If you belong to a professional organisation, such as PACEY, Early Years Alliance or NDNA, you may also want to see the information and advice they have on offer to you.
Early Years duty desk
If you have any queries, please contact us through the Early Years duty desk
Telephone: 0116 305 7136
Any professional or practitioner wanting to make a request for service to Leicestershire County Council including Early Help or Social Care should complete an online Multi-agency referral form
Department of Education helpline
The Department of Education have launched a helpline to answer questions about COVID-19 related to education for staff, parents and young people.
Telephone: 0800 046 8687
Opening hours: 8am to 6pm (Monday to Friday)
For up to date government information about coronavirus and the Early Years, please see:
- Actions for early years and childcare providers during the coronavirus outbreak
- Government guidance
- NHS information
Can parents and carers continue to claim their 30 hours free early education entitlement and Tax-Free Childcare?
The DfE have released the following guidance:
We have made some temporary changes to the 30 hours free entitlement and tax-free childcare offers so that all eligible parents and carers, including critical workers, are not disadvantaged during the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak.
Specifically, parents and carers who will not meet the minimum income threshold (16 hours per week at National Minimum/Living Wage) due to lower earnings as a direct result of coronavirus (COVID-19) will be treated as meeting that test during the outbreak. This will apply only to parents and carers who need to apply for, or reconfirm, their 30 hours and Tax-Free Childcare place during the outbreak.
We have laid The Childcare (Early Years Provision Free of Charge) (Extended Entitlement) (Coronavirus) (Amendment) Regulations 2020 to ensure that critical workers who exceed the maximum income threshold (of £100,000) set out in the Childcare (Early Years Provision Free of Charge) (Extended Entitlement) Regulations 2016, due to increased income mainly attributable to earnings from work undertaken directly or indirectly as a result of the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak, can continue to take up 30 hours free childcare. We have set a new upper threshold of £150,000. The change will only be effective for the tax year starting with 6 April 2020 and ending with 5 April 2021. The regulations will come into force on 31 July 2020.Person:Department for Education (DfE)
Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme: Government guidance
The Government recently update its guidance around the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS).
The updated guidance directly effects Early years Providers. The guidance states that organisations which continue to receive government funding should not furlough staff whose salaries that funding could typically be considered to fund, and therefore will not need to access the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS).
Guidance: Coronavirus (COVID-19): financial support for education, early years and children’s social care
Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme: step by step guide for employers
HM Revenue and Customs has published a step by step guide that explains the information that employers need to provide to make a claim through the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme and also describes the processes involved.
Guidance: Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme: step by step guide for employers
Early Years Funding
If you receive funding for any 2, 3 or 4 year old children with free childcare entitlements then Leicestershire will continue to pay FEEE based on the headcount submitted.
Self-employed childminders can claim Universal Credit, providing you meet the usual eligibility criteria. New claimants will not need to attend the jobcentre to demonstrate gainful self-employment.
If you're struggling to make your mortgage payments, the government has announced a 3-month mortgage holiday. Most major banks and building societies are participating in the scheme. Contact your lender for more details.
Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme
If you employ staff you would need to make redundant due to Coronavirus, the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme from HMRC will reimburse 80% of furloughed workers wage costs, up to a cap of £2,500 per month.
Any income tax due from your self-assessment on 31 July 2020 will now be deferred until 31 January 2021.
If you're VAT registered then payment of any VAT between 20 March 2020 and 30 June 2020 will be deferred until 31 January 2021.
If you employ staff then you will be able reclaim up to 2 weeks Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) paid for sickness absence due to COVID-19 per eligible employee.
Employment and Support Allowance (ESA)
Self-employed individuals unable to work due to COVID-19 or those that have to self-isolate can apply for Employment and Support Allowance (ESA). This benefit is payable from day one of sickness and is based upon previous national insurance contributions.
If you're a nursery that pays business rates then there will be a business rates holiday for nurseries in England for the 2020 to 2021 tax year.
