Tier 4 restrictions and OSCs

***  UPDATE 4 JANUARY 2021  ***

The information on this page has been superseded by Government announcement on the evening of 4 January that England is to enter a new lockdown from 5 January until the middle of February. This includes the closure of all schools and colleges. See our article on the new regulations from January 2021 for more details as they are announced:


The new Tier 4 restrictions were announced on 19 December and came into effect the following day. It is likely that more areas will be moved to Tier 4 in the near future. The Tier 4 restrictions are very similar to those of the second national lockdown in November.
See the general Government guidance on Tier 4 restrictions

More details on how the Tier 4 restrictions affect out of school clubs are included in the Protective measures guidance from the DfE, which was updated on 31 December:
Protective measures for holiday and after-school clubs

Note that schools in certain Tier 4 areas (all London boroughs, parts of Essex, Kent, East Sussex, Hertfordshire and Milton Keynes) had additional restrictions, called the Contingency Framework, imposed on 30 December. Primary schools and out of school clubs in these specific areas must remain closed, except for vulnerable children and the children of critical workers, until at least 18 January.
Coronavirus contingency framework for education and childcare settings

Childcare is the key element

The guidance from the DfE makes it clear that out of school clubs in Tier 4 areas are allowed to remain open so long as their provision meets one of the following conditions:

  • provision specified in an education, health and care plan
  • necessary to allow parents/carers to work, seek work, or undertake education or training
  • for the purposes of respite care, such as caring for a vulnerable child or young person
  • being used by home educating parents as part of existing arrangements for their child to receive a suitable full-time education
  • for the purposes of obtaining a regulated qualification, meeting the entry requirements for an education institution, or exams and assessments

Most before, after-school or holiday clubs will fall into one of these categories so will be able to remain open.


In summary, the guidance for out of school clubs in Tier 4 means that:

  • Before, after-school and holiday clubs providing childcare (ie wraparound provision) can remain open as normal.
  • So long as out of school clubs meet the 'childcare' requirement outined above, they can operate on their usual premises.
  • Under the Tier 4 restrictions, community based venues, such as libraries, village halls and community centres, will need to close but such venues are exempt from closure if they are being used for certain specific purposes which includes childcare. This means that if your club runs on such premises, they are allowed to remain open to accommodate you. (This is set out in the Tier 4: Stay at home guidance.)
  • Out of school clubs don't need to be Ofsted-registered in order to be allowed to remain open.
  • All out of school clubs that remain open must continue to follow the protective measures, as set out in:
    Protective measures for holiday and after-school clubs during the coronavirus outbreak

Out of school clubs located in lower Tier areas can continue to operate as normal.

Important notes:

  • Clubs in the specific Tier 4 areas where primary schools are temporarily closed must also close except for vulnerable children and children whose parents are critical workers.
  • For the first two weeks of January, secondary schools are closed to most children, and these children cannot attend out of school clubs either. Only children who are eligible to attend secondary school on-site during this period (ie those who are deemed vulnerable, or whose parents are critical workers) may attend out of school clubs.

For more information on both of these cases, see our article: Out of school clubs from January 2021.

Related articles

Coronavirus: latest updates

Out of school clubs from January 2021

Out of school clubs from September onwards

Managing Covid-19 in your setting

November national lockdown and OSCs