With so many changes in such a short amount of time, it is hard to keep on top of all the different sources of information. So this is our summary of the current information that applies to out of school clubs (last updated 19 October 2020):
- Current situation for out of school clubs
- Background to closure of out of school clubs
- Ofsted regulation
- Financial support
With different sets of DfE guidance having been published recently, together with various government announcements, there is some confusion about the current state of play for out of school clubs. We have summarised the current situation below:
Before and after school childcare (autumn term 2020)
The updated DfE guidance for wraparound settings providing before and after school childcare from September 2020 onwards was published on 20 August and updated on 28 September and 15 October. For more information about out of school clubs opening in September 2020, see our article:
Out of school clubs from September onwards
Covid alert levels: New guidance from the DfE regarding local Covid alert levels was released on 15 October. This states that out of school clubs can continue to operate in areas where the local Covid alert level is 'medium', 'high' or 'very high'. However in 'very high' areas the local authority may also decide to close certain public buildings such as libraries and community centres which could affect you if you operate on such premises. The government guidance on alert levels states that any such closures must ensure that "provision remains available for youth and childcare activities", so your out of school club should be exempt.
DfE helpline number: New guidance from the DfE for education and childcare settings on how to get advice if there is a case in your setting was released on 17 September. For more information see our article:
Managing Covid-19 in your setting
Rule of six: The new 'rule of six' that came into effect on 14 September does not apply to out of school clubs. This is because out of school clubs are expected to already be following the necessary protective measures and keeping children in consistent bubbles. The government guidance on the 'rule of six' specifically excludes 'supervised activities' for children:
"There are exeptions where groups can be larger than 6 people. These include:
- registered childcare, education or training
- supervised activities provided for children, including wraparound care, youth groups and activities, and children’s playgroups"
These two bullet points pretty much cover most children's clubs and activities. The government guidance on the 'rule of six' is here:
Coronavirus: Meeting with others safely (social distancing)
Holiday clubs (summer 2020)
The DfE guidance for holiday clubs (first published on 1 July, updated on 10 July) was long and not always as clear as it could be. We summarised the key points for providers of holiday childcare here:
Holiday clubs guidance: a summary
Before and after school childcare (summer term 2020)
Wraparound settings providing before and after school childcare were allowed to open from 1 June, but only if the club:
- Operated on school premises (non-school premises were allowed to open from 4 July)
- Only took children from that school
- Only took children who are currently attending that school (ie only those for whom the school is open)
- Maintained the same health protection measures as the school (eg keep children in the same ‘bubbles’ as the school
Official guidance and statements
The guidance on protective measures for holiday clubs and other out of school settings was first published on 1 July and updated on 10 July, 20 August, 28 September and 15 October:
Protective measures for out of school settings during the coronavirus outbreak
The Prime Minister announced on 23 June that ‘wraparound care and formal childcare will recommence over the summer’.
Prime Minister's statement to the House on COVID-19: 23 June 2020
Press release from DfE on 19 June: includes the aim of getting schools fully open in September, and for holiday clubs to run this summer:
Billion pound Covid catch-up plan to tackle impact of lost teaching time
Summary for parents of the current situation regarding out of school clubs (updated 15 October)
Guidance for parents and carers of children attending out of school settings during the Covid-19 outbreak
Guidance for early years childcare settings (last updated 16 October)
Actions for early years and childcare providers during the coronavirus outbreak
DfE guidance on how schools should prepare for full reopening from September (first published 2 July, last updated 2 October):
Guidance for full opening: schools
DfE guidance on how educational and childcare settings should prepare for wider opening:
Actions for educational and childcare settings to prepare for wider opening from 1 June 2020
More detailed DfE guidance on social distancing and other protective measures for childcare settings and schools:
Covid-19: implementing protective measures in education and childcare settings
DfE guidance for schools on how to prepare for wider opening. Although aimed at schools not childcare, it includes some key principles. eg keeping children in the same 'bubbles'. which will also apply to wraparound settings:
Preparing for the wider opening of schools - planning guide for primary schools
DfE guidance for early years and childcare settings on how to prepare for wider opening from 1 June. Although it has 'childcare' in the title, it is only focused on traditional early years settings (nurseries and childminders). No mention of wraparound settings, or of childcare required by children in other primary school years:
Preparing for the wider opening of early years and childcare settings
- All schools and childcare settings were ordered to close as of Monday 23 March, except for those providing care for the children of key workers, (or for children who are designated as vulnerable).
- On 10 May the Prime Minister announced that schools and childcare settings would be allowed to open in a limited fashion from 1 June.
