Coronavirus – what you need to know

 

*This page was last updated on 22 April, 2021*

(Includes guidance for those working in nurseries and the early years plus links to government guidance and resources.)

For more detailed information about coronavirus and the early years sector please visit our Covid-19 section.

We are constantly updating our Q&A page to make sure you have all the latest updates. The answers are based on the latest government guidance as soon as we get it. Read our Operating during lockdown and beyond Q and A.


Update on private, voluntary and independent nurseries test kit deliveries

Some PVI nurseries have reported missing or damaged Covid 19 test kits using the nursery rapid testing delivery supply form.

PVI nurseries that reported missing or damaged kit between Thursday 8 and Wednesday 14 April will receive additional kits between Thursday 22 and Friday 23 April.

A delivery schedule is now available on the document sharing platform. If nurseries are not available to receive their delivery, they should receive a “Sorry we missed you” card which will allow them to re-arrange your delivery.

A further delivery of kits to all PVIs will be sent in early May which should be enought to last until the end of the month.

If nurseries are concerned they will run out of home testing kits before early May, please use the government's nursery rapid testing delivery supply form.


Baby and toddler groups re-opening - your questions answered

Baby and toddler groups - or 'parent and child groups' as the government refers to them - are allowed to operate outdoors as of 29 March 2021 and indoors from 12 April.

Here on our Baby and Toddler group reopening FAQ page we answer some of your key questions about reopening.

The full government guidance is available here: Actions for early years and childcare providers during the coronavirus (Covid-19) outbreak


Ofsted to resume inspections in May

Graded Ofsted inspections for early years providers will resume on 4 May 2021, according to the latest update from the regulator.

Ofsted says that all inspections will be completed on site after this date, following “field work” to ensure that these can be carried out safely.

Read more here


Childminders and wraparound care providers can now access home testing kits

The guidance on lateral flow testing and education has been updated, with "anyone who works in an occupation related to a childcare provider, school, nursery or college, and their household, childcare and support bubbles" now able to access testing by either:

  • attending a test site to get tested where they will be able to see how to take the test or pick up tests to do at home.
  • attending a collection site to collect tests to do at home.
  • ordering test kits online via www.gov.uk/order-coronavirus-rapid-lateral-flow-tests

See our FAQs on lateral flow testing here.


Fall in number of Covid cases in early years settings 

The number of providers reporting Covid-19 cases in their settings is falling. However as many settings may have been closed for half term on the week commencing 15 Feb, we'll need to see the next set of figures to confirm if this is a trend.

See the figures


Chancellor’s Spring Budget includes extensions to furlough, business rates holiday and SEISS, but no new financial support for early years 

On 3 March the Chancellor made his Spring Budget statement in the House of Commons. Here are the key measures that may impact early years practitioners and businesses:

Business rates: The business rates holiday for early years providers has been extended until 30 June 2021, alongside other eligible retail, hospitality and leisure properties. There will then be a 66% rate relief until 31 March 2022, with a cap of £105,000 per business for those businesses that were not required to close as of 5 January 2021.

Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS): The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme has been extended until September 2021. However, from 1 July, employers will be asked to make contributions to the cost of unworked hours. These will be paid at a rate of 10% in July and 20% in August and September. 

Self Employed Income Support Scheme (SEISS): The Chancellor confirmed two further SEISS grants for self-employed people. Newly self-employed people who filled out a self assessment tax return for 2019/20 will be eligible for the fourth and fifth grants, but all other criteria remain the same. 

The fourth SEISS grant will be for 80% of three months’ average monthly trading profits for the period February to April, paid out in a single instalment and capped at £7,500 in total. This can be claimed from late April. 

The fifth grant will be awarded during the summer and calculated based on turnover.

National Living Wage / National Minimum Wage: The Chancellor restated that, as set out in the Autumn Statement, the National Living Wage will increase from £8.72 to £8.91 in April 2021, and will also be extended to 23- and 24-year-olds. The National Minimum Wage for under 23s will also increase - more detail on the various rates is available here.

The Alliance is continuing to call on the government to provide clear evidence on this change has been accounted for within the early years entitlement funding rates - we are currently awaiting a response on this from the Department for Education and will update the sector as soon as we have this information.

