DfE and Early Years Bulletin update

DfE and Early Years Updates 14th January 2022

Changes to the self-isolation period

From Monday 17 January, people who are self-isolating with COVID-19 will have the option to reduce their isolation period after 5 full days if they test negative with a lateral flow device (LFD) test on both day 5 and day 6 and they do not have a temperature. For example, if they test negative on the morning of day 5 and the morning of day 6, they can return to their education or childcare setting immediately on day 6.

The first test must be taken no earlier than day 5 of the self-isolation period, and the second must be taken the following day. All test results should be reported to NHS Test and Trace.

If the result of either of their tests is positive, they should continue to self-isolate until they get negative results from two LFD tests on consecutive days or until they have completed 10 full days of self-isolation, whichever is earliest.

Anyone who is unable to take LFD tests or anyone who continues to have a temperature will need to complete the full 10 day period of self-isolation.

Please see below for full details of the updates that we would encourage you to read.

DfE and Early Years Updates 14th January 2022

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DfE and Early Years Updates 13th January 2022

Information for all education and childcare settings on good ventilation

Good ventilation is important in reducing transmission of COVID-19, but it doesn’t mean that children or pupils need to be cold. When CO2 monitors indicate good ventilation, there is no need to keep windows fully open at all times. Opening windows regularly for 10 minutes, or keeping them open just by a small amount, can still reduce the airborne risk from COVID-19 substantially compared to spaces with no fresh air.

DfE have recently published a blog on the importance of ventilation that you may find useful. For more tips on keeping your provision warm, see the DfE’s latest blog on the Education Hub.

Reminder: Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) flexibilities for early years settings

The government considers COVID-19 to be an exceptional circumstance in which the staff-to-child ratios set out in the EYFS can temporarily be changed, if necessary, for example to respond to COVID-related workforce absences.

In some cases, early years settings may choose to respond to staff and child absences by temporarily mixing age groups of children who would otherwise be educated or cared for separately. Ratios should be guided by all relevant requirements and by the needs of individual children within the group. For the purposes of meeting EYFS ratio and qualification requirements, all staff educating or caring for a mixed age group of children can be considered ‘available to work directly with’ all of the children who have been grouped together.

In all circumstances, settings remain responsible for maintaining the quality of care, safety and security of the children in your setting.

Reminder on the temporary suspension of confirmatory PCR tests in education and childcare settings

As a reminder, you are only asked to take a follow up PCR test after a positive LFD test for the following:

·       You wish to claim the Test and Trace Support Payment

·       You or your colleagues have been advised to take a PCR test because they are in a clinically vulnerable group

·       You have been advised to do so as part of a research or surveillance programme

·       have received a positive day 2 LFD after arriving into the UK

If anyone has any of the main symptoms of COVID-19, they are strongly advised to take a PCR test, not an LFD test. If someone with symptoms has already taken an LFD test for any reason and the result is positive, they do not need to take a follow-up PCR test.

Reintroduction of Innova self-test kits for testing at-home to some education and childcare settings

From this week, Innova self-test kits will be reintroduced for asymptomatic testing at home to some education and childcare settings. These require both nasal and throat swabs and the test returns results in 30 minutes. However, if Innova are the only self-test kits available and you have staff who are unable to throat swab, a nose-only swab can be taken for these students and pupils.

All settings will continue to receive either Innova, Orient Gene or Acon-Flowflex self-test kits.

DfE and Early Years Updates 13th January 2022

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DfE and Early Years updates 11th January 2022

EYFS Flexibility

Given the increasing workforce pressures that the Omicron variant of COVID-19 is placing on the early years sector, we wanted to share the below official lines from the Department. They clearly set out that they consider COVID-19 to be an ‘exceptional circumstance’ in which the ratio requirements in the EYFS can temporarily be changed.

The DfE will update guidance to reflect this in due course but they wanted to share a formal statement as soon as possible. They hope this will increase awareness of the flexibility the EYFS offers in exceptional circumstances, as well as giving settings the confidence to use that flexibility when needed to deal with COVID-related workforce absences.

DfE statement

It remains a priority to continue providing face to face education and childcare, but the DfE know that COVID-19 continues to put early years settings under significant pressure, particularly in relation to workforce absence.

Government considers COVID-19 to be an exceptional circumstance in which the staff-to-child ratios set out in the EYFS can temporarily be changed if necessary, for example to respond to COVID-related workforce absences. This relates to paragraph 3.31 in the EYFS.

