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Out-of-school and holiday care


Choosing early learning and childcare outside the home that's right for your child is an important decision to make. There's a huge amount of choice out there, from nurseries to playgroups to childminders.

Most childcare providers must be registered with the Office for Standards in Education (Ofsted) but there are some types of childcare that do not need to be registered.

Out-of-school and holiday clubs care for school-age children when the school is closed i.e. early morning (breakfast), after school and during school holidays. This type of care is usually run in school and day nurseries but childminders can also offer out-of-school and holiday care.

You can search for out-of-school and holiday care using our online directory.

Out-of-school and holiday club facts

  • Many schools provide access to a variety of activities beyond the school day. These can range from high quality childcare to activities such as music, art, sport or additional study support. As a result the school is often open from 8am to 6pm all year round.
  • Depending upon the hours you work, you can opt for a combination of breakfast clubs (normally open from 8am) after-school clubs (typically from 3.30pm to 6pm) and holiday care (8am to 6pm).
  • These services are based on school sites, but may also be in youth clubs, community centres or nurseries. Some schools organise the childcare themselves, but others will work with local voluntary groups, private providers and childminders, who will provide staff and sometimes facilities.

Is it for me?

The answer is 'yes', if:

  • You are looking to bridge the awkward gap between school and work hours.
  • Your child would like the chance to play with new friends.
  • You want one 'drop-off' and your child to be in a place he or she is used to.
  • You are not covered during the holidays.
  • You have to be in work early.

Questions to ask when choosing out-of-school or holiday childcare

  • What do the children do?
  • Are there activities such as art, sport and 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.
  • What about a quiet area where all children can chill out?
  • Can I see how the security and signing-in book works?