- Guidance from the DfE regarding in what form out of school clubs could open was not published until 2 June, and was so restrictive that most wraparound settings were forced to remain closed. The banning of any wraparound settings from operating unless they were on a school site was especially problematic, and meant that some provision that had been in place to support children in priority groups since 23 March was now forced to close.
- The complete ban on holiday clubs was lifted on 4 July, but they were only able open to children of all years from the date that state schools in their local area break up for the summer holidays. In most areas this was around 20 July.
For a definition of vulnerable children, and a list of key workers, see:
Guidance for schools, childcare providers, colleges and local authorities in England on maintaining educational provision
For specific guidance on the closures for childcare settings, see:
Coronavirus (COVID-19): early years and childcare closures
For more information about the closure of schools and childcare settings, see:
Closure of educational settings: information for parents and carers
For the new guidance on social distancing within education and childcare settings, see:
Covid-19: implementing protective measures in education and childcare settings
The key points from the latest updates from Ofsted are:
- Fast-track application process: Ofsted has annouced that to support local authorities and registered childcare settings, it has put in place temporary arrangements to fast-track requests from existing providers to operate their provision in a different way or to set up additional premises. This means that, for example, if you are unable to operate from your usual premises, you may be able to get quick approval from Ofsted to operate from elsewhere. You need to contact your local authority for more information about the fast-track process.
- All routine Ofsted inspections of settings on the Early Years Register have been halted, although emergency inspections will still go ahead. However from 16 September Ofsted will be re-starting inspections of settings which are registered on the Childcare Register only.
- Any confirmed cases of Covid-19 in your setting (whether children or staff), or if your setting has been advised to close as a result, come under the category of an 'Event likely to impact on the smooth running of the setting' and must therefore be reported to Ofsted as soon as possible and within 14 days at the latest.
- From 8 June Ofsted will be re-starting on-site registration visits. So if your application to join the Early Years Register has been on hold pending the pre-registration site visit, you may be receiving a call from Ofsted at some point soon to see if they can arrange the visit.
- Now that more providers are reopening, or opening more widely, Ofsted has decided to publish any inspection reports that have not yet been published. It will contact affected providers beforehand to confirm this.
- Any invoices for annual Ofsted registration fees issued from 3 April won't be due for payment until 30 September. However your annual renewal date will not change.
- The temporary extension to Paediatric First Aid certificates (PFAs) that expired after 16 March ends on 25 September. However, if the necessary requalification has been prevented for reasons directly associated with Covid-19, or by following related government advice, the validity of current certificates can be extended to 25 November. This means that if a member of staff has been unable to attend a planned training session due to a locally applied lockdown for example, their certificate can be extended. However providers must be able to explain why the first aider has not been able to requalify, and demonstrate that they have taken steps to arrange requalification training as soon as possible.
- There has been no relaxation of the regulations regarding when childcare settings are required to register with Ofsted. Ofsted is urging parents not to use unregulated childcare during the coronavirus crisis.
For more coronavirus-related information and updates from Ofsted, see:
Ofsted: coronavirus rolling update
Temporary changes to EYFS requirements
At the end of April the DfE has published a number of temporary relaxations or 'disapplications' to the requirements of the Statutory Framework for the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) to enable childcare provides to be 'more flexible'. The majority of these will not affect the out of school clubs that are still running, as they relate to the learning and development requirements and progress checks, and these don't apply to wraparound settings anyway. The modifications to requirements that could affect out of school clubs are as follows:
- Although settings must use their 'best endeavours' to ensure that there is at least one member of staff with a full Paediatric First Aid (PFA) certificate present on site at all times, so long as the children are over the age of two and a thorough written risk assessment is conducted first, it is now permissable to have a member of staff present at all times who just has a current First Aid at Work or current Emergency PFA certificate. 'Best endeavours' means that providers must be able to demonstrate they have identified and taken all possible steps to appoint someone with the full PFA certificate.
- For out of school clubs, the requirement to have qualified staff only applies to any pre-school children who attend your setting. These requirements have now been relaxed slightly. You still need to have someone present at each session who has a recognised Level 3 qualification, but it is no longer a legal requirement for half of the remaining staff (who care for the pre-school children) to have a recognised Level 2 qualification. It is also no longer a requirement for staff to have a full PFA or emergency PFA certificate in order to be counted as qualified staff.
These temporary changes came into force on 24 April 2020 and the end date of the legislative changes is 25 September 2020. Once the temporary changes are lifted, the disapplications around staffing qualifications in ratios will still continue for two months to allow settings to get their staffing levels back to normal. But all other temporary disapplications to the regulations will cease immediately.
