Thinking of starting a new after-school club in your school? There are a few things to consider, including use of premises, policies, and staffing. We’ve gathered information from the Out of School Alliance and several local authorities to help you ensure that you have lined up everything you need to start a successful club.
When deciding where your club will be located, the OOSA guidance suggests considering:
- Whether there's somewhere suitable on the school site
- Whether there's somewhere in the local community that is already being used for local childcare that would be suitable
- Whether to buy a property
- Whether planning permission will be needed
- How children will get to the club
- Whether the premises can be secured to ensure unwanted visitors are kept out, children cannot wander off and equipment and records will be kept secure
It explains that the premises will need:
- Adequate facilities e.g. storage, kitchen, outdoor play area, parking for parents
- Sufficient space to comply with Ofsted requirements
- Sufficient toilet and hand-washing facilities
- Suitable access for people with disabilities
- An area where staff can talk confidentially to parents
The premises available will partially determine the age and number of children that can be catered for, the Waltham Forest guidance explains.
Once the premises have been determined, you should carry out the relevant risk assessments.
The Waltham Forest guidance explains:
- Staffing ratios will be dependent on the age and number of children at the club
- All staff will need to undergo Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) checks
In addition, most childcare insurance companies will require your club to have some staff with a relevant qualifications as a condition of cover.
It suggests clubs will need staff with specific training, for example in:
- Paediatric first aid
- Child protection/safeguarding
- Food hygiene
Policies and procedures
According to the Hampshire County Council guidance, after-school clubs should have written policies covering topics such as:
- Equality of opportunity and supporting pupils with special educational needs
- Administering medicines and supporting children with medical needs
- Concerns and complaints from parents
- Collection of pupils, including where parents fail to collect pupils at the appointed time
- Children going missing
- Emergency evacuation
We asked one of our associate education experts, David New, what schools should consider if they wish to run an after-school club away from the school premises. He said setting up an off-site club does not have to be complicated, since the procedures the school will need to follow are similar to those for organising school trips or other off-site provision.
David advised that in addition to the points you'd consider in setting up an on-site club, when planning an off-site club you'll need to:
- Choose the venue for the club carefully. Will pupils be able to walk there safely after school, or will transport be needed?
- Carry out a risk assessment to identify any risks to the health and safety of staff and pupils at the venue. Do staff need additional training to operate any equipment for the club?
- Look at the contract with the venue, particularly terms around when staff may access the premises
- Check if the school's insurance will cover damages done by staff or pupils at the venue
- Create a budget and ensure that the costs for hiring the venue are sustainable for the school
- Plan arrangements for picking up children at the end of the club. It is particularly important to plan what to do if a parent is late and the venue closes. For example, the school could agree that a member of staff will take the pupil back to school to wait for their parent
- Find out if the club will need to adhere to any policies from the venue
- Ensure that school policies state how the school will look after the pupils attending an off-site club
Have your own after-school club tips to share? Contact us on: firstname.lastname@example.org.
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