COVID-19 | EYFS Flexibility

This article has been brought to you by Slough Borough Council's Interim Senior Advisory Teacher EYFS & EYFS Moderation Manager, Sharon Rose on behalf of the DfE. This is for the attention of all Early Years settings.

Please find below a formal statement with regards to the ongoing challenges presented by COVID-19 related workforce absences. It is hoped that this will increase your awareness of the flexibility the EYFS offers in exceptional circumstances, as well as giving settings the confidence to use that flexibility when needed to deal with COVID-related workforce absences.

 Guidance will be updated to reflect this in due course.


It remains a priority to continue providing face to face education and childcare, but we know that COVID-19 continues to put early years settings under significant pressure, particularly in relation to workforce absence.


Government considers COVID-19 to be an exceptional circumstance in which the staff-to-child ratios set out in the EYFS can temporarily be changed if necessary, for example to respond to COVID-related workforce absences. This relates to paragraph 3.31 in the EYFS.


In some cases, providers may choose to respond to staff and child absences by temporarily mixing age groups of children who would otherwise be educated or cared for separately. Ratios should be guided by all relevant requirements and by the needs of individual children within the group. For the purposes of meeting EYFS ratio and qualification requirements, all staff educating or caring for a mixed age group of children can be considered ‘available to work directly with’ all the children who have been grouped together.


In all circumstances, settings remain responsible for maintaining the quality of care, safety and security of children.



- DfE


If you would like to speak with the EY team about any of the information above please do call:

Sharon Rose – 0792 0287687, Karen Loft – 0751 1048377 or Danielle Mercer – 0770 936674.