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Last updated on 9 September 2020
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The temporary changes to the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) statutory framework will end on 25 September unless your setting is affected by local coronavirus restrictions. Be clear which changes you can implement again if your setting is affected, and find out about coronavirus catch-up initiatives available for pupils.

9 September 2020: we've updated this article to reflect:

  • The guidance changes from 26 September and how this affects your early years setting, depending on whether local coronavirus restrictions are preventing you from delivering the EYFS
  • That the EYFS profile assessment requirement is going ahead for 2020/21 

24 August 2020: we've included guidance on the Nuffield Early Language Intervention (NELI), the early language programme for reception-age pupils (part of the National Tutoring Programme). Register your interest by 30 October 2020.   

This article summarises the EYFS: coronavirus disapplications statutory guidance from the DfE. 

Make sure you're also clear on the reforms to the EYFS framework, which you'll have to implement from September 2021 at the latest.  

What's changing from 26 September 

The changes to the EYFS statutory framework that have been in place until now due to coronavirus will no longer apply to you unless local coronavirus restrictions affect your setting's ability to deliver the EYFS - find out when this is the case in the next section of this article.

There's a 2-month transition period for lifting some changes

You'll have until 25 November to lift the changes for:

  • Paediatric first aid (PFA) certificates
  • Staffing levels 

If you can't deliver the EYFS due to local coronavirus restrictions  

The EYFS coronavirus disapplications guidance will apply to you throughout the period of restrictions that affect your setting. 

In this case:

  • You'll need to prioritise the PFA requirements over other changes (see the third section of this article) 
  • You'll have a 2-week transition period once local coronavirus restrictions no longer affect your ability to deliver the EYFS

The EYFS profile assessment requirement applies in 2020/21 

This applies to all settings and regardless of whether local restrictions affect you or not, unless the government advises you otherwise.

When is a setting 'affected by local coronavirus restrictions'?

Your setting is affected when:

  • The government implements local or national coronavirus restrictions, such as a lockdown, under either the Public Health (Control of Disease) Act 1984 or the Coronavirus Act 2020, and
  • These restrictions mean you're unable to deliver the requirements of the EYFS

This could be because: 

  • Your setting is located in an area where local restrictions apply (find out more about possible restrictions in the government's Contain framework)
  • Your staff can't get to work because they live in areas where local restrictions apply, even if your setting isn't located in one of those areas

It does not apply to you if there's a confirmed case of coronavirus in your setting but your ability to deliver the EYFS isn't otherwise affected by local or national restrictions.


The next 2 sections summarise the temporary changes to the EYFS that apply:
  • To all early years providers in England until 25 September
  • To providers that are affected by local coronavirus restrictions from 26 September

You must prioritise PFA requirements

If you have children aged between 2 and 5 on site, you must use your ‘best endeavours’ to make sure one person on site has a full paediatric first aid (PFA) certificate.

Staff member with an expired certificate?

If a staff member’s certificate is due for renewal and they can’t attend re-qualification training due to the COVID-19 outbreak, they can have their certificate extended to 25 November 2020 at the latest. This is for certificates that expired on or after 16 March 2020.

If the staff member you usually turn to can't be on site, you need to take all possible steps to find someone qualified. Contact your local authority if you're struggling, as they may be able to help you find someone who:

  • Has a PFA certificate and Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) check from a local provider who has closed; or
  • Is a registered local childminder with a PFA certificate and DBS check who is approved to work on non-domestic premises

If this isn’t possible, you must carry out a written risk assessment and make sure someone on site has a current:

  • First aid at work certificate; or
  • Emergency PFA certificate

The risk assessment should feature all relevant factors, including: 

  • The number of children on the premises
  • The staff to child ratios
  • The types of activities undertaken with the children on the premises
  • The likely need for first aid based on the needs of the children attending the premises
  • First aider knowledge among staff on the premises
  • The mitigations available to reduce the risk of such an incident

You need to make sure the written risk assessment is available on request, but you don’t need to send it anywhere.

Help your staff achieve the full PFA certificate 

The DfE suggests arranging online training to help your staff members with first aid at work or emergency PFA certificates to achieve the full PFA qualification – it points to this Health and Safety Executive (HSE) guidance to help you choose a provider.

New staff entrants (Level 2 and Level 3)

During the COVID-19 outbreak, these individuals won’t need to hold a full PFA or emergency PFA certificate within 3 months of starting work to count in staff to child ratios.

Other changes that apply until 25 September or if you're affected by local restrictions

Try to meet existing learning requirements 

It's not something you ‘must’ do  – but you should still try to meet existing EYFS learning and development requirements as far as possible.

No progress check at age 2

You don’t need to carry out a progress check for children aged between 2 and 3. 

But you do need to keep an eye out for any emerging concerns and provide support where needed.

And after the changes are lifted, you'll still be expected to carry out a progress check for any children who haven't yet turned 3 (and for some children who have turned 3 if you and their parents think it's appropriate). 

Staff qualifications and ratio requirements 

Staff ratios remain the same as pre-coronavirus, except for maintained nursery classes where a school teacher cannot be present.

You do have a bit of leeway, if needed, as to the qualifications staff hold in order to be counted in the ratios. You should try to make sure at least half of staff (excluding the manager) hold at least a full and relevant Level 2 qualification – but this isn’t a legal requirement.

You do still need to make sure there’s always a member of staff who holds at least a full and relevant Level 3 qualification.

See section 7 of the DfE’s guidance for details on the staffing ratios for your setting. 

Apply for the reception year early language programme to help pupils catch up

The DfE, in partnership with the Education Endowment Foundation (EEF) and others, has announced a 20-week language skills intervention for reception-age pupils in state-funded schools.

The Nuffield Early Language Intervention (NELI) will be available as part of the National Tutoring Programme, which aims to provide intensive, targeted support for disadvantaged and vulnerable pupils who need the most help to catch up. 

Here's what we know so far about NELI: 

  • If you want to take part, you'll need to register your interest by 30 October 2020 
  • Places are limited. If they're oversubscribed, they'll prioritise your school according to the percentage of your pupils who are eligible for free school meals (FSM) 
  • If your school takes part, you'll receive resources and be able to access online training from the start of the spring term 2021

Read these FAQs from the EEF for more information about NELI. Find out more about the catch-up premium and the National Tutoring Programme by reading our cheat sheet.  

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