For more details see:
Early years foundation stage: coronavirus disapplications
Job Support Scheme
On 24 September the Chancellor introduced the new Job Support Scheme (JSS) which is designed to protect viable jobs in businesses which are facing lower demand due to Covid-19. The scheme aims to allow emplyees to work shorter hours rather than being made redundant. The conditions of the JSS are complicated, but they key elements are:
- Employees must work at least a third of their usual hours for which the employer pays them as normal.
- The Government will then pay a third of the hours not worked, and the employer will also contribute a third. This ensures that employees receive at least 77% of their normal wages.
- The Government grant is calculated based on an employee's usual salary and is capped at £697.62 per month.
- You are eligible to use the JSS even if you didn't use the original furlough scheme (CJRS).
- Jobs preserved using the JSS will also be eligible for the Job Retention Bonus if they meet the criteria.
The JSS will open on 1 November and run for 6 months.
Read the full details of the new Job Support Scheme
Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS)
The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) closes on 31 October, and 30 November 2020 is the last day you can submit a claim. Employers who keep on staff who were previously furloughed may be able to claim the new Job Retention Bonus in February next year (see below).
For more information about how the CJRS works, and how to make a claim, see:
Claim for wage costs through the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme
For a clear explanation about the correct procedure for furloughing staff, see:
ACAS guidance on furloughing staff
Job Retention Bonus
The aim of the Job Retention Bonus (JRB) is to provide additional support to employers who keep on previously furloughed staff after the CJRS ends. Employers will receive a one-off payment of £1,000 for every employee for whom they previously claimed under the CJRS or JSS and who remains employed through to 31 January 2021. To be eligible, employees must earn an average of at least £520 per month. More guidance on the JRB was released on 2 October.
Find out more about the Coronavirus Job Retention Bonus
If any of your employees have had to take time off because they have contracted Covid-19, or they have been advised to self-isolate, or because they have been shielding, and they are eligible for Statutory Sick Pay (SSP), then you can reclaim up to two week's worth of any SSP that you have paid out. This only applies if you employ fewer than 250 people, and applies to sickness periods that began on or after 13 March, and to staff who were shielding from 16 April. The online system to enable you to claim refunds opened on 26 May. To find out more about how the scheme will work and who it applies to, see:
Check if you can claim back SSP paid to employees due to coronavirus/covid-19
Eligible self-employed people whose business continues to be negatively affected (or is newly affected) by coronavirus from 14 July onwards have until 19 October to claim for a second SEISS grant. This second grant will be for the equivalent of three months at 70% of your average profits.
The Chancellor has also announced a third grant under the SEISS which will cover the period from 1 November to 31 January. The eligibility criteria will be as before and the grant wil be worth 20% of three months' average profits. This grant is not yet open to applicants.
Claim a grant through the coronavirus (COVID-19) Self-employment Income Support Scheme
People who are effectively self-employed but operate via a small limited company, won't be covered by the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme, but they can be compensated at up to 70% of their PAYE earnings under the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (see above).
Bounce Back Loans
The Bounce Back Loan scheme is backed by the government and will allow small businesses to borrow between £2,000 and £50,000. Applications will be fast-tracked so that businesses should receive the money 'within days'. The loans will be for periods up to six years and will be interest free for the first 12 months. The scheme went live in May.
Small businesses boosted by bounce back loans
Apply for coronavirus bounce back loan
Local authority grants to small businesses
On 2 May the government announced a top-up fund for local authorities, to enable them to give grants to small businesses which have ongoing property-related costs and which operate from 'shared spaces' which therefore weren't eligible for the existing grants based on business rates (because they don't pay separate business rates). If you operate from a 'shared space' such as community building, or possibly a school, and you are still liable for rent, you should contact your local authority to find out whether you might be able eligible.
Find out more about the top-up fund for local authorities
We are hearing from quite a few clubs which, although they don't qualify for any of the standard support measures for small businesses (such as the Small Business Rates Relief grant), have been successful in obtaining a discretionary support grant from their local authority. These may be as a result of the 'top up fund' mentioned above, or from other sources. As these grants are discretionary, it is up to local authorities how they distribute them so there is no guarantee, but it is certainly worth asking. As local authorities theoretically have a duty to ensure that there is sufficient childcare in their area, they don't want to see childcare providers going out of business, so you should try approaching the early years/childcare team at your local authority in the first instance.
More information about financial support
The government has put in place numerous other measures to support businesses, but the ones we've picked out above are those most likely to be relevant to out of school clubs. For more details of the measures outlined above, as well as information about other business support schemes, see the latest government guidance:
Covid-19: Support for businesses
For more information about government support for employees see:
Covid-19: Guidance for employees
The Federation of Small Businesses has a good summary:
Covid-19: Advice and guidance for small businesses and the self-employed