Tax rates: Corporation tax will rise to 25% from 19% from April 2023 on profits over £250,000. However, this will not apply to businesses with profits less than £50,000 and there will be additional relief for businesses with profits under £250,000. 

From 2022, the personal income tax allowance of £12,570 will be frozen until 2026, rather than rising in line with inflation.  

Apprenticeships and training: Employers who hire a new apprentice between 1 April 2021 and 30 September 2021 will receive a direct payment of £3,000 per new hire, compared with £1,500 per new apprentice hire (or £2,000 for those aged 24 and under) under the previous scheme.

This is in addition to the existing £1,000 payment the government provides for all new 16-18 year-old apprentices and those aged under 25 with an Education, Health and Care Plan, where that applies. 

Portable apprenticeships will also be extended. 

Sick pay and isolation: The Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) Rebate Scheme will continue so employers with fewer than 250 employees will still be able to reclaim up to two weeks of eligible SSP costs per employee.  

£500 Test and Trace support payments will continue in England until the summer. 

Loan schemes and grants : The Bounceback Loan and Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Schemes will close on 31 March. A new Recovery Loan Scheme, which opens on 6 April, will provide lenders with a guarantee of 80% on eligible loans between £25,000 and £10 million, and will be open to all businesses, including those who have already received support under the existing COVID-19 guaranteed loan schemes.

Read a summary of the March 2021 Budget.

Or view the full collection of March 2021 Budget documents.


Early years sector will not be prioritised in vaccine roll out

Early years providers, and other educators, will not be prioritised in the second phase of the Covid-19 vaccine roll out, the government has confirmed.

The Join Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) has stated that targeting people by occupation “would be more complex to deliver” and warned that this approach “may slow down” the UK’s vaccination roll-out. Instead, the JCVI will contniue to prioritise vaccination by age group, starting with everyone aged 40-49 years old. 

Read more


Ofsted cancels early years assurance inspection plans

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.

See Ofsted's rolling update here


Home testing kits will be made available to PVI settings from 22 March

The government has confirmed that asymptomatic home testing kits will be made available to private, voluntary and independent (PVI) nurseries and pre-schools in England from 22 March. The tests are to be used by setting staff twice a week at home.

However, the Department for Education has yet to confirm details of any planned rollout of home testing kits for registered childminders, who as it stands have been advised to continue using community testing centres. The Alliance is in urgent discussions with the DfE on ensuring that the whole sector has access to these vital tests.

Read more detail on lateral flow testing in early years settings and how the scheme will work.


Goverment outlines plans for easing lockdown

The government has outlined its plans for taking the country out of lockdown. 

From 8 March providers will be able to offer wraparound childcare for all children where it is needed to enable parents or carers to work, seek work, attend education, seek medical care or attend a support group.

From 29 March, parent and child groups will be able to take place outdoors with a limit of 15 attendees (children under five years of age do not count towards the attendee limit). Indoor parent and child groups (with a limit of up to 15 people, not including children under five) will not be able to reasume until 12 April at the earliest.

The full roadmap is available here.


Reporting an incident to Ofsted

From 28 January, reporting a serious childcare incident, including confirmed Covid-19 cases, to Ofsted can only be done via online form (not phone or email). 


Older stories and updates

Early years providers to remain open during third national lockdown

Early years providers to remain open during third national lockdown

Registered early years providers will be allowed to remain open during the upcoming national lockdown in England, Prime Minister Boris Johnson confirmed during an address to the nation on 4 January.

Guidance released by the government states:

There are several ways that parents and carers can continue to access childcare:

Early years settings (including nurseries and childminders) remain open Vulnerable children and children of critical workers can continue to use registered childcare, childminders and other childcare activities (including wraparound care) Parents are able to form a childcare bubble with one other household for the purposes of informal childcare, where the child is under 14. This is mainly to enable parents to work, and must not be used to enable social contact between adults Some households will also be able to benefit from being in a support bubble Nannies will be able to continue to provide services, including in the home.

 

The Alliance will continue to chase for clarity on baby and toddler groups.

