STEP 4 - Identify Premises & Contact the Care Inspectorate

Having analysed the responses you should have your evidence of need as well as an indicator of the number of required childcare places. You now need to find premises which will accommodate these children and at the same time provide a safe and stimulating environment with convenient and quick access to local schools- this is true for private and voluntary providers.

Adult to child ratio

It should be noted that the worker/adult to child ratio is 1:8 for children aged 3 and over, or 1:10 if all children are aged 8 or over. Sometimes even if there is a mix of children you may be allowed to have a 1:10 ratio, this is dependent on your local Care Inspectorate officer. The Scottish Out of School Care Network recommends a ratio of 1:8.

A minimum of two staff must be present at any one time: if you only have eight children or less you still need two staff members. It is therefore best to work out the number of places you wish to offer on a “basis of eight”. For example, the minimum number of places you should offer is 16 but instead of offering say 26 places which would require four staff members, provide 24 (to start with at least) as this requires only three staff members.

“Overstaffing” a service, although potentially good for the quality of care, can create financial difficulties. It is recommended that groups do not do this, at least not until well established and confident that this extra cost can be covered.

Please note that the number of childcare places which you can provide is regulated by and registered with the Care Inspectorate and is ultimately dependent on the size of premises you are operating in. To operate over the registered number of places is illegal. Once operating but find you wish to provide more childcare places you must contact the Care Inspectorate in order to see if a change in registered places is possible.

Space Standards in Non-domestic Premises

The Care Inspectorate will measure the size of your proposed premises and inform you of the maximum number of children you can be registered to care for. The space per child ratio for children aged 3 and over is 2.3 square metres although the Care Inspectorate has discretion to vary the standard according to circumstances.

You can choose to be registered for a number lesser than the maximum.

4.1 Premises

Premises should be selected which are fit for the purpose of caring for children. Premises should be flexible enough to contain the wide range of activities that will be offered; ideally this will include a large hall for running around; another room for quieter, less physical activities; kitchen space; storage space for all equipment and an office. Access to outdoor play space and play equipment as well as a garden is also desirable. Ensure that you have sufficient storage space to house all your equipment.

Ideally you will have exclusive use of the premises but in reality you may find you have to share them with other groups and organisations. Access to all these spaces everyday may be limited- you may have to use the kitchen or large hall on a weekly rota basis. If this is the case, these times should be timetabled into the programme of activities; having said that, access to the same room, probably the quiet room, must be guaranteed on a daily basis.

If you are sharing facilities you need to be aware that you will probably be required to set-up and pack away equipment each day- this can take up to half an hour at the beginning and end of the day. The preparation of the room should take place before any of the children have arrived- something to take into consideration when employing workers. It is preferable that storage is well-organised, abundant and close to your room. From experience, storage space is the biggest problem with premises as reported by groups.

Sharing limited space with other organisations can be stressful; it is advisable that a polite and professional relationship is maintained at all times with headteachers, cleaners, caretakers etc.

Ideally the premises should be located close to the school(s) so that children can be walked from there to the out of school care, otherwise transport will need to be organised at extra cost.

As a service provider, under the Disability Discrimination Act 1995 (DDA), an OSC has the responsibility for ensuring that the premises are fully accessible to all children and young people, workers, and visitors. You may need to make physical adjustments to the building to comply.

Disability Discrimination Act 1995 (DDA)

The Disability Discrimination Act was passed in 1995 as way of protecting the rights of disabled peopled and providing them with the same opportunities as non-disabled individuals. The DDA protects disabled people's rights in employment; their access to goods, facilities and services; the management, buying or renting of land or property and education.

The law was phased in over a period of 8 years giving every service provider the opportunity to prepare and make appropriate adjustments in order to meet legal requirements. A service provider is anyone or organisation who provides a service: after school care services, shops, banks, businesses etc. The last stage of the act was introduced in October 2004.

It is now illegal to treat disabled people less favourably than others for a reason relating to their disability; all service providers must ensure they have made reasonable adjustments to service provision, including physical adjustments to any physical barriers to access.

The DDA not only affects individuals using a service, it is also relevant to anyone employed by a service provider.

Not complying with the DDA can result in prosecution.

For additional information and advice please contact the Disability Rights Commission (DRC).

4.2 Type of Premises

Out of school care clubs are commonly located in a variety of premises such as community centres, village halls and church halls but the majority, 53% , is located in school premises. As these are not purpose built for childcare and are used by a number of other services they are not always ideal. A very small number of OSC clubs have their own dedicated premises with exclusive use.

School premises are popular because many of the children are already on site. Of course, if your OSC serves schools other than the one where the OSC is located then you will need to organise either a walking escort or transportation. Some local authorities positively support OSC within school premises and others do not, although according to recommendations made by the Scottish Executive in School's Out- Framework for the development of Out of School Care (2003) all local authorities should

“examine the scope for using local authority premises, As part of the roll-out of the New Community Schools (and associated pre-school centres) to have clubs on their premises.” (p 104)

Currently some local authorities provide access to school premises at no cost, others provide it at low cost and some are reluctant for OSC to be based within schools.

School's Out- Framework for the Development of Out of School Care

“School's Out” is a document detailing the nature and benefits of OSC as well as providing a number of recommendations for the continued success and development of out of school care in Scotland. Written and published in 2003 by the Scottish Executive, “School's Out” remains the blueprint for out of school care in Scotland. The Scottish Out of School Care Network played a key role in the development and publication of the book.

A copy of the document is available to download from our publications library: here.

4.3 Contact the Care Inspectorate

Once you have identified possible premises and checked their availability for accommodating your OSC service contact your local Care Inspectorate office. A list of Care Inspectorate offices can be found here: You should work in close collaboration from now on with your local Care Inspectorate officer as they will provide you with your registration certificate and thus your permission to open the service.

N.B. It is a legal requirement to register with the Care Inspectorate if you are providing childcare for two or more consecutive hours on a daily basis. Not registering with the Care Inspectorate could lead to prosecution.

The Care Inspectorate

The Care Inspectorate is the regulatory body in Scotland responsible for registering and inspecting OSC services against the Scottish National Care Standards. All OSC services must register with the Care Inspectorate prior to operating and should work closely with their local Care Inspectorate officer in order to achieve the systems and standards necessary for opening the service.

Apart from the initial inspection to gain your registration certificate, the Care Inspectorate inspects OSC services, sometimes on an annual basis, or less frequently for established and high quality services. The Care Inspectorate measures an OSC service against a set of standards called the National Care Standards. An OSC service is expected to have number of policies and procedures in place which support the implementation of the standards.

Health and Social Care Standards

The new Health and Social Care Standards came into effect in April 2018. The new Standards replace the National Care Standards and are now relevant across all health and social care provision. They are no longer just focused on regulated care settings, but for use in social care, early learning and childcare, children's services, social work, health provision, and community justice.

A pdf version of the Standards can be downloaded from our publications library here.

4.4 Secure Tenure of Premises

Once the Care Inspectorate has visited the potential premises and agreed that they are suitable for the purposes of an OSC you should secure tenure as soon as possible: this may be a lease or letter of agreement. Although the Care Inspectorate officer may agree to register the premises he/she may also recommend adaptations to the building before finally providing the registration certificate. If this is the case then you need to ensure that all work is carried out.

last updated: 29/11/2023