To help minimise the disruption of industrial action, many academies are considering offering childcare for pupils who are not able to be taught at school due to strikes.

Whether the academy needs to be registered to provide this type of care depends on the age of the children being cared for, the length of time they are being cared for and the purpose of the care provided.

When will an academy be exempt from registering this service with Ofsted?

An academy will be exempt from registering under the following circumstances:

  • if the care is for children who are aged 8 and over;
  • if the academy provides care where a child does not stay with them for more than two hours a day, even if the academy’s childcare service is open for longer than two hours;
  • if the academy provides no more than two activities from the following:
    • school study support or homework support
    • sport
    • performing arts
    • arts and crafts
    • religious, cultural or language study

(NB: this only applies for children aged 3 or over and the academy will not care for children aged under 5 for more than four hours in any one day);

  • if the academy provides care for children aged 3 and over, where at least one child being cared for is a pupil of the school; or
  • if (specifically relating to strike days) the academy cares for children under the age of 8 from specific premises for 14 days or less in any year and the academy notifies Ofsted in writing at least 14 days before starting the service, they will be exempt from registration.

If our academy is exempt from registration, what factors need to be considered?

The academy will need to ensure that the current ratios for a group setting (staff:children) are adhered to when providing childcare.  The children’s needs, including any identified additional needs must be taken into account and may result in higher ratios being required. The facilities and size of the premises are taken into account for registered providers and providers who do not require registration should also take these factors into consideration to keep the safety and wellbeing of the children paramount.

What steps should be taken if our academy is not exempt from registration?

If children are being cared for below the age of 8 but above the age of 5, the academy will need to join the compulsory part of the Childcare Register.  If children are being cared for from age 5 and below, the academy will need to register on the Early Years Register.  Ofsted will then check that any extended services that the academy provides meet the requirements when they carry out a full school inspection.

So why should academies register?

If the academy is not exempt from registration and chooses not to register, it may be liable to prosecution.

Academies that wish to offer childcare during strike days should therefore ensure that appropriate measures regarding registration have been taken before offering such provision.