The guidance for holiday clubs, published on 1 July 2020 and updated on 10 July, sets out how holiday clubs are allowed to open over the summer holidays. You can download the latest guidance here:
Protective measures for out of school settings during the coronavirus outbreak
The DfE guidance has been written to encompass every possible kind of holiday club, activity club, youth group or out of school setting, for children from the age of 5 up to 18. And for this reason the wording is not always as clear as it might be. We have therefore gone through the guidance and highlighted the points that are most likely to cause concern for holiday club providers.
Key points for holiday clubs
The key points that holiday clubs that provide childcare for primary school-aged children need to be aware of, are as follows:
- Holiday clubs can’t open until the state schools in their area break up for the summer holidays. For many clubs this means that they can open from 20 July, but the exact date will vary from area to area.
- The guidance applies to settings registered on the Childcare Register (the Compulsory or the Voluntary part) and also to settings which are unregulated by Ofsted. (The guidance unhelpfully decided to call these unregulated settings ‘out of school settings’ or OOSS, which led to some confusion with the terminology.)
- Many holiday clubs are registered on both the Early Years Register and the Childcare Register. You should follow the published guidance for Early Years settings for the early years children at your club, and the guidance for holiday clubs for the older children. The crucial difference in the guidance between the two registers is that early years children don’t need to be kept in bubbles from 20 July, but the older children do.
- Holiday clubs are not subject to the restriction of only opening on school sites. They can open on any type of premises that is currently allowed to open. Note that dance studios, sports halls and indoor sports facilities aren’t allowed to open until 25 July. (And of course, Ofsted registered settings can only operate on the premises named in their Ofsted registration.)
- Holiday clubs are not subject to the restriction of only taking the children from one school. Although the government wants to limit the mixing of children as much as possible, and would prefer if clubs only took children from the immediate area, it recognises that the nature of holiday clubs means that they often take children from several schools.
- Holiday clubs must keep the children in small separate groups. These groups can contain a maximum of 15 children. You are free to use smaller groups of children. You may find it easier to arrange your groups according to your staffing ratios, so if you normally operate at a ratio of 1:10 you could assign the children to groups of 10.
- You are not limited on the number of groups that you have at your holiday club, so long as the size and layout of your premises enables you to keep them all physically separate. This does not necessarily mean that each group has to be in a separate room. You could potentially have several groups in the same large hall, so long as you were able to keep them in separate zones, with buffer space in between each zone, and the children were not allowed to move between zones.
- You should try to keep the composition of these groups of children as consistent as possible from session to session. The ‘gold standard’ is to keep each group exactly the same every day. This may be possible for clubs which only allow weekly bookings, but is not feasible for clubs which allow parents to book part weeks or single days. In these cases you should arrange your groups to ensure that there is as little change to the group as possible from one session to the next.
- It is essential that you keep meticulous records of which group each child attends, and the staff who were working with that group, on each day. In this way, if a child tests positive for Covid-19 it will be easy to identify which other children (and staff) they have been in contact with.
- As long as you are meeting the requirements of the guidance for holiday clubs, you can operate indoors or out of doors using group sizes of up to 15. As a general principle you should aim to hold as much as possible of your club sessions outdoors, because the virus seems to spread less readily outside.
- It's only if you are unable to meet the requirements of the guidance that you are restricted to only operating out of doors, in groups of five children with one member of staff, and everyone needing to keep 2m apart.
What we have highlighted above are the issues that seem to be causing the most uncertainty for holiday club providers. There are further details within the guidance about the recommended procedures to follow if there is a suspected or confirmed case of Covid-19 at your club as well as recommendations for safe working practices for your staff, infection control, safeguarding children and so forth, which you also need to have regard to.
Ofsted requirements still apply
Also a reminder that the Ofsted requirements have not changed (with the exception of a slight relaxation of the rules about paediatric first aid certificates), and any holiday clubs which are registered with Ofsted must still meet the requirements of the Early Years Register and/or the Childcare Register as applicable.