Early Years Provider Updates | COVID-19 Edition 33

This article has been brought to you by Slough Borough Council's Service Lead for Early Years and Prevention, Michael Jarrett, for the attention of the Early Years Sector.

Please find below communications from the Early Years and Prevention Service to keep you informed of various different initiatives and government updates from 14/05/2020. We hope you find this informative and if you have any suggestions about content please contact us on earlyyears@slough.gov.uk  

It is important to keep in contact with families during this time, so please share this information across all of your contacts.  

What’s New

You may be feeling the pressure to put plans in place for June 1, which is only seven normal working days away.  At the same time you may be worried about the practical challenges that the return of more children, whilst the majority remain in receipt of remote learning, will present.

The Director of Children, Learning and Skills met with the SEPB (Slough Education Partnership Board) group of headteachers this week and they agreed the following which we thought might be useful to share with you. We must stress that the points below are discussion notes which we hope may inform your current thinking regarding the opening of your early years setting, this is not a policy or expectation.

  • If possible we (SBC, headteachers and early years providers) would like children and young people to have the opportunity to return to school/early years settings, for at least a little while, before the summer
  • The main value and purpose will be to support the wellbeing of children and young people and help to psychologically prepare them for a full return to school/early years provision which we hope will be in September. We think there will be some educational advantage, but this is likely to be limited because of the part time nature, split classes, smaller key groups and limited staff availability. The existing remote learning from schools will continue to be the primary educational offer, supported where possible by attendance at school. In the case of early years, the encouragement of family members reading with their children and active engagement in family discussions.
  • However, this can only happen when we feel that we can offer provision in a way that is safe for children, safe for their families and safe for staff. The nature of school and early years buildings, the ages of children and their individual needs and the availability of staff mean that what will work in one school or early years setting may not work in another. It is really important that parents are helped to understand this.
  • Notwithstanding the need for the 5 tests to be met by June 1 and the strongly voiced union opposition to this date, we feel that the amount of preparation required suggests that June 1 may present challenges for some schools and early years providers, especially if staff are to take a half-term holiday.
  • We think it’s important for schools/early years settings to own, shape and drive the agenda, doing what works best locally rather than reacting to the national agenda. Early Years staff will be in touch in the coming days to better understand your plans in order that the needs of children and families can be met. 

Slough Early Years and Prevention Service has created an Early Years and Childcare COVID-19 Recovery Planning document which we hope will support you to start thinking about your provision arrangements and what you need to consider before opening.

The document is attached and should only be used as a guide and is not exclusive, as every setting with have different aspects to consider based on various scenarios. Over the next week the Early Years team will be making contact with every provider to discuss what your plans are moving forwards, we will use this time to gather information and offer information and guidance where needed.

In the meantime if you would like to speak to a member of the team please contact 01753 476554 or email earlyyears@slough.gov.uk.
Communicating with Children about COVID-19 | A Guide for Key Worker Parents and Carers When Talking to Children

If you’re a key worker parent or carer, Dr Sarah Helps, a clinical psychologist and consultant family therapist at the Tavistock Clinic in North London, has shared this short podcast about family communication during the COVID-19 pandemic. https://people.nhs.uk/uncategorized/communicating-with-children-about-covid-19/
Please also find attached some helpful information and resources regarding bereavement support at the bottom of this article.

New Government Updates for 13/05/2020 & 14/05/2020

Department for Education published guidance following Sunday’s Prime Ministerial announcement that they are asking education and childcare settings to open to more children from 1 June, provided that the 5 key tests set by government justify the changes at the time, including that the rate of infection is decreasing and the enabling programmes set out in Government’s roadmap are operating effectively.
Speaking in parliament yesterday afternoon, the Prime Minister reiterated that the Government expects all children to be able to return to early years settings (including childminders) from 1 June.  Further guidance has now been published as follows:

Critical Workers Who can Access Schools or Educational Settings

List of critical workers (key workers) who can send their children to school or other educational settings during the Coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak.  Updated to reflect that children of critical workers are encouraged to attend school, and to reflect plans for wider opening of schools from 1 June, at the earliest. Updated information defining vulnerable children, in line with existing guidance, for the purpose of continued education.  For further information please click here.

DfE Clarifies Reopening Options for Childminders in England

PACEY has worked with the Department for Education to ensure government guidance on when childminders (in England) can re-open (if they wish to) is clarified.  Click here to find out more.

Preparations for National Thank a Teacher Day – Wednesday 20 May

On Wednesday 20 May, we are celebrating teachers, senior leaders, support staff and all those working in education settings who are making a difference to their schools and communities during the Coronavirus outbreak.

The Department for Education is working in partnership with the Teaching Awards Trust which has produced a set of resources including a Thank a Teacher toolkit containing graphics, images and frames for social media that you’re free to use.

The Thank a Teacher Toolkit is available here.

Coronavirus Testing Eligibility and How Test and Testing Kits Work

Anyone in England showing symptoms of Coronavirus who has to leave the home to go to work, or is aged 65 and over, is eligible for testing along with members of their households with symptoms. This is in addition to all essential workers with symptoms.

Guidance on Coronavirus testing, including who is eligible for a test, how to get tested and the different types of test available can be found here.

The Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency has published guidance for members of the public and patients about coronavirus tests and testing kits, including information on the different types of tests available and how they work.

The guidance can be found here.

Keeping in Touch and Targeted Support for Early Years Settings

During this unfamiliar time the team would like you to know that we are here to offer you support, in whatever way you may need it? We are on the other end of the phone or email and will continue to provide you with daily email updates. Even if you are currently closed the team can offer a range of support from discussing government guidance documents to reviewing local area initiatives.

We understand that this is a difficult period for everyone and in these uncertain times it can often help to share concerns, questions and queries with others, so please do keep in contact and pick up the phone anytime for a catch up.

You can email and call individual members of the team or for general enquiries contact earlyyears@slough.gov.uk or call 01753 476554.

If your setting is currently still open and are considering closure please discuss with the Early Years Service and for further information, advice or guidance please contact the team on 01753 476554 or email earlyyears@slough.gov.uk.