Early Years Sector Business Support – Operating During Lockdown and Beyond

Frequently asked questions on the reopening of early years provision

The Department for Education has asked early years providers in England to reopen for children of all ages.

We have produced the Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) guide below to help as many questions as we are able to at this time. This FAQ will be regularly updated as we get more information and clarification from the DfE.

The information below is primarily based primarily on the Department for Education’s Actions for early years and childcare providers during the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak, and guidance on safe working in education, childcare and children’s social care settings, including the use of personal protective equipment (PPE).

NB: The below information is accurate as of 17th September 2020.

Do I have to reopen my provision?

No. The government has confirmed that it is “asking” providers to open, but it is not a requirement.

Why has the government asked early years providers to reopen?

The government has shared an overview of the scientific advice and information it has received on this online in a document called ‘Overview of scientific advice and information on coronavirus’.

Are out-of-school clubs, including holiday clubs, allowed to open?

The Department for Education has confirmed that: “Wraparound providers which are registered with Ofsted or with a Childminder Agency and run before and/or after school clubs on school premises or in early years settings, and can ensure they follow the safe working guidance, are able to operate.

It has also confirmed that as of 4 July 2020, “providers who run community activities, holiday clubs, after-school clubs, tuition and other out-of-school provision for children” operating from other premises can operate over the summer holidays.

New guidance for out-of-school providers is available here.

For out-of-school clubs operating from the autumn term, when schools reopen, the guidance states that they should “keep children in small groups of no more than 15 children with the same children each time wherever possible … and at least one staff member, depending on the type of provision or size of the group”.

The guidance also states that: “Where it is possible to do so, providers should also try to work with parents, the schools or early years settings which children attend to ensure, as far as possible, children can be kept in a group with other children from the same bubble they are in during the school day.”

Where it is not possible to group children in the same bubbles as they are in during the school day, the DfE says that providers should “seek to keep children in consistent groups, as far as possible, and frequently review these groups to minimise the amount of ‘mixing’”.

The guidance goes on to state: “For example, when new children register for your provision, you may wish to firstly determine whether they attend the same school or early years setting as other children in your setting and group them together if appropriate.”

Do we need to keep children in small groups or ‘bubbles’?

Registered early years providers are no longer required to keep children in small groups within settings. The Department for Education says this is because “the overall risk to children from coronavirus (COVID-19) is low” and “early years settings are typically much smaller than schools”.

DfE guidance states that: “Providers should still consider how they can minimise mixing within settings, for example where they use different rooms for different age groups, keeping those groups apart as much as possible.”

All other protective measures must remain in place.

If the area I am / we are located in goes into local lockdown, do we have to close?

It is possible, but unlikely. Government guidance states that “in local areas where restrictions have been implemented for certain sectors … education and childcare will usually remain fully open to all”.

The guidance outlines four levels, or ‘Tiers’, of local lockdown restrictions, ranging from Tier 1 (the most relaxed) to Tier 4 (the most restrictive). The tier of local lockdown enforced in a particular area will depend on the level of local outbreak.

Under Tiers 1 – 3, early years providers will be able to remain open to all children. Only under Tier 4 would settings be asked to close to all but key worker children and vulnerable children.

Essentially, this means that when an area is placed into local lockdown, it is unlikely that early years providers will be asked to (partially) close, and this will only happen in limited circumstances, if deemed absolutely necessary.

The full guidance is available here.

I run a holiday club for both younger and older children. Do I have to use bubbles?

Updated DfE guidance states that holiday club providers only caring for children under the age of five are not required to keep children in ‘bubbles’ or small groups, in line with general guidance for early years settings.

Holiday club providers only caring for children over the age of five “should seek to maintain small, consistent groups of no more than 15 children and at least one staff member”.

For providers who are caring for a mix of children aged over and under five, the guidance advises that you could consider keeping the older children in bubbles, but not the young children, if it is possible to do so.

If it isn’t possible because you have mixed age groups together, then the guidance states that “you will need to, as far as possible, keep all children irrespective of age in small consistent groups of no more than 15 with at least one staff member, or with more staff members to meet relevant ratio requirements”.

It adds that: “If you are operating provision for multiple small groups of children throughout the day, you should allow sufficient changeover time between different classes to allow for cleaning to take place and to prevent children and parents or carers waiting in large groups” and that “you should not offer overnight or residential provision to children for the time-being.”

Are we still allowed to use agency staff?

The DfE guidance says: “Where possible, the presence of any additional members of staff should be agreed on a weekly basis, rather than a daily basis to limit contacts”.

Are staff allowed to work two jobs, and if so, do they need to change clothing in between?

The DfE guidance says: “Parents and carers should be encouraged to limit the number of settings their child attends, ideally ensuring their child only attends the same setting consistently. This should also be the same for staff.”

Where setting do attend more than one setting, the DfE have confirmed to the Alliance that changes of clothes is “something for individual settings to considering and to include in their risk assessment”. The Department added that “There is no need for anything other than normal personal hygiene and washing of clothes following a day in a childcare setting.”

What steps should we take to minimise the risk of infection transmission?

The DfE guidance on protective measures outlines steps providers can take to deal with direct transmission (e.g. via coughing and sneezing) and indirect transmission (e.g. through touching contaminated surfaces).

The key steps the government says providers should take to reduce the risk of transmitting an infection are:

  • minimising contact with individuals who are unwell by ensuring that those who have coronavirus symptoms, or who have someone in their household who does, do not attend settings
  • cleaning hands thoroughly more often than usual
  • ensuring good respiratory hygiene by promoting the ‘catch it, bin it, kill it’ approach
  • introducing enhanced cleaning, including cleaning frequently touched surfaces often using standard products, such as detergents and bleach
  • minimising contact between groups (for example, children of different age groups who are in different rooms) where possible
  • where necessary, wearing appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE) – this is when either where an individual child has become ill with coronavirus (COVID-19) symptoms while at a setting and a distance of 2 metres cannot be maintained; or where a child already has routine intimate care needs that involves the use of PPE, in which case the same PPE should continue to be used

How can we minimise contact with parents and carers?

The DfE guidance says: “Parents and carers should not be allowed into the setting unless this is essential, and children should be dropped off and collected at the door if possible.”

It adds that: “Settings should consider providing virtual tours for prospective parents and carers wishing to visit the setting for September admissions.”

Do we need to wear personal protective equipment (PPE)?

The government guidance states that: “Wearing a face covering or face mask in schools or other education settings is not recommended” and that: “Schools and other education or childcare settings should … not require staff, children and learners to wear face coverings.”

It adds that: “children, young people and students whose care routinely already involves the use of PPE due to their intimate care needs should continue to receive their care in the same way”.

The guidance also states that if a child develops coronavirus symptoms while at a setting, a “fluid-resistant surgical face mask should be worn by the supervising adult” and that “disposable gloves, a disposable apron and a fluid-resistant surgical face mask should be worn” during any contact with the symptomatic child.

It adds that: If a risk assessment determines that there is a risk of splashing to the eyes, for example from coughing, spitting, or vomiting, then eye protection should also be worn.”

With regard to obtaining PPE, the guidance states that: “Education, childcare and children’s social care settings and providers should use their local supply chains to obtain PPE”, and that: “Where this is not possible, and there is unmet urgent need for PPE in order to operate safely, they may approach their nearest local resilience forum.”

Resilience forums are partnerships made up of representatives from local public services such as local authorities, the emergency services and the NHS. More information, including regional contact details, are available here.

Can early years staff get tested for coronavirus?

Yes. As key workers, any early years staff who are experiencing symptoms of coronavirus can get priority testing for free. More information is available here.

Do I / we need to take children’s temperatures regularly throughout the day?

No, this is not a requirement. The DfE guidance states: “PHE is clear that routinely taking the temperature of children is not recommended as this is an unreliable method for identifying coronavirus (COVID-19).”

What should be done if a child or member of staff starts displaying coronavirus symptoms while at a setting?

The DfE states that if anyone becomes unwell with coronavirus symptoms – a new, continuous cough, a high temperature or a loss of, or change to, sense of smell or taste – in an education or childcare setting, “they must be sent home”, and advised to follow government guidance (i.e. to self-isolate for ten days, while all members of their household self-isolate for 14 days).

If it is a child who has fallen ill, the guidance states that they should be moved to a room where they can be isolated behind a closed door with appropriate adult supervision while awaiting collection. The guidance adds that: “Ideally, a window should be opened for ventilation”. If moving to a separate room is not possible, the child should be moved to an area at least two metres away from other people.

The guidance also states that: “PPE should be worn by staff caring for the child while they await collection if a distance of 2 metres cannot be maintained (such as for a very young child or a child with complex needs).”

If a member of staff has helped an unwell child, the guidance states that they should wash their hands thoroughly for 20 seconds afterwards, but that they are not required to go home unless they develop symptoms themselves or the child subsequently tests positive for coronavirus. If the member of staff does develop symptoms, they are able to access a free coronavirus test – more information on this is available here.

The guidance adds that: “Cleaning the affected area with normal household disinfectant after someone with symptoms has left will reduce the risk of passing the infection on to other people.”

If a child or staff member is seriously ill, 999 should be called.

Step-by-step government guidance on what to do to manage a possible outbreak is available here.

What happens if a child or member of staff starts displaying symptoms while not at the setting?

DfE guidance states that settings must ensure that staff members and parents/carers understand that they will need to be ready and willing to:

  • book a test if they (or their child in the case of parents and carers) are displaying symptomsThe guidance states that “All children can be tested, including children under 5, but children under 11 will need to be helped by their parents if using a home testing kit”.
  • provide details of anyone they have been in close contact with if they were to test positive for coronavirus or if asked by NHS Test and Trace
  • self-isolateif they have been in close contact with someone who tests positive for coronavirus symptoms or someone who tests positive for coronavirus.

What do I / we do if a child or member of staff tests positive for coronavirus?

DfE guidance states that anyone who tests positive for coronavirus must self-isolate for at least ten days from the onset of their symptoms and can return to the setting.

If they still have a high temperature after ten days, they should keep self-isolating until their temperature returns to normal. If they have a cough or loss of sense of smell or taste after ten days, they can still return to the setting (this is because a cough or anosmia can last for several weeks once the infection has gone). Other members of their household should continue self-isolating for the full 14 days.

If providers become aware that someone who has attended the setting has tested positive for coronavirus, they should contact the DfE Helpline on 0800 046 8687 and select option 1 for advice on the action to take in response to a positive case. You will be put through to a team of advisors who will inform you what action is needed based on the latest public health advice. If, following triage, further expert advice is required the adviser will escalate your call to the local health protection team.

Do we need to notify Ofsted if a child or member of staff at the setting tests positive for coronavirus?

Yes. DfE guidance states that “Any confirmed cases of coronavirus (Covid-19) in the setting (either child or staff member), and/or if the setting is advised to close as a result, should be swiftly reported to Ofsted through the usual notification channels.”

Do we need to keep a record of which children and staff are in close contact with each other?

The Department for Education recommends that settings keep a record of:

  • children and staff in specific groups/rooms (where applicable)
  • close contact that takes places between children and staff in different groups/rooms

However, it states that “this should be a proportionate recording process” and that “settings do not need to ask staff to keep definitive records in a way that is overly burdensome”.

If staff or children at the setting have been in contact with someone else at the setting who has tested positive for coronavirus and told to self-isolate, do their household members have to self-isolate as well?

No. DfE guidance states that: “Household members of those who are sent home do not need to self-isolate themselves unless the child or staff member who is self-isolating subsequently develops symptoms.”

What happens if someone who has been in close contact with an individual who has tested positive for coronavirus starts to display symptoms themselves?

DfE guidance states that if someone in a group that has been asked to self-isolate

develops symptoms themselves within their 14-day isolation period, they should get a test.

If the test is negative, they “must remain in isolation for the remainder of the 14-day isolation period. This is because they could still develop the coronavirus (COVID-19) within the remaining days”.

if the test result is positive, “they should inform their setting immediately, and must isolate for at least 10 days from the onset of their symptoms (which could mean the self-isolation ends before or after the original 14-day isolation period). Their household should self-isolate for at least 14 days from when they first displayed symptoms”.

Do parents need to provide evidence that their children have tested negative for coronavirus before their children are allowed to return to a setting if they have been self-isolating?

No. DfE guidance states that: “Settings should not request evidence of negative test results or other medical evidence before admitting children or welcoming them back after a period of self-isolation.”

What happens if someone who lives with a child or staff member at the setting has symptoms of coronavirus?

If someone who lives with a child or staff member at your setting becomes ill with suspected Covid-19, the child or staff member in question will need to isolate for 14 days from when the first person in their home started experiencing symptoms and follow government Stay at Home guidance, available here.

If the house member has not had contact with the setting themselves, and you are not contacted by NHS Test and Trace, then you do not need to take further action, unless the child or staff member who attends your setting has a positive test result themselves (see ‘What do I / we do if a child or member of staff tests positive for coronavirus?’)

What do I / we do if there is a potential outbreak of coronavirus at the setting?

DfE guidance states that “if settings have two or more confirmed cases within 14 days, or an overall rise in sickness absence where coronavirus (COVID-19) is suspected, settings may have an outbreak, and continue to work with their local health protection team who will be able to advise if additional action is required”.

It adds that “in some cases, health protection teams may recommend that a larger number of other children self-isolate at home as a precautionary measure – perhaps the whole site or a group”, but that if settings are implementing protective measures, “whole setting closure based on cases within the setting will not generally be necessary, and should not be considered except on the advice of health protection teams”.

I am a childminder. Am I still allowed to look after school-age children as well as early years children?

Yes. The Department for Education guidance on reopening states that: “From 1 June 2020, childminders can look after children of all ages, in line with usual limits on the number of children they can care for.” However, we are still awaiting clarity from the DfE on the guidance around the mixing of children who are actually attending school with early-years aged children.

Are children allowed to attend more than one setting?

Yes, although this should be avoided where possible. The DfE guidance says: “Parents and carers should be encouraged to limit the number of settings their child attends, ideally ensuring their child only attends the same setting consistently.”

I am a childminder. Am I still allowed to drop-off and pick-up children from other settings?

Yes. The DfE guidance states that: “Childminding settings should consider how they can work with parents and carers to agree how best to manage any necessary journeys, for example pick-ups and drop-offs at schools, to reduce the need for a provider to travel with groups of children. 

“If it is necessary for a childminder to pick up or drop off a child at school, walking is preferable. If this is not practicable, then a private vehicle is preferable to public transport.”

If more parents want their children to return to the setting than can be safely cared for, how do I/we prioritise?

The guidance on reopening states that providers should “discuss options with their local authority or trust” and that solutions may involve children attending a nearby setting, though it notes that this should be “on a consistent basis”.

The guidance also advises that “if necessary, settings have the flexibility to focus first on continuing to provide places for priority groups” and suggests that early years settings prioritise three- and four-year-olds, followed by younger age groups.

The Alliance additionally advises that you may want to prioritise places based on the needs of the child (for example, prioritising a child who is not officially defined as vulnerable but could be considered to be) and/or the needs of their parents (for example, prioritising a parent who is working and cannot work from home).

However, DfE guidance states that: “We anticipate that the proposed change to the protective measures in early years settings from 20 July (removal of groups) should mean prioritisation will no longer be necessary and all children should be able to attend as normal.”

Are members of staff who have underlying health conditions expected to return to work?

As of 1 August, shielding advice for all adults and children has been paused. This will continue, subject to a continued decline in the rates of community transmission of coronavirus (COVID-19).

However, government guidance still currently states that staff members who are clinically vulnerable – for example, those with diabetes, or who have mild-to-moderate asthma – should be supported to observe social distancing by carrying out roles that can be done from home, such as session planning. If this is not possible, they should be offered roles that allow them to stay two metres away from other people wherever possible. If this isn’t possible, then providers “must carefully assess and discuss with them whether this involves an acceptable level of risk”.

Government guidance also still states that staff members who are clinically extremely vulnerable – such as those with specific cancers or with severe respiratory conditions such as cystic fibrosis – are not expected to attend work and that staff in this category “should work from home where possible”.

We are currently seeking clarity from the DfE whether this guidance will be updated in line with the latest changes to advice on shielding.

NB: More detailed guidance on who is considered ‘clinically vulnerable’ versus ‘clinically extremely vulnerable’ is available here.

Can staff who live with someone who is vulnerable attend the setting?

The guidance on reopening states that staff who live with someone who is clinically vulnerable (but not clinically extremely vulnerable), including those who are pregnant, can attend their education or childcare setting.

However, staff who live with someone who is clinically extremely vulnerable should “only attend an education or childcare setting if stringent social distancing can be adhered to.”

However, as of 1 August, shielding advice for all adults and children will pause on 1 August, subject to a continued decline in the rates of community transmission of coronavirus (COVID-19). As such, we are currently seeking clarity from the DfE whether this guidance will be updated in line with the latest changes to advice on shielding.

Can children who have underlying health conditions or who live with someone who is vulnerable attend the setting?

The Department for Education states that “few if any children” will fall into the category of clinically vulnerable, but that “parents should follow medical advice if their child is in this category”.

As of 1 August, shielding advice for all adults and children will pause on 1 August, subject to a continued decline in the rates of community transmission of coronavirus (COVID-19). Updated DfE guidance states that this means that “even the small number of children who will remain on the shielded patient list can return to settings, as can those who have family members who are shielding”.

Do temporary changes to the EYFS still apply after 1 June?

On 24 April 2020, the government brought into force changes to how the EYFS applies during the coronavirus outbreak, including asking early years providers to use “reasonable endeavours” to learning and development requirements, instead of this being something they ‘must do’.

Department for Education guidance states that:

  • all the learning and development and assessment disapplications will be removed as of 25 September 2020, meaning that providers will be required to reinstate the EYFS for these areas in full from 26 September 2020.
  • for safeguarding and welfare disapplications (including requirements on Paediatric First Aid training), there will be a two-month transitional period between 26 September 2020 to 25 November 2020. This means that providers will need to meet these requirements in full by 26 November 2020.

In addition, the Department has confirmed that between 26 September 2020 and 31 August 2021, all EYFS disapplications (other than for the EYFS Profile) will be reapplied if the ability of providers to comply with the EYFS is impacted by coronavirus-related restrictions that have been imposed by the government.

This essentially means that if the government makes changes, such as announcing a local or national lockdown, that prevent early years providers from adhering to normal EYFS requirements, the EYFS disapplications rolled out in April will be reapplied – so for example, early years providers would once again be expected to use ‘reasonable endeavours’ to meet the learning and development requirements of the EYFS, instead of this being something they ‘must do’.

In instances of local lockdown, providers don’t need to be located in the geographical area where the restrictions are applied but the restrictions do need to prevent them from complying with the EYFS – for example, because their staff live in the area where the restrictions apply and are not able to get into work.

Do I / we need to tell Ofsted if I am / we are open or closed?

DfE has asked Ofsted to monitor which providers on the early years register are open or closed to help find out if there is sufficient and accessible childcare available to meet demand.

If you receive an email from Ofsted asking you about your setting and plans for the future, please check that this email comes from an Ofsted.gov.uk address before responding.

If your operating circumstances change (i.e. you open or close) in the meantime, you should let Ofsted know by sending an email to enquiries@ofsted.gov.uk with ‘Change in operating hours’ in the subject field, and including your unique reference number (URN) for each setting if you have more than one, and the details of the change in the body of the email.

When will Ofsted inspections be restarting?

Ofsted inspectors will start undertaking some regulatory activity to providers who have been judged ‘inadequate’ or ‘requires improvement’ and have associated actions to fulfil in the autumn term. These visits will not result in a judgement, but Ofsted will publish a short summary to confirm what it found during the visit.

Routine early years inspections are expected to restart from January 2021, although the exact timings are being kept under review.

Can groups where parents stay with their children operate e.g. stay and play / baby and toddler?

Yes, depending on the premises they are based in, and the guidance groups operating in those premises have to follow.

For groups using community facilities, the relevant guidance (available here) states that community facilities can open for the provision of services for children and young people, adding that:

“It is important for people to maintain social distancing and good hand hygiene when visiting these spaces. People using community facilities should continue to limit their interactions with those they do not live with outside of any formal activities they are participating in to help control the virus.

“People meeting in a club or group context at a community centre should be encouraged to socially distance from anyone they do not live with or who is not in their support bubble.”

Previous references to limits of two households (or six people if outdoors) have now been removed from this guidance.

This guidance also states that “On entering a community facility users will be required to wear a face covering, and will be required to keep it on, unless covered under a ‘reasonable excuse’. This could be for a gym class, if users need to eat or drink something, or if they have a health or disability reason to not wear one. Face coverings can be removed if users are undertaking exercise or an activity where it would negatively impact their ability to do so.”

It adds that: “Face coverings should not be used by children under the age of 11 or those who may find it difficult to manage them correctly – see a list of individuals this might apply to.”

For baby and toddler groups and other similar community groups operating outdoors, the government’s ‘Meeting people from outside your household’ guidance states that while people should only be socialising in groups of up to 2 households indoors and outdoors or up to 6 people from different households when outdoors, they can “meet in larger groups for weddings, funerals, religious ceremonies and services, community activities and support groups – which should be limited to no more than 30 people and subject to COVID-19 secure guidelines”.

The Department for Education has confirmed that while children attending registered early years settings are still not expected to socially distance, the requirement for people from different households to socially distance at baby and toddler groups and other similar groups does apply to children as well as adults.

The DfE has also stated that while standalone baby and toddler groups (and similar groups) are allowed to reopen, registered early years settings should continue to follow the DfE guidance, which states that “Parents and carers should not be allowed into the setting unless this is essential”. This means that registered early years providers are currently not permitted to run stay and play sessions.

I run a musical group. Are we allowed to sing?

Yes. Updated government guidance states that “Government guidance also states that: “Both professionals and non-professionals can now engage in singing, wind and brass in line with the performing arts guidance”.

Can I / we have external providers into the setting?

It depends on the provider. The Department for Education has said that for non-staff members like speech and language therapists or counsellors, “settings should assess whether the professionals need to attend in person or can do so virtually” and that “if they need to attend in person, they should closely follow the protective measures guidance, and the number of attendances should be kept to a minimum.” The guidance adds that where possible, the presence of additional members of staff should be agreed on a weekly basis, rather than a daily basis to limit contacts.

However, the Department has said that sessions delivered by external providers which are not directly required for children’s health and wellbeing “should be suspended”.

Can I / we have other visitors to the setting, such as contractors?

DfE guidance states that “Settings should consider how to manage other visitors to the site, such as contractors, and ensure site guidance on social distancing and hygiene is explained to visitors on or before arrival. Where visits can happen outside of setting hours, they should. A record should be kept of all visitors where this is practicable.”

Are early years students still allow to attend settings for the purposes of student placements?

The Department for Education has told us that the decision on allowing students to attend work placements rests with employers, who are responsible for meeting the safe working and other requirements.

They stated that: “We recognise that there are likely to be challenges for the training and assessment of EYE and EYP qualifications in 2020/21 academic year due to COVID-19. We have worked with awarding organisations to agree that for level 3 EYE and  level 2 EYP training and qualifications:

  • Placement hours will be managed pragmatically with the overarching consideration being that the EYE criteria or EYP criteria, as appropriate, have been met during the learners time on the programme
  • In order to ensure the EYE or EYP criteria have been met, internal assessments may be adapted; appropriate alternative assessment methods will be evidenced i.e. direct observation where possible or professional discussion, witness testimony, etc.”

Are settings operating from spaces which have been told to close such as churches and community halls able to reopen?

Yes. Department for Education guidance states that: Since 1 June, community centres, village halls and places of worship have been able to open for providers on the early years register which usually use those premises. Providers should ensure they are acting in line with the protective measures and safe working guidance as well as the planning guide for early years and childcare settings. They should also ensure they are managing risks related to other users of the premises.”

Are we allowed to take children out on trips to the park and other public spaces?

Yes. The Department for Education guidance states that: “Settings should maximise use of private outdoor space, while keeping small groups of children and staff away from other groups.

“Childminders and early years providers may take small groups of children to outdoor public spaces, for example parks, provided that a risk assessment demonstrates that they can stay 2m away from other people at all times.

“This should be restricted to small groups and should be done in line with wider government guidelines on the number of people who can meet in outdoor public places. Providers should not take larger groups of children to public outdoor spaces at one time.”

As the government has restricted gatherings of more than six people in outdoor public places, this means that, as it stands, “small groups” can be no more than six in total. However, in light of wider government guidance stating that larger gatherings are allowed in certain circumstances such as work and childcare, the Alliance is seeking urgent clarity on this point with the Department for Education.

My setting is reopening after being closed. How can I reduce the risk of Legionnaires’ disease?

The Health and Safety Executive has guidance available on this here.

My local authority has advised local schools and early years settings not to reopen. Does this mean I can’t?

No. It is up to private, voluntary and independent providers whether or not they choose to reopen.

Can local authorities who are opposed to the reopening of schools and early years settings able to prevent PVI providers who are based in LA-owned buildings from opening (by not letting them use the building)?

The Department for Education have confirmed to the Alliance that this would depend on the agreement or contract between the local authority and the provider, highlighting that section 9 in the Childcare Act 2006 states as follows:

Arrangements between local authority and childcare providers

(1)     This section applies where an English local authority makes arrangements with a person (other than the governing body of a maintained school) for the provision by that person of childcare in consideration of financial assistance provided by the authority under the arrangements.

(2)     The local authority must exercise their functions with a view to securing that the provider of the childcare meets any requirements imposed on him by the arrangements.

(3)     The requirements imposed by the arrangements may, in particular, if any specified conditions are not satisfied, require the repayment of the whole or any part of any financial assistance provided by the local authority under the arrangements.

The DfE additionally advised that local authorities do have duties to secure free childcare provision in their areas under the Act more widely and that providers could consider challenging their local authority under the agreement.

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