The UK Government’s 30 hours free childcare scheme for 3-4 year olds has been rolled out across England from September 01, 2017. We have compiled some useful information for Out of School Clubs who might be interested in joining the scheme.
The scheme, in a nutshell, will enable eligible working parents of 3-4 year olds in England to avail 30-hours of free childcare as opposed to the current 15 hours. Nurseries, playgroups and pre-schools, child minders and Sure Start Centres are expected to be the major participants in the scheme. However, Out of School Clubs will also have the option to sign-up, provided they fulfil certain eligibility requirements.
Eligibility Requirements for Out of School Clubs / After School Clubs
- Your Out of School club is registered on the Ofsted Early Years Register and not just on Ofsted’s Childcare Register.
- You have an Ofsted rating of ‘Outstanding’ or ‘Good’ or ‘Effective Grade’ by CMA. For ratings below that, the discretion to decide the eligibility will rest with the Local Authority.
- You are willing to take in pre-school children. This could mean you will need to forego any exemptions from the standard early years staffing ratio and qualification that you might currently have.
- You are willing to operate at a staffing ratio of 1:8 for pre-school children in the age group of 3-4.
- Your OSC Manager has a full and relevant Level 3 qualification or above. In addition, a member of the staff with a full and relevant Level 3 qualification should be present at each session and at least 50% of the remaining staff looking after the pre-school group should have a full and relevant Level 2 qualification.
- Newly qualified staff have a current paediatric first aid certificate.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is it compulsory to offer the 30-hour scheme?
No. It is completely up to you to weigh up the impact of the scheme on your business and decide whether to offer the funded hours.
If I decide to sign-up for the scheme, would I need to offer the full 30-hours?
No. You as a provider have the flexibility to decide the number of hours you are willing to offer. It is also your discretion to decide the number of places you can offer for the scheme and when it can be offered. You can even split the hours and offer the scheme in partnership with another childcare provider.
Do I have flexibility in offering the sessions?
Yes. You can offer the sessions any day of the week between 6 am and 8 pm. You can decide whether to deliver the scheme only during term-times for 38 weeks or stretched across 52 weeks as part of holiday play schemes.
How will I get paid?
The payment for the ‘free childcare hours’ that you offer will be made to you by the Central Government via your local authority.
How much will I be paid?
Each childcare provider will be paid approximately £4.51/hr/child, but the exact amount will vary depending on the local authority. The Professional Association of Childcare and Early Years’(PACEY) summarised table of funding rates published by the Government gives a quick view of the funding allocated for different local authorities across England.
Can I charge the parents extra to make up for any deficits in funding?
You cannot charge the parents any registration fees or top-up fees, i.e. the difference between your normal fees and the hourly rates offered by the Government. However, if required, you are entitled to charge the parents the following:
- A fully-refundable deposit to secure a free place. It is to be remembered that this must be refunded to the parents within a reasonable time.
- Optional (voluntary) charges for meals and other consumables such as nappies and consumables. However, parents should not be forced to pay for meals and consumables as a condition for securing a place.
- Optional charges for services such as outings, pick-ups and drop-offs, playgroups etc.
Please note, it is essential that you maintain complete transparency with the parents and your local authority regarding any additional charges and ensure all your invoices are itemised and transparent. It is also advisory to have a written agreement drawn up with the parents regarding the hours and any extras that will be charged as part of the scheme.