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Government shares plans for "phased return for early years settings"

By Rachel Lawlerwoman feeding toddler

The government has shared more details of its "COVID-19 recovery strategy" in a 50-page document.

The document says that early years settings should "prepare to begin to open for more children from 1 June" and says that the government expects that children will be able to return to early years settings as well as Reception, Year 1 and Year 6 at schools.

It says that this will ensure that the youngest children "have maximum time with their teachers". 

The document also outlines plans for childminders and nannies to return to work, helping to "enable more working parents to return to work".

The document also calls for more children of key workers and vulnerable children to be encouraged to attend settings and schools.

However, the document also admits that the "rate of infection is too high to allow the reopening of schools for all pupils yet".

The Department for Education is expected to share more detailed guidance for providers today.

Neil Leitch, chief executive of the Alliance, commented: “Nurseries, pre-schools and childminders need a clear plan of action on how they are going to be supported, both practically and financially, to re-open as lockdown eases.

“While the roadmap states that the government expects some children to be able to return to early years settings from 1 June - and for childminders, from as early as this week - the sector urgently needs more detail on exactly how this is expected to work in practice.

"Early years providers are going to face significant changes to the way they operate on a day-to-day basis, including a likely reduction in the demand for childcare places as some parents opt to keep their children home rather than returning to their settings. As such, government urgently needs to outline what steps it is planning to take to ensure that providers are able to remain financially sustainable during this period, as well as how it will ensure that both practitioners and the families they care for can best be kept safe.
 
"While we understand the government's desire to outline its plans sooner rather than later, publishing the vague outline of a strategy before any detailed guidance is available for childcare providers is unhelpful and liable to create concern and confusion for a sector already under substantial pressure."

Read the government's recovery strategy in full here

Useful links

Business Advice page: FAQs for providers

Blog: Quick Q and A: Job Retention Scheme and early years entitlement funding 

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