Guidance for Outside School Hours Care (OSHC) Services
Information and resources for supporting OSHC service providers in NSW.
The importance of building a relationship with your schools
There are a number of reasons why it is important for OSHC providers to engage with their school’s community and Principals:
- The way school principals perceive OSHC is emerging as a key factor in how successfully an OSHC delivers benefits to children.
- A school principal’s leadership affects how much space or what type of space is allocated to an onsite OSHC service. This has an impact on how your OSHC service provides appropriate spaces for children for play and social engagement.
- The support of a school principal may influence and assist how well, and in what way, your OSHC service engages with families and the local community.
Strong partnerships between the school community and OSHC, can lead to better decision-making and shared value of the service. This collaboration is seen in OSHC services that prioritise the development and wellbeing of children and the needs of the parent community. Many principals report that through the provision of a high quality OSHC, local families are drawn to their school who would otherwise enrol elsewhere.
School principals should see and value the important role OSHC plays in the family and school partnership, and the impact OSHC can have on a children’s social and emotional learning.
Principals play a critical role in operational decisions relating to spaces, staffing, resources and policies necessary for OSHC provision. Unfortunately, the research shows that where school management hold a low opinion of OSHC, this is likely reflected in the quality of service offered.
Best practice shows that continual, effective collaboration between the school principal and the OSHC service is essential to the ongoing success of the OSHC and outcomes for children.
Asset management, tender documentation and licence agreements are managed by the department’s Schools Infrastructure team. If your service is operating from school grounds, you will be required to have a licence agreement.
The Approved Provider is required to notify the Contract Manager of any changes to:
- operations, such as adding or amending opening hours
- location or space used by the service
- student attendances, such as in increase or decrease in attendance, resulting in a licence variation
- session fees.
This is in addition to any notifications required to the regulatory authority for any changes in circumstance.
For more information on licencing and the tender process for OSHC providers, please get in touch with the Licencing team at OSHC@det.nsw.edu.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
There are many initiatives and practices that services can undertake to bring benefits for children and their families.
In the documents below, three different servicces share their unique practices and experiences of operating OSHC 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.
The National Law and Regulations outline the legal obligations of approved providers, nominated supervisors, and educators, who hold responsibility for supporting the health, protection, safety and wellbeing of all children, to minimise risks and protect children from harm.
Educator to child ratios
Educators must be working directly with children at the service to be counted in educator to child ratios. An OSHC service will have the maximum number of children that may be educated and cared for at any one time listed on their service approval. This number must not be exceeded, except for in an emergency under regulation 123.
The approved provider and nominated supervisor must ensure all children being educated and cared for by the service are adequately supervised at all times, including during excursions and on transportation provided or arranged by the service.
Adequate supervision means:
- that an educator can respond immediately, particularly when a child is distressed or in a hazardous situation
- knowing where the children are at all times and monitoring their activities actively and diligently.
Ensuring children’s health and safety in an OSHC service
Nominated supervisors and the Responsible Person must complete an approved child protection training course, and understand their obligations under current child protection law, such as their responsibilities as mandatory reporters. They must also ensure all staff members who work with children are aware of their obligations under the law. The Child Safe Standards provide OSHC services with further guidance to help drive a child safe culture, adopt strategies and act to put the interests of children first, to keep them safe from harm.
All services are required to have at least one staff member on site and immediately available in an emergency that holds a current approved first aid qualification, anaphylaxis management training, and emergency asthma management training.
Incidents, injury, trauma and illness
Services must have policies and procedures in place to be followed in the event that a child is injured, becomes ill, or suffers a trauma.
A parent must be notified as soon as practicable, but not later than 24 hours after the occurrence, if the child is involved in any incident, injury, trauma or illness while the child is being educated and cared for by the service.
Approved providers must keep all incident, injury, trauma and illness records confidentially and until the child is 25 years old, and must include prescribed information outlined in the National Regulations. Services must also notify the regulatory authority of any serious incidents, complaints and circumstances where the health, safety or wellbeing of children may have been compromised so appropriate actions can be taken.
Policies and Procedures
Services are also required to have policies and procedures in place that are followed and kept available. Policies and procedures must include information on:
- health and safety of children, including matters relating to child protection, nutrition, sun protection, water safety and supervision
- incidents, injury, trauma and illness
- medical conditions
- emergency and evacuation
- delivery and collection of children
OSHC services are also required to meet a number of other legislative requirements including but not limited to the Food Safety Standards, Anti-Discrimination Act, Child Protection Act, Children’s Guardian Act, Child Care Benefit legislation, Work, Health and Safety Act, Australian Dietary Guidelines for children and adolescents, Privacy Act, Disability Discrimination Act and the Children and Young Persons (Care and Protection) Act.
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 here (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.
- A guide to Outside School Hours Care (OSHC) - For NSW School Principals
- Outside School Hours Care (OSHC) - information for Parents and Carers
- What is outside school hours care OSHC - A guide for families in NSW
- Outside School Hours Care Educators
- Before and After School Care (BASC) Commitment – how we’re providing more OSHC places in more schools
- Find a before and after school care provider
- Find vacation care providers
- Children's (Education and Care Services) National Law and National Regulations
- Guide to the National Quality Framework Information on operational requirements for OSHC services
- NSW Department of Education - Early Childhood Education (Regulatory Authority)
For more information on:
- regulation, assessment and rating
- the role of the NSW Regulatory Authority
- investigation processes
- child safety
- giving feedback or making a complaint
- Schools infrastructure
- Sharing school facilities procedures
- Expanding access to Before and After School Care
- ACECQA National Registers to find out more about a service's rating
- NSW BASC and Vacation Care finders to find where OSHC services are located
- NSW/ACT Inclusion Agency to find out more about inclusion in OSHC services
- My Time Our Place - Approved Learning Framework for School Age Care v2.0 2022