Coronavirus - latest updates

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 17 September 2020):


Current situation for out of school clubs

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 was published on 20 August. For more information about out of school clubs opening in September 2020, see our article:
Out of school clubs from September

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

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 and 20 August:
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 holiday clubs (updated 10 July)
Guidance for parents and carers of children attending out of school settings during the Covid-19 outbreak

Summary for parents of the current situation regarding wraparound care and holiday childcare (updated 10 July)
What parents and carers need to know about nurseries, childminders, schools and colleges during the Covid-19 outbreak

Guidance for early years childcare settings (updated 2 July and 27 July)
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 7 August):
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

Background to closure of out of school clubs

  • 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

Ofsted regulation

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.
  • 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.
  • You don't need to inform them if you have temporarily closed your setting due to Covid-19. This is because the expectation was that all settings would be closed from 23 March. If you are now in a position to re-open your setting, you should inform Ofsted by sending an email to enquiries@ofsted.gov.uk with ‘Change in operating hours’ in the subject field. In the body of the email, you just need to confirm the unique reference number for each setting and the details of the change.
  • 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

Financial assistance

Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) from 1 July

From 1 July onwards the features of the CJRS have been changed to give employers more flexibility, and to introduce a tapering off of government support. The main changes are:

  • From 1 July, staff can work for you part-time but still be partially furloughed. You must pay them their normal wage for the time they are in work, but can apply for the CJRS to cover any or their normal working time that they are furloughed for.
  • From 1 September, you will need to contribute 10% towards the furlough pay of your staff, as well as the NI and pension contributions.
  • From 1 October, you will need to contribute 20% towards the furlough pay of your staff, as well as the NI and pension contributions.
  • The furlough scheme will cease on 31 October.

For more information about how the scheme 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 Job Retention Bonus (JRB) was announced by the Chancellor in July. The purpose of the JRB is to provide additional support to employers who keep on previously furloughed staff after the CJRS ends. Under the JRB, employers will receive a one-off payment of £1,000 for every employee for whom they previously claimed under the CJRS, and who remains continuously employed through to 31 January 2021. To be eligible, employees must earn an average of at least £520 per month between 1 November and 31 January. More guidance on how the JRB will work and how to claim will be published by the end of September.
Find out more about the Coronavirus Job Retention Bonus

Reclaiming SSP

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

Self-employment

Under the second Self-Employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS), self-employed people with profits under £50k, can get a grant equivalent to three months at 70% of their average profits (up to a maximum of £2,190 per month). The calculation of average profits will be based on your last three years' tax returns, or on your last year's tax return if you haven't been in business for three years.

The second SEISS is for self-employed people whose business continues to be negatively affected (or is newly affected) by coronavirus from 14 July onwards. If you qualify for the second SEISS grant you will be able to make a claim from 17 August. You must make your claim for the second grant by 19 October. To find out more, see:
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

On 27 April the Chancellor announced a new loan scheme aimed at getting money to small businesses quickly. 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 on 4 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

Related articles

Holiday clubs and Covid-19

Download Covid-19 template documents

Impact of Covid-19 on out of school clubs (August survey)

Restrictions on re-opening of before and after school clubs (from 1 June)

Preparing to re-open your out of school club

Coronavirus: Impact on out of school clubs (May survey)

Earlier articles

Coronavirus - initial update on school shutdowns