Updated: Aug 13, 2020
We all know that the The Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) statutory framework sets the standards that all early years providers must meet to ensure that children aged 0 to 5 learn and develop well and are kept healthy and safe. It is pretty much early years golden book and most of us could recite it in our sleep.
However, in order 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. *This guidance note is issued as the new legislation comes into force and should be read alongside the Early Years and Childcare Covid-19 guidance
So lets have a look at what these disapplications and modifications are:
These changes are enforceable from 24th April until further notice after which there will be a 2 month transition period for settings who have remained open to get back to full staffing levels
Learning & Development requirements: The change to this requirement means that settings must use ‘reasonable endeavours’ to meet the current guidance. This somewhat ambiguous phrase leaves so much open to interpretation; what exactly is a reasonable endeavour and how is a setting supposed to evidence their reasonable endeavour? Our stance at The Key Leadership is that the vast majority of leaders in the sector have the Learning and Development requirements running through their veins and meeting these requirements should be second nature. Whilst we understand that this modification is there to make life easier for settings during these times, there is the worry that unscrupulous settings may use this as an excuse for poor provision. Providing for children’s learning and development is what we do best and whilst we may have fewer children or some new children, this doesn’t mean they don’t deserve access to all areas of learning. Your most skilled practitioners will be able to cover all 7 areas with a simple activity such as making playdough, so perhaps rather than use this as an opportunity to relax learning and development standards, lets see this is a challenge to think more creatively about the activities on offer and how we can ensure all areas are met for the children in our care. This could be the optimum time to coach less skilled staff in how to create simple yet effective learning environments for children.
2 year progress check: Settings are no longer required to complete the progress check at age 2 during the Covid-19 outbreak. We recognise that with reduced staffing levels, this disapplication will be welcome, particularly for children who are new to the setting just for the Covid period. However, it is worth noting that the checks will need to be completed once the Covid-19 outbreak ends, so you may leave yourself with a huge backlog of 2 year checks to complete. If you have the capacity to, we would say continue to do them where you can to prevent this backlog once this pandemic is over.
Early Years Foundation Stage Profile; The EYFSP is usually carried out in the final term of the year in which a child turns 5 and involves teachers assessing each child’s level of development against each of the seventeen ELGs. This no longer has to be carried out for the 2019/20 academic year. There is not requirements to do this at a later stage, so children will completely miss out on this assessment. For the majority of children this is carried out in school, so should not have too much impact on early years settings. Where schools or settings decide to carry out the assessment, they are not required to share this with the Local Authority.
Staff qualifications and ratios: The stuff early years leaders dreams are made of right? We spend so much of our time managing ratios and ensuring we meet qualification requirements, we could do it in our sleep. The Covid-19 modification allows providers to use reasonable endeavours to ensure that at least half of staff (excluding the manager) hold at least a full and relevant Level 2 qualification to meet staff:-+child ratio requirements, but this will not be a legal requirement. Providers still need to ensure that there is always a member of staff in a setting which is open and providing care, who holds at least a full and relevant Level 3 qualification. Early years leaders know only too well the importance of maintaining ratios, but will also have felt the beads of sweat when the dreaded D&V hits your setting and staff start dropping like flies. This pandemic is no exception and the relaxing of ratio rules will come as a relief during this time. However, managers should always do the utmost to find the best possible ratio solution, our children deserve it.
Paediatric First Aid; Settings must still ensure that there is at least one person who has a full paediatric first aid (PFA) certificate on the premises at all times, where there are children below the age of 24 months. However, if children are aged 2-5 within a setting, providers must use their ‘best endeavours’ to ensure one person with a full PFA certificate is on-site when children are present. Once again, the ambiguous phrase of best endeavours leaves this open to some interpretation. There is the option to use a written risk assessment along with having someone with FAW or emergency PFA on site if providers don’t have anyone with PFA onsite after their best endeavours, but we would question this. It is important to check if you are covered by your insurance without this PFA cover and to really consider the safety of the children in this circumstance. Moreover, you will need to evidence your ‘best endeavours’ to ensure someone with PFA is onsite.
**This is our interpretation of the guidance and does not override any Government guidance. ** Please consult the full guidance before making any changes to your setting