Guidance for early education and childcare providers - Coronavirus

Follow the latest guidance for early education and childcare providers.

For letters to headteachers, maintained nursery schools and nursery classes in maintained schools, see the schools guidance page.

How to prepare for wider opening

Guidance and resources

Risk assessment template

We have developed an exemplar risk assessment plan to help you to identify possible risks faced in opening to additional children or re-opening following a closure period. It provides suggestions and considerations of protective measures to mitigate these risks. This sample document has been considered for a larger childcare provision but also includes points that will be relevant for the whole sector. 

The intention is for this to be used as a sample template and it is for you to amend, edit, adapt and reflect upon to open your provision in a safe and secure way with clear protective measures in place. We hope you find this useful in promoting a safe return to work.

Early Years Bulletin

Stay up to date with our Early Years Bulletin for Northamptonshire nurseries, pre-schools, and childminders or out of school provision. It aims to keep all staff in the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) informed of relevant information to support them in their work.

Coping with anxiety and promoting wellbeing

During the current coronavirus pandemic, early years providers, practitioners and children will be facing challenges and changes to their individual lives. Feelings of worry, anxiety and concern for our health and the health of others may be experienced. Feeling anxious is a perfectly natural reaction to some situations and is something everyone may experience at times.

There are lots of ways you can try to help cope with anxiety and minimise stress to help you look after your mental health and support the wellbeing of others around you.

We have put together articles to help support you at this time:

Best practice guidance for grouping staff and children during COVID-19 in setting based provision

The government’s reopening guidance for early years settings identifies protective measures to help reduce the risk of transmission of COVID-19 with a central part of this focusing on organising small groups or ‘bubbles’ of children and staff.

Our latest ‘Spotlight’ article shares best practice and points to consider:

See Northamptonshire Safeguarding Children Partnership (NSCP)'s COVID-19 safeguarding arrangements:

  • During the current Coronavirus COVID-19 outbreak, we would like to reassure you that NSCP are doing their utmost to maintain business continuity and remain committed to safeguarding children and young people in the county.
  • If it is an emergency and you think that a child may be in immediate danger please contact the emergency services directly by calling 999.
  • If you need to contact the Multi-Agency Safeguarding Hub (MASH) to make a safeguarding referral, please telephone 0300 126 1000.
  • If you need to contact Social Care urgently during the evening, at night or at the weekend, please telephone the out-of-hours team on 01604 626938.

Application of thresholds

See temporary guidance while services are established during this critical period:

It is the responsible of the Local Authority to make sure all vulnerable children are being monitored and childcare places are found for all vulnerable and keyworkers children needing a place. Please complete the form below and also add in your response if you are planning or able to remain open for these identified children and if you are working in partnership with another school, setting or childminder to ensure this is possible.

How to return this information

Once completed, please return to eecfunding@childrenfirstnorthamptonshire.co.uk using your existing GDPR procedures.

Important changes: EYFS disapplications and modifications from 24 April 2020

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. 

Key changes are linked to:

  • Learning and development requirements
  • Assessment - progress check at age two and EYFSP
  • Paediatric First Aid
  • Staff qualifications and ratios during COVID-19

Full details of the amendments can be found in the statutory guidance on EYFS coronavirus disapplications. Providers should fully familiarise themselves with these changes to ensure they understand the flexibilities available to them and are meeting the modified requirements, especially in relation to paediatric first aid, during the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak.

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.

Further help and advice

Department for Education coronavirus helpline

The Department for Education coronavirus helpline is available to answer questions about COVID-19 relating to education and children's social care. Staff, parents and young people can contact this helpline as follows:

Phone: 0800 046 8687

Opening hours: 8am to 6pm (Monday to Friday), 10am to 4pm (Saturday to Sunday)

If you work in a school, please have your unique reference number (URN or UK PRN) available when calling the hotline.

Early years setting notification process

Early years providers that become aware of Coronavirus cases should follow these steps:

  1. Contact Public Health:
    Phone: 0344 225 4524
    Email: wn_coronavirus@phe.gov.uk
  2. Receive a reference number
  3. Receive call back and support
  4. Public Health England will notify local Public Health
  5. Setting follows advice given by Public Health