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Thinking of setting up a new holiday club for kids? Although there is no dearth of information these days, we know how difficult it can sometimes be to find all the relevant information you need, in one place. As a large part of our clientele are from the after school club and holiday club sector, we are now doing a series of articles to help you with useful club set-up information and links to helpful sources.

In today’s post, we’ll focus on the regulations and nuances to be aware of when setting up a holiday club in the UK.

Setting up a Holiday Club (Holiday Play Scheme) in England

Registering your Club

If you are planning to set up a new holiday club (that is, not as an extension to your current after school club or preschool), you will need to register your club with Ofsted.

You do not, however, require to register with Ofsted, if you fulfil any one or more of the following criteria:

  1. All the children in your setting will be eight years of age or older
  1. You plan to operate your holiday club as an activity-based club where you will provide one-on-one coaching for a maximum of two activities or skills. E.g.) Tennis coaching,  Spanish lessons. You can find more information on our post on setting up an activity-club.
  1. Your club will only operate for 14 days or less/ year. But, there is a catch with this one! If this is the only reason why you are claiming exemption, you will still need to ‘notify’ Ofsted that you will be running a club. Remember to download the exemption notification form from the Ofsted website and mail/email the completed form to them, at least two weeks before you start.
  1. If your club is run directly by a school, and if at least one child from the school attends the club, the club will come under the school's Ofsted registration. However, if the only reason why you claim an exemption is that the club is run directly by a school, you will still need to abide by the requirements set out by the Childcare or Early Years Register.

For more details on registration exemptions, check out Ofsted’s Early Years and Childcare Registration Handbook.

Now, what if you are adding a Holiday Play Scheme to your After School Club?

If you are planning to add a holiday scheme to your Ofsted-registered out of school club/nursery, you do not need a separate registration for your holiday play scheme. However, you will still need to notify Ofsted by writing or email about the changes in hours and operating times. Once you have done that, you can start operations right away without waiting for approval/acknowledgement from them.

Staffing and DBS

If your club is registered with Ofsted (on the Childcare or Early Years Register or both), you should follow the same staffing requirements and qualifications as that of after school clubs. You can find more details in our post on Staff qualifications for out of school clubs.

All staff/ volunteers (aged over 16) working unsupervised with children at your club should have an enhanced DBS check, irrespective of whether you are registered with Ofsted or not.

Setting up a Holiday Club in Scotland

Registering your club

 If you are setting up a holiday club or Holiday play Scheme in Scotland, you are legally required to register your club with the Care Inspectorate, after you identify the premises for your setting.

Similar to Ofsted, you are legally exempt from registering with the Care Inspectorate, if:

  • You plan to operate as an activity-based club for (sports/drama/arts/music etc.) and your primary objective is not to provide childcare but to focus on skill development in a specific activity
  • If your club operates for less than 2 hours a day for less than six consecutive days in a year (Confirm with the Care Inspectorate, detailing your individual circumstances)

Staffing and DBS

The recommended staff: child ratio is 1:10 for children aged eight years and over, and 1:8 for children aged three and over. You can sometimes go for a ratio of 1:10 if you have a mix of children from different age groups. But this would be dependent on the discretion of your local Care Inspectorate Officer.

Even if you have eight children or less at your setting, a minimum of 2 staff members must be present at all times during each session. All staff members should also provide a satisfactory, enhanced DSB disclosure.

Check out our post on staff qualifications for more staffing details.



Setting up a Holiday Club in Northern Ireland

Registering your club

As per the NI (Order) 1995, all childcare facilities, including holiday clubs and after school clubs should be registered with your local Trust. You are exempt from registering your holiday club if the purpose of your club is to provide:

  • Educational tuition
  • Activities to enhance children’s skills or attainment
  • Religious/leisure or recreational activities

If you are unsure if your club would qualify for an exemption, you can check directly with the Early Years Team who are responsible for the registration, support, inspection and monitoring of childcare providers in Northern Ireland.

Now, if you are required to register your setting, it is ideal to start out by identifying suitable premises and contacting the Early Years team to confirm its suitability for your club. A social worker will then visit your premises to determine if it meets the recommended regulatory requirements. This will prevent you from having an unnecessary financial outlay before commencing with your registration process.

Also, remember to go through the Minimum Standards Guidance by the Department for Health, Social Services and Public Safety for a clear picture of the minimum levels of service you will need to provide to be registered with the Trust and meet the inspection standards.

Once you are sure you would like to proceed with the application, you can fill out the registration form online or by contacting your local Early Years Team.

Staffing and DBS

The standard recommended staff: children ratio is 1: 8 for 3-12-year-olds. However, regardless of group size, a minimum of two staff members should be present with the children at all times.

The manager/person in charge and all deputies should have relevant qualification and direct experience of working with children for a minimum of 2 years. At least half of all other childcare staff should hold a relevant qualification while the remaining staff must be working towards their qualification.

It is recommended that you register with Access NI to carry out a criminal records check (Access NI Enhanced Disclosure Certificate) for all members of your staff. You can find more details on the AccessNI website.


Setting up a Holiday Club in Wales

Registering your club

 The Care and Social Services Inspectorate Wales is the regulatory body for out of school care and holiday care in Wales. It is mandatory to register your club with the CSSIW if your club accepts children under the age of 12, for more than 2 hours in any one day.

Before you start your registration, you should complete the following steps:

  1. Contact Clybiau Plant Cymru Kids Clubs/ Play Wales and enquire about setting up a holiday club in your area
  2. Contact your local Family Information Service and complete pre-registration training
  3. Complete the ‘Introduction to Childcare’ course organised by your local authority

Once you are ready to submit the application, you can call the Care Inspectorate on 0300 126 7900 and complete the registration process by phone. Check out the Care Inspectorate Wales website for more details.

Staffing and DBS

The manager/supervisor of the club must have at least two years’ of relevant childcare experience and a recognised level 3 qualification on  Skills Active's Integrated Qualification Framework for Playwork. At least 50% of the remaining staff should hold a level 2 qualification as set out by the Care Council for Wales.

All staff should also undergo an enhanced Criminal Records Bureau disclosure.


Regional organisations for information and guidance:


Ofsted Guidance for Childcare Providers

Out of School Alliance (OOSA)


Care Inspectorate

Scottish Out of School club Network (SOSCN)

Northern Ireland:

Access NI

Northern Ireland Social Care Council (NISCC)


Care Inspectorate Wales



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