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Working in an out-of-school club

People who work in out-of-school clubs are usually known as playworkers and have a valuable role in shaping the lives of future generations. If you are enthusiastic, passionate and enjoy working with children, then this could be the career for you.

There is an increasing demand for staff at all levels and flexible working patterns including part-time or term-time only. There are also opportunities for you to gain funded qualifications and further your training.

What is an out-of-school club?

Out-of-school clubs care for school aged children, where they can play and have fun. Clubs are usually based in or near schools, or have a bus service to collect from schools. Many pre-schools and nurseries also offer out-of-school clubs.

Clubs run outside of school hours to support working parents and are open for all or some of the following hours:

• Breakfast Clubs – open in the morning before school, usually from 7:30am

• After School Clubs – open in the afternoon, usually between 3pm to 6pm

• Holiday Clubs – open during school holidays, usually between 8am to 6pm

These clubs provide a fun, active, child-led environment that incorporate the Play Principles. Some settings are based on specific specialist activities such as sports or skills workshops. Out-of-school clubs work in different ways but all aim to provide children with a variety of choices about how they spend their leisure time.

What would my job involve?

One day you could be building a den in the woods, the next day helping the children to set up their own show! In many clubs, you’ll spend more time outdoors than in, encouraging children to climb, run, jump and really make the most of their natural environment.

You will have a varied role providing new opportunities for children to extend their play, be physically active, and enjoy being with their friends. It can be a fun and challenging career that holds opportunities to use your existing skills and also learn some new and exciting ones along the way.

You will need to work well as part of a team, organising and running a range of safe and stimulating activities that are planned with the children based on their interests.

In addition to these fun activities such as sport, drama, arts and crafts, cooking and music (to name but a few!) you will be responsible for the safeguarding, care and wellbeing of the children. This may include providing breakfast, snacks and helping the children to be aware of their own health and safety. You will also work in partnership with parents on a daily basis and communicate with schools or other care providers as necessary.

What job roles are available?

Clubs will have an overall manager and deputy, and depending on the size of the club they might have other supervisory roles, the rest of the staff team are usually made up of playwork assistants.

Due to the part-time nature of out-of-school clubs, if you are looking for extra hours and more variety you can work with younger children in pre-schools or nurseries in addition to the club.

What training and qualifications do I need?

If you are new to the childcare workforce ideally you will gain a minimum level 2 qualification in playwork or early years. If you are not qualified to this level it is still possible to gain employment, as a percentage of staff can be unqualified. However, once working you may be encouraged to undertake a level 3 qualification, which can be achieved whilst working. 

There are also volunteer and apprenticeship roles available so you can gain practical experience alongside a qualification.

It may be a good idea to contact training providers to get more information, as you will be more successful gaining employment if you show a willingness to achieve qualifications. You can search for training providers in the courses section of this website.

There are also a wide range of opportunities to continue your professional development throughout your career. The majority of this training is provided through the council and information is sent regularly to employers.

See the Training and Qualifications factsheet for more details.

What shall I do next?

If you want to find a job in a nursery, pre-school or out-of-school club use this website to search for jobs.

Alternatively contact childcare settings in your area to discuss options for gaining experience (voluntary or paid work). Each council has an online directory of childcare settings in their area; 

If you need any more help contact your council.

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