Early Years Sector Business Support – Latest News
Test and Trace support payments extended to parents of self-isolating children
The Test and Trace Support Payment scheme, which provides a £500 payment to those on certain benefits or low incomes who are required to self-isolate, has been extended to the parents and carers of children who cannot work because their child is / children are required to self-isolate.
This is limited to one parent or guardian per household for the child’s self-isolation period, and parents must meet all the relevant means-tested eligibility criteria. Parents should apply via the local authority that they live in, not the local authority where their setting is situated, if these are different.
To apply for the payment, parents and carers will need to either provide their child’s NHS Test and Trace Account ID, or a communication from their early years provider or school informing them that their child needs to self-isolate (see ‘Self-isolation letter’, below).
Further information on the eligibility criteria for the scheme is available here.
Nurseries, pre-schools and childminders, alongside other educational settings, are required to provide a letter to all parents or carers of children advised to self-isolate, to support their application to the Test and Trace Support Payment scheme.
To support this, the DfE has developed a template letter for early years providers to give to parents whose children need to self-isolate, which includes information about this financial support, and is available here.
Once an application for a payment has been received, the local authority will be in touch with the child’s early years provider to verify the details of the child provided on the application. This will include a check of the child’s name, age, address and days of self-isolation, and is to minimise the event of fraudulent claims.
This check may be conducted before or after a payment is made, depending on the arrangements the individual local authority has chosen to put in place.
The letter that early years providers give to parents and carers should explain to them that their local authority will conduct a check with their child’s setting if they apply for a payment.
How are early years providers being funded in the spring term?
Government guidance states that all local authorities should fund early years providers delivering the early entitlement offers on the basis of the January 2021 census.
The census count included not only children physically attending the setting, but children who would normally be attending the setting but were not present during census week due to, for example, illness, self-isolation or parental concerns about the safety of settings.
As such, as a minimum, all providers should be funded based on the number of children they had ‘on roll’ during census week.
My attendance levels are starting to increase and I now have more children on roll than I did in census week. Will my funding increase?
The Department for Education has said that where a local authority can provide evidence for increased attendance during the spring term, the government will fund the additional hours taken up above the January 2021 census level, up to a limit of 85% of the January 2020 census attendance level.
A simplified example would be as follows:
Let’s say that a total 1000 hours of funded places were being taken up in a particular local authority at the time of the January 2020 census, but due to the impact of the pandemic, this had fallen to just 700 hours being taken up at the time of the January 2021 census (including children on roll who were not physically in attendance due to illness, self-isolation or parental concerns).
If the number of funded hours being taken up increases over the course of the 2021 spring term, the central government will give that local authority extra funding to pay for those additional hours, but only up to a maximum of 850 funded hours (85% of 1000).
This means if the overall level of attendance in a local authority increases to more than 85% of the January 2020 level, central government funding will not be provided for all these hours. The Department for Education has not set out what it expects to happen in such a situation.
The Institute of Fiscal Studies has criticised this approach, saying: “it is not clear why the extent of this support is capped, nor why 85% of January 2020 levels would be the right cap to impose”. It warns that: “where take-up rises above 85% of its January 2020 levels, it could be up to local authorities to find funding for these places, even though this would traditionally have been funded by the UK government”.
My attendance levels are likely to continue to change throughout the term. How will my overall spring attendance levels be calculated?
The DfE has stated that it will use the attendance counts that local authorities will carry out in the summer term to work out the final attendance levels for the spring term, and then – because “childcare attendance may have gradually increased throughout the spring term” – aim to base funding on a likely mid-point spring term attendance level.
This means that, essentially, the DfE will look at how high attendance levels were in a local authority at the start of the spring term (based on the January census) and then look at how high they are at the end of the spring term (based on the summer count) and then base funding for the term on a mid-point between the two.
If that mid-point attendance level is higher than the January 2021 census level, then top-up funding will be provided (but, as explained above, to no more than 85% of the January 2020 census level).
Has the government confirmed how providers will be funded in the summer and autumn terms?
