Outside School Hours Care (OSHC) Services

Information on Outside School Hours Care (OSHC) services including their benefits, where and when they operate and how they’re regulated.

What is OSHC?

OSHC includes before and after school care (BASC) and vacation care services. OSHC services provide education and care for primary school-age children (generally aged five to 12 years) outside school hours and during school vacations. Services are often open on pupil-free days as well.

Location

OSHC services are usually located on, or close to, primary schools. OSHC services are also often available in locations such as local community centres or recreation centres.

Hours

OSHC hours vary depending on community needs and school opening times. Generally, OSHC services operate on weekdays as:

  • Before school care – 7am - 8.30am or school starting time
  • After school care – 3pm - 6pm or from school finish time
  • Vacation care (during school holidays) – 7am - 6pm

Benefits

OSHC services:

  • support children’s learning achievement, engagement and wellbeing
  • provide developmental play opportunities in a multi-age environment
  • support families to work or study outside school hours

Regulation

OSHC services are monitored, regulated, assessed and rated by the NSW Department of Education. Read more about how we regulate services.

OSHC services are also required to apply the teaching principles outlined in the My Time, Our Place – a Framework for School Age Care in Australia.

OSHC Literature Review, 'More than "Just Convenient Care"'

In late 2020, the Department engaged leading academic researchers Associate Professor Jennifer Cartmel and Dr Ian Bruce Hurst from Griffith University to conduct a literature review of the sector.

Throughout the development of the review, national and international research was considered along with feedback from stakeholders in the OSHC sector.

The Department welcomes the release of its Literature Review, ‘More than “Just Convenient Care”: what the research tells us about equitable access to Outside School Hours Care (OSHC)’. We encourage you to take the time to read the literature review (PDF 396KB).

The NSW Department of Education welcomes the Literature Review, ‘More than “Just Convenient Care”: what the research tells us about equitable access to Outside School Hours Care (OSHC)’, provided by request from Griffith University.

Outside School Hours Care (OSHC) is an important and growing area. It supports children’s development and wellbeing, while also allowing parents to work beyond school hours.

Providing inclusive, beneficial OSHC services that meet the expectations of children, families and the wider community is complicated, not the least because there is limited research available that examines best practice. The department acknowledges the importance of this Literature Review in providing a comprehensive overview of available research. The department also appreciates that specific priority groups have unique complexities that make ‘easy’ answers regarding access, inclusion and participation particularly elusive – and extremely worthwhile.

The department is committed to supporting the NSW OSHC sector to deliver best practice in equitable and inclusive, high quality services. The department is looking forward to continuing its work with the OSHC sector, and making sure the recommendations provided within the Review support a foundation firm in its commitment towards securing successful OSHC access and participation for all children.

Review Summary

This Literature Review was provided by request for the department by Associate Professor Jennifer Cartmel and Dr Bruce Hurst, Griffith University in early 2021. The Literature Review examines what available research tells us about equitable access practices by OSHC services (school age child care services that operate before and after school (BASC) and during vacation periods).

The researchers scoped Australian and international literature. Their aim was to compare national and international approaches towards encouraging access and participation in OSHC. The researchers sought to highlight best practice and innovative approaches in supporting and encouraging inclusive access for children irrespective of cultural or socioeconomic background, ability or location.

Associate Professor Cartmel and Dr Hurst have gathered together evidence that suggests that quality OSHC provision for children is an interplay between the following elements:

1. The benefits of OSHC to stakeholders

2. The image of OSHC

3. The partnership between OSHC and schools

4. The workforce delivering OSHC service.

The researchers’ recommendations include more research about the OSHC as a site for children’s development, emphasising the vital opportunity in play-based learning for school-aged care. In addition, the review outlines the important role played by partnerships between OSHC, schools and families. Finally, the Review also finds that a deeper understanding about the value of OSHC will enhance community perceptions and commitment to the utilisation of services to contribute to children’s wellbeing and development.

Related information

Return to top of page Back to top