Out Of School Settings (OOSS) - What to consider and ask...
Advice page content
Many young people participate in some form of organised activity outside of school at some point during their primary and secondary school years.
There is lots of excellent local practice which provides a wide range of activities and opportunities to young people and the community, for example improving cultural awareness, building self-esteem, and encouraging our children to be active citizens within their community.
The new Out Of School Settings / OOSS project is launched to help parents and carers make sure that their children are happy, safe, and protected in after-school and extra-curricular activities.
As a result of the project the Department for Education has produced this guide for parents.
What is an Out Of School Setting?
An Out of School Setting (OOSS), is an institution or setting which provides tuition, training, instruction, or activities to children without their parents’ or carers’ supervision. This does not include schools or colleges registered by the Department for Education, or where care is provided for children and is Ofsted registered or a childminding agency.
Some examples of OOSS are:
- Tuition centres and supplementary schools (which may be used to support mainstream or home education).
- Extracurricular clubs such as dance, sports, drama, music, art etc.
- Uniformed youth organisations, e.g. the Scouts and Guides, Cadet services
- Open access youth providers, e.g. centre-based and detached youth work
- Private language schools, including those for children coming from abroad
- Religious settings which offer education in their own faith
Please note that there are many other types of OOSS in Hackney that are not mentioned in the above list.
There is rich and diverse range of OOSS in Hackney, run by for example charities, local community groups, faith groups and national/international organisations, many of which rely on volunteers. Many do a great job providing children and young people with a range of safe, fun and rewarding activities and most OOSS work hard to ensure children and young people’s safety and well-being are a top priority.
- Every OOSS must have undertaken the necessary safeguarding and health and safety checks and have appropriate policies and procedures in place to keep children and young people safe.
- All staff and volunteers should be recruited by interview, with references and police checks (DBS)
- Every OOSS should have a welfare or child protection lead who parent/carers can contact in the event that concerns arise.
- All staff and volunteers should undergo regular recognised training regarding safeguarding children.
- Premises should be fit for purpose and meet health and safety, planning and fire regulations.
- There should be 'open' sessions that parents can observe.
What policies and procedures should be in place?
- A safeguarding policy and child protection policy to deal with concerns about possible abuse. (A safeguarding policy outlines the provider’s commitment to protecting children and a clear procedure for dealing with concerns of abuse or poor practice).
- A trained lead person to talk to if you have concerns about how your child or any other child is treated during their time at the OOSS.
- Procedures to ensure the suitability of staff and volunteers to work with children and young people eg undertaking DBS checks
Health and Safety:
Each OOSS should have:
- a health and safety policy and public liability insurance
- Secure premises with clear procedures for dropping off and picking up children as well as keeping children safe when in the building. Notices about fire procedures must be on display.
- a parental consent form which should ask for emergency contacts, key medical information (allergies, asthma, etc.) and any other issues the OOSS needs to know about in order to help your child get the most out of their participation.
- a qualified first aider on duty and procedures in place for reporting and responding to accidents.
- clear arrangements if a child needs medication
Private Tutors - some guidance
There are many reasons why a parent/carer might want to employ a private tutor. It may be to help with schoolwork and improve their potential exam grades, to develop language skills, to learn a musical instrument, to study religious texts or other extracurricular activities such as sports coaching and drama.
- It is important to remember that private tutors and staff working in tuition centres and supplementary schools do not need to be qualified and there are limited regulations to oversee their work or suitability to work with children.
- A person who has committed an offence which makes them unsuitable to work with children, can be barred from teaching yet they can still offer their services as a tutor or secure a job in an unregulated supplementary school or setting.
- Local Authorities and schools cannot recommend professionals who work as tutors. It is the responsibility of parents/carers to select and fund any private tuition they choose and to make sure the tutor is appropriately qualified and does not pose a risk to their child’s welfare.
- Therefore, it is the parents/carers’ responsibility to select and fund any private tuition they choose and to make sure the tutor is appropriately qualified and does not pose a risk to their child’s welfare.
- Before employing a private tutor, ask to see their work history, professional qualifications, and always ask for references.
