BBC News has uncovered that in the past five years more than 80 safeguarding referrals have been made about after-school clubs. Details about the referrals was obtained via subject access requests from local authorities and they include allegations of assaults, neglect, and sexual abuse.
After school clubs, sometimes referred to as wrap around care, help parents with childcare outside normal school hours.
Ofsted stipulates that a childcare provider only needs to register with Ofsted if they offer childcare for more than two hours per day, and as the after-school clubs often fill the gap between the end of the school day and the working day, it does not meet the two hour period.
Ofsted advise that the clubs can register voluntarily but only around 10% are inspected a year.
One parent spoke to BBC News about her experiences with the after-school club in Walthamstow, north London that both of her children attended. Her daughter, the younger of the two children had special educational needs and soiled herself whilst in attendance. Her brother, who was 8 years old was told by staff to clean his sister, leaving both of the children humiliated.
The incident was since investigated by the local authority and an independent safeguarding consultant, who concluded that the incident was ‘unacceptable’ and the ‘care fell far below expectations’.
The mother sadly reported that the incident had severely affected the sibling’s relationship.
There was also another incident at the same after-school club with a child being left for over an hour after soiling themselves.
Other incidents from other parts of the country included sexual abuse involving multiple children in an after-school club in Devon.
Information obtained from an after-school club in Southampton found that a child had been dragged across the room by a staff member.
These types of complaints bring to the forefront the decision of Ofsted not to make registration compulsory for any organisation providing childcare, irrelevant of how long a child is in its care. Nurseries, schools, and childminders are required to register with Ofsted so why not after-school clubs too. The chance Oftsed could inspect with (or without) notice would surely encourage organisations to put in practice their safeguarding policies and could further protect the children in their care.