Looking after kids is quite a complicated business as any parent will tell you. Perhaps unsurprisingly, so is setting up and running an out of school club.
On the face of it, they’re all about youngsters having fun. But behind the scenes, there’s a hatful of regulations to stick to. And the kind of scope for things to go wrong that makes having after school club insurance essential.
There’s no doubting that there’s a lot to get to grips with. And that’s only to be expected when the health, safety and overall welfare of children are at stake. Especially when some of the kids in your care might be very young.
So, it’s important to know what’s what and to stay on the right side of the regulations for two big reasons. First, for the sake and safety of the youngsters in your care. And second, to avoid being prosecuted or sued for getting things wrong.
Rules & regs for after school clubs
After school clubs are nothing new but demand has grown as working parents have become the norm. Over the years out of school care has expanded to include breakfast clubs and holiday clubs, too. And there’s been a corresponding expansion in regulation.
Clubs can be set up in a number of different ways and while some are organised as an extension of the school’s offering, others are run as businesses. Others yet are structured as not-for-profits, including charities and charitable incorporated organisations (CIO).
Structure is important because how your club is set up, how long it runs for and who it caters for affect whether you’re legally required to register it with the Office for Standards in Education, Children's Services and Skills (Ofsted). In reality, most clubs will fall into that bracket.
So, while most clubs will need to be Ofsted registered, some won’t. You’re off the hook if:
• Your club exists to provide specific tuition in subjects like single sports, arts, or languages.
• No one in your club attends for more than a 2-hour stretch.
• Your club operates for fewer than 14 days a year.
• Everyone who attends your club is aged 8 or over.
• Your club is run directly by a school and at least one child from the school attends it.
Registering with Ofsted means the Early Years Register if you're caring for kids aged 5 and below on 31 August after their 5th birthday. And the Compulsory Childcare Register if the children at your club are aged between 5 (from 1 September after their 5th birthday) and 8.
There’s also a voluntary register for those clubs that fall outside required registration, with its own code of practice. Being on the voluntary registers allows your club to offer government-subsidised schemes like tax-free childcare, Universal Credit, and childcare vouchers.
Dos and don’ts of running an after school club
Naturally, as a registered club there’s a list of regulations you’ll have to follow. There’s a few differences depending if you’re signed up to the Early Years Register or the Compulsory Childcare Register. But a lot of the principles are the same.
For example: always having a staff member present who’s trained in Paediatric First Aid. Also having staff trained in food handling and hygiene.
As a place of work, you’re also obliged to provide a safe environment for your employees. And that means following the guideline set out by the Health & Safety Executive, including carrying out risk assessments to eliminate potential hazards.
As far as staffing goes, your employees aren’t required to have recognised childcare or playwork qualifications (presuming your club doesn’t cater for children below reception age). It’s good practice to have trained staff though, and your insurer may insist on it.
Staff ratios are generous too, at 1:30 children. Again, it’s viewed positively both by regulators and parents if you have more staff present at sessions than the legal minimum. And insurers may require a minimum ratio of 1:8.
All staff must be trained in child protection, however. And all must be checked and cleared by the Disclosure and Barring Service before starting work.
What after school club insurance do you need?
Public liability insurance
Public liability (PL) insurance is a no-brainer for after school clubs. That’s because it covers you for accidents and mishaps that can happen during club sessions. And we’re all aware how accident-prone kids can be.
Maybe a child is hurt when a piece of equipment breaks. Or a parent says their kid was injured because an activity wasn’t properly supervised. Perhaps a parent arriving to collect their child skids on a pool of spilled water and breaks a leg. Or a big window gets smashed during a game of dodgeball.
PL covers you for all kinds of incidents and accidents said to be your fault. And it does so by paying for a lawyer to represent you and covering all your legal costs. It also picks up the bill for any compensation you have to pay.
If your club caters for children classed as vulnerable, PL can also help with accusations of abuse.
Employers’ liability insurance
Your staff are another main concern and by law you’re required to protect them with employers' liability cover. It’s advisable to have EL for your volunteers too. Getting caught without EL can mean a fine of £2,500 for each day you were meant to have it but didn’t.
If a staff member claims they were injured or made ill by the work they do for your club (it happens), EL covers all your legal costs. If there’s compensation to be paid it covers that too. So, your employee is fully compensated, but your club doesn’t suffer financially.
Contents & portable equipment insurance
If your after school club relies on equipment, you’ll want to protect it. Otherwise, the club can’t run. That can be anything from arts and crafts or sports kit, to AV equipment including TVs, gaming consoles and sound systems. Computers and laptops too.
Contents and portable equipment insurance protects your stuff. If anything’s damaged or goes missing, say if there’s a burst pipe or a break-in, this policy has you covered. It pays either for repairs or replacement as new and helps keep your club running.
For clubs set up as not-for-profits with trustees or a management committee, trustees’ insurance is essential. That’s because trustees are in a position of responsibility and the finger of blame can be pointed at them personally if things go pear-shaped.
That puts their personal finances at risk, say if there’s an accusation of wrongdoing, like club funds being used in an inappropriate way. (Think Kids Company).
Trustees’ insurance pays for an expert lawyer to fight your corner if there’s a claim against you. It also picks up the tab for any civil damages or penalties you have to pay, potentially saving you from the grim prospect of financial ruin.
Safe and sound
After school clubs are all about kids having fun in a safe and supportive environment. And we like to think of insurance as being safe and supportive, too. Although we’re quite ready to admit that it’s lacking in the ‘fun’ department.
Because of the vital service you offer, parents rely on you to take care of their kids. In return, you can rely on your after school club insurance to take care of your club. That way everybody can sleep soundly at night.
For more information about after school club insurance click here. Or call the team on 0345 222 5391 and they'll be happy to help.
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