The DfE has confirmed that funding for the summer and autumn terms in 2021 will now be based on termly counts, instead of the annual census – so the summer 2021 term will be based on the 2021 summer count, and the autumn 2021 term (to cover September 2021 to December 2021 period) based on 2021 autumn count.
- Early years funding guidance for local authorities: spring term 2021 and the 2021 to 2022 financial year
- Use of free early education entitlements funding during coronavirus (COVID-19) (Updated 18 March 2021)
Ofsted cancels plans to restart early years assurance inspections in March
Ofsted has announced it will not be restarting its programme of early years assurance inspections as planned.
Previously, Ofsted had said that it would be aiming to restart assurance inspections – which were intended to focus on whether or not providers were meeting the requirements of the EYFS – from 8 March.
However, it has now confirmed that these inspections will be shelved, and that they will instead aim to return to full Education Inspection Framework (EIF) inspections as soon as possible in the summer term, though this decision will be kept under review.
Ofsted has also confirmed that it will continue with regulatory work in the early years, stating: “This work will sometimes require on-site visits, which will be risk assessed based on the nature of the premises and the urgency of the work. As always, the safety and well-being of children is our priority and we will take urgent action where we have concerns.”
The changes can be found in Ofsted’s rolling update, available here.
Government update on Covid-19 vaccinations for early years providers
The government has now confirmed that to qualify for a vaccine as a social care worker, an individual would need to currently be providing face-to-face care or support to children or adults who are clinically extremely vulnerable to Covid-19.
As it stands, clinically extremely vulnerable children are not able to attend early years settings and so the vast majority of those working in the early years would not be eligible for vaccinations at this time on the basis of their occupation.
The government has added that: “In most cases people who are eligible, those who provide face to face care or support children or adults who are extremely vulnerable, should be contacted directly by their employer and been given a letter to say they are eligible.”
The Department for Education has advised that: “If you wrongly booked an appointment as you don’t fit the above criteria, you will be turned away at the vaccination service, so please cancel your booking so that someone in the eligible cohort doesn’t miss out on an appointment.”
We are seeking an update on what this means for those working in the early years who have already received their first vaccination and are now due to receive their second jab. As soon as we have more information, we will share this with the sector.
Updated guidance on funding and furlough
The government has updated the rules on how providers who receive early entitlement income can access the Job Retention Scheme.
When working out how much wage support can be claimed via the furlough scheme, providers should now:
- establish how much early entitlement funding you are currently receiving
- calculate what this equates to as a percentage of your usual income
This is the proportion of your wage bill which cannot receive any furlough support, meaning that the rest of your wage bill is eligible for furlough support.
The DfE has also confirmed that providers can now take the decision as to what would reasonably represent a usual monthly income, rather than using February 2020.
PFA certificate extension
The Department for Education has confirmed that if a practitioner’s Paediatric First Aid certificate re-qualification training has been prevented for reasons associated directly with the pandemic, or as a result of complying with related government advice, the validity of current certificates can be extended to 31 March 2021 at the latest. This applies to certificates expiring on or after 1 October 2020.
The Department states that “this is in recognition of the fact that some practitioners are facing difficulties in accessing requalification training due to courses being cancelled” but adds that “if asked to do so, providers should be able to explain why the first aider has not been able to requalify and demonstrate what steps have taken to access the training” and that “employers or certificate holders must do their best to arrange requalification training at the earliest opportunity”.
EYFS Profile update
The Department for Education has confirmed that it will not be mandatory to complete the Early Years Foundation Stage Profile assessment in 2021, though the government will still be asking schools to make ‘best endeavours’ to undertake it.
They state that: “This is in recognition of the additional pressures and uncertainties that teachers are facing during this challenging time. This also aligns with the approach on KS1 and KS2 assessments this year. However, we recognise that the EYFSP is a valued assessment by teachers and early years professionals and is a crucial tool in supporting children’s development and the transition from reception to year 1.
“It is for that reason we will be asking teachers and early years practitioners to use their best endeavours to still complete the EYFSP for children in the summer term if at all possible and to provide this important information to parents and to year 1 teachers, should the situation at the time allow.”
