Coronavirus (COVID-19)

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COVID-19 Early Years

COVID-19 Early Years

Government guidance

Coronavirus (COVID-19): early years and childcare closures which contains an extensive FAQ section

Preparing for the wider opening of early years and childcare settings from 1 June A planning guide to help providers prepare for opening their setting to all children from the week commencing 1 June 2020. This includes:

  • Preparing premises
  • Implement practical measures to reduce risk
  • Reviewing your staff
  • Agree a protocol
  • Communicate with staff
  • Communicate with parents and carers
  • Identify the likely numbers of children returning
  • Plan your settings groups
  • Identify safeguarding , special educational needs and disability (SEND), child wellbeing and welfare requirements
  • Planning what children should learn and how to adapt the EYFS
  • Model letter to parents and carers
  • Resources to help

Please see also

Early years foundation stage: coronavirus disapplications

Actions for early years and childcare providers during the coronavirus outbreak guidance

Implementing protective measures in education childcare settings

Information for parents and carers

When will early years settings be expected to re-open?

Subject to conditions - childminders and all early years settings can open to all children from 1 June.

Please see the press notice from the Education Secretary, Gavin Williamson on the 11th May Press notice, and read the above guidance.

Government guidance on paid childcare

The Government has amended its guidance to clarify that paid childcare can be provided to the children of one household in any circumstance. This would include nannies, for example, and childminders may also choose to provide childcare on this basis if not already providing care for vulnerable children and children of critical workers. This should enable more working parents to return to work. It is already the case that registered childminders and nurseries can look after key worker and vulnerable children.

Buckinghamshire contacts for closures

Please ensure that you update the SchoolsWeb closures page and ensure that any child who is entitled has a place elsewhere before you make the decision to close.  

If you require log in details to record a closure of a setting in Buckinghamshire (Nursery or Pre-school) then please contact buckssupport@publicconsultinggroup.co.uk. Unfortunately, the Early Years Service do not have access to these details.

For the latest information regarding which settings are currently open, please refer to Bucks Family Information Service

Finding a place for an early years child

Any parent with an early years child that is entitled to continue attending a setting (e.g. those with key worker parents, children with an EHCP and vulnerable children) that does not have a place can contact the following for support:

Pre-school/Early years (0-5) brokerage@buckinghamshire.gov.uk

Please ensure that you update the SchoolsWeb closures page and ensure that any child who is entitled has a place elsewhere before you make the decision to close.  

Social distancing in early years settings where children are very young

We acknowledge that social distancing for settings with very young children will be harder to maintain. Staff should implement the recommended measures as far as they are able, whilst ensuring children are kept safe and well cared for.

Staff should pay particular attention to handwashing before and after supporting children who need help with nappy changing, toileting or eating, as well as avoiding touching their own face whilst at work. Teachers and other staff may want to use age and developmentally appropriate ways to encourage children to follow social distancing, hand-washing and other guidance, including through games, songs and stories. They should encourage parents/carers to reinforce these messages at home, by asking them to remind their children.

As much as possible, settings should seek to prevent the sharing of food, drink, utensils, equipment and toys. Equipment, toys and surfaces should be cleaned and disinfected more frequently.

Financial support available to education and early years settings

The government has put in place a number of funding and financial measures to support organisations – both public and private – during the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak. These are intended to be temporary, timely and targeted, to support public services, people and businesses through this period of disruption.

Financial support for education, early years and children’s social care

COVID-19 guidance for the charity sector

Manage financial difficulties in your charity caused by coronavirus

Temporary changes to the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS)

Please see Early years foundation stage: coronavirus disapplications – published 24th April

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.

This will 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.

The term ‘reasonable endeavours’ has been used for the learning and development requirements and welfare requirements relating to staff qualification levels. For the Paediatric First Aid requirement, ‘best endeavours’ has been used. ‘Best endeavours’ is a higher level requirement than ‘reasonable endeavours’ and is used here to ensure meeting the Paediatric First Aid requirements takes priority over the other areas of the EYFS framework that have been changed.

Who is it for?

The disapplications and modifications to the EYFS are for all early years providers in England that are opening for vulnerable children and the children of key workers during the COVID-19 period: maintained schools; non-maintained schools; independent schools (including free schools and academies); all providers on Ofsted’s Early Years Register; and all providers registered with an early years childminder agency (CMA).

When do the changes apply?

This guidance outlines the temporary changes that came into force on 24 April 2020 and will last throughout the COVID-19 outbreak or until government stipulates otherwise. The long end date of the legislative changes is shown in regulations as 25 September 2020, but these will be reviewed on a monthly basis and disapplications and modifications may be lifted earlier, for instance if government advice on self-isolation and social distancing is amended.

Once the temporary changes are lifted, the government realise some providers that remained open during the COVID-19 outbreak may need time to get back to full staffing levels and therefore we have allowed for a transitional period of up to 2 months, following the COVID-19 outbreak, where the disapplications around staffing qualifications in ratios will still continue.

