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 situation for out of school clubs (last updated 2 July 2020):


Current situation for out of school clubs

With a number of announcements regarding the re-opening of childcare settings being made over the past couple of weeks, 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
Wraparound settings providing before and after school childcare have been allowed to open since 1 June, but only if the club:

  • Operates on school premises
  • Only takes children from that school
  • Only takes children who are currently attending that school (ie only those for whom the school is open)
  • Maintains the same health protection measures as the school (eg keep children in the same ‘bubbles’ as the school

If your wraparound setting operates off a school site, for example in a church hall, it is not currently allowed to open. From 4 July, before and after-school clubs will be allowed to operate from premises other than school sites, but they can still only take children from one school, and must continue to meet the same health protection measures as their feeder school (eg keeping the children in the same bubbles).

For more information, see:
Restrictions on re-opening of OSCs
Preparing to re-open your out of school club

Holiday clubs
Clubs which provide holiday childcare and activities are not currently allowed to open. This complete ban on holiday clubs will be lifted on 4 July, but they can only open to children of all years from the end of the summer term for state schools in their local area. (In most areas this will be around 20 July.) If a holiday club opens before the end of the summer term, it can only take children from currently eligible groups (ie pre-school, Reception, Y1, Y6 and priority groups), can only take children from one school or early years provider, and must try to maintain the same groups as the school.

The guidance on protective measures for holiday clubs was published on 1 July.
Protective measures for out of school settings during the coronavirus outbreak

However, there are some important issues with this first version of the guidance with regards to keeping children in consistent groups. We have sought clarification from the DfE. For a summary of the issues, see: Holiday clubs and Covid-19 - update.

Sports-based clubs and outdoor activities
Settings which provide sports activities (eg tennis or football coaching), or activities which take place entirely out of doors, are allowed to operate now (ie in advance of 4 July) under guidance from the DCMS, but only under the following conditions:

  • It must take place entirely outdoors
  • Involve a maximum of 6 people in total (eg one leader and five participants)
  • Everyone must stay 2m apart

Summary
The key date that we are all waiting for is 4 July, when the restrictions for many businesses, including out of school clubs, are due to be relaxed.

Official guidance and statements

The guidance on protective measures for holiday clubs was published on 1 July;
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’. This just confirms what we already know. What we are still waiting for is the details of how exactly holiday clubs will be allowed to operate.
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 wraparound care and holiday childcare (updated 30 June)
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)
Actions for early years and childcare providers during the coronavirus outbreak

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.

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:

  • All routine Ofsted inspections have been halted, although emergency inspections will still go ahead.
  • 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 before the summer holidays 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.
  • You don't need to worry just yet if your paediatric first aid certificate has expired or is about to expire, but you must do your best to arrange requalification training for yourself or your staff at the earliest opportunity. The Health and Safety Executive has announced a final deadline of 30 September 2020 for re-qualification of first aid requirements, which applies to certificates expiring on or after 16 March 2020.
  • 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 will last throughout the COVID-19 outbreak or until government stipulates otherwise. The end date of the legislative changes is 25 September 2020, but the changes will be reviewed on a monthly basis and disapplications and modifications may be lifted earlier. 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 testing

Childcare workers are classed as essential workers. This means that as of 24 April you are eligible for a free coronavirus test if you have coronavirus symptoms. To find out where your nearest testing centre is, and how to apply for a test, see:
Coronavirus (Covid-19): Getting tested

Financial assistance

Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme

The details of how the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) will work are quite complicated and you must read the full guidance from HMRC, but in essence you can claim back 80% of the wage costs of any full or part-time staff that you have put on 'furlough', up to a maximum of £2,500 per month per person. Furloughed staff are staff that you would otherwise have had to lay off due to a lack of work for them. Instead of laying them off or terminating their contracts, you can furlough them instead. This means that they remain on your company's books for the purposes of continuity of employment etc, but they can't do any work for you.

