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Last reviewed on 25 November 2020
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School types: All · School phases: All

Stay on top of key guidance to help you run your EYFS setting during coronavirus, including which temporary changes to the framework apply to you if local or national restrictions affect your setting.

25 November 2020: we’ve used ‘coronavirus restrictions’ throughout this article to mean both national and local restrictions, such as lockdowns, that the government has implemented under either the Public Health (Control of Disease) Act 1984 or the Coronavirus Act 2020.

This applies to the national lockdown in England at the moment, but it will continue to apply to any local restrictions imposed between 25 September 2020 and 31 August 2021.

Please note: there was a transition period until 25 November 2020 for the original disapplications, or changes, to the EYFS framework due to coronavirus. From 26 November 2020 you must meet EYFS requirements as usual, unless coronavirus restrictions affect your setting as detailed in this article.  

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.  

Understand when coronavirus restrictions affect your setting 

Your setting is 'affected' when:

  • There are government restrictions and requirement in place, and
  • These restrictions mean you’re unable to deliver the requirements of the EYFS 

During a national lockdown or local restrictions, this may be because: 

  • A number of your staff are required to self-isolate 
  • Your staff are unable to get to work because they live in an affected area, even if it’s not the same area your setting is in (relevant if there are local restrictions)

Your setting is not affected by coronavirus restrictions if:

  • There's a confirmed case of coronavirus in your setting, but your ability to deliver the EYFS isn't otherwise affected by the local or national restrictions in place

Find out which of the changes apply to you 

This guidance applies from 26 September 2020 to 31 August 2021 for all early years providers in England.

When coronavirus restrictions affect your setting

This is when the disapplications, or changes, to the EYFS framework below will immediately apply to you and can be used throughout the period of restrictions that affect your setting.

You must prioritise meeting the paediatric first aid (PFA) requirements over the other changes.

As soon as coronavirus restrictions stop affecting your setting, you have a 2-week transition period to lift all of the below changes.

If coronavirus restrictions aren't affecting your setting 

The below changes to the EYFS framework don't apply to you.

This is true from 25 November 2020 onwards, which is the date by when the original disapplications or changes due to coronavirus - those involving PFA requirements and staffing ratios - had to be lifted if still being used in your setting. 

You must now meet EYFS requirements as usual (unless coronavirus restrictions begin to affect your setting or you're in the 2-week transition period - as outlined directly above). 

The disapplications, or changes:

Paediatric first aid (PFA) requirements

If you have children aged between 2 and 5 on site, you must use your ‘best endeavours’ to make sure 1 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 were able to have their certificate extended to 25 November 2020 at the latest. 

This is for certificates that expired on or after 16 March 2020, and includes PFA providers registered on the General Childcare Register as well as Ofsted registered early provision. 

We’ll update this as soon as the DfE confirms the new certificate extension deadline - click ‘save for later’ in the top right-hand corner of this webpage to be notified when we do.

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's 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.

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. 

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).

The EYFS profile assessment requirement does apply in 2020/21

This wasn't a requirement for 2019/20, but it is now. You must work towards the EYFS profile assessment for 2020/21. 

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

Other key guidance for your setting throughout coronavirus 

This guidance applies if your EYFS setting is open. 

Consider virtual visits or tours wherever possible 

If prospective parents or other visitors will be visiting in person:

  • Keep a record of all visitors - use our agreement to help you welcome them safely 
  • Consider whether they'll need to wear face coverings - read our article for more guidance on this 
  • Make sure they wash their hands regularly, particularly before and after the visit 
  • Consider holding visits after hours, if possible. If parents will have to visit during regular hours, consider only having these visits in the outside play areas, making sure that everyone sticks to social distancing 

Review your risk assessment to help you manage visitors, pick ups and drop offs  

Use our template to help you, as well as our article on drop offs and pick ups. 

Parents of the children in your setting should only come into the setting if they have a specific need to do so. If they're settling children, they should follow the above measures for visitors and only stay for a limited amount of time - ideally no longer than an hour. 

Make use of outdoor space 

You should maximise the use of private outdoor space, but you can also take groups of (more than 6) children to outdoor public places, as long as: 

  • It's for educational or childcare purposes 
  • You stick to the EYFS staff child ratios
  • You conduct a risk assessment in advance, which demonstrates that, where possible, you can keep 2 metres away from other people and groups  
  • The group maintains good hygiene throughout the visit  
  • Everyone thoroughly washes their hands before and after the trip 

Supervised toothbrushing programmes can begin again 

Use the dry brushing method rather than the wet brushing method.

Find out how to safely clean and store toothbrushes

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