The Covid-19 outbreak has led to the government issuing some new directives to make it easier for certain organisations to continue with their essential activities.
In April, the Department of Education modified and temporarily disapplied some of the elements of the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) statutory framework. The new guidelines came into force on 24 April 2020 and will remain in place until at least 25 September 2020, with monthly reviews and a final transitional period of up to two months.
Why has the EYFS statutory framework been modified?
There are several reasons, including:
- Giving EYFS providers more flexibility to cope with the availability of their employees and other workers during the Covid-19 outbreak
- Helping providers to respond to fluctuations in demand for their services
- Allowing providers to continue to provide safe, high-quality care during the pandemic
Who is the new guidance for?
The new guidance is aimed at EYFS providers based in England. It includes schools, childminders and other providers, as outlined here.
What are “reasonable endeavours” and “best endeavours”
These are terms being used for both the learning and development requirements of the EYFS and for staff qualifications. Best endeavours is the higher level requirement of the two and is defined as: “to identify and take all the steps possible within your power”.
What are the key disapplications and modifications to the EYFS statutory framework?
An outline of the key disapplications and modifications follows (please see the relevant Dept of Education page for full details):
4. Early years foundation stage section 2
4.1 Learning and development requirements
Providers should use “reasonable endeavours” to meet learning and development requirements, instead of it being something they “must do”.
5. Early years foundation stage section 2
5.1 Assessment – progress check at age 2
This is no longer a requirement during Covid, although providers should still act on any specific concerns that arise.
5.2 Assessment – EYFS profile
This no longer has to be carried out in the 2019-2020 academic year, although schools can undertake it if they have the resources to do so.
6. Early years foundation stage section 3
6.1 Staff qualification and ratios
Most ratios remain the same (apart from Maintained Nursery Schools). There are exceptions as to the qualifications that staff hold to be counted in the ratio to accommodate staff absence due to Covid-19, but providers should try to meet existing requirements for qualifications where possible.
6.2 Paediatric first aid
Where children present are 24 months or younger, there must still be at least one person with a full PFA certificate on the premises. Providers can use their “best endeavours” to ensure this when children in their care are aged two to five; if not possible there must be a written risk assessment and a person with a current first aid qualification or emergency PFA certification on site. More details on how to comply with “best endeavours” plus the directive regarding outings, requalification training, and issues such as child protection and safeguarding can be found on the government website, as well as in the statutory guidance on keeping children safe in education.
7. Staff qualifications and ratios during the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak
Providers of EYFS education can find full details of the Covid-related changes to the required staff qualifications and staff to pupil ratios on the government website.
In most cases, there has been a relaxation of the rule that at least 50% of staff (not including the manager) should hold specific full and relevant qualifications at Level 2, 3 or 6 or above (depending on the children in their care). Instead of it being a legal requirement, providers should use “reasonable endeavours” to fulfil these criteria.
There is also a disapplication of the requirement for all newly qualified entrants to the early years workforce to have a full PFA or emergency PFA certificate within three months of starting work for them to be included in the staff to child ratios.
For more information
You can find more information in the Actions for early years and childcare providers guidance and the Planning guide for early years and childcare settings.