What is an afterschool club?
Most parents work full time and will need somewhere for their child to go after school if they are between the age of 4 and 14 years old (16 if your child has special needs). You can either chose to have your child picked up from school by a childminder or they could attend an afterschool club.
Afterschool clubs provide a safe and secure environment for your child to interact with other children of their age, play or take part in activities and crafts. They often provide an outside play area and a quiet area if your child just wishes to relax. They encourage links with schools, including homework and reading clubs and special events are often arranged throughout the year.
The clubs are open from the end of the school day during term time for usually around 2-3 hours, but it all depends on the club. Some afterschool clubs also offer holiday clubs as well, so make sure to ask! You will also need to find out if they pick up from schools and if your childs school is one of the schools. The scheme needs to have a procedure for school collection that is agreed and known to the parents, children, scheme staff and school staff.
Some afterschool clubs also offer a breakfast club where care, education and play opportunities are offered along with a healthy breakfast for children who attend.
Sometimes children would be taken on outings but this is usually more the case in holiday clubs. The arrangements for transporting children need to be carefully planned, and where necessary, additional people are recruited to ensure safety. This is particularly important where children with disabilities are concerned. There must be agreed arrangements for obtaining parental permission in writing prior to undertaking any visits or outings.
Holiday clubs are run during the school holidays and opening times will vary. You usually have to register your child in advance of the holiday club starting. They offer a wide range of daily activities for the children, as well as an outside play area and a quiet area if the children just wish to relax. Special events are also arranged throughout the scheme and some clubs may organise trips and outings.
Many children with disabilities attend afterschool and holiday camps as all have a policy to promote inclusion.
Do they need to be registered?
After School and Holiday Clubs that care for children under eight years old have to be registered by Ofsted. Settings catering for children and young people over eight years old are however advised to register voluntarily with Ofsted.
Ofsted will inspect the setting to make sure that:
- the premises are safe and secure
- staff are suitable to care for children and have relevant CRB checks done
- the setting has insurance
- they are keeping records of all children in their care.
You shouldnt assume that all carers have had a CRB check done. Supervisors and Officers in charge will, but assistant staff may not necessarily be checked. Their certificate of registration and public liability insurance should always be on display. They are regularly inspected by Ofsted and inspection reports will be on the internet at www.ofsted.gov.uk.
What are the staffing ratios and are staff qualified?
The staffing ratio is one adult to every eight children, with a minimum of two staff at any one time. They are run by experienced and committed staff and they will have formal qualifications in childcare or play work to level three. You should ask about the qualifications of staff and managers during your initial visit.
If children who attend a club are all over the age of eight there are currently no formal qualifications needed for staff.
- Will your child be able to cope in another large group at the beginning or end of the day? Or would a childminder be a better option?
- Will your child have space and quiet time to complete any homework set?
- Are you happy with the transfer from school to the club that they provide if you require transport?
- Have you asked about qualifications of staff?
- Have you checked whether they are accredited or working towards a quality assurance scheme?
- Does the club offer a range of activities for your child?
- What type of food is available at a breakfast or afterschool club?
- Will your child need to attend for the whole holiday period?
- Are you happy for your child to attend all the outings as these may incur an additional cost?
- Would your child enjoy the structure of a holiday play scheme?
Questions you will need to ask during your visit
- How many children attend the setting?
- How many staff members work at the setting?
- What qualifications/experience do the staff have?
- How do you cater for disabled children or children who need extra support?
- What hours and days do you operate?
- What is the current charge?
- Which schools do you collect from?
- What ages are catered for?
- What range of activities does the club offer?
- How do you deal with behavioural issues?
- Do you provide any snacks/meals?
- Do the children go on outings and is there and extra charge for this?
- Do I have to pay if my child is ill or not able to attend for any reason?
Once you are happy with your choice you will be asked to complete a registration form giving details of your child, any illnesses or allergies, where you can be contacted and any information that will help your child to settle in.
You should also be given information about the group. You may also be eligible to apply for the childcare element of the working tax credit if your child attends an afterschool/holiday club, so make sure to ask during your visit as you will need their registration number to claim for these.