In some cases, providers may choose to respond to staff and child absences by temporarily mixing age groups of children who would otherwise be educated or cared for separately. Ratios should be guided by all relevant requirements and by the needs of individual children within the group. For the purposes of meeting EYFS ratio and qualification requirements, all staff educating or caring for a mixed age group of children can be considered ‘available to work directly with’ all the children who have been grouped together. 

In all circumstances, settings remain responsible for maintaining the quality of care, safety and security of children. 

The Department for Education (DfE) Survey

The DfE is currently inviting all school-based and group-based early years settings for whom they have an email address to take part in a weekly ‘pulse’ survey. The first survey went live yesterday morning (Monday 10 January).

DfE is running this survey to understand the impact of COVID on your early years settings, focusing on workforce and child absences. DfE knows that there is concern about workforce absence as part of the latest wave of the pandemic but has limited regular, up-to-date data about this. This survey will be crucial to obtaining an accurate picture of the issues that you, the childcare and early years sector are facing on a regular basis. As the DfE ended the weekly survey of EY settings via local authorities in December last year, they plan to use this pulse survey to gather the most essential information about operating status, the impact of workforce issues and children’s attendance directly from you the providers. 

Participation involves early years settings filling in a very short weekly survey during January and February, at which point DfE will review the need for the collection. DfE envisages that an overall summary of results will be published regularly.

Whilst the DfE understand that you may believe that important data is missing, they are extremely conscious of the burden on early years settings currently and so intend to keep the questionnaire as short and as simple as possible, focusing specifically on workforce and child absence. They do have other data collections in progress to provide different, more detailed information.

If you have any questions about this collection, please do get in touch at EY.analysisandresearch@education.gov.uk.

Many thanks,

Dr Laura Hunnikin

Head of Childcare Markets and Demand Research and Analysis

Temporary suspension of confirmatory PCR tests in education and childcare  settings

Confirmatory PCR testing following a positive result on a lateral flow device (LFD) will be temporarily suspended from today, Tuesday 11 January. This means that for all education and childcare settings, staff and students who have tested (either at home or through ATS) and reported a positive LFD result will no longer be advised to get a confirmatory PCR test. This change is informed by public health advice. With high COVID-19 rates, the risk of a positive LFD result being false is very small. We therefore don’t need to ask people to do a confirmatory PCR unless they:

  • have symptoms (in which case they need to follow the stay at home guidance, self-isolate and order a PCR test)
  • wish to claim the Test and Trace Support Payment
  • have been advised to take a PCR test because they are in a clinically vulnerable group
  • have been advised to do so as part of a research or surveillance programme

Education and childcare settings are not expected to trace contacts of a positive case as this will remain the responsibility of NHS Test and Trace. From today, Tuesday 11 January, contact tracing is triggered once a positive LFD test is reported.

Students should be strongly encouraged to test twice weekly at home and to report all results to NHS Test and Trace and to their setting. Anyone with a positive LFD test result should self-isolate and follow self-isolation guidance.

Information on the new arrangements can be found in the stay at home: guidance for households with possible or confirmed COVID-19 infection.

As always the full bulletin can be viewed below

Early Years and DfE Update 11th January 2022

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6th January 2022 Early Years Update

The 2022 Early Years Census: The Early Years Census is an annual statutory collection of data from all providers who receive early years education funding for two, three and four year olds.

The 2022 Early Years Census takes place on the 20th January 2022 and collects information from all Private, Voluntary and Independent Providers, including Childminders. Census submissions are used by the Department for Education (DfE) to determine how much funding each Local Authority is allocated, therefore failure to complete this also impacts the Early Years 'free' Entitlement Funding.  As this is a statutory collection, please ensure that you schedule time to send your information in.  The link to the Early Years 2022 form will be available soon.

Early Years Provider Online Meeting: The Early Years Team would like to thank you all for your continued dedication to children and families in Nottingham City during these challenging times,  as you manage the impact of continued infection and Government restrictions.

Previous online Provider Meetings have proven to be successful and beneficial. In response to your feedback, we would like to offer you the opportunity once again to meet virtually to discuss your current challenges and explore solutions, together with your peers. This is also an opportunity for us to collate any pressing and common concerns to feed back to the DfE on your behalf.  

You are invited to attend a choice of 2 sessions running on Thursday 13th January 2022 from either 10am - 11am  or 2.30pm - 3.30pm

We do not anticipate the meeting to last any longer than an hour and this is an entirely optional offer.  To book your place please click here

The New Healthy Start Scheme: Nottingham City Council Public Health and Small Steps Big Changes are offering a workforce briefing, via Zoom, to any colleagues who support families with children under 4, to provide an update on the changes to the new Healthy Start Scheme, which will affect all families who are eligible for the scheme.