Business Interruption Loan Scheme
There will be a Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme with the government guaranteeing 80% of each loan.
Ofsted Renewal Fees
Ofsted have said that all invoices for annual registration fees for childminders and early years providers sent after 3 April will be dated 30 September 2020 to give providers more time to pay
Grants for small businesses
These grants are payable by the district council that you pay your council tax to. All the district councils have now got information regarding the Business Grants on their webpages. You need to complete the application form before they will make any payments.
If you need further information regarding the grants, please see the information provided in the district that your business is located:
- North West Leicestershire
- Oadby and Wigston
- Harborough District
- Hinckley and Bosworth
- Melton Borough Council
The use of dedicated schools grant (DSG) Funding
This guidance sets out how, in exceptional circumstances and only when all other options have been exhausted, local authorities may use their DSG funding differently during the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak.
The guidance includes:
- details about the early years DSG funding flexibility available to local authorities during coronavirus (COVID-19) to support them in securing sufficient childcare for children who need it
- guiding principles for local authorities when deciding whether to use this funding flexibility, including consideration of local sufficiency, long-term provider sustainability and only redirecting funding from settings which are closed
- a description of the cohorts of children for whom local authorities can continue to fund places under the free early education entitlements
- how the early years DSG funding flexibility works alongside the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme
- an update on powers under the Coronavirus Act 2020 to require early years settings to open or reopen
Skills toolkit and free training
The Skills Toolkit
Online platform ‘The Skills Toolkit’ will help people to build their skills during the coronavirus outbreak and beyond. Courses on offer cover a range of levels, from everyday maths and the use of email and social media at work to more advanced training. All courses are available online and are flexible so that people can work through them at their own pace.
Home learning and the curriculum
Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) coronavirus disapplications
To support early years providers during the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak, the government has temporarily disapplied and modified certain elements of the Early Years Foundation Stage statutory framework. This will allow providers the temporary legislative flexibility to respond to changes in workforce availability and potential fluctuations in demand while ensuring children are kept safe. Full details of the amendments can be found in the guidance, which also includes details about how the temporary arrangements will be ended. Early Years Providers should fully familiarise themselves with these changes to ensure they understand the flexibilities available to them and are meeting the modified requirements, especially in relation to paediatric first aid, during the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak.
The school readiness page has been updated to reflect the current position of COVID19
Resources for parents
The following websites have lots of information and advice which can be shared with parents to help them support their child’s learning at home.
Working in partnership with parents
Communicating with parents
As always, communication with parents and carers is absolutely key at this time. Ensuring that everyone is aware of new policies, procedures and protective measures will help everyone to stay safe.
Communication with parents and carers will also help their child to settle, learn and develop as you will better understand their needs and interests.
Please continue to remind parents and carers who are eligible for the 30 hour childcare offer to renew their code with HMRC.
It is important to think about how you maintain regular contact with both the families of children who are new to your setting and the those who continue to attend.
The government have produced guidance aimed at parents to inform them of the actions they have asked providers to take during the coronavirus pandemic: What parents and carers need to know about schools and other education settings during the coronavirus outbreak
The school readiness page has been updated to reflect the current position of COVID19
Resources for parents
We are encouraging providers to direct parents to the following webpages where they can find information on how to continue to help their early years child to learn and develop at home:
Parents can also access support from a health visitor using ChatHealth
Planning for reopening
We are pleased to see most of Leicestershire’s providers are now open and are welcoming more children back into their settings.
The government have listed their education and childcare support and guidance documentation.
We will continue to send our Coronavirus update emails when there is new information to share with you. If you are not receiving these emails, then please let us know on 0116 305 7136 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Since 1 June, early years settings, including childminders, have been able to welcome back children of all ages. The guidance Actions for early years and childcare providers during the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak and further guidance (outlined in the document) will need to be continually reviewed to ensure you are working within the guidelines set out by the government.
