My School’s Out lists details of holiday playschemes, day camps and activity courses.

We have put together some basic information anbout what these types of provision are, and what you need to know as a parent looking to use them.

If you don’t find the answer you need on these pages please contact us and let us know. We will try to answer your question or if we can’t, we’ll point in the direction of someone who can help.

What types of out of school holiday provision are there?

The provision listed on My Schools Out falls into three main categories, which are explained below.

1. Holiday playschemes
What are they ?

Most of the provision listed on My School’s Out can be classed as a ‘holiday playscheme’. They can also be known as kids clubs or kids camps (but they are not usually residential). They usually cater for children and young people aged 3-12 years (up to 14 years for children with disabilities).

Holiday playschemes usually open for a full day (for example 8.30-6pm) but their specific hours will vary.

What do they offer?

Holiday playschemes offer a wide range of activities for your children to enjoy. These can include: free play opportunities, sports, arts and crafts, dance, music-themed activities, cooking and trips out. These will vary from one playscheme to another, and some – such as day trips – may incur an additional cost.

Holiday playschemes will usually offer snacks at certain times throughout the day and may also provide a lunch.

Where and when do they run?

Holiday playschemes can operate from a variety of locations, including:

  • Schools
  • Children’s Centres
  • Faith buildings
  • Leisure centres
  • Private gyms and leisure clubs
  • Nurseries
  • Community centres
  • Youth clubs

All schemes are based within an indoor space and will either have their own outdoor space or will have access to outdoor space nearby, such as a park or playing field.

Most holiday playschemes are ‘closed-access’. This means children can not leave on their own without the consent of the parent or carer.

What do they cost?

You can expect to pay £10-25 a day. However some providers will offer discounts and concessions.

If a playscheme is registered with Ofsted then you may qualify for support with childcare costs through Working Tax Credit.

2. Adventure Playgrounds
What are they?

Adventure playgrounds are ‘open access’ facilities catering for children and young people aged 5-16 years (some playgrounds only cater for 8-16 years or may only allow children under 8 if they are accompanied by a parent or carer).

‘Open access’ means that children and young people can enter or leave the site whenever they choose. However, all adventure playgrounds are staffed by trained, professional playworkers. The majority of adventure playgrounds are registered with Ofsted.

What do they offer?

Each adventure playground offers a wide range of outdoor and indoor play opportunities unique to its particular space and environment. Children and young people will have the chance to participate in play driven by their own interests. This could include den building, making fires, climbing, sliding, swinging or simply hanging out on the play structures. Adventure playgrounds often provide similar activities to those found in holiday playschemes: arts and crafts, cooking, dance, music, indoor games, etc.

Some adventure playgrounds cater specifically for children with disabilities and special needs, and most will work with parents and partner agencies to ensure that opportunities are offered to children with disabilities.

Where and when do they run?

As their name suggests, adventure playgrounds are primarily outdoor spaces that are enclosed within a clearly defined boundary, such as a fence. There will usually also be an indoor space as well, though the size of these will vary form one playground to another.

Adventure playgrounds are usually located in residential areas, and some are within parks.

They usually operate between 11am-6:30pm and some may also open at the weekends during the school holidays.

What do they cost?

The majority of adventure playgrounds do not charge a fee.

3. Activity clubs, sports camps and holiday programmes

Some provision in the school holidays will offer children and young people the chance to engage in one specific activity. These may be offered within a wider programme of courses or clubs such as those provided by local authorities during the summer holidays (sometimes called ‘summer university’).

These kind of schemes can often be aimed at older children and teenagers, but in order to be listed on My Schools Out they must be available to children aged 12 or under.

What do they offer?

The types of activities that can be provided by this type of provision can include:

  • Sport, eg. football, rugby or tennis
  • Cooking
  • Dance
  • Drama
  • Music eg. singing, songwriting and DJ Workshops
  • Film making
  • Photography
  • Arts and crafts, eg. fashion, pottery
  • Academic clubs and courses, such as summer schools and science clubs

Most of the clubs, camps and programmes are not required to register with Ofsted. This could be because they only cater for children over 8 years of age, and/or because they don’t provide an activity for more than 14 days a year.

Whether Ofsted registered or not all providers should have written policies and procedures in place to ensure children and young people are kept safe and secure.

Where and when do they run?

This kind of provision can be found operating from a variety of locations. These may include:

  • Schools
  • Children’s Centres
  • Faith buildings
  • Leisure centres
  • Private gyms and leisure clubs
  • Libraries
  • Community centres
  • Youth clubs
What is the cost?

Costs will vary. Some provision will be free, others could charge as much as £15 a session.

How do I choose the right provision for my child?

Choosing the right holiday provision for your child can be challenging, and even stressful. However, if you make the right choice it can not only give you peace of mind, but it could provide your child with a great experience.

We’ve put together five tips to help you feel confident in choosing the right provision.

Five tips to help you choose

1. Give yourself time

Start thinking about the forthcoming school holidays well in advance. Schemes can get booked up early, so don’t miss out. Check My Schools Out regularly and sign up as a member to receive email updates.

2. Go and visit

Try to visit all of the clubs and schemes that you might be interested in, and take your child with you. This will help you both to get a feel for the environment, the staff and the facilities on offer. A lot of the provision may not be running during term time but you can still go and check out the location and venue.
After visiting, ask your child what he or she thought. If your child is unable to visit with you, think about their personality; their likes and dislikes. Is this place right for them?

3. Ask questions

Don’t be embarrassed to ask questions. The staff will have heard them all before, and it’s important that you take the opportunity to raise any doubts or fears you may have with the provider, so that they can put your mind at ease.

4. Get another parent’s perspective

If you know other parents who have used the scheme or club that you are considering, ask them what they think. What do they like about it? Always remember though, that one person’s point of view may not always represent the majority, and you may not always agree. It’s your choice!

5. Read Ofsted reports

Every provider listed on My Schools Out will state whether or not it is currently Ofsted registered. If it is, you can read their latest inspection report online at
Some provision will not need to be registered, but this does not necessarily mean it is of a lower quality or standard of safety. It’s always a good idea to talk to a provider about their policies and procedures for keeping children safe. All providers should have these whether Ofsted registered or not.

Information for parents with children who have special needs and disabilities

All of the provision listed on My Schools Out should say whether or not it caters for children with special needs and disabilities and if so, what kind of support and inclusive practice it provides.

It is always best to discuss your child’s individual needs directly with a provider to be sure that they can help.

Short breaks

If your child has special needs or disabilities you may qualify for ‘short breaks’(previously known as respite care)

Short breaks are residential schemes that give children and young people with disabilities the chance to participate in activities they enjoy, while giving the parents valuable time off from caring. A short break can be offered by a wide range of providers. Families may also choose to organise their own short breaks through a direct payment from the local authority.

My Schools Out does not list short break providers.

If you would like to find out if you are eligible for short breaks, contact your local authority.

Tax credits

Tax credits are a form of benefit paid by HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC). They are designed to support families on low and middle incomes and are calculated according to earnings. The calculation also takes into account other factors, such as the number of children you have.

Child Tax Credit

All families with dependent children under 16 and young people whose combined earnings are less than the threshold set by HMRC. The payments do not affect Child Benefit.

Working Tax Credit

Parents who work more than 16 hours a week could also be eligible for Working Tax Credit. This includes a ‘childcare element’ to help pay for childcare costs if you are using an Ofsted registered provider.

To find whether you qualify for tax credits you can: