24 April 2020
By The Early Years and Childcare Service

Early Years and Childcare Coronavirus Blog Issue 1

Welcome and Introduction from Alex Gamby

Dear Early Years and Childcare Providers,

We are pleased to bring you what we aim to be a weekly ‘Early Years and Childcare Coronavirus Blog’, usually circulated on Friday afternoons and giving you:

  • A summary of government and any other guidance issued during the course of the week; we will lift out from these what, in our view, are the key changes and/or additions; however we would encourage you to not rely on these but to take time to read everything issued for yourselves in order that you are fully up to date with advice and requirements and their implications for you.
  • In the spirit of having a positive and hopefully uplifting approach through these very difficult times, examples of good and effective practice from those of you who have been able to remain open.

Thank you to the very many of you who have emailed either myself or other people in the Early Years and Childcare Service to say thank you for our communications and support through this period, ranging from emails to all of you from myself or the many phone calls with various members of the Service. We know that this is a time of unprecedented challenges and stress for you, so we particularly appreciate you taking the time to send nice messages!

I would also like to (continue to) acknowledge and thank you for all you are doing at this time in support of our Critical Workers and their children, and also of some of the most vulnerable children in our lovely county.

On the subject of thanks, please find below a link to the letter issued yesterday by the Secretary of State for Education, also particularly drawing our attention to supporting vulnerable children and young people.

Letter from the Secretary of State for Education.

I do know (not least because many of you have contacted us) that you are anxious to hear from Kent County Council about its position in relation to funding the Early Years and Childcare Sector over the coming weeks and months. I fully expect a message about this to be forthcoming in the following week. We will, of course, bring that to you as soon as possible.

In the meantime, please continue to do everything you can to stay safe and well and also enjoy what promises to be pleasant weather over the weekend.

With my very best

Alex Gamby

Government guidance for this week

Ofsted: coronavirus (COVID-19) rolling update - Ofsted guidance and information relating to coronavirus (COVID-19) for schools, early years, children’s social care and further education and skills providers. Updated to include information from DfE on planned legislation on temporary flexibility to the EYFS (updated 17/4/20).

Coronavirus (COVID-19): financial support for education, early years and children’s social care - This guidance sets out the financial support that is available for different types of education, early years and children’s social care providers in England (first published 17/4/20).

Help children with SEND continue their education during coronavirus (COVID-19) - Advice for parents and carers looking after children with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) (first published 19/4/20).

Help children aged 2 to 4 to learn at home during coronavirus (COVID-19) - Advice for parents and carers of children who have not yet started school (first published 19/4/20).

Coronavirus (COVID-19): SEND risk assessment guidance - Guidance for special schools, specialist colleges, local authorities and any other settings managing children and young people with complex special educational needs and disability (SEND) (first published 19/4/20).

Supporting vulnerable children and young people during the coronavirus outbreak - Guidance for education settings and local authorities about children supported through social care, with Education Health and Care (EHC) plans or identified as vulnerable by their school or local authority. Updated for clarifications to the existing guidance including the actions to be taken for each group around their attendance or otherwise at an education setting. They have not changed the groups included in the definition of vulnerable children (19/4/20).

What parents and carers need to know about schools and education during the coronavirus outbreak - Information for parents and carers about educational provision for critical workers, school closures, exams, free schools meals and home schooling. Updated information on support for parents, online resources and vulnerable children (updated 19/4/20).

Coronavirus (COVID-19): reducing burdens on educational and care settings - Guidance on which data collections, services or requests will be cancelled, paused or will continue in the 2019 to 2020 academic year (first published 20/4/20).

Coronavirus (COVID-19): guidance for schools and other educational settings - Guidance and advice about coronavirus (COVID-19) in educational settings for staff, parents and carers, pupils and students. Updated to add 'Coronavirus (COVID-19): reducing burdens on educational and care settings' to finance and administration (updated 20/4/20).

Coronavirus (COVID-19): attendance in education and early years settings - A summary of how many children and teachers attended education settings between Monday 23 March and Friday 17 April 2020 (21/4/20).

Actions for early years and childcare providers during the coronavirus outbreak - Change made: Updated guidance on the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) (updated 21/4/2020).

Coronavirus (COVID-19): financial support for education, early years and children’s social care - Updated to align with updated HMT/HMRC guidance (updated 22/4/2020).

Coronavirus grant funding: local authority payments to small and medium businesses - Information on what local authorities have received and distributed regarding funding to support small and medium businesses in England during coronavirus (updated 22/4/2020).

Good Practice

Examples of how settings have supported vulnerable or key worker children

Here are some examples of good practice from providers in the south of the county:

One setting has completed their parents’ evening over the telephone to individual parents. They have weekly newsletters with ideas for parents and activities for them to try. They are also uploading videos, songs, stories and phonics sessions to YouTube for parents to access.

Another setting records a weekly story read by one of the practitioners which is uploaded to their ‘family support’ Facebook page where families share ideas and activities. One idea shared was a parent who suggested using bubbles to help children ‘blow their worries away’.

Providers are using the Early Years Pupil Premium money received to meet the unique situation we find ourselves in. Examples include buying food or vouchers for families, asking them to share the receipts with the setting for their records and buying resources to meet individual needs such as a small trampoline which provides much needed exercise.

Contact us