The Department for Education has provided the Alliance with a response to queries on why early years providers have been asked to remain open during the national lockdown in England, while schools have been instructed to close. 

Read the department's rationale for keeping early years settings open.

On 4 Jan the Alliance met the DfE and stressed the need for greater financial support for the early years, priority access to vaccinations and asymptomatic testing in early years settings.

Self-isolation period reduced from 14 days to ten days

From 14 December, the requirement to self-isolate will reduce from 14 days to ten days, the Chief Medical Officers for England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales have announced.

They made the following statement:

“After reviewing the evidence, we are now confident that we can reduce the number of days that contacts self-isolate from 14 days to 10 days. People who return from countries which are not on the travel corridor list should also self-isolate for 10 days instead of 14 days.

“People who test positive should continue to self-isolate for 10 days from onset of symptoms or 10 days from point of taking a positive test if asymptomatic. We urge everyone to self-isolate when appropriate, it will save lives.”

This change will come into force in England, Scotland and Northern Ireland from Monday 14 December. It already applies in Wales.

Self-isolation periods will begin on the day after exposure to Covid-19, a test or the start of symptoms. People who test positive should continue to self-isolate for 10 days from onset of symptoms or 10 days from point of taking a positive test if asymptomatic. The NHS Test and Trace service will tell people to self-isolate for 10 days instead of 14 days from 14 December. People who return from countries which are not on the travel corridor list should self-isolate for 10 days instead of 14 days.

Ofsted announces phased return of early years inspections

Ofsted will carry out a programme of assurance inspections from the start of the spring term 2021. These inspections will confirm whether or not a provider is meeting the early years foundation stage (EYFS) requirements.

The department said assurance inspections "will be proportionate and risk-based".

Providers will be prioritised based on the length of time since their last inspection, and any other relevant information. Routine graded inspections will then resume in the summer term of 2021.

Over the coming months, Ofsted will discuss the approach to routine inspection in 2021 with sector representatives and test it through a series of pilot visits, where necessary.

Read the full Ofsted statement here

Expansion of support bubbles

The government has confirmed that from 2 December, people can form a support bubble with another household, if at least one has: 

a child under 1 (regardless of how many other adults are in the household); or 

a child under 5 with a disability that requires continuous care (regardless of how many other adults are in the household)

 

If someone in your previous support bubble develops symptoms or tests positive for coronavirus up to 48 hours after members of the bubble last met, all members of the bubble must self-isolate for 14 days. You must not form a new bubble until you have completed your self-isolation.

This is in addition to the previous support bubble criteria.

If you decide to change your support bubble, you should treat your previous bubble as a separate household for 14 days before forming a new bubble. This means following the rules on meeting people from other households in the tier you are in.

Find out the coronavirus restrictions in your local area

This is in addition to the previous support bubble criteria.

You may change your support bubble provided that:

your household, or the one you intend to form a new support bubble with, meets at least one of the criteria under ‘Who can make a support bubble’ the other household is not already part of a support bubble which they intend to remain a part of.

Self-employment Support Scheme to cover 80% of profits 

Chancellor Rishi Sunak has announced that the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS) will be increased with the third grant covering November to January 2021 calculated at 80% of average trading profits, up to a maximum of £7,500.

The Self-Employment Income Support Scheme grant extension provides support to the self-employed in the form of two further grants, each available for 3 month periods covering November 2020 to January 2021 and February 2021 to April 2021.

The level of support offered through the scheme was due to drop to 40% of profits in November but now that a second national lockdown has begun, the scheme will now cover up to 80% of average trading profits.

The government has also confirmed that the claims window will be bought forward from 14 December to 30 November.

Read more details here.

Furlough scheme extended to March 2021

The government has confirmed that the Job Retention Scheme will be extended to the end of March 2021, 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"). 

EYFS disapplications extended for Nov-Dec period

Temporary changes - or disapplications - to the EYFS that came into force on 24 April 2020 - are being extended for the November-December lockdown period.

Disapplications were introduced by the government 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 coronavirus pandemic.

Providers were previously required to reinstate the EYFS for learning and development in full from 26 September 2020, however the disapplications are now being extended for the second lockdown period until 2 December.

