Early Years Sector Business Support – Latest News
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
Support for the early years sector during COVID-19.
Early Years Sector Business Support – Business Advice and FAQs
Advice and FAQs regarding business and employment issues for providers during COVID-19.