All other disapplications and modifications will cease once the temporary changes are no longer in force, at the end of the COVID-19 outbreak. At that point providers should again follow existing EYFS statutory guidance. Providers will be notified when the period ends via official government channels.

Early Years Foundation Stage Profile

On Wednesday 18 March2020,  The Secretary of State for Education announced  that the 2019/20 national curriculum assessments would not take place due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. The early years foundation stage profile assessment and moderation were cancelled for the 2019-20 cycle.

“Schools are still free to complete EYFSP assessments for children if they are able to, and to share with parents and carers and Year 1 teachers at an appropriate time, but they are not required to.

If they do choose to assess children, they do not need to share data with their Local Authority and Local Authorities will not be required to moderate any assessments that are carried out in 2019/20.” Statutory guidance: Early years foundation stage: coronavirus disapplications. Updated 24 April 2020

In order to facilitate transition schools should consider how best to share information with the Year one teacher. Where teacher assessment and professional judgement would indicate that a child has not met the early learning goal the Year one teacher will need to plan to continue with the EYFS for those children.

Rules for childminders working at home or in someone’s house

Anyone in who looks after one or more children under the age of 8 years in England, to whom they are not related, on domestic premises, for reward, and for a total of more than two hours in any day must be registered as a childminder.

Nannies are childcare professionals who work at the home of one family at a time, and are employed by a parent rather than being self-employed. Nannies often have sole charge of a family's children, and can also work for two families at once as part of a nanny-share arrangement.

During this unprecedented time of Coronavirus, if you are a registered childminder with keyworker families, you will be able to continue to remain open to care for these families so long as they meet the government guidance.

If you are a childminder who has had to close their setting as they have no keyworker families and have been asked by a parent to care for a child/ren in the home of the family then this would be classed as a private nanny arrangement but would affect your public liability insurance.

If you have vacancies generated by children who have had to leave, then your insurance should cover you to fill those spaces for vulnerable children or those of key workers (as defined in DfE guidance) so long as you stay within your ratios. You must also have the necessary health information on those children and have completed registration forms, child record forms and contracts as you would normally do. It would also be important to inform your local authority of the children you are caring for.

Check with your individual insurance company.

Parents and carers, please use registered childcare. Keeping children safe is the most important thing during this difficult time

Ofsted rolling update

Ofsted: coronavirus (COVID-19) rolling update

Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) for childcare practitioners

The government’s advice is that childcare practitioners do not need PPE. They should care for children as normal, although increasing the frequency of handwashing (and always doing so before and after, for example, feeding children or changing nappies) and cleaning of surfaces and toys. Soft toys should not be shared between children.

If a child displays symptoms of coronavirus (COVID-19), they should not come to the setting, or should be sent home with their parents/carers if symptoms arise during the day. Staff should clean as normal after this.

Renewing paediatric first aid certificates

If paediatric first aid certificate re-qualification training is prevented for reasons associated directly with coronavirus (COVID-19), or by complying with related government advice, the validity of current certificates can be extended by up to 3 months. This applies to certificates expiring on or after 16 March 2020

Childminders and child carers working in domestic premises applying to work from non-domestic premises

Childminders and childcarers looking after the children of key workers on domestic premises can apply to work from non-domestic premises for up to 50% of their time. If you would like to do this, email your application form to regulatoryteam@ofsted.gov.uk. We will review the details and contact you as quickly as possible to discuss your request.

Flexibility with free childcare funding

Government guidance has been issued regarding childcare funding on 24th April Councils given flexibility with free childcare funding.  Buckinghamshire Council is expecting further guidance for local authorities on this issue and will provide an update for the sector as soon as this is available

Expectations on settings regarding staying in touch with parents whose child is at home

The government recognise that many settings have already shared resources for children who are at home and are grateful for this.

They want to support parents and all early years and childcare settings to ensure children’s early learning can continue. Available support includes:

  • a list of online educational resources which have been identified by some of the country’s leading educational experts to support learning at home
  • the BBC enhancing its education provision to include daily lessons starting from 20 April 2020

The Department for Education’s Hungry Little Minds campaign features tips and practical activities that parents can do at home with children to support their early learning. There are many simple ways to help children learn and it does not have to feel like ‘learning’. Having everyday conversations, make-believe play and reading together all make a big difference to children’s development. Settings can direct parents to the BBC’s Tiny Happy People.

Settings should work with Social Care to monitor the welfare of vulnerable children who are not attending provision, and other children they might wish to keep in touch with, for safeguarding purposes.

Resources to support parents of pre-school children

Government Advice for parents and carers of children who have not yet started school can be found here

Help children aged 2 to 4 to learn at home during coronavirus (COVID-19)

Having everyday conversations, make-believe play and reading together all make a big difference to your child’s development.

You can find more ideas and content from the BBC’s Tiny Happy People campaign and the National Literacy Trust’s Family Zone.

The Department for Education has published further guidance on how to help children aged 2 to 4 to learn at home during the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak.

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