Welcome to Bedford Borough Council

Our Services A - Z :

Choosing Out of School Care

What is Out of School Care?

Out of school clubs provide care for children of school age outside of normal school hours to play, relax and have fun in groups.  Schemes can provide care before and after school and all day during school holidays (this will vary from one club to the next). 


Breakfast Clubs

Breakfast clubs run before school. Parents / carers drop the children off at the club and then the club staff take the children to school. Breakfast is provided and children are able to participate in activities.

After School clubs

After school clubs run straight after school.  Children will be given a snack and participate in activities or complete homework.

Schools’ extended services

Many schools provide extended services for children. This means things like homework clubs, sports activities, drama clubs etc. 

Holiday Playschemes

Holiday playschemes operate at varying times between 8am and 6pm during school holidays.


Plus points

  • children can relax after school and have fun with their friends.
  • geared to the needs of children with working parents
  • offer a wide range of activities which children may not have the opportunity to carry out at home


Have a look at our Early Help Directory for a list of out of school care and holiday schemes in Bedford Borough, or call us on 0800 023 2057.



All services provided by a school are inspected by the Office for Standards in Education (Ofsted) as part of the school’s regular inspection, to make sure they meet specific standards and that staff are suitable to care for children and young people.

Out of school clubs not run by a school, caring for children under eight years old for more than two hours per day and for more than 14 days per year must also be registered on the Ofsted Childcare Register.

Clubs that are for under 8s and run for less than 2 hours or those that are only for children over 8 do not need to register with Ofsted but can choose to register on the Ofsted Voluntary Childcare Register.

As well as being confident that your child is safe, having the club / activity you are using registered with Ofsted means that you may be eligible to claim the childcare element of the Working Tax Credit or childcare vouchers.

If a club is not registered with Ofsted, it is always worth enquiring about any quality accreditation that they may hold and whether staff working at the scheme have had a Disclosure and Barring Service check (formerly a CRB check).

Ofsted registration requirements will specify the number of children that are allowed to be on the premises at any time and the ratio of staff to children.  The minimum ratios are as set out below:


Children aged 3 – 8 yrs           -           1 adult to every 8 children


When you visit

Try to take notes as you go along, for reference later. You must be your own judge of what is best for you and your child, but the lists below may help guide you on points to look for and what to ask.


Things to consider and questions to ask

  • Is the age range of the club suitable for your child?
  • Do the times of the sessions fit in with your requirements?
  • What activities are on offer?  Is there a variety of equipment?
  • How much does each session cost?  Are there reductions for regular or block bookings or siblings?  Are there any additional charges for extra activities?
  • Are outings arranged during the holidays?  Are you happy with the supervision?
  • Ask about staffing arrangements.  How many are there?  What qualifications do they have?
  • How many children attend?
  • Do they provide snacks / meals and cater for any special dietary requirements?
  • If possible visit the club whilst it is in session and see if the children appear relaxed and happy.
  • If the activity / club is not registered with Ofsted then make sure that all the staff running the scheme have had a Disclosure and Barring Service check (formerly a CRB check).


General points to consider

  • Are the children calm, safe and happy?
  • Do children play and talk together?
  • Are the staff listening to children and answering them?
  • Are the staff friendly and proud of their work?
  • Are the staff joining in with what the children are doing?
  • Are the premises clean, well kept and safe for children with a fun outside play area (or will children go to parks and other places regularly)?
  • Do parents have plenty of chances to say what they want for their children?
  • If there are other things you want to know, do not be afraid to ask. Good childcare staff expect you to ask questions and will be happy to answer them.


Do you have a child with a disability or additional need?

Bedford Borough Council is committed to ensuring that all childcare and early years settings in Bedford Borough provide a service that includes all children.  We believe that every child has a right to a safe, stimulating and inclusive environment to enable them to reach their full potential. 

Fees and conditions

Costs vary greatly depending on hours and activities provided.

  • Breakfast and after schools clubs usually charge £3.00 - £4.00 per hour
  • Holiday clubs charge in the region of £20.00 - £25.00 per day.
  • Schools’ extended services activities / clubs are usually free but you may have to pay for things such as music clubs.


You may be entitled to some help with your childcare costs, please contact the Family Information Service on 0800 023 2057 for more information.


What to do if you are not happy with your childcare

If you are not happy with the care that your child is receiving and have spoken with your carer but are still not satisfied with the outcome, then you can phone the Ofsted Complaints Line on 0300 1234 4666.

Ofsted will investigate any complaints about providers and take enforcement action if providers do not meet the standards set.

If you are using a scheme which is not registered with Ofsted and you have a concern regarding the health and safety of children at the scheme then please contact the police.


Find out more

For a list of out of school care provisions in your area please contact Bedford Borough Family Information Service.

Freephone 0800 023 2057

Lines open: Mon - Thurs 8am – 5.15pm, and Fri 8am – 4.45pm. 24 hours answerphone service.

If you would like to speak to someone face to face please call on the above number to arrange an appointment.


Email: fis@bedford.gov.uk

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