- Disclosure and Barring Services check (DBS): Individuals can only apply for a Basic DBS Check, however, most jobs working with children require an Enhanced Check. Where a DBS check exists from previous employment, parents/carers can ask to see it. It is at the discretion of parents/carers to decide whether to employ the services of a private tutor without a DBS Check, or with a Basic Check or an Enhanced Check.
- Always arrange for your child to meet the tutor, ask your child what they thought of the tutor and how they felt during the meeting.
- Premises or location must be safe and appropriate for study. If the tutor operates in their own home or premises then visit the location beforehand to make sure it is safe and appropriate for study. Bedrooms are not suitable for study.
- It is important that you have access to the room and can observe the tutor and your child at any time.
- Wherever the tuition takes place, you, or another trusted adult, should remain in the building and should have access to the teaching area at any time.
- Do not be afraid to report any abusive or inappropriate behaviour to the proper authorities and to dismiss the individual from your employ if this occurs.
How can I be sure that an OOSS does not pose a risk to my child?
- Ask to see the OOSS safeguarding and child protection policy and procedures.
- Check that they have an identified trained safeguarding children lead and what recognised child protection training staff have undertaken.
- Seek clarification on what "safer recruitment" measures, including DBS checks they have in place for all tutors, staff and volunteers.
- Ask about the qualifications of staff employed at tuition centres, supplementary schools or and other settings where appropriate. For example, do they have GSCEs/A Levels in the subject, do they know the course syllabus, are they trained and have the right technical competence to coach/teach the sport or activity?
- Ask if the OOSS and/or the coaches and tutors are registered with appropriate, nationally recognised professional bodies – this can provide some assurance of safe practices in line with the awarding body’s requirements.
- Check that there is a waiting area for parents so that you can remain on the premises whilst your child attends a OOSS session, if you wish to.
- Arrange for your child to visit any tuition centre, supplementary school or OOSS you are considering to see what your child thinks – remember they will not learn and thrive if they are unhappy.
- Ask to see the code of conduct for staff, volunteers and for the children and young people.
- Check there are separate bathrooms for children and adults
- Speak to other parents already using the tutor or OOSS you are considering – their feedback and testimonials are useful.
Reputable tutors, high quality clubs and organisations will always welcome questions about their activities, the safety of their environment and care of your child.
What if I have a concern?
What if my child tells me something inappropriate or abusive happened whilst attending an OOSS?
The idea of speaking out about abuse or poor practice can be daunting. By taking action, you'll be safeguarding your child or the children concerned as well as helping to prevent other children being harmed or put at risk.
If any adult has behaved in a way that is harmful, or, if you are ever worried about your child (or another child),
- Make sure your child knows that they should talk to you if anything happens that makes them upset, uncomfortable, scares them or worries them.
- Reassure your child that they have done the right thing to tell you and that what happened is not their fault.
- Speak to the OOSS child-protection or welfare officer or raise your concerns with an organisation’s governing body/ management committee.
- If you think a child is in immediate danger of abuse, contact the police on 999
- If there is no immediate danger and you are unsure who to speak to then you could speak to a local authority trusted professional by contacting:
Hackney First Access Screening Team (FAST) 0208 356 5500
A member of staff will discuss your concerns with you and decide if further action needs to be taken.
As a parent or carer you play a very important role in protecting your child. Hackney want to work with parents and carers and OOSS to keep our young people safe and make the most of the valuable opportunities OOSS offer.
If you are a parent or carer or an individual in the community, or an OOSS, please get in touch and our team will do their best to support you and assist with any questions you may have.
What are the aims of the Out Of Schools Settings / OOSS Project?
The project aims to work with OOSS and parents and carers to:
- Gain an overview of the various types of OOSS operating in Hackney
- Support settings with effective safeguarding arrangements and compliance with other relevant legislation such as health and safety, environmental health and planning regulations.
- Support parents and carers to make informed and confident choices when choosing OOSS for their children, with particular focus on raising awareness around safeguarding and health and safety.
For more information on the OOSS project please contact:
OOSS Safeguarding Officer - Dorothy Spence
AND / OR
OOSS Project Coordinator - James Sykes: