Little Market School Club Finding A School Club
How To Find An After School Club
After school care. It’s important. So much so that the Government requires schools to ensure that children who need out of school care have access to it.
Making the right choice can take some time but it’s well worth it especially as there is so much to take into consideration.
So how do you find an after school club for your child?
Is it best to go to nearest after school club? Is it as simple as typing ‘after school club near me’ in Google?
Here are a few suggestions:
Google can be helpful tool. When you put ‘after school club’ it should bring up the ones in your area, but typing terms like: ‘nearest after school club’, ‘find after school club in my area’, and ‘after school club near me’ will bring up after school clubs near you.
Once you have your list, do your research and make sure you cover all the basic elements like cost, location (such as proximity to school and your house), opening hours, flexibility. You’ll be able to find out most of this online.
Visit the clubs you have in mind along with your child, perhaps pick them up from school and take them straight there, that way both you and your child get to experience the journey and get a realistic view of what it may be like. Plus you’ll be able to see how the other children behave and treat each other and most importantly how the staff interact with them.
It may also be an idea to drop in unexpectedly to get a real feel of the place, and go with some prepared questions.
As well as being appropriately trained (such as the right qualifications including DBS – formerly CRB – and first aid), do the staff look happy? You don’t want someone with low morale to be looking after your child, so it’s worth knowing what the staff benefits are – are they well remunerated for the time they give?
The chances are they’ll be part of a school or nursery and not just an after school care club. A high staff turnover should raise alarm bells.
Talk to the staff – what does your gut instinct tell you? Are they warm and friendly and do they instil confidence that they can take care of your child? If you know parents who know the staff or have children there, get their opinions also. Don’t be afraid to ask for references, to check qualifications including DBS and Ofsted registration and to go back for a second visit.
Most of the staff you meet will understand your concerns and would be more than happy to answer all your questions and show you all you need to see to put your mind at ease.
Also a quick note on ratios – the legal requirement for children between reception age and eight is 1:30, but the suggested is 1:10. Obviously the lower the ratio the better.
This vary but you’ll be able to get a feel of whether they are offering value for money. It’s worth comparing notes with other parents, but do bear in mind costs vary based on what they offer, though a high price tag is not necessarily an indicator of a good after school club! Depending on your child’s age and your financial situation your child may be entitled to 15 free hours a week of early education which can make a big difference! In addition you may be entitled to tax credits or child care vouchers while you are working, and free childcare if you are a full-time student in receipt of student finance.
Parents’ experiences is worth its weight it gold when trying to find an after school club, so it’s worth talking to parents in the area as well as one or two parents when you visit. If your child has particular needs similar to a friend’s child, ask them how their after school club caters for that child’s needs.
Also what about your child’s personality? Are they introverts? If so, would a smaller club be better than a big club? Or do you know from experience that your child would be better in an environment where staff are more hands on and perhaps there is a higher staff to children ratio?
Out of school clubs must register with Ofsted to meet the National Standards in order to operate. The standard ensures they are suitable to be carers of children, the premises is safe and the insurance is up to date.
– Expectations: Be clear about what yours are.
– Pastoral care: What are the routines? Is there flexibility? How do they discipline children? There should be a written policy. Are staff friendly and do they show affection?
– Supervision: What’s the team structure? Who supervises and how?
– Environment: Is it secure, does it feel nurturing? Is there outdoor space?
– Diet: Is what they offer nutritious? Is there access to water when they want it? Do they cater for special requirements?
– Equipment: Is it creative, varied, plentiful, of a high standard? Do displays show different cultures in a positive way?
– Health habits: Are the toilets and basins clean? What about the rooms, floor sand corridors?
– Qualifications: What training and experience does the team have? Don’t be afraid to ask the personally.
– Safety: What happens in the case of an emergency or accident? What safety policies are in place?
– Inspection reports: Ask for a copy of the latest Ofsted inspection report?
In the early days, especially if your child has just started school, you may find it helpful to have a quick chat with the staff once a week or so to see how your child is settling in and how the staff are engaging with your child.
Then perhaps at the of term you may want to ask for a slightly longer chat to review your child’s progress.
Do remember though, your child is stronger than you think – once you find an after school club that’s right for you, relax and let the team do their job!