Visit our EYFS Changes in the Coronavirus Crisis page

England to enter new four-week lockdown

The government has confirmed plans to introduce a new four-week long lockdown in England.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has announced that as of Thursday 5 November, all non-essential shops, leisure and entertainment venues will close until 2 December.

However, the Prime Minister confirmed that early years providers in England, alongside schools, colleges and universities, will be able to remain open.

The government also announced plans to extend the furlough system through November until December.

Please see our FAQs page for further details.

Covid cases doubling in early years settings

The number of Covid-19 cases reported in early years settings has been doubling since the first week of September, according to new statistics from Ofsted.

Obtained by the Labour Party, the statistics show an increase from 14 cases in early years settings at the end of August 2020 to 181 on 28 September.

In response, the Alliance has called for home testing kits to be made available to nurseries and childminders, as well as maintained nursery schools.

Read the full story

Changes to Job Support Scheme and grants for Tier 2 businesses announced

The government is to introduce additional support for businesses hit by Tier 2 coronavirus restrictions and made changes to the Job Support Scheme, due to replace the current furlough scheme in November.

Speaking in the House of Commons on 22 October, Chancellor Rishi Sunak announced three new measures to support businesses still affected by the coronavirus outbreak:

A more generous version of the Job Support Scheme. Employees need to work 20% of their usual hours to qualify for the scheme and employers will need to pay 20% of hours worked and 5% of hours not worked. The scheme is open to all businesses that can show the impact of Covid-19 on their revenues, regardless of local Tier.

A new grant scheme for businesses affected by Tier 2 restrictions, even if they have not been forced to close, worth up to £2,100 a month for businesses facing lower demand or up to £3,000 for businesses forced to close. Local authorities will be given instructions on how to distribute these funds, which can be backdated to August 2020, although they are primarily aimed at the hospitality and leisure sector.

 

The Department for Education has confirmed to the Alliance that it is awaiting further guidance from the Treasury on how this new scheme will apply to early years providers in receipt of early entitlement funding.

  • Grants paid through the Self-Employed Income Support Scheme will cover up to 40% of previous earnings, increasing from a maximum of £1,875 to £3,750. There will be two further grant payments between November 2020 and April 2021. Grants will also be available for those who are ordered to temporarily close or are facing significantly reduced demand in all Tier areas.
PM announces three-tier lockdown system

The government has confirmed plans to introduce a new three-tier system of local Covid alert levels across England.

Speaking in the House of Commons on 12 October, Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced that as of Wednesday 14 October, there will be three alert levels for areas in England: medium, high and very high.

The 'medium' alert level will cover most of the country and will consist of the current national measures, including the rule of six.  The 'high' alert level will prevent all indoor mixing between households or bubbles, while the rule of six will continue outdoors. Most areas currently in local lockdown will be automatically placed on the 'high' alert level. The 'very high' alert level will be applied in areas where transmission rates are rising most rapidly. This will involve a 'baseline' of measures, including the closure of pubs and bars, and the banning of household mixing.

 

We are currently seeking clarity on how the new alert system will impact children and family services such as baby and toddler groups. 

As soon as we have more information, we will update the sector.

The Prime Minister has confirmed that it is the government's intention for education settings to remain open.

Government expands Job Support Scheme

The Chancellor has announced an expansion to the Job Support Scheme that will pay up to two-thirds of staff wages for 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 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.

Read more

EYFS disapplications come to an end - Sept 25

Temporary changes - or disapplications - to the EYFS that came into force on 24 April 2020 have now come to an end.

Disapplications were introduced by the government 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 coronavirus pandemic.

All of the learning and development and assessment disapplications were removed as of 25 September 2020, meaning providers are 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 the 26 November 2020.

Between 26 September 2020 and 31 August 2021, all EYFS disapplications, other than the EYFS Profile disapplication, will be reapplied if the ability of providers to comply with the EYFS is impacted by coronavirus-related restrictions or requirements which have been imposed by government, such a local or national lockdown. 

Job Support Scheme to replace Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme

On 24 September Chancellor Rishi Sunak announced a new scheme to replace the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme when it closes at the end of October. 

