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Setting up new out of school provision

Information on where you can get support

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

Where can I access support?

We have developed a range of information on our webpages to help you when you are considering opening a new childcare business. You can find guidance on areas of business management and good practice.

What you need to consider

Before making a firm commitment you should consider the following.

Market research

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 your 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. 

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.

Within the Council’s grant funding programme (see below) there is an example questionnaire that can be adapted to reflect your own circumstances.

Premises and planning of the provision

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.

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.

How to find out if the council owns a piece of land or premises.

Planning permission - You contact the relevant District Council to discuss any planning permission that may be required for the use of premises as a nursery.

School managed clubs use a space within the school and the benefits to the school are that there is no rental charge of premises.

Schools also receive some financial benefit from hosting out of school clubs. If the school runs the club directly it will obviously receive income from fees. 

Estimating start-up costs

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.

The government’s Childcare Business Grants Scheme has been created to boost the provision of childcare in England. The grant is there to encourage more good quality, affordable and reliable childcare to give working families more childcare provision choices.

This scheme will also help entrepreneurs to start up and run their own businesses. For more information please see the Business Grant Scheme pages. Please note this grant scheme is not open to schools.

Start-up funding

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.

Applicants interested in this grant first submit a proposal for funding and demonstrate a new for the new/additional provision. A survey can be carried out in a questionnaire and should reflect the proposed delivery of the service, particularly the proposed cost to parents and the intended location of the service.

Grant applications can be made by school managed providers and voluntary/private providers. For more information visit our grants/ funding page (grant 3).

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 financial planning tool plus business support is available to help you with this.

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:

Private, voluntary settings on school sites 

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

There must be a formal lease or licence in place, before the organisation occupies a school’s premises. For the Council’s policy for community schools and its recommendations to other schools,  including those operated by Diocesan authorities (voluntary controlled and voluntary aided schools) and academies in Oxfordshire, on property charges please see Delegated Decisions by Cabinet Member for Children, Education & Families 8 December 2014 (agenda item 4)

With effect from January 2016 childminders will be 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.

Schools should consider finances, including the indicative financial costs and the financial implications to the school in terms of HCC pay scales and the effect this may have on viability and sustainability.

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.

In some circumstances you may not need to register your Out of School Setting.

If you are registering on the Early Years register it can take up to 25 weeks to successfully complete the process.  If you are registering on the Childcare register it can take up to 12 weeks to register.

You cannot open until you have been issued your registration certificate.

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

How will you market your business?

Promoting your setting raises its profile and is essential to sustaining services in the long term. You will need to gather information to understand your market.


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.

Pension Auto Enrolment

Workplace pensions law has changed. Every employer has new legal duties to help their workers in the UK save for retirement. You must automatically enrol certain workers into a qualifying workplace pension scheme and make contributions towards it.

What you'll need to do now is to make sure you're compliant with your new duties

For more information visit:

For the latest information on employment law reforms please contact ACAS


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.

You still need to be able to demonstrate to the inspector that your staff has 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. 

You will also need staff with pediatric first aid certificates, child protection training, and food hygiene training.