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Out of School Clubs

Out of school settings can be set up and run from a variety of different environments.  The provision may be managed by a private provider, school or committee. Each setting will have a particular aim to serve the needs of different groups of children, parents and the community.  Regardless of the differences between each setting, children’s play must be the key element and objective of the staff and children involved.

“Play is freely chosen, personally directed, intrinsically motivated behaviour that actively engages the child”. (Best Play, 2000)

The Early Years Team has a dedicated Early Years consultant for playwork. You can contact her for bespoke training and consultancy as well as support visits and advice.

Some areas we can support you with are……


Meeting the Statutory Requirements

Visit the Ofsted website to check if you need to register and to ensure you are meeting the requirements of the Early Years or Childcare register.


Playwork Principles and EYFS

children on bikesHow to meet the EYFS through playwork. Visit our section on the EYFS:

The EYFS and Playwork

Some websites to support your setting:


Early Years Quality Standard (EYQS)

As an Out of school club you are able to access the EYQS process. Please see EYQS section for more information. 


Leadership and Management


Visit the 'Young in Herts' website for the latest training opportunities:


Check the EYFS Statutory Framework and Ofsted to ensure you are meeting ratios appropriate for your setting

Are your policies in place and up to date?

Check the Ofsted website for the most up to date information

Policies must have:

  • Safeguarding Children                                                 
  • Administering Medicines
  • Behaviour Management                                                    
  • Equality of Opportunities                                    

Procedures – must have:

  • playworker with childrenComplaints / compliments
  • Late and lost
  • Sick child
  • Emergency evacuation of the premises

Procedures / policies – should have;

  • male playworker with child in tunnelConfidentiality
  • No smoking
  • Health and safety, to include



toddler playingPlay is essential to children’s quality of life and exploration of their culture and can be defined in the following ways:
‘Play is freely chosen, personally directed, intrinsically motivated behaviour that actively engages the child. Play can be fun or serious.’ (Best Play, 2000)
‘What children and young people do when they follow their own ideas and interests, in their own way and for their own reasons’. (Getting Serious About Play 2004)

The websites below offer practical ideas and guidance on play


The Environment

Playspaces and Opportunities

A common misconception is that playworkers play with children. In reality playworkers enable children to extend their own play and they enhance the play space so that it is a rich play environment. Playworkers have a key role in protecting spaces where children play so that children, young people and their parents have confidence they can play there.

Role of the playworker

The playworkers core function is to create an environment which will stimulate children’s play and maximise their opportunities for a wide range of play experiences. A skilled and experienced playworker is capable of enriching the child’s play experience both in terms of the design and resources of the physical environment and in terms of the attitudes and culture fostered within the setting.’
A playworker will bring new dimensions to the play environment, act as a resource for the children and provide some of the stimulus for new experiences. Playworkers make themselves available to respond to the needs or the invitation of the child.

Planning for play

It is critical that play providers ensure they plan for play to happen, this requires that they are both respecting children's rights and culture and allowing children to grow and develop through play.  Best Play specifies this can be achieved by setting out seven play objectives: objectives that should apply to any provision which aims to offer children good play opportunities.
The objectives are broad statements, which are intended to set out how the definition of play and the underpinning values and principles should be put into practice. They form the basis against which play provision can be evaluated.

The Seven Play Objectives (Best Play, 2000)

Objective 1: The provision extends the choice and control that children have over their play, the freedom they enjoy and the satisfaction they gain from it.
Objective 2: The provision recognises the child's need to test boundaries and responds positively to that need.
Objective 3: The provision manages the balance between the need to offer risk and the need to keep children safe from harm.
Objective 4: The provision maximises the range of play opportunities.
Objective 5: The provision fosters independence and self-esteem.
Objective 6: The provision fosters children's respect for others and offers opportunities for social interaction.
Objective 7: The provision fosters the child's well-being, healthy growth and development,knowledge and understanding, creativity and capacity to learn.

Have you read the Participation Toolkit and considered how you consult with children?

Do you provide risk and challenge for all your children within their play experiences?

Keeping safe

Risk assessment – There needs to be an element of common sense applied to risk assessment and safety.  Simply taking away all risk is not helpful as children need to take risks to learn how to manage risks.  Providers must strike a balance between assessing risk and the benefits of offering children more challenging play opportunities.

Transport/collection of children - Consider your procedures for any pick up or collection and contact your consultant and Ofsted for advice.


The Wider Community and Partnerships

Some questions to consider…

  • Who are your wider community?
  • Where are your children coming from?
  • How do you plan for these children?
  • What links do you have with the schools you collect from?
  • Are there any local projects you can engage with?