The new Job Support Scheme is intended to help protect 'viable jobs' in businesses facing lower demand over the winter months as a result of the pandemic, by topping up the wages of employees working less hours than normal.

Under the scheme, eligible employees will be paid for two-thirds of any hours that they are not able to work, split evenly between the government and their employer. This means that employees will receive at least 77% of their normal pay under the scheme.

The scheme launches on 1 November and will run for six months.

To be eligible, employees must be earning at working at least 33% of their normal hours, and the level of government grant available will be capped at £697.92 a month.

All small and medium-sized enterprises will be eligible for the scheme, while large businesses will be required to demonstrate that their business has been adversely affected by Covid-19.

You can read more about the Job Support Scheme here.

DfE updates 'Actions for early years and childcare providers' guidance — 22 September

The DfE has published updated guidance for all early years providers in England during the coronavirus outbreak.

Updates cover the following:

the use and disposal of face coverings supervised toothbrushing programmes process for local lockdowns

 

There is also revised wording about: employer health and safety and equalities duties; staff who are clinically extremely vulnerable; children who are shielding or self-isolating, and; safeguarding.

See the guidance in full here

  • music, dance and drama
  • maximising use of sites and ventilation within settings
  • reopening of buildings
  • journeys, such as pickups and drop offs
  • attending more than one setting
  • a child with symptoms attending a setting
  • pregnant women
  • visitors to settings; including new admissions and settling in
  • use of outdoor private and public spaces
  • informal childcare
  • supporting children’s and staff wellbeing
  • new SEND legislation
  • EYFS disapplications ending on 25 September 2020
  • emergency first aid
  • the Job Retention Bonus scheme
  • managing coronavirus cases
  • funding.
Children can be cared for by individuals outside of immediate household

Health Secretary Matt Hancock said children under the age of 14 can be looked after by someone outside of their household – even in areas with additional local restrictions.

The health secretary announced the policy change, confirming that informal childcare may continue despite the ban on mixing households in parts of the North West, North East, Bolton and Leicester.

Informal childcare arranged between households must be part of a “consistent” relationship and “one-off” playdates are not permitted.

Matt Hancock said: “It is essential that our children or dependents are well looked after and loved."

New contact advice for confirmed cases of Covid at a setting

The Department for Education has published new guidance on whom registered early years providers should contact if there is a confirmed positive case of Covid-19 at their setting.

Previously, the Actions for early years and childcare providers during the coronavirus outbreak guidance stated that providers should contact their local health protection team directly if they became aware that someone who had attended their provision had tested positive for coronavirus.

However, this guidance has now been updated to state that: "You 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."

Read the guidance in full here.

Childcare, youth and activity groups exempt from 'rule of 6'

The government has confirmed people will still be able to meet in groups of more than six for registered childcare (including wraparound care), youth groups and activities, and other children's groups when new rules on socialising come into force on Monday 14 September. 

The government has confirmed plans to legally limit most social gatherings to no more than six, down from 30.

However, the new rules include a number of exemptions, and these include childcare providers, youth activities and children's groups.

The relevant guidance is available here (see sections 2.10 and 2.15)

Temporary EYFS disapplications to be removed by 25 September

Temporary changes to the EYFS came into force on 24 April 2020 - these are referred to as 'disapplications' and were introduced by the government 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 coronavirus pandemic.

All of 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 the 26 November 2020.

Between 26 September 2020 and 31 August 2021, all EYFS disapplications, other than the EYFS Profile disapplication, will be reapplied if the ability of providers to comply with the EYFS is impacted by coronavirus-related restrictions or requirements which have been imposed by government, such a local or national lockdown. 

Read the updated guidance

Summary of key steps to identify and contain outbreaks 

The government has published a new concise summary of the steps early years providers should take to identify and manage possible Covid-19 outbreaks.

Download the PDF

Updated guidance on local lockdowns (Aug 28)

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.

The full guidance is available here.

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."

The full guidance is available here

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.

Read the guidance here

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.

Read the guidance here

Self-isolation rule change

Anyone displaying symptoms of coronavirus (a temperature, new continuous cough and/or a loss of taste or smell) must now self-isolate for 10 days, rather than seven.