Latest out of school care information
Supporting children's Mental Health and Well being
After a period of absence or a change in the environment and routine, some children may require additional support to maintain good mental health and wellbeing. The following webpages have some useful advice and guidance:
Anne Freud's supporting children transition back into Nursery
National Children's Bureau - Nurturing healthy minds together
Further supporting documents and information
These resources will support you to continually reflect on your practice and provision, to ensure you meet current government guidance, whilst maintaining best practice for the children in your care. If you require any further support, please contact your Improvement Advisor or the duty desk on 0116 305 7136
Translations for parents and carers
Learning at home: Is your 3 or 4 year old child self-isolating? Opens new window
Early Years settings have had to adapt and change many times over the last few months, this has not been easy but there has been some incredible work undertaken to ensure that the Children of Leicestershire continue to receive the best possible opportunities to continue with their learning and development either at home or in a setting.
Following the wider re-opening of early years settings, we have been working to produce these Bitesize modules. The aim of these is to share good practice; inspiration has been taken from our many conversations with providers across Leicestershire. These modules, therefore, offer all practitioners guidance and inspiration on continuing to provide a high quality environment and opportunities for all Children within current guidelines.
This short module introduces you to the Early Years Improvement Team and tells you a bit more about our role. It also guides you through our website where you can find resources and information to support your practice. Above all this module recognises the amazing work which has been undertaken by Leicestershire’s Early Years settings and is an opportunity for us to extend our thanks to all practitioners. After watching this module, you may want to spend a few minutes reflecting on all you have achieved over the past few months.
The Great Outdoors
The great outdoors holds a wealth of opportunity for Children to learn and develop, at the same time as supporting their wellbeing. With current advice, highlighting that being outdoors reduces transmission of the virus, these modules explore ideas for outdoor play and learning. Examples have been adapted in line with current government and health guidelines and aim to give some inspiration to ensure the outdoor environment remains as rich in opportunities as possible.
The purpose of having two modules is to acknowledge the unique and individual opportunities provided by both Childminders and larger settings.
Transition for Children with SEND
Transition to school is vital for all children. For children with SEND, it is even more essential to get it right. We recognise, under the current cloud of COVID-19, transition to school is exceptionally difficult. This bitesize highlights what good transition looks like and what you can do, as providers, to facilitate and support your children’s transition into school, even whilst navigating the added difficulties of COVID-19.
Communication and Interaction
Songs, rhymes and stories remain key to developing children’s communication skills and their interactions with peers. This module will support you in your assessment of Children’s communication development, provide you with tools to support their individual need and also consider how existing opportunities and resources can be adapted to reflect the protective measures you are currently putting in place within the setting.
Wellbeing for children
Wellbeing is a continuing priority for Children’s ongoing ability to learn and develop but even more so currently. This module considers the aspects of wellbeing and offers assessment tools and strategies which may be useful to you, as well as considering the important element of working in partnership with parents / carers and other professionals to ensure a holistic approach to supporting the individual child.
During the covid-19 outbreak, it has probably never been more important to consider our own well-being and that of our practitioners.
This module will consider what well-being is and what it might look like; the importance of taking care of our own well-being as well as supporting the well-being of our practitioners. Practical strategies will be offered throughout, along with useful links to use for support and resources.
This module will support you to consider how to provide an effective indoor environment during the coming months. It will provide ideas for creating a welcoming environment for new and returning children and offer suggestions for working in partnership with their parents. The key priorities for early years children returning to settings will be considered, along with suggestions for how you can use these to inform your practice and provision. The module will also support you in risk assessing the indoor environment - scaffolding your thinking about minimising risk whilst, at the same time, prioritising children’s well-being along with their learning and development.
This bitesize module supports transition and the process of welcoming children into your setting. It draws on your already excellent practice but with information to ensure compliancy, with regards to COVID-19 and recent government guidelines.
Managing children's behaviour
We have also developed a number of bitesize videos for managing children's behaviour - they can be accessed on the Assess, Plan, Do, Review.