Childcare for school-aged children

When children start school, you may still need to organise childcare before or after school, or for school holidays.

Childcare providers which only provide care for children aged eight or over, such as some after-school or holiday clubs, do not have to be Ofsted-registered.

You should still check references of anyone you employ, including a criminal records check.

There are often childcare settings attached to schools which offer care before or after schools, or in school holidays, and they may be run by private providers or play schemes.

Many can accept employer childcare vouchers, however, some holiday clubs are classed as a form of educational enrichment rather than childcare, so can't accept childcare vouchers as a form of payment.

Childminders can also provide care for older children. You can search for Ofsted-registered childcare using our Family Information Directory.

Your child's school may be aware of local organisations which offer out-of-school care, and you could try contacting local leisure centres or sports or community groups.

If you are unable to find childcare, you can contact the Family Information Service on 020 7926 9558 for further help.

When do children stop needing childcare?

There is no minimum legal age at which children can be left at home on their own, however, it is an offence to leave a child alone if it puts them at risk.

Children with more complex needs may need childcare until they are much older than other children.

  • Children under the age of 12 are rarely mature enough to be left alone for a long period of time.
  • Children under 16 should not be left alone overnight.
  • Babies, toddlers and very young children should never be left alone.

You can find out more on the NSPCC website.