The change brings the UK in line with World Health Organization guidance, and reflects scientific evidence which suggests that people with coronavirus have "a low but real possibility of infectiousness" seven to nine days after falling ill.

Those living with someone displaying coronavirus symptoms are still required to self-isolate for 14 days.

More information is available on the NHS website.

Update on early entitlement funding

The Department for Education has shared its plans for early entitlement funding for the autumn term 2020 and beyond.

The guidance states that local authority funding for the 2020 autumn term will be based on the January 2020 census data. The DfE says that this is in recognition of the fact the number of children attending settings may not have returned to normal levels by January 2021.

From the autumn term local authorities will be expected to continue funding providers who are open "at the levels they would have expected to see in the 2020 autumn term had there been no coronavirus outbreak".

They should also continue to fund providers which have been advised to close, or "left with no option but to close, due to public health reasons". Local authorities are not expected to fund providers which are closed "without public health reason".

The DfE intends to fund settings "as if autumn term 2020 were happening normally". To do this, local authorities should use the numbers of children in places in the previous autumn term to inform funding levels this autumn.

In "exceptional circumstances" local authorities will be able to "redirect early years dedicated schools grant from providers that are closed" to ensure that there is childcare available for key worker families and vulnerable children.

The DfE guidance also encourages local authorities to consider increasing the frequency of payments to providers from termly to monthly to allow for adjustments as providers reopen.

The government expects to return to the normal process for early years funding in January 2021.

The full guidance can be found here

'Bubbles' no longer required from 20 July

From 20 July, early years settings will no longer be required to keep children in small, consistent groups within settings. Mixing between the groups should still be minimised however and other protective measures will remain in place.

The government said this was possible because of 'significant progress in tackling the coronavirus (COVID-19)'.

Read the guidance in full here

Guidance on protective measures for holiday clubs plus and local lockdowns

On 1 July, the government released new guidance on what schools, nurseries, childminders, early years and other educational settings need to do if there's a local lockdown during the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak.

Read it in full: Local lockdowns: guidance for education and childcare settings

They have also released guidance on protective measures for providers of holiday and after-school clubs and other activities to children during the outbreak.

Read it in full: Protective measures for holiday or after-school clubs and other out-of-school settings for children during the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak

Chancellor announces changes to Job Retention Scheme

On June 12 Chancellor Rishi Sunak announced a series of changes to the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme which ends on 31 October.The scheme changed as of 1 July. 

Read the updated government guidance


FAQs

— FAQs: We have produced a Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) guide on various aspects of operating during lockdown and beyond.

— For any questions on the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, Furlough Leave and Related Employment Matters please see our FAQs for providers on our Business Advice page.

— We also have an dedicated FAQ page on the Early Entitlement Funding and the Job Retention Scheme here.

 


Coronavirus helpline

The Department for Education has a helpline for early years providers, schools and colleges – as well as parents, carers and young people – who have questions about coronavirus.

If you have specific questions about the virus call:

0800 046 8687

Email: DfE.coronavirushelpline@education.gov.uk

 


Business support

Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme

The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme allows all businesses to apply for grants to cover a portion of salaries of staff who are not working but kept on payroll during the coronavirus outbreak.

Read more about the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme

Coronavirus (COVID-19): financial support for education, early years and children’s social care

Use of free early education entitlements funding during the coronavirus outbreak

Self-employed Income Support Scheme

The government has offered self-employed workers similar protections as employed staff during the outbreak.

Self-employed people facing financial difficulties as a result of the coronavirus outbreak will be able to claim some of their monthly earnings up to £2,500 a month. Monthly earnings will be calculated using an average of profits over the last three financial years. The scheme will only be available to people who are already self employed and have a self-assessment tax return for 2019.

Read more about the Self-employed Income Support Scheme.

Self-employed Income Scheme: How HMRC works out your total income and trading profits


Operational support

EYFS

To support early years providers who remain open to vulnerable children and children of critical workers during the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak, the Government has temporarily disapplied and modified certain elements of the EYFS statutory framework.

The aim of the guidance is 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.