You don't need to put all  your staff on furlough in order to qualify for the scheme. For example you may need to keep some staff on if you are offering limited childcare to key workers, or to cover admin tasks. Note that if staff are still working for you, you won't be able to claim any furlough pay for those individuals even if they are working reduced hours.

When staff are on furlough they can't do any work for you, but they can complete online training courses. Note that you will need to ensure that their furlough pay is equivalent to at least the National Minimum Wage for any time that they spend on training. The guidance from HMRC (see link below) has more information on this.

You must pass the entire furlough grant amount to the employee. You can't keep anything back as 'admin charges' or similar. It is up to you whether you pay an extra 20% to top up the employee's wage to the full 100%, or whether you just pay them the 80%.

Putting staff on furlough constitutes a change to their terms and conditions, so you must get the agreement of the affected staff. (Most staff should recognise that receiving 80% of their pay to stay at home, is preferable to having no job to go back to.) You then need to write to each affected member of staff to formally notify them that they are on furlough and for what period, and to confirm any changes to their pay. You pay your furloughed staff through your usual method and then reclaim the appropriate amount from HMRC. ACAS has useful guidance on the correct procedure for furloughing staff.

HMRC launched its online claim service on 20 April, to enable employers to make a claim be reimbursed for 80% of the wages of any of their staff on furlough. You can only make a claim online, and you must already have a Government Gateway account and be signed up for PAYE online. Claims for staff on furlough can be backdated as far as 1 March and HMRC aims to make payments under the scheme within 6 working days of a claim being submitted.

Changes to CJRS from 1 July

On 12 May the Chancellor announced that the CJRS will continue in its current form up to the end of June, and then in a revised form from July up to the end of October. On 28 May the Chancellor gave more details of how these payments will be gradually tapered off, with employers expected to shoulder more of the cost:

  • From 1 July, staff will be allowed to work for you part-time but still be partially furloughed. You will 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. More details on how this will work will be published on 12 June.
  • From 1 July, the maximum number of employees you can claim for, cannot be more than the maximum number of employees you claimed for up to 30 June.
  • From 1 August, you will need to start covering the NI and pension contribution costs for your furloughed staff.
  • 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.

Important: If you have any staff who have not yet been furloughed, but who you wish to put on furlough (for example if they are about to return from maternity leave), the last date that you can do this is 10 June. This is because is because they must have completed the minimum 3 weeks of furlough by 30 June in order to qualify for payments from 1 July.

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 the Chancellor's latest announcement on extending the CJRS to the end of October, see:
Chancellor extends self-employment support scheme and confirms furlough next steps
For a clear explanation about the correct procedure for furloughing staff, see:
ACAS guidance on furloughing staff

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

On 26 March the Chancellor announced that self-employed people, with profits under £50k, would get a grant equivalent to three months at 80% of their average profits (up to a maximum of £2,500 per month). Known as the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS), the grant will be paid in a lump sum at the beginning of June. 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. Unfortunately if you have only just started out, and haven't yet submitted your first year's tax return, it looks like you won't be covered by this 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 80% of their PAYE earnings under the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (see above).

The online service for making a claim via the SEISS opened on 13 May. If you are eligible you should already have been notified of the date and time from which you can make your claim. The process to submit a claim is quick and very straightforward. Once you've submitted your claim online you should receive the funds within six working days. The last date you can make a claim under the first scheme is 13 July.

On 28 May the Chancellor announced that the SEISS was being extended for a second period. If you still qualify for the SEISS you will be able to make a claim for a second and final grant in August. This second grant will be for the equivalent of three months at 70% of your average profits. More details will be released in due course.

To find out more, see:
Claim a grant through the coronavirus (COVID-19) Self-employment Income Support Scheme

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 in shared spaces

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). More details about this scheme have yet to be announced, but it will be administered through your local authority and they will have discretion about who they allocate the grants to. 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 in the first instance to find out whether you might be able eligible.
Find out more about the top-up fund for local authorities

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

Restrictions on re-opening of OSCs

Preparing to re-open your out of school club

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

Earlier articles

Coronavirus - initial update on school shutdowns