When your child reaches school age, you may find it difficult to juggle school runs and holidays with your work commitments. Out of school care is generally open at times that make this easier for you. You can choose from breakfast clubs, after school clubs and holiday playschemes.
These clubs and playschemes offer a range of play and learning group activities. Some take children from three years up, although not all cater for the same age groups. Usually based in or near schools, they are geared towards the needs of children with working parents.
Out of school providers usually have to be registered by Ofsted if they look after children under eight years old for more than two hours a day for more than five days a year.
This means they are inspected regularly to make sure the care they provide meets the National Standards for Under 8s and all staff have satisfactory criminal records checks.
Registered after school clubs:
- Open in the afternoons, usually between 3.30 pm and 6 pm
- Mostly only admit children that attend the school
- Some clubs admit children from other schools and may provide a mini bus service
- Activities should be planned to help children learn, play and relax with their friends.
Out of school breakfast clubs:
- provide care before school starts
- usually provide breakfast
- normally run for less than two hours and therefore do not need to be registered
You can find out if a school has a breakfast club by contacting the school directly.
Out of school holiday playschemes provide care for school aged children during the school holidays. Activities can include sports, outdoor and indoor games, arts, crafts and drama, swimming and day trips. They are usually based on school premises or in a local community building.
Some playschemes are 'open schemes' and operate in places such as play centres and adventure playgrounds. They offer open access play where parents don't have to book so children can just turn up.
Playschemes are run by a team of staff, usually called playworkers, who are employed by either a voluntary management committee or by the owner in the case of a private provider. Activities should be planned to help children learn, play and relax with their friends.
Below is a list of questions that you can ask staff at the school providing out of school childcare.
- What do the children do?
- Are there activities such as art, sports or music?
- How are they supervised?
- How much individual attention do they get?
- Do they offer homework facilities?
- Who is the leader, and what kind of qualifications and experience do they (and other staff) have? Arrange to meet and talk to them.
- Are the staff trained in first aid?
- Is there a separate section for younger children? Some can't cope being in a large group of older ones.
- Is there a quiet area where all children can chill out?
There are a variety of activities in Central Bedfordshire for 0 -19 year olds. The Information Service can provide you with information on what is available in and around where you live. Most activities are unregistered which means they are not required to be registered with Ofsted. Some however do have certain accreditations with organisations. For information on individual activities please contact them directly.
There are some activities specific to under 5's, family friendly facilities and also activities for all ages such as:
- and cricket etc.