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Setting up new out of school provision

Out of school provision includes breakfast clubs, after school provision and holiday schemes

Out-of-school childcare clubs can be run by a school, a voluntary management committee or by individuals as a private business.

If you are a school, you need to consider if you want to run your own out-of-school club or work with an external provider.

What you need to consider

Is there a need? Have you done market research?

It is vital to the success of a club that you ensure there is a demand for it and that the service you provide meets the needs of local parents. This can be achieved by conducting a survey/questionnaire of the parents of the community your club will support.

Market research is an assessment of the demand for childcare in your intended locality and will be a major factor in the likely success of the new business. You can read the Oxfordshire Childcare sufficiency market assessment which is research sample of parent demand for childcare in Oxfordshire.

Oxfordshire Family Information Directory provides information on other providers in the area you are considering. 


The number of children you are planning to look after will be partly determined by the size of your premises, as you need to have sufficient space for children to play safely in an indoor and outdoor environment.  You will need to consider access to outdoor play spaces and toilet facilities.

Parents prefer before and after school provision to be on the same site as their children attend school. Provision that involves children travelling by transport are often not popular with parents.

The Out of School Alliance has useful guidance.

Start-up funding

You are likely to incur a number of costs before you are ready to open your new business such as premises, recruiting staff and marketing.

Oxfordshire County Council supports the creation of new or expanded provision where there is a clearly identified shortfall in childcare places and it is possible to establish an on-going, financially self-sustaining provision to fill the gap.

There is a grant to help with the setting up and running costs of new or extended out of school provision during the first year only. The expectation is that in subsequent years the provision will be self-sustaining from fee income. For more information about Oxfordshire County Council’s start up grants email eys&q@oxfordshire.gov.uk  

For other sources of funding visit our funding for community groups page.

Business planning

Private, voluntary settings

You should consider whether or not the Out of School Club is likely to be a viable business proposition by creating a business and financial plan. A guide and support is available on our business development and financial planning page..

It is also important to think about the structure of your organisation, your business's legal status and to understand the legal responsibilities involved in operating a business. For more information:

School managed out of school provision

Schools can choose to either set up and manage their own out of school provision or work in partnership with an external provider.

Where a school is looking to work in partnership with another provider it should consider inviting expressions of interest, taking up references and visiting any existing provision the prospective provider operates.

It is advisable that the school has a formal contract with the external provider which includes the spaces to be used, rent and partnership working.

You may want to consider working in partnership with local childminders.  They are able to operate from suitable non-domestic premises for up to half their time whilst still registered as a childminder.

This may provide the opportunity for schools and childminders to work together in order to provide out of school childcare services. This may present new opportunities to meet families’ needs where demand is low. The Council would welcome the opportunity to work with schools and childminders to develop case studies.

School managed settings

A school should carefully consider the business case and benefits of the proposal/s and seek support from where appropriate from governor representative staff and school bursar.

Where a school managed option is being considered, there should be a consideration on indicative financial costs of the proposal and governance arrangements. This should cover any financial implications to the school in terms of Oxfordshire County Council pay scales and the effect this may have on viability and sustainability of the provision together with the time commitment of management by the governing body and headteacher.

Registering with Ofsted

Childcare businesses would usually be required to register with Ofsted. There are two registers, the Early Years Register and the Childcare Register. The Childcare register consists of two parts, the Compulsory Childcare Register and the Voluntary Childcare Register.  The Ofsted registers - Guidance

In some circumstances you may not need to register Registration exemptions - Guidance 

Registration can take up to 25 weeks to successfully complete the process.  You cannot open until you have been issued your registration certificate. 

School managed settings will come under the registration of the school.


For out of school clubs in which the youngest children are of reception age or older, the statutory minimum staffing ratio has been reduced to 1:30 for children up to the age of eight. Although this is the absolute minimum legal ratio, very few clubs will be able to operate safely at this level, nor will they be able to obtain specialist childcare insurance. Ofsted will still expect you to operate using safe staffing levels and meet all the other requirements regarding care for the children as set out in the Statutory framework for the early years foundation stage but it is now down to you as the provider to decide what the appropriate staffing levels are. We recommend that out of school clubs continue to operate at a ratio of around 1:8 for children up to the age of eight.

There is no statutory staff ratio for children aged over eight, but you must ensure that the children are kept safe. The usual recommended level is a ratio of 1:10 for children over eight.

Ofsted will carry out suitable person checks on the registered person before approving them; these include enhanced DBS (CRB) checks, health checks and reference checks and all need to be completed before Ofsted will register your provision. The registered person is then responsible for checking the suitability of the manager (if this is a different person) and all other staff.

Qualifications and training

If your out-of-school club only takes children of reception age or above and is on either the Early Years Register or the Compulsory Childcare Register, you are no longer required by Ofsted to have staff with specific childcare or playwork qualifications, however those registered on the Voluntary Childcare Register must have a manager who holds a relevant Level 2 qualification.

You will need staff with paediatric first aid certificates, safeguarding training and safer recruitment for managers.

You still need to be able to demonstrate to the inspector that your staff have the necessary training and experience to fulfil their roles. Most childcare insurance companies will require your club to have some staff with a relevant Level three qualification as a condition of cover. 

Where can I access support?

You can find guidance and information on our Early years toolkit page under ‘Out of School clubs’

For further information, please email early.years@oxfordshire.gov.uk