Read the guidance: Early Years Foundation Stage: Coronavirus disapplications

Ofsted

Notification: Ofsted wants providers to let them know if they are opening or temporarily closing.

Ofsted has been working with the DfE and local authorities to find out which early years providers, including childminders, are currently open or temporarily closed, to see there is sufficient and accessible childcare in place to support vulnerable children. Ofsted may contact providers to ask you about your setting and plans for the future. Please check that this email comes from an @ofsted.gov.uk address before responding as soon as you can.

If your operating circumstances do change (you open or close), notify Ofsted by sending an email to enquiries@ofsted.gov.uk with ‘Change in operating hours’ in the subject field. In the body of the email, please confirm the unique reference number for each setting and the details of the change.

You can find your URN on your registration, your inspection report and on your Ofsted reports page.

Ratios: EYFS section 3:30 allows for child:adult ratios to be relaxed in exceptional circumstances, where the quality of care and safety of children is maintained. Ofsted has confirmed that the coronavirus outbreak is an exceptional circumstance and that there is no need to notify them if you need to relax ratios at this time.

Inspections: Routine Ofsted inspections have been suspended however as part of a phased return to routine inspection from autumn 2020, Ofsted is carrying out interim visits. These visits are not inspections and will not result in an inspection grade, however inspectors can use regulatory or enforcement actions, if appropriate.

Fees: Ofsted has said that invoices for annual fees issued from 3 April will now have a due date of 30 September 2020, so that providers can delay payment during this time. Providers usual annual fee date will not change going forward.

Parents

The government has also published guidance for parents on the issue of parent fees during closures: "We are asking providers to be reasonable and balanced in their dealings with parents".

The full government parent guidance is available here.

Key links for providers

Local lockdowns: guidance for education and childcare settings

Actions for early years and childcare providers during the coronavirus outbreak

Actions for educational and childcare settings to prepare for wider opening from 1 June 2020

COVID-19: Cleaning of non-healthcare settings

Safe working in education, childcare and children’s social care settings, including the use of personal protective equipment (PPE)

Details on phased wider openings of schools, colleges and nurseries

Our plan to rebuild: The UK Government's COVID-19 Recovery Strategy

Early Years Foundation Stage: Coronavirus disapplications

Actions for early years and childcare providers during the coronavirus outbreak

Coronavirus (Covid-19): early years and childcare closures

Guidance for education and childcare settings on how to implement social distancing

Guidance on maintaining educational provision

Guidance for schools, colleges and local authorities on maintaining educational provision

COVID 19 - Guidance for Educational Setttings (DfE)


What is a coronavirus?

Coronaviruses are a common type of virus. They typically cause fever and a cough, which may progress to more severe pneumonia, shortness of breath and breathing difficulties in some people, according to Public Health England (PHE).

Novel coronavirus (2019-nCov) is a new strain of coronavirus first identified in Wuhan City, Hubei province, China. The current evidence is that most cases appear to be mild and most of those who have died have had pre-existing health conditions.

Because little is known about this new strain of the virus, it is not clear how it is spread, however, similar viruses tend to be spread by coughs and sneezes – so the way the infection gains entry to the body is the same as the way it exits and spreads to others.

It is also possible that the virus may be spread by touching a surface or object that has been coughed or sneezed on by someone with the virus – such as by touching a doorknob or shaking hands with someone and then touching your face.

There is currently no specific cure for the new coronavirus so treatment is aimed at relieving the symptoms.

What are the symptoms?

The NHS advises that symptoms of the coronavirus usually include:

  • feeling tired
  • difficulty breathing
  • a high temperature
  • a persistent cough
  • a loss or changed sense of smell or taste (also called anosmia) 

Key health information links

You may wish to signpost staff and parents to credible sources of further information about coronavirus.

These sites will have all the official information you will need and should ideally be the only source of information you refer to:

COVID 19: Guidance for educational settings (DfE and Public Health England)

Coronarvirus: latest information and advice (Department of Health and Social Care and Public Health England)

Coronavirus FAQs (NHS)

Novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) - what you need to know (Public Health England)

 


For more detailed information about coronavirus and the early years sector please visit our Covid-19 section.