contracts, costs, fees and cancellations

It often comes as a surprise to many parents that their local out of school service or holiday care service is not a statutory service run by their local council. With the notable exception of a few local authorities, the majority of services in Scotland are run by volunteer management committees (staff are paid but the management committee are not); some larger charities such as the YMCA, or the independent sector. As many are co-located in schools, but never managed by them, it is understandable that parents assume this is a council service.

There is not, at the current date, any statutory obligation in Scotland for out of school or holiday care to be provided. The Scottish Out of School Care Network, alongside many other national organisations, has consistently lobbied across governments for a statutory right and financial investment in out of school care. Our policy newsletter and policy information pages might interest parents interested in joining in with this lobbying.

This non-statutory status means that very often, unless there is a low cost or free let of school premises, out of school care services receive no funding subsidies at all, or, if cuts are to be made, it is one of the first victims. This is why it is vitally important that parents try to access all the help they can get with Childcare Tax Credits or the new TAX FREE CHILDCARE.

SOSCN's annual workforce survey results provide up to date information on the current average pay and conditions of out of school care staff and we also provide current information on the average costs of out of school care and holiday care. Staff are not highly paid and the costs of out of school care are still significantly less than the amount many parents may have been paying for nursery care.

Since out of school and holiday care services receive no direct subsidies they do have to be even stricter about parents adhering to contractual terms and conditions to pay for their childcare places. This will include ensuring enough notice is given when cancelling a place and asking for registration deposits, advance or annualised payments worked out monthly or weekly (which can suit some parents). Services may now also have clauses in contracts which allow for closure due to circumstances beyond their control, such as snow days. So it is important to check the terms and conditions and understand them in advance.

last updated: 07/07/2023