EYFS changes in the coronavirus crisis
EYFS disapplications - updated arrangements and modifications to the EYFS - were put in place from 26 September 2020 until 31 August 2021 “to allow providers to use the specific disapplications and modifications if any local or national government-agreed coronavirus (COVID-19) restrictions impact their ability to deliver the EYFS".
These EYFS disapplications ended on 31 August 2021.
Providers must now use the updated Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) Statutory Framework for 2021 in full.
January 2022 - DfE confirms Covid-19 to be 'exceptional circumstance'
The Department for Education (DfE) has confirmed that, in light of the significant pressures that Covid-19 is placing on early years settings – in particular, the huge rise in staff absences – the government considers Covid-19 to be an ‘exceptional circumstance’ on which basis the ratio requirements in the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) framework can temporarily be changed.
This is not a change to early years guidance.
There is already a provision in the EYFS (paragraph 3.31) for exceptions to ratios to be made in exceptional circumstances – it states: "Exceptionally, and where the quality of care and safety and security of children is maintained, changes to the ratios may be made."
The update is that the DfE has now confirmed Covid-19 is considered to be an exceptional circumstance.
The DfE has stated the following:
"It remains a priority to continue providing face to face education and childcare, but we know that COVID-19 continues to put early years settings under significant pressure, particularly in relation to workforce absence.
"Government considers COVID-19 to be an exceptional circumstance in which the staff-to-child ratios set out in the EYFS can temporarily be changed if necessary, for example to respond to COVID-related workforce absences. This relates to paragraph 3.31 in the EYFS.
"In some cases, providers may choose to respond to staff and child absences by temporarily mixing age groups of children who would otherwise be educated or cared for separately. Ratios should be guided by all relevant requirements and by the needs of individual children within the group. For the purposes of meeting EYFS ratio and qualification requirements, all staff educating or caring for a mixed age group of children can be considered ‘available to work directly with’ all the children who have been grouped together.
"In all circumstances, settings remain responsible for maintaining the quality of care, safety and security of children."