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Out of School Clubs: An Overview

Out of school clubs offer wrap-around childcare for working parents before and after school and during school holidays. The services offered by the clubs would typically include picking up/dropping off the children to and from school, providing breakfast/snacks, support with homework, and a mix of structured activities and free play.

In this article, we will take you through the major regulatory requirements for setting up an out of school club in England, Scotland, Northern Ireland or Wales.

Starting an Out of School Club in England

Apart from a few exceptions, all out of school clubs in England are legally obliged to register with the Ofsted's Compulsory or Early Years Register, or both.

Compulsory Childcare Register: If you provide more than two hours of ‘out-of-school childcare’ to children who are in ‘year one’ at primary school or above (and till the age of eight), you will need to register with the compulsory childcare register.

Early Years Register: In case you plan to offer places to children who are in their ‘Reception’ year at primary school or below, you will also need to register with the Early Years Register.

When do you not need to register your club with Ofsted?

 You are legally exempt from compulsory registration with Ofsted, if:

  • The main aim of your club is to provide coaching/tutoring in specific skills/activities such as basketball, piano, Spanish etc. This does not, however, include out-of-school care provisions where you throw in multi-sports and activities to engage the children
  • The children attend your club for less than 2 hours a day. For instance, you are exempt from compulsory registration if you offer a breakfast club that runs from, say, 7.30-9.00 a.m on weekdays, or after school care from 3.30-5.00 p.m.
  • All the children in your care are above the age of eight
  • If your club is run directly by the school and at least one child from the school attends the club. In such cases, the club will be covered under the Ofsted registration of the school, and would not require a separate registration
  • If your club is a holiday playscheme and operates for 14 days or less in a calendar year

Voluntary Registration with Ofsted

Even if your club falls in any of the above categories, you can still opt to register with the Voluntary part of the Ofsted’s childcare register.

The main advantages of voluntary registration are:

  • You will have the option to offer Government-subsidised schemes such as Universal credit, Tax-free childcare, Childcare vouchers to eligible parents
  • It acts as a seal of authenticity for your setting, and parents feel more confident that your centre abides by specific regulatory standards

However, the downsides are, you will have to pay an annual fee of around £100, and your setting will be subject to inspections as per the statutory requirements set out in the Voluntary Register.


 All out of school clubs registered under Ofsted, you should meet the following staffing requirements:

  • Have at least one staff member with a 12-hour Paediatric First Aid qualification, who is present at all sessions
  • All staff should have child protection training
  • All staff handling food and snacks to be trained in food handling and hygiene
  • A trained Special Education Needs Coordinator (SENCO)
  • A trained lead practitioner for child protection to be available for all sessions
  • A satisfactory enhanced DBS disclosure for all staff

From September 2014, it is no longer mandatory for out of school clubs to employ staff with recognised childcare/ playwork qualifications (if you do not cater to children in the reception age or below).  But it is considered good practice to have staff with formal qualifications.

Similarly, the staff to children ratio has now been raised to 1:30 from 1:8. However, make sure you meet the minimum staff: child ratio required by your insurer. Most insurers require a minimum ratio of 1:8 for children from birth till five and 1:10 for children in the age group of 5-8.

For more details in the detailed registration guidelines, see the Ofsted’s Early Years and Childcare Registration Handbook.

Starting an Out of School Club in Scotland

 The Care Inspectorate regulates the out of school care sector in Scotland. You are required to register your club with the inspectorate, if:

  • You provide childcare for children aged 15 or below
  • Childcare is provided for more than two hours a day for six days or more/year


  • The manager (and supervisor) should have a relevant degree-level qualification and recognised practice award.
  • Staff must hold a relevant SCQF Level 7 qualification or equivalent
  • Support workers should hold a relevant SCQF Level 6 qualification or equivalent
  • All staff should provide a satisfactory enhanced DBS disclosure

 Starting an Out of School Club in Northern Ireland

You will need to register your club with the Health and Social Care Trust if you provide out of school care for children for more than two hours a day. The minimum staff: child ratio is 1:8 for 4-8-year-olds and 1:10 for 8-11-year-olds. You can find more details here.

 Starting an Out of School Club in Wales

 You will need to register your club with the Care and Social Services Inspectorate Wales (CSSIW) if:

  • You are looking after children under the age of eight
  • You offer childcare for more than 2 hours a day


  • The manager or supervisor of the club should have at least two years’ of relevant childcare and a recognised level 3 qualification on the Care Council for Wales' current list of ‘Accepted Qualifications for the Early Years and Childcare Workforce in Wales or Skills Active's Integrated Qualification Framework for Playwork’
  • 50% of the remaining staff should hold at least a level 2 qualification as prescribed by the Care Council for Wales
  • All staff should undergo an enhanced Criminal Records Bureau disclosure.

You can contact the CCISW here.

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