How to set up an after school club in the UK
Setting up an after school club in the UK can be a rewarding business that provides children with a safe setting to enjoy after school care. Setting up an after school club requires business planning, attention to legal procedures to ensure the club follows statutory requirements, and completing specific childcare registers.
You will need to create a business plan that defines your target market, develop a marketing strategy, choose a suitable setting, hire staff, and develop a plan for the day-to-day details. By providing a safe and enjoyable setting for after school child care, your club can play an important role in the local community and contribute to the well-being of children of all ages.
After school club legal requirements
There are numerous statutory requirements to consider when setting up an after school club within the UK. To begin this business venture, you need to be aware of the legal procedures involved.
Do you have to be Ofsted registered to run an after-school club?
Registering with Ofsted is required for anyone planning to provide childcare for over two hours for children aged 8 and under. It is required to complete the Early Years Register and the Compulsory part of the Childcare Register.
For children aged 9 and above, in practice, most providers still choose to register with Ofsted.
Additionally, obtaining public liability insurance cover is considered compulsory to protect your business against potential lawsuits.
Finally, you will need to complete health and safety checks to ensure your club is in a suitable environment for keeping children safe.
What are the Ofsted requirements for after school clubs?
Ofsted is the regulatory body responsible for inspecting childcare providers in England. To meet its requirements, after school clubs must provide a safe setting for children, ensuring all staff members have undergone DBS checks and that the staff-to-child ratios are consistently met.
Ofsted covers only England. The Education and Training Inspectorate in Northern Ireland, Education Scotland (previously HM Inspectorate of Education) in Scotland, and Estyn in Wales perform similar functions in each country.
Ofsted checks childcare providers are meeting statutory requirements including the completion of childcare registers, and the maintenance of up-to-date records of all children, staff, and activities on the premises. These after school activities are required to support opportunities for play, learning, and creativity.
Finally, Ofsted requires the prioritisation of health and safety. Policies and procedures need to cover the entirety of the club’s operations including first aid training, compulsory fire safety checks, safeguarding, complaints, and following policies on equal opportunities.
You can learn more details about the requirements set by Ofsted on the government website.
What is the staff ratio requirement for an after school club?
When setting up your business, one of the first things to consider is employing staff. This process, undertaken in the early stages of your business development, is influenced by Ofsted requirements.
The staff ratio requirement for an after school club varies depending on the age of the children and the activities being provided.
Children aged 8 and under:
1 member of staff to every 8 children for supervised activities and 1 staff member to every 13 children for free play.
Children aged between 8 and 10:
1 staff member to every 15 children for supervised activities and 1 member of staff to every 20 children for free play.
Children aged 10 and over:
1 member of staff to every 20 children for supervised activities and 1 member of staff to every 25 children for free play activities.
These ratios are minimum requirements. Some after school clubs will choose to have higher ratios to ensure that children receive the best possible childcare. These ratios may need to be adjusted depending on the needs of individual children.
What qualifications do I need to set up an after-school club?
Having relevant qualifications will give parents and carers confidence in your business and assure them of the provision of high-quality childcare. These qualifications can also help you to meet Ofsted’s requirements.
We would recommend qualifications in paediatric first aid, safeguarding, health and safety, and childcare. Qualifications such as the Level 2 Certificate in Children and Young People's Workforce or the Level 3 Diploma in Children and Young People's Workforce, can provide you with the knowledge needed to run a successful business and after school club. Safeguarding and paediatric first aid/ emergency qualifications will demonstrate your commitment to protecting children of all ages from potential harm or abuse.
How to set up an after school club: key steps for a business plan
Once you have considered the statutory requirements, a business plan is next! This business plan will help to outline your goals, detail the activities you will offer, and decide your target market and marketing plan.
Understand local demand and existing competition
We recommend conducting market research into the number of schools and after school care options in your area. Use this information to determine the size of your club and to identify gaps in the market. Are the activity clubs in your area not offering food? Do they close during the school holidays? Are there existing school childcare clubs? These insights can make a difference in your business's success.
Sources of funding for after school clubs
Choosing to self-fund your business is a good option if you have the financial resources and are willing to take on the risk. If there is a high demand for after school clubs in your area you may consider organizing fundraising events or crowdfunding. Another way to combat initial start-up costs is to consider employing volunteers.
Alternatively, the UK government offers funding opportunities including grants and loans through the Department for Education, the Big Lottery Fund, and the National Lottery Community Fund. Local councils can also provide funding for after school clubs. It is worth contacting your local council to discover what funding opportunities are available in your area.
How much should I charge for an after school club?
The amount you charge for your after school club will depend on the location, the services you are providing, and the number of activity clubs in the area. Additionally, overheads such as rent and staff salaries will impact what you charge. Based on our datasets, the fee per session is usually between £8 to £16 depending on the length of time the club is open and the food they offer. Some after school clubs also offer add-ons such as early drop off and late pick up, to cater to different parents’ needs. These add-ons could be an additional income source, ranging between £2-£5 per add-on.
Set a fair price for your after school club that covers the business operating costs and a profit. Be transparent about your pricing and clearly communicate the value you offer to parents and carers.
After school club marketing channels
Marketing your after school club is vital for its success. By using a combination of marketing tools, you can reach a wider audience and attract new customers for your business.
Building relationships with schools in the area will help you reach potential customers while providing an open day will encourage bookings. Produce flyers detailing the activities at your club and distribute them in areas where parents and carers are likely to spend their time. Remember, word of mouth is one of the most powerful marketing tools! Encourage current customers to refer others to your after school club by offering incentives.
Social Media is another great tool to share information about your after school club and the activities you offer. Although ensure you have written permission to share images of the children.
Venue and equipment
Identify suitable premises for your after school club that is accessible for children and parents. The area should provide enough space for children to participate in activities.
You'll need to provide equipment for the activities you plan to run. This may include sports equipment, arts and crafts materials, games, and toys. Ensure that the equipment is safe, in good condition, and suitable for the age group of the children.
Hiring staff members
Hire staff who are qualified, experienced, and passionate about working with children. Consider hiring a mix of full-time and part-time staff, depending on your needs and budget. Remember your Ofsted ratios to ensure you are proving sufficient care for the number of children attending your club.
When hiring new members of staff you need to effectively define the job role, the qualifications, and the experience required, and advertise through effective channels. This will help you attract the right candidates. All staff members will require an enhanced DBS check; a mandatory procedure for staff who work with children.
Manage bookings and payment collection
One way to manage bookings and payment collections is through a paper-based system. Although this can be suitable for small after school clubs, it can be time-consuming and prone to errors. We’d recommend using an online booking system such as Pembee. This will allow parents and carers to book services online, handle the registration process automatically, generate an activity attendance register automatically and ensure that you are running your after school club efficiently.
For payment collection, we’d recommend card payments as cash payment collection can be prone to error or theft. If you are registered with the government's Tax-Free Childcare scheme, you can offer Tax-Free Childcare as a payment option. This scheme provides financial support to families with children under the age of 12.
After school club activity ideas
After school clubs provide an opportunity to explore topics and subject matters that are not taught within the classroom, ranging from activity club, art club, volunteer work. This allows children the chance to explore personal interests, discover hidden talents, and apply the knowledge they’ve gained in the classroom to external subject matters. Learning can be experienced through gardening classes, nature exploration, photography workshops, sports days, food-based activities, and dance classes.
For more inspiration on activities you can explore, check out our blog post after school club activity ideas list.
Setting up an after school club in the UK requires careful business planning and consideration of legal requirements. By following the guidance within this article, you can establish a successful after school club that provides high-quality childcare for children of all ages.