Out of School Alliance - Help and Support for Out of School Clubs

Ofsted registration

Do I need to register my club with Ofsted?

Although there are a few exceptions, most out of school clubs which provide childcare (as opposed to clubs providing coaching in specific activities such as football, chess or French) will need to be registered with Ofsted. However, if the club is run directly by a school (ie the club's staff are employed by the school governors) and at least one child from the school attends the club, in most cases it will come under the school's own Ofsted registration and does not need to register separately.

Compulsory registration

Childcare provision is regulated and inspected according to the Childcare Act 2006.

Early Years Register
If you are caring for children aged from birth to the 31st August following their fifth birthday you are legally obliged to register with Ofsted on the Early Years Register, and you must comply with the Statutory Framework for the Early Years Foundation Stage, and will be inspected under these criteria. In practice, this means that if your club accepts children who are in their reception year at primary school (or younger) you will need to register on the Early Years Register.

Compulsory Childcare Register
If you care for children from the 1st September following their fifth birthday (ie in Year 1), up to the age of eight you are also required to register on the Compulsory part of the Childcare Register.

Differences between the registers
For an in-depth look at the difference between the registers, and the implications of registering on the Early Years Register, or the Compulsory or Voluntary parts of the Childcare Register, see our article:
Ofsted registers compared

Ofsted guidance
For comprehensive guidance on who needs to register with Ofsted, download the Ofsted publication:
Early Years and Childcare Registration Handbook

Exemptions to compulsory registration

There are a few exceptions to compulsory registration, for example if your setting is a holiday club that operates for 14 days or fewer in a calendar year; if children attend your club for less than two hours per day; or if you are running a club for a particular activity such as karate, piano or chess. Ofsted provides a full list of the exemptions to registration in Annex A: Registration not required of the Registration Handbook.
More about opening a club that is exempt from Ofsted registration

Voluntary registration

If you care for children aged eight to 18, you may also opt to register with the Voluntary part of the Childcare Register. The Voluntary part of the Childcare Register is for childcare providers who:

"care for children for whom compulsory registration is not required, for two or more hours in any one day; or for a period less than two hours where this includes care immediately before or after a school day." Early Years and Childcare Registration Handbook

Registration process

Having decided to open an out of school club you need to submit your registration application fairly rapidly, as the registration process takes around 12 weeks if you are registering on the Childcare Register only, and can take anything up to six months for the Early Years Register.

You can contact Ofsted by writing to:

Piccadilly Gate
Store Street
Manchester M1 2WD

or by telephoning 0300 123 1231

Online application
Ofsted only accepts applications for registration on the Early Years or Childcare Registers via its online system called Ofsted Online. In order to use the Ofsted Online system, you need to have a Government Gateway account so if you don't already have one you should register for this first.
Log in to the Ofsted Online service
More about creating a Government Gateway account

Before you submit your online application to Ofsted you need to already have a DBS Disclosure Notice, and to have sent the Health Declaration Booklet to your GP if your role requires this. If you don't already have a current DBS Disclosure Notice you should apply for one via Ofsted's DBS Disclosure Portal.
More about Ofsted's DBS Disclosure Portal

For full details about the new Ofsted registration process, see:

Pre-registration visit and post-registration inspections
After your registration visit, Ofsted will inspect all new out of school providers who are on the Early Years Register within 30 months of opening and thereafter at least once in every Ofsted inspection cycle.

Note that Ofsted does not normally conduct pre-registration visits or post-registration inspections of clubs that are only on the Childcare Register. Instead around 10% of settings on the Childcare Register are inspected at random each year.

Registration in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland

Ofsted registration applies to settings in England only. If your club is based in Scotland, Wales or NI you will need to register with the appropriate regulatory authority:

  • Wales
    Care and Social Services Inspectorate Wales (CSSIW)
    Telephone 0300 7900 126 or contact the nearest CSSIW regional office for more information.
    Registering with CSSIW

    For help and information on standards and the regulatory framework for out of school clubs and play settings in Wales see: 
    Play Wales

  • Scotland
    The Care Inspectorate (SCSWIS)
    Telephone 0345 600 9527 or contact your nearest regional office for more information.
    Registering with the Care Inspectorate

    For help and information on standards and the regulatory framework for out of school clubs and play settings in Scotland see: 
    The Scottish Out of School Care Network

  • Northern Ireland
    The Health and Social Care Trusts
    Contact your local HSC Trust for more information. 
    Contact details for HSC Trusts

    For help and information on standards and the regulatory framework for out of school clubs and play settings in Northern Ireland see: 
    Play Board NI