The DfE has also confirmed that: “Schools who decide they are able to complete the EYFSP this year and provide this information to parents and year 1 teachers will not be subject to statutory external moderation. There will be no requirement to submit data to the local authority or to confirm whether they have completed the EYFSP to the Department for Education.”
It adds that: “This change applies to schools who are early adopters of the Early Years Foundation Stage reforms, as well as schools who are following the current statutory framework.”
The Department for Education has provided the below response to queries on why early years providers have been asked to remain open while schools have been instructed to close.
- The reason schools have been restricted is not that they are unsafe but because additional measures are needed to contain the spread of the virus. The wider restrictions in place as part of the national lockdown to contain the spread of the virus in the community enable us to continue prioritising keeping nurseries and childminders open, supporting parents and delivering the crucial care and education needed for our youngest children.
- Early years settings remain low risk environments for children and staff. 0-5 year olds continue to have the lowest confirmed rates of coronavirus of all age groups, and there is no evidence that the new variant of coronavirus disproportionately affects young children. Evidence shows that pre-school children are less susceptible to infection and are not playing a driving role in transmission. There is no evidence the new strain of the virus causes more serious illness in either children or adults and there continues to be strong evidence that children are much less susceptible to severe clinical disease than older people.
- PHE advice remains that the risk of transmission and infection is low if early years settings follow the system of controls, which reduce risks and create inherently safer environments.
- Early years settings have been open to all children since 1 June and there is no evidence that the early years sector has contributed to a rise in virus cases within the community. Early evidence from SAGE showed that early years provision had a smaller relative impact on transmission rate than primary schools, which in turn had a smaller relative impact than secondary schools.
- Early years childcare providers were one of the first sectors to have restrictions lifted last summer, in recognition of the key role they play in society. Childminders and nursery staff across the country have worked hard to keep settings open through the pandemic so that young children can be educated, and parents can work. The earliest years are the most crucial point of child development and attending early education lays the foundation for lifelong learning and supports children’s social and emotional development. We continue to prioritise keeping early years settings open in full because of the clear benefits to children’s education and wellbeing and to support working parents. Caring for the youngest age group is not something that can be done remotely.
Updated Guidance for Early Years and Childcare Providers During the Coronavirus Outbreak
The DfE has updated its guidance for early years and childcare providers during the coronavirus outbreak.
The guidance has been updated with the following information:
Tier 4 restrictions
- Staff who are clinically extremely vulnerable should not go to the workplace if they live or work in a tier 4 area. The rules for tiers 1-3 remain unchanged.
- All children deemed clinically extremely vulnerable are advised not to attend settings in tier 4.
- Clinically vulnerable staff can continue to attend settings.
- Children with household members or carers that are clinically extremely vulnerable can also continue to attend settings.
System of controls
- The 10-day isolation period has been clarified as at least 10 full days from when symptoms begin, or from the date of a positive test, regardless of which type of test.
- Guidance on what to do if anyone at the setting becomes unwell with coronavirus symptoms has been updated to add that: “if any of the individual’s household members are also present at the setting they will need to be sent home at the same time. Other members of their household (including any siblings) should also self-isolate”.
- To remind staff that if they develop symptoms after coming into contact with someone that has symptoms should get a test whether or not the person they were in contact with tests positive.
- To clarify that household members, as well as staff and children should not enter a setting if displaying any coronavirus symptoms.
The definition of close contact
This has been clarified as:
- anyone who lives in the same household as someone with coronavirus (COVID-19) symptoms or who has tested positive for coronavirus (COVID-19)
- face-to-face contact including being coughed on or having a face-to-face conversation
within 1 metre skin-to-skin physical contact for any length of time
- been within 1 metre for 1 minute or longer without face-to-face contact
- been within 2 metres of someone for more than 15 minutes (either as a one-off contact or added up together over 1 day)
- travelled in the same vehicle or a plane
Contain any outbreak by following local health protection team advice
Advice for when to contact the local health protection team has been updated from more than 2 positive cases in 14 days to any of the following reasons:
- the number of cases exceeds 2 within 14 days
- you have taken the action outlined but are still seeing more cases
- you are getting significant interest from local media
- a child or staff member in your setting has been admitted to hospital
- you are thinking you might need to close because of the number of people affected
- The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme will be extended to the end of April 2021.
- More information on when to charge parents and carers.
The full guidance can be found here.
London enters new ‘Tier 4’ alert level
Registered early years providers based in London will be able to continue operating as normal, the government has confirmed.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson today confirmed the introduction of the new higher tier in response to rising Covid-19 infection rates in some areas of the country.
The new guidance on Tier 4 states that “early years settings and childminders remain open, and you can continue to use these settings as normal”.
Parents and carers in Tier 4 areas can continue to access wraparound childcare “where reasonably necessary to enable parents to work, seek work, attend education or training”.
The guidance also states that “Parent and child groups can continue where they provide support to parent and/or child, and children under 5 will not be counted within the 15 person limit – meaning parents and carers can attend such groups in larger numbers”. The Department for Education previously advised that ‘support’ could include educational activities provided to children but should be limited to activities where it is ‘reasonably necessary’ for them take place in person (i.e. it is not possible to provide the service in another format such as via Zoom).
All tiers will continue to be regularly reviewed with the next formal review set to take place on 30 December.
NB: It is important to note that the four national tiers are completely separate from the four education tiers announced by the government earlier this year.
The full guidance on Tier 4 is available here.
Update on early entitlement funding
The Department for Education has confirmed that it will not be extending early entitlement support in the spring term 2021 in most local authorities.
During the autumn term, the government funded all local councils based on pre-pandemic child attendance levels – however, the DfE has today confirmed that this support will not be extended to next year. Instead, it will fund local authorities on current attendance levels, with top-up funding allocated to councils on a case-by-case basis.
New guidance from the Department for Education states that: “The number of children attending childcare has been increasing across the autumn term and attendance is much higher than during the first national lockdown. Therefore, we will fund all local authorities on the basis of their January 2021 census for the spring term.”
It adds that for councils “where attendance is below 85% of their January 2020 census levels, and where that local authority can provide evidence for increased attendance during the spring term”, they will receive ‘top-up funding’ limited to the equivalent of 85% of the council’s January 2020 census.
The full guidance is available here.
The news comes as Chancellor Rishi Sunak announces a one-month extension to the Job Retention Scheme until April 2021.
Updated guidance for early years and childcare providers during the coronavirus outbreak
The DfE has updated its previous guidance for early years and childcare providers during the coronavirus outbreak. With the National lockdown still ongoing, providers should continue to follow the National restrictions guidance here until the 2 December.
The updated Actions for early years and childcare providers during the coronavirus outbreak will then apply in full from 2 December, when the current national restrictions end.
The guidance has been updated with the following information:
- employer health and safety and equalities duties (section 3.2)
- staff who are clinically extremely vulnerable (section 3.2)
- staff who are pregnant (section 3.2)
- close contact with someone with symptoms (section 3.3)
- use of face coverings (section 3.3)
- enhanced cleaning (section 3.3)
- guidance on result of negative or positive test (section 3.3)
- travel (section 3.4)
- visitors to the setting: external professionals and parents (section 3.5)
- music, dance and drama: organised performances (section 3.10)
- children self-isolating / clinically extremely vulnerable (section 4.1)
- special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) (section 6.5)
- early years foundation stage (EYFS) disapplications and requirements for paediatric first aid (section 7.1 to 7.8)
- planning for and supporting children’s learning (section 7.2)
- resuming Ofsted inspections (section 8.3)
- temporary changes to 30 hours entitlement (section 10.3 – 10.4)
- business support including the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (section 10.5)
- arrangements for providing meals (section 10.10)
The guidance also has added information on:
- protected characteristics (section 3.1)
- ventilation and thermal comfort (section 3.3)
- printable early years action card (section 3.3)
- printable card on What to do if a child is displaying symptoms of coronavirus (section 3.3)
- the NHS app (section 3.3)
- visitors to the setting: recruitment, supply staff and students (section 3.5)
- malleable materials (messy play) (section 3.7)
- vaccines and teething (section 3.8)
- local restriction tiers (section 3.9)
- staff needing to self-isolate after returning from abroad (section 5.2)
- trips to indoor spaces (including soft play) (section 5.6)
- parent and child groups (section 5.7)
- childminder with household member self-isolating (section 9.5)
The full guidance is available here: Actions for early years and childcare providers during the coronavirus outbreak.
Impact of the new national lockdown on early years providers
Who is allowed to operate as of Thursday 5 November?
Registered early years providers: The government has confirmed that all registered early years providers, including childminders, are allowed to continue operating as of Thursday 5 November.
For providers based in venues that have been instructed to close, new government guidance on national lockdown states that “some venues will be allowed to remain open for specific exempt activities, like childcare and support groups”. A full list of such venues has not yet been published – however, the current guidance does state that places of worship can remain open for the provision of formal childcare. We will provide the full list of venues as soon as it is available.
Wraparound care: Before and after-school clubs can also continue to operate – however, the government guidance on national lockdown states that this should be “where reasonably necessary to enable parents to work, or for the purposes of respite care” (NB: this additional condition only applies to school-aged childcare provided by before- and after-school clubs, not to registered early years provision (including childminders)). The relevant guidance is available here.
NOT YET CONFIRMED:
Baby and toddler groups and other family services: The government has not yet provided confirmation on whether baby and toddler groups, children’s centres or creches are able to continue operating as of Thursday – we are chasing clarity on this as a matter of urgency.
Will any additional restrictions will be placed on providers?
Bubbles: As it stands, the Department for Education has not suggested that there will be a return to ‘bubbles’ for registered early years providers.
Attending more than one setting: We are currently seeking clarity on if children will still be able to attend more than one setting. For before- and after-school clubs, we are also seeking clarity on what, if any, additional restrictions there may be on children who attend different schools / settings.
Face coverings: Current DfE guidance states that “settings have the discretion to recommend the use of face coverings for adults on site” in communal areas and corridors. However, we understand that this is being reviewed, and may become a stricter requirement. The DfE have advised that any changes would still relate only to the use of face coverings in communal areas, and not during the provision of education and care to children.
Outdoor trips: We also know a number of our members have raised queries relating to the rules around outdoor trips, and we will provide more information on this as soon as we have it.
External visitors: We are seeking confirmation from the DfE on whether or not the new lockdown will impact which external visitors are allowed to enter childcare premises, including recent changes which allowed parents to attend settings for admissions visits and settling-in sessions.
Can vulnerable staff still work in settings?
The government is advising that those who are clinically vulnerable can attend work but “should be especially careful to follow the rules and minimise contacts with others” and “should continue to wash hands carefully and more frequently than usual and maintain thorough cleaning of frequently touched areas in homes and/or workspaces”.
Those who are clinically extremely vulnerable are now advised not to attend work if they cannot work from home. More guidance on this is due to be published today (Monday 2 November).
We are also seeking clarity from the DfE on the guidance for staff who live with clinically extremely vulnerable individuals, and children who are, or live with, clinically extremely vulnerable people as well.
What financial support is there for early years providers?
Job Retention Scheme: The government has confirmed that the Job Retention Scheme will be extended to cover the lockdown period, with employees receiving 80% of their current salary for hours not worked, up to a maximum of £2,500. Early years providers will be able to access the scheme in the way as before (i.e. “to cover up to the proportion of its paybill which could be considered to have been paid for from that provider’s private income”). Further information on how the scheme will operate during this period is available here.
Self-Employment Income Support Scheme: The government has not yet confirmed any changes to the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme and we will be seeking clarity on this for our self-employed and childminder members as a matter of urgency.
Continuation of early entitlement funding: The DfE had previously stated that it had expected to return to the normal process for early years funding in January 2021 (i.e. funding based on current child numbers), but that it would “keep this under review and confirm the approach in further guidance in the autumn”. In light of the new lockdown, we are currently chasing the Department for an update on this review and calling for an extension of early entitlement funding support to the spring term.
A number of members have also contacted us for confirmation on the rules around charging parents who opt not to take up their space during the lockdown period. We are chasing on this and will update as soon as possible.
Will Ofsted inspections still return in January?
Ofsted has yet to provide an update on whether or not the new lockdown will impact on plans to restart routine inspections in January 2021 – as soon as we have further information on this, we will provide an update.
Are EYFS disapplications still ending?
The DfE has confirmed that EYFS disapplications will now continue during the upcoming lockdown period.
DfE updates ‘Actions for Early Years’ guidance on shielding for staff and children
The Department for Education has updated the ‘Actions for early years and childcare providers during the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak‘ guidance on staff and children who are defined as ‘clinically extremely vulnerable’.
Guidance for staff
The guidance now states that for clinically extremely vulnerable staff: “If an area is at local COVID alert level medium, high or very high, and clinically extremely vulnerable staff are unable to work from home, they should still attend the setting as the workplace should be COVID secure, where the system of controls in this guidance is implemented in line with the setting’s own workplace risk assessment.
However, it adds that: “The government may advise more restrictive formal shielding measures for the clinically extremely vulnerable, in the very highest alert areas, based on advice from the Chief Medical Officer. In this situation, clinically extremely vulnerable staff should not go into work if shielding advice is in place in their area or the area they work in.”
Guidance for children
The guidance also states that “clinically extremely vulnerable children and young people should continue to attend school, or other education settings, at all local COVID alert levels unless they are one of the very small number under paediatric care (such as recent transplant or very immunosuppressed children) and have been advised by their GP or clinician not to attend the setting”.
It adds that if formal shielding advice in the very worst affected local areas is introduced, it will be for a limited period of time and “the government will write to families separately to inform them if they are advised to shield and not attend an education setting”.
More information on who is defined as ‘clinically extremely vulnerable’ is available here.
COVID-19 tiered restrictions
As you may be aware, the government has introduced three local COVID alert levels: Medium, High and Very High.
Find out what childcare restrictions are in place if you live in an area where the COVID alert level is ‘High.’
Job Support Scheme Expanded
The Chancellor has announced an expansion to the Job Support Scheme that will pay up to two-thirds of staff wages in businesses forced to close by coronavirus restrictions.
The scheme will cover up to £2,100 a month in wages, with employers expected to cover national insurance and pension contributions.
This is an expanded version of the Job Support Scheme, which is open to all businesses – not just those that have been forced to close by coronavirus restrictions.
The scheme will open on 1 November 2020 and will remain open for six months, although it will be reviewed in January 2021.
Cash Grants for Businesses
The Chancellor also announced the start of a new policy offering businesses closed by coronavirus restrictions cash grants of up to £3,000, depending on the rateable value of their premises.
Small businesses with a rateable value of or below £15,000 can now claim £1,300 per month; medium sized businesses with a rateable value between £15,000 and £51,000 can claim £2,000 per month; and larger businesses can claim £3,000.
More information about both schemes is available here. As soon as we have more information about how early years providers are able to access the scheme, we will update the sector.
Ofsted releases guidance on interim visits
Ofsted has published some new operational guidance regarding interim visits from inspectors to registered early years providers from 1 September 2020. Interim visits are not inspections and will not result in an inspection grade, however inspectors can use regulatory or enforcement actions, if appropriate.
Updated guidance on supervised toothbrushing programmes in early years settings
The wet brushing model is no longer recommended during the COVID-19 recovery phase as it is considered more likely to risk droplet and contact transmission and offers no additional benefit to oral health over dry brushing.
Updated guidance for out-of-school providers published
The Department for Education has published new guidance for out-of-school providers operating in the autumn term.
Updates made to the ‘Protective measures for holiday or after-school clubs and other out-of-school settings’ guidance state that when schools reopen in September, out-of-school providers 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.”
COVID-19 early outbreak management
Guidance has been published to support early years settings to manage potential COVID-19 outbreaks.
DfE updates rules on EYFS disapplications
The government has updated its guidance on the temporary changes (or ‘disapplications’) to the EYFS introduced during the coronavirus pandemic.
The changes originally came into force on 24 April 2020 to “allow providers greater flexibility to respond to changes in workforce availability and potential fluctuations in demand, while still providing care that is high quality and safe” during the outbreak.
The Department for Education had previously confirmed 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 now announced 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.
The full Department for Education guidance is available here.
What to do if a child is displaying symptoms of coronavirus
The Department for Education has published a new guidance document for early years providers which outlines what to do if a child at a setting or provision displays symptoms of Covid-19.
The guidance includes an immediate action list, plus advice on what steps to take if the child tests positive for the virus.
A guide to submitting Spending Review representations for early years providers
The Comprehensive Spending Review is a large-scale review of government spending which takes places every three years.
The next Spending Review is due to take place in autumn 2020 and is an opportunity to ensure that the early years receives the financial support it needs to remain sustainable over the coming years.
The Treasury is current accepting written submissions, or ‘representations’, from individuals, businesses and organisations on what its spending priorities should be over the next three years.
In response, the Alliance has developed the below guide to submitting a representation to support early years providers who wish to do so.
The deadline for submissions is 24 September 2020
Top tips for your submissions
- Keep it brief: the officials dealing with representations will be reading a high volume of submissions, so it is useful to keep yours concise and to the point.
- Make sure it is evidence-based: the more facts and figures you can use to support your argument, the better. If you are talking about underfunding, explain how much it costs to deliver a place and how this compares to your funding rate. If you are operating at a loss, say exactly how much of a loss, and over what period. The more specific you can be, the better.
- Be clear: not everyone has a detailed understanding of the early years sector and how it operates, so be as clear as possible in your language, and try to avoid any jargon and acronyms that someone outside the sector might not understand.
An example of how to structure your representation
Overview of your setting or provision
Introduce your setting, providing key details such as:
- the name of your provision (if applicable)
- where you are based
- how long you have been operating
- how many children you offer places to and of what ages
- what funded entitlement offers you deliver, if any
- any particular areas of support you offer e.g. do you deliver care to a high number of children speaking English as an Additional Language, or children with SEND? Do you offer any unique support to local families?
- Explain the financial position of your provision before coronavirus: were you making a profit, breaking even or operating at a loss (provide as much specific detail here as possible)?
- If you were operating at a loss, explain why: is this due to a lack of early entitlement funding? If so, how much was the shortfall, and what impact did this have on your provision.
Impact of lockdown
- Outline the impact of lockdown on your provision.
- If you stayed open for key workers and/or critical children, how much did your occupancy reduce by and what was the overall impact on your provision.
- If you temporarily closed, what costs did you continue to incur and what was the overall impact on your provision.
- What wider impact did lockdown have on your provision – for example, the inability to market your provision via tours, the cancellation of fundraising events etc
- What impact did the timing of lockdown (i.e. the summer term) have on you – is this when you would normally have highest occupancy?
- Did you use any government schemes e.g. Job Retention Scheme, continuation of early entitlement funding, business grants etc
- If you did use these schemes, what impact did these have?
- Were there any schemes you were unable to access, or could access but not fully? If so, what impact did this have on your provision?
- If you have opened more widely since the easing of lockdown, what occupancy levels are you seeing? Is it better or worse than expected, and what impact is this having on the financial position of your setting?
- What financial impact has operating in a pandemic had on your settings – such as additional cleaning costs, PPE, operating with ‘bubbles’ if you are doing so.
- Outline any new challenges you are facing and the financial impact this is having on your setting – for example, delays with coronavirus testing leading to staff absences.
- Explain what the next six months is likely to look like without any additional government support.
Outline what you would like the government to do to support your setting and the wider sector in:
- a) the short-term (i.e. the next six month) to ensure your provision can survive the coronavirus pandemic
- b) the long-term (i.e. the next three years) to ensure that your provision can remain sustainable over this period.
Early years providers, outdoor trips and the new ‘rule of six’
Early years providers can take children out on trips to public spaces, such as the park, in groups larger than six, the Department for Education (DfE) has confirmed.
According to the DfE, early years providers can take children to outdoor spaces in groups larger than six “as this reflects the exception to the Health Protection Coronavirus, Restrictions legislation [which] states that gatherings of more than 6 can take place for the purposes of early years childcare”.
The DfE additionally stated that: “Settings can take children outdoors provided they remain within the EYFS staff-child ratios, conduct a risk assessment (if applicable) in advance and remain socially distant (2m) from other people. They should ensure good hygiene throughout and thorough handwashing before and after the trip” .
They added that: “Setting leaders (such as childminders) will be best placed to understand the needs of their settings and communities, and to make informed judgments about how to balance delivering high quality care and education with the measures needed to manage risk.”
We understand that official DfE guidance will be updated shortly to confirm this position.
Use of cars for outings
The DfE has also confirmed that early years providers are permitted to take children on outings using their cars, assuming it can be done safely, stating: “When deciding whether to take children on outings and using their cars, settings (including childminders) must comply with health and safety law, which requires them to assess risks and put in place proportionate control measures.”
“Setting leaders (such as childminders) will be best placed to understand the needs of their settings and communities, and to make informed judgments about how to balance delivering high quality care and education with the measures needed to manage risk.
“The guidance on private cars and other vehicles provides some useful information about how to travel in cars safely. Elements of this guidance can be applied when childminders need to travel with children by car.”
New guidance on local lockdowns published
The Department for Education has published new guidance on local lockdowns for early years providers, schools and colleges.
The guidance states that “in local areas where restrictions have been implemented for certain sectors … education and childcare will usually remain fully open to all“.
It 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.
Childcare to be exempt from interhousehold mixing restrictions in local areas of intervention
Childcare to be exempt from interhousehold mixing restrictions in local areas of intervention Informal childcare and caring arrangements will be allowed to continue across the nation, the Health Secretary has announced.
EYFS disapplications coming to an end
The relaxation of the learning and development and assessment requirements of the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) that were implemented at the onset of the coronavirus outbreak, are coming to an end on 25th September 2020.
The disapplications relating to paediatric first aid (PFA) and qualification requirements related to ratios have a two-month transitional period and so will end on 25th November 2020.
The validity of PFA certificates which expired during the outbreak is also extended to 25th November 2020 at the latest. This applies to certificates expiring on or after 16th March 2020.
From 26th September 2020, new disapplications come into force where a provider can disapply specific elements of the EYFS in the event of a local or further national lockdown.
These would only apply where a provider is prevented from complying with the requirements of the EYFS due to coronavirus related restrictions or requirements which have been imposed on a geographical area by regulations or a direction (a local lockdown for example).
These disapplications are very similar to the previous modifications, covering learning and development requirements, PFA, qualifications relating to ratios and the 2-year check. The difference is that the EYFS profile is not covered by these new disapplications.
Updated DfE guidance for early years and childcare providers
The Department for Education has published update guidance for early years and childcare providers.
Updates to the new guidance include new information on:
- the use and disposal of face coverings
- supervised toothbrushing programmes (section 3)
- process for local lockdowns (section 3)
- new guidance on music, dance and drama (section 3)
- maximising use of sites and ventilation within settings (section 3)
- reopening of buildings (section 3)
- journeys, such as pickups and drop offs (section 3)
- attending more than one setting(section 3)
- a child with symptoms attending a setting (section 3)
- visitors to settings, including new admissions and settling in (section 3)
- use of outdoor private and public spaces (section 5)
- supporting children’s and staff wellbeing (section 5)
- new SEND legislation (section 6)
- EYFS disapplications ending on 25 September 2020 (section 7)
- emergency first aid (section 7)
- the Job Retention Bonus scheme (section 10)
The guidance also includes updated information on the following:
- employer health and safety and equalities duties (section 3)
- staff who are clinically extremely vulnerable (section 3)
- children who are shielding or self-isolating (section 4)
- safeguarding (section 6)
- added an additional paragraph on managing coronavirus (COVID-19) cases (section 8)
- updated information on funding (section 10)
Several sections have also been reformatted to make the information easier to find.
The full guidance is available here.
Early Years Sector Business Support – Business Support FAQs
Advice and FAQs regarding business and employment issues for providers during COVID-19.
Early Years Sector Business Support – Operating During Lockdown and Beyond
Read our FAQ guide to reopening early years provision.
Early Years Sector Business Support – EYFS changes in the coronavirus crisis
Guidance on the changes have been made to the Early Years Foundation Stage due to COVID-19