 The session will take place on Thursday 3rd February 2022 at 9.30am - 10.30am and speakers from Nottingham City Council Public Health and Small Steps Big Changes will:

  • Cover all changes to the scheme, including the new pre-paid card
  • Explain how the changes affect families and the application process
  • Explore Healthy Start’s role in supporting families and healthy eating
  • Give information about further resources and training

By the end of the session, you will have the information you will need to continue to support local families to access the scheme and can register your place by using this link: www.bit.ly/healthy-start-ssbc

DfE Update

Confirmatory PCR tests to be temporarily suspended for positive lateral flow device (LFD) test results

From Tuesday 11th January, if a positive result is received on a lateral flow device, a confirmatory PCR test will no longer be required.  Anyone receiving a positive LFD test result will be required to self-isolate immediately.

UKHSA advice service opening hours

In a change to their opening hours, the UKHSA advice service (for information and advice on dealing with outbreaks in settings) is available between 8am and 4pm Monday to Friday and 10am to 4pm Saturday and Sunday.   If you think you have an outbreak of COVID-19 at your setting and need help taking action, please call the helpline on 0800 046 8687 and press option 1, then option 1 again.

Early Years and DfE Update 6th January 2022

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DfE Updates 4th January 2022

Testing after the holiday period

Staff in all education and childcare settings, should take one self-test at home either the evening or morning before they return in January, then continue to test twice weekly at home.

Even if someone has tested positive for COVID-19 within the last 90 days, they are strongly encouraged to take part in LFD testing on-site through ATS or at home once they have completed their isolation period for their prior infection.

Settings were invited to order tests before Christmas and will have received these in advance of pupils returning. If you run out of test kits, you can order more through the online ordering platform for education settings.

Please only order the test kits your setting requires. There is currently huge demand for LFD tests, and we need to ensure that there are sufficient supplies for critical workers.

Information on the changes to the self-isolation period for individuals who test positive for COVID-19

Since Wednesday 22 December, the 10 day self-isolation period for people who record a positive PCR test result for COVID-19 has been reduced to 7 days in most circumstances, unless you cannot test for any reason.

Individuals may now take LFD tests on day 6 and day 7 of their self-isolation period. Those who receive two negative test results are no longer required to complete 10 full days of self-isolation. The first test must be taken no earlier than day 6 of the self-isolation period and tests must be taken 24 hours apart. This also applies to children under 5, with LFD testing at parental or guardian discretion. If both these test results are negative, and you do not have a high temperature, you may end your self-isolation after the second negative test result and return to your education setting from day 8.

Message to all education and childcare leaders from the Secretary of State for Education

The Secretary of State for Education, Nadhim Zahawi, has written to all education and childcare leaders to provide an update on the return to education and childcare following the holiday period. He also thanked all education staff for their ongoing dedication in keeping education and childcare settings open.

Daily testing for close contacts of COVID-19

People who are fully vaccinated, or children and young people aged between 5 and 18 years and 6 months, identified as a close contact of someone with COVID-19, should take an LFD test every day for seven days and continue to attend their setting as normal, unless they have a positive test result or develop symptoms at any time.

Children under 5 are not being advised to take part in daily testing of close contacts. If a child under 5 is a contact of a confirmed case, they are not required to self-isolate and should not start daily testing. If they live in the same household as someone with COVID-19 they should limit their contact with anyone who is at higher risk of severe illness if infected with COVID-19, and arrange to take a PCR test as soon as possible. They can continue to attend an education or childcare setting while waiting for the PCR result. If the test is positive, they should follow the stay at home: guidance for households with possible or confirmed COVID-19 infection.

Funded air cleaning units for education and childcare settings

The Department for Education (DfE) will make up to 7,000 more air cleaning units available for poorly ventilated teaching spaces in state funded education settings, where quick fixes to improve ventilation are not possible. All state funded primary and secondary schools, further education colleges and early years settings can apply for a funded air cleaning unit if they meet strict eligibility criteria.

Further details, including the eligibility criteria, can be found in the guidance on applying for an air cleaning unit. Applications for all settings will close at 9am on Monday 17 January.

Please see the full updates below

Early Years and DfE Update 4th January 2022

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Early Years and DfE Update 2nd January 2022

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