Government supplies maintained nurseries with testing kits but not PVI providers
By Rachel Lawler
Children and families minister Vicky Ford has today confirmed that maintained nursery schools have been provided with home testing kits, while PVI providers were left out of the scheme.
Answering a Parliamentary Question from shadow children and early years minister Tulip Siddiq, Ford confirmed that the coronavirus test kits were given to schools with nurseries and local authority-run nursery schools.
A total of 9,730 schools and 388 maintained nursery schools were provided with the test kits. The minister also confirmed these providers were able to order additional test kits using the online portal that opened on 16 September.
Private and voluntary run nurseries, pre-schools and childminders have not been supplied with any coronavirus test kits to date. Recent reports have shown evidence that providers are struggling to access tests through the NHS Test and Trace system.
Neil Leitch, chief executive of the Alliance, said: "It was bad enough when it seemed as though schools and colleges had been given home testing kits and the early years sector had been left out - but it is an absolute scandal that such kits have in fact been made available to maintained nurseries, with only private and voluntary early years providers left to go it alone.
"Staff working in PVI nurseries, pre-schools and childminding settings are putting themselves at risk day in and day out providing care and early education for young children in the middle of a global pandemic. How on earth can the government justify providing such critical support to one part of the sector but not another? There is simply no excuse.
"Government must now, without delay, address this appalling inconsistency and ensure that all early years providers - PVI or maintained - have the resources they need to ensure they are able to continue operating, and operating safely, throughout this pandemic."
Find out more
Coronavirus test shortage hits early years providers