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Rules on “bubbles” to be relaxed on 20 July

By Rachel Lawlerchildren playing bubbles early years

Early years providers will no longer need to keep children in small, consistent groups within settings from 20 July onwards, according to the latest update from the Department for Education (DfE).

The new guidance says that from 20 July onwards providers will not have to keep children in consistent ‘bubbles’ within settings.

Protective measures
However, providers will be encouraged to minimise mixing where possible. For example, where providers use different rooms for different age groups, these should be kept apart as much as possible.

All other protective measures should remain in place.

The DfE says that this update is due to continued progress made towards stopping the spread of coronavirus in England, which saw the UK alert level reduced from Level 4 down to Level 3.

The DfE also states that earl years settings tend to be much smaller than schools, allowing for a less restrictive approach than seen in schools.

Flexibility for the sector
Neil Leitch, chief executive of the Alliance, commented: “We know that in the early years, one size doesn’t fit all and so the way a large nursery operates on a day-to-day basis is likely to be very different to, say, a small pre-school operating from a church hall or a childminder working out of their own home.

"As such, it is positive that today’s guidance change will allow providers the flexibility to operate safely in a way that is most appropriate for their own provision.

"There is no doubt, however, that keeping children, parents, practitioners and other early years staff safe has to be a priority and so it is important that there is clarity on the scientific basis for this decision, and what steps providers can and should take to ensure that they are still able to minimise the risk of infection transmission without the use of ‘bubbles’. 

"What’s more, with parental demand for childcare places still significantly below normal levels, we are clear that this change alone will not solve the huge financial challenges that nurseries, pre-schools and childminders are currently facing. It remains vital, therefore, that the government commits to an urgent financial support package for the sector to ensure that they are survive this difficult period, and provide the care and education that families across the country need."

Find out more

Read the updated guidance in full
The Forgotten Sector: the Alliance's latest report
Ask your MP to demand financial help for early years providers