what is OSC?

Out of School Care can be variously known as Breakfast clubs, After school services, Holiday clubs and Play services

Out of school care (OSC), also known as after school care (ASC), or school age childcare, is the provision of a safe, caring environment offering a range of active, stimulating and restful activities for school age children before and after school and during holidays. Out of school care enables parents to take up employment, education and training opportunities.

Out of school care schemes take parental responsibility for the children in their care. OSC services must register with the Care Inspectorate All workers should go pass a police disclosure check through the Protecting Vulnerable Groups scheme and most have to register with the SSSC and gain qualifications relevant for their role.

OSC services may start between 7.30 and 8.00am to provide childcare before the start of the school day. This type of service usually consists of a breakfast club which provides children with breakfast. Services will then operate from the end of the school day until 5.30 or 6.00pm.

During school holidays (Easter, Summer, Christmas etc) many clubs operate all day (usually from 8.00am to 6.00pm). Some also operate during teacher training or in-service days, polling days and half-term holidays.

A "mixed economy" of OSC services has developed over recent years. The majority of clubs are run by voluntary organisations using parent management or advisory groups, but a growing number of clubs are now setting up as a community businesses. Some out of school care services are run by local authorities . Out of school care clubs are based in a variety of premises including schools, community centres, church halls, nurseries etc.

Other Features

Other features of OSC services include:

  • provision of meals/snacks as appropriate
  • supervised collection of children at the end of the day by a parent/guardian or a named adult
  • parental involvement in the management and policy development of services
  • OSC, even when based in school premises, is separate from and has a different function to, formal education.

How much should it cost?

Fees for OSC services vary depending upon the funding source, opening hours, service offered, etc. Parents on low-income can access tax breaks (Child Care Tax Credit) to ease payment of fees.

What are the benefits of OSC?

For children OSC provides:

  • safety and security with care provided by experienced, trained and qualified staff
  • a range of activities and play equipment all different from, but complementary to, the school curriculum
  • the opportunity to socialise and play with other children
  • Access to social, leisure, rest, recreational, cultural and play in terms of their rights under Article 31 of the UNCRC
  • Space for physical activities in doors and out
  • Healthy snacks

For parents OSC provides:

  • support to enable them to take up work, education or training opportunities
  • peace of mind, knowing that their children will be well cared for, and therefore greater effectiveness at work
  • the opportunity to become involved in the planning and running of the club through involvement in the management committee or parent's advisory group

OSC benefits employers by providing the means to recruit and retain a stable workforce. It also draws new people into the labour market and improves staff efficiency and staff morale. Within communities OSC provision assists in the creation of employment and training or local people and provides opportunities for economic development and regeneration, through the creation of new business and new jobs.

Thus, by providing a service which meets the needs of children, OSC also contributes to economic and community development, to the quality of life and families and has a major part to play in the promotion of "social inclusion".

The Scottish Out of School Care Network welcomes enquiries from those seeking more detailed information.

last updated: 29/11/2023