Outside School Hours Care (OSHC) Services
Outside of school hours care (OSHC) services provide care, play and learning for primary school-age children before and after school, in school holidays and on Pupil Free days. In NSW, some services may refer to themselves as Out of School Hours (OOSH) services.
OSHC services are usually located within NSW Public Schools, Private and Independent Schools. Some OSHC services also use sites off school grounds, such as local community centres or recreation facilities.
Service operating hours vary depending on community needs and school hours and can range between:
- Before school care | 6.30am-9.30am
- After school care | 2.30pm-6.30pm
- Vacation care (during school holidays) | 6.30am-6.30pm
What if my child's school doesn't have an OSHC on site?
OSHC services will generally provide education and care to a number of schools in their area and as such will advise you about how your child can access their service. This could involve an OSHC bus collecting the children, educators walking to collect children or utilising an existing school bus run. You can find out where your local OSHC is by visiting https://bascfinder.service.nsw.gov.au.
- 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.
OSHC services offer a valuable opportunity for children to access developmental play opportunities, and encourage friendships beyond the classroom and across age groups.
OSHC programs focus on developing the social and emotional skills of the child through school connectedness, self-management, self-efficacy and social awareness. These skills are linked to children’s overall wellbeing, their capacity to engage in academic performance and future life outcomes. From a child’s perspective, they value the OSHC setting as a place for play and shared experiences with friends.
If you are a current user or considering using OSHC, the department has created a helpful family guide. What is outside school hours care OSHC - A guide for families in NSW will help answer common question such as:
- What will my child do at OSHC?
- How much does OSHC cost?
- What funding support is available?
- Are services rated on their quality?
- What if I have concerns about my child’s OSHC?
- Are services rated on their quality?
There are many initiatives and practices that services undertake to engage and provide support for children and their families in OSHC.
In the documents below, three different OSHC services share their unique practices and experiences of operating quality education and care in NSW.
You can read their stories here:
Services are assessed and rated by Authorised Officers from the Department of Education. Every approved service is assessed against the National Quality Standard which includes ensuring compliance with the National Law and Regulations. Read more about how the NSW Department of Education regulates services.
OSHC services are also required to meet learning outcomes outlined in My Time, Our Place – a Framework for School Age Care in Australia v2.0 2022.
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.
We encourage you to take the time to read the literature review (PDF 396KB).
What the research tells us about equitable access to Outside School Hours Care (OSHC)
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.
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.