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 3 March 2021):
- Current situation for out of school clubs
- Background to closure of out of school clubs
- Ofsted regulation
- Financial support
We have summarised the current state of play for out of school clubs below:
Before, after school and holiday childcare (spring term 2021)
The updated DfE guidance for wraparound settings providing before, after school and holiday childcare from September 2020 was published on 20 August and has been updated many times since then (28 September, 15 October, 5 November, 27 November, 22 December, 31 December, 8 January, 2 February, 23 February).
Out of school clubs can reopen on 8 March
The Government announced on 22 February that schools will be reopening to all pupils on 8 March, and that wraparound settings will be able to reopen on the same date. Children will be allowed to attend wraparound care so long as it is to enable their parents to work, attend education or receive medical care. The updated guidance for out of school clubs was published on 23 February. For a summary of the key points for out of school clubs, see our article:
Out of school clubs from 8 March 2021 onwards
Schools in England to remain closed until 8 March
For a summary of how the new national lockdown, from 5 January onwards, and the extended closure of schools until 8 March 2021, affects out of school clubs and holiday clubs over the February half term, see our article:
Out of school clubs from January 2021 onwards
Download the latest version of the DfE guidance for out of school clubs:
Protective measures for holiday and after-school clubs and other out of school settings (23 February 2021)
DfE helpline number
Guidance from the DfE for education and childcare settings on how to get advice if there is a positive case of Covid-19 in your setting was released on 17 September. For more information see our article:
Managing Covid-19 in your setting
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, 15 October, 5 November, 27 November, 22 December, 31 December, 8 January, 2 February and 23 February:
Protective measures for out of school settings during the coronavirus outbreak
Summary for parents of the current situation regarding out of school clubs (last updated 23 February)
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 22 February)
Actions for early years and childcare providers during the coronavirus outbreak
DfE guidance on social distancing and other protective measures for schools (last updated 22 February):
Actions for schools during the coronavirus outbreak
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 are currently halted, although emergency inspections are still going ahead.
- In the light of the latest lockdown, Ofsted has pushed back the date it will be re-starting inspections for settings on the Early Years Register until after 8 March at the earliest. Initially it will only conduct 'assurance inspections' to ensure that settings are still meeting registration requirements. These settings will just receive a 'met' or 'not met' grade. (Out of school clubs on the Early Years register only get a 'met' or 'not met' grade anyway so this won't make much difference to us.) Ofsted plans to resume ormal inspections of early years providers from the start of the summer term.
- Ofsted restarted inspections of settings which are only registered on the Childcare Register on 16 September 2020.
- 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.
- If Paediatric First Aid (PFA) certificate requalification training is prevented for reasons associated directly with the Covid pandemic, or by complying with related government advice, the validity of current certificates can be extended to 31 March 2021 at the latest. This applies to certificates expiring on or after 1 October 2020 and includes paediatric first aiders in provision registered on the Childcare Register as well as settings on the Early Years Register. This means that if a member of staff has been unable to attend a planned training session due to 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. Practitioners are strongly encouraged to use online resources to refresh their knowledge of PFA procedures if they need to extend their certificates while waiting to access face-to-face training. Providers such as St John Ambulance offer free online resources to support this.
- 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
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 initially came into force on 24 April 2020 and were updatedon 26 September. The end date of the legislative changes has been extended to 31 August 2021 and allows settings to make use of the disapplications if Covid related restrictions (such as the national lockdown) are in place in their area. 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
Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (furlough scheme)
The Chancellor announced on 3 March that the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) which was due to close at the end of April 2021, will now continue until the end of September 2021.The extended CJRS will ensure that employees will receive 80% of their current salary for the hours that they don't work. Until the end of June employers will need to contribute just the NI and pension contributions for the hours not worked for each member of staff. In July employers will need to also contribute 10% of the salary cost, rising to 20% in August and September.
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
Self-Employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS)
The Chancellor also announced on 3 March that there will be a fourth grant under the SEISS, to cover the period from 1 February to 30 April 2021. This will be worth 80% of three months' average profits (up to a maximum of £7,500). Claims for the fourth grant will open in late April.
There will also be a fifth grant to cover the period from May to the end of September, but the amount you can claim will depend on how much of a reduction in turnover you have experienced. If your turnover has reduced by 30% or more, you can claim the grant to the value of 80% of your average profits as before, capped at a maximum grant of £7,500. If your turnover has reduced by less than 30%, you can claim a grant to the value of 30% of your average profits, capped at a maximum grant of £2,850. Claims for the fifth grant are expected to open in late July.
The eligibility criteria for the fourth grant has been extended to include people who became self-employed in the 2019-2020 tax year, who were previously excluded because they had not yet submitted a tax return, so were unable to prove their income. Self-employed people who have submitted a tax return for the year 2019-2020 will now be eligible for the fourth SEISS grant.
Find out more about the Self-employment Income Support Scheme
People who are effectively self-employed but operate via a small limited company, still won't be covered by the SEISS but they can be compensated at up to 80% of their PAYE earnings under the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (see above).
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 2020, and to staff who were shielding from 16 April 2020. 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
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. Note that this scheme closes to new applicants on 31 March 2021.
Small businesses boosted by bounce back loans
Apply for coronavirus bounce back loan
Local authority grants to small businesses
Local authorities have received a couple of different pots of money from central Government over the course of the pandemic, to enable them to give grants to small businesses which have been forced to close but which have not been eligible for other forms of support. The most recent of these is the Additional Restrictions Grant.
Check if you could be eligible for the Additional Restrictions Grant
The downside is that these grants are administered by your local council rather than by central Government, and each local council can determine which businesses to target and how much funding they will get, so there is no consistent funding available throughout England. But it's definitely worth contacting your local council to find out what their criteria are. We know that some clubs have received several thousand pounds; and others which were denied funding in an earlier round last year, have applied again this year and been successful. If your local council hasn’t yet opened the application process, ask them to notify you when they do.
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