ratio
  • Majority of staff have playwork and/or childcare qualifications
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  • Cater for a range of ages
  • Places may not need to be booked
  • May be registered and inspected by Ofsted
  • Various opening hours; usually sessional
  • Levels of staff qualification will vary
  • Should be 1:8 adult to child ratio
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  • A club or learning activity outside of normal lesson time which pupils take part in voluntarily
  • Places usually need to be booked
  • Includes sports, music, arts, hobbies and homework clubs etc.
  • May be registered as part of the school or on the Ofsted Voluntary Childcare Register
  • Usually a 1:8 adult to child ratio for under 8s and 1:12 for over 8s
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Questions you might choose to ask include:

  • What are the club's opening hours?
  • Is the club registered with Ofsted? (ask to see their certificate or letter of confirmation)
  • Are you open during school half terms and/or in-service training days? (applies to after school and holiday clubs)
  • Have you got a parents' folder which contains your policies including safeguarding children?
  • Will there be additional costs, for example, trips, snacks, transport?
  • Can I see a prospectus, registration certificate and/or inspection report?
  • Have you received a Quality Assurance Award?
  • Do I have to pay if my child does not attend?
  • Do you arrange collection from my child's school and by whom? (applies to after school clubs)
  • Can children choose their activities, or do they have a structured timetable?
  • Is a suitably trained first aider always present or on site?
  • Have all the staff and volunteers got enhanced CRB checks?
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All clubs strive to keep their costs flexible and affordable, however each club has its own charging policy.

Many after school clubs charge either by the hour or by the session.

Holiday clubs often offer a full day rate or a session rate.

Some holiday activities may be cheaper or even free, however they are not a substitute for comprehensive care.

To search for information on getting help with your childcare costs, visit the government’s Childcare Choices website.

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  • Staff are the key resource in any out of school club. It's important that staff are well trained and have the necessary skills and experience to work with school aged children
  • All staff should have enhanced Criminal Records Bureau (CRB) and health checks
  • All clubs should have a minimum of two members of staff present at all times including a trained first aider
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  • All clubs are encouraged to welcome children and young people with disabilities and difficulties
  • Registered clubs should have a Special Needs/Inclusion Policy and a member of staff known as a SENCO (Special Needs Co-ordinator) or Inclusion Playworker.

Help with the cost of additional support necessary to enable a young child or young person to attend an out of school setting may be available.

Ring the Family Information Service on 08457 585072 (01380 872915) for details.

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  • Caring for sick children is not part of an out of schools club’s service and you should keep your child at home or collect them if they are unwell.
  • In the case of an accident the club staff should put the needs of the child first and act accordingly
  • You should be asked to sign a consent form that allows club staff to seek emergency treatment if necessary
  • You should also read and sign their accident/incident book confirming you were given full details of any accident and the action taken.

More information on should I keep my child at home?

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If you any concerns about the childcare setting your child is attending you can find out more information on our dealing with concerns page.

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How do I find an out of school club?

  • Contact us
  • Ask friends they may be able to recommend groups they have used
  • Search for an out of school club in your area please visit our Childcare directory

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Last updated: 8 May 2017 | Last reviewed: 8 May 2017