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Holiday playschemes

Holiday playschemes provide care and play for 4 to 16-year-olds outside of school term-time. They offer lots of daily activities for children, as well as an outside play area and a quiet area for relaxing. Special events are often arranged too.

Some playschemes are specifically for children with special needs but in many cases children with disabilities can attend mainstream playschemes.

Playschemes caring for children under the age of 8 years must be inspected and registered by Ofsted. If over the age of 8, they may be part of the Ofsted Voluntary Register (OCR).

The OCR can help parents and carers with their childcare costs through the childcare section of working tax credits if they qualify for it.

When you visit a playscheme for the first time, have your list of questions ready.
Look at our childcare checklist for help.



Holiday playschemes usually charge a daily rate and give places on a first-come, first-served basis.


Playschemes are usually open daily between 8am to 5.30pm.

Some schemes run alongside other childcare settings, like a nursery, and others run only during school holidays.

Many schools offer a variety of formal childcare and other activities outside school hours. These range from formal childcare in primary schools to music, art, sport and other extra study activities. 

These schools may open from 8am to 6pm, including during school holidays.

Staff qualifications

Experienced and dedicated staff, often from the local community, manage most holiday playschemes. Some staff will have formal qualifications in childcare or playwork, the most common being National Vocational Qualifications (NVQs) or Council for Awards in Children's Care, Health and Education (CACHE).

For more information

Visit the Family Information Service Directory for lists of childcare providers.