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Out of School clubs are essential for many families, offering childcare solutions outside of regular school hours and during school holidays. However, the quality of care and the experiences that children have in these settings are greatly influenced by the qualifications, skills, and competencies of the staff involved. In this article, we explore the necessary qualifications required for the staff at your club and the importance of professional development in this sector.

Why are well-qualified staff so important?

In essence, qualified staff forms the backbone of any effective Out of School Club, playing a vital role in delivering high-quality, safe, and stimulating child care. As a club owner, investing in your staff’s qualifications and continuous professional development is indeed an investment in the future of your club and the children who attend it.

The legal requirements for staff qualifications depend on whether your club is registered with Ofsted, the Office for Standards in Education, Children’s Services, and Skills. If your club is registered, then there are minimum requirements for staff qualifications, including first aid training and safeguarding.

Qualifications Based On Registration Type:

Ofsted manages several registers, including the Early Years Register, the Compulsory Childcare Register, and the Voluntary Childcare Register. If your club might be registered under one or more of these registers, depending on the ages of the children they cater to. The qualification and training requirements will vary based on which register your club is listed on.

Early Years Register Requirements:

When it comes to the Early Years Register, there are different requirements based on the children’s age attending the club. If all the children are of reception age or above, the club enjoys some exemptions from the standard Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) qualification requirements.

These requirements mandate having:

  • A first aider with a 12-hour Paediatric Care First Aid qualification.

  • Staff trained in understanding the club’s safeguarding policy and procedures, recognising signs of abuse and neglect, and detecting signs of radicalisation.

  • Staff involved in food preparation trained in food handling.

  • Designated personnel for child protection, special educational needs coordination (SENCO), and equalities named coordination (ENCO), the latter being mandatory in many local authorities.

However, if the club accommodates any child younger than reception age, the staffing arrangements must meet the standard EYFS qualification requirements. These requirements are more stringent, with the session supervisor and setting manager required to hold a relevant Level 3 qualification or above, and half of the remaining staff catering to pre-school children needing a relevant Level 2 qualification.

Compulsory Childcare Register Requirements

Clubs registered under the Compulsory Childcare Register must ensure:

  • The presence of a first aider with the 12-Hour Paediatric Care First Aid qualification.

  • Staff trained in understanding safeguarding policies, and recognising signs of abuse, neglect, and radicalisation.

  • Staff involved in food preparation have received food handling training.

  • A designated child protection person, with a Child Protection Level 1 or Basic qualification, is part of the staff.

Voluntary Childcare Register Requirements

  • Have a first aider with the 12-Hour Paediatric Care First Aid qualification.

  • Ensure staff involved in food preparation have received some form of food handling training.

  • Have at least one member of staff with a Level 2 qualification in a relevant area or training in common core skills.

The Scope of Qualifications

Apart from these specific requirements, a general criterion that applies to all registers includes:

  1. Staff must have a sufficient command of the English language to ensure children’s safety in their care. This includes tasks like record-keeping, liaising with external agencies like emergency services, and understanding instructions for administering medication.

  2. A fire safety officer is not a statutory requirement but it is good practice to have a named person taking responsibility for fire drills and record keeping.

  3. A designated SENCO (special educational needs coordinator).

  4. A designated ENCO (equalities named coordinator) [required by many local authorities but not a statutory requirement]

While these requirements are not mandatory for your club, having them can set your club apart from the others by giving parents a vote of confidence as well as assuring them that their little ones are well taken care of.

Continuous Professional Development (CPD)

As part of your staff training efforts - Continual professional development is a significant aspect of maintaining high quality at your club as well as for building trust with parents. Offering ongoing training and development opportunities for staff, including short courses and workshops on topics like behaviour management, special educational needs and disabilities (SEND), food hygiene, and additional safeguarding topics is vital to ensure that your club is doing its due diligence. These sessions help your staff to develop and hone their skills, stay up-to-date with current best practices and legislation, and continually improve the service they provide.

The Impact of Higher Qualifications

While the minimum qualification requirements may seem somewhat limited, there is a growing recognition in the sector of the positive impact that higher qualifications and professional development can have on the quality of provision. Higher qualified staff are often better equipped to support children’s learning and development, understand and manage children’s behaviour, and respond appropriately to any safeguarding concerns.

Although there may not be a legal requirement for all staff to have specific qualifications beyond first aid and safeguarding training, there’s no denying the crucial role that qualified and skilled staff play in delivering high-quality care. Encouraging your staff to gain further qualifications and providing opportunities for continuous professional development can significantly improve the quality of care and learning experiences offered to children in your care. After all, it’s the skills, knowledge, and passion of the staff that can truly make your club a place where children and their families feel safe, valued, and excited to learn.