Lack of COVID-19 tests causing childcare industry staff shortages

Lack of COVID-19 tests causing childcare industry staff shortages

The media has reported that there have been a number of cases of childcare staff being unable to work after experiencing difficulties getting coronavirus tests, which has caused widespread staff shortages within the industry.

According to government guidance, practitioners working in nurseries, pre-schools or childminding settings are supposed to gain priority access to tests, the same as other critical workers. However, childcare providers have reported being unable to access any test at all.

All schools and further education providers have been supplied with an initial supply of 10 home testing kits to be used for staff and children who “may have barriers to accessing testing elsewhere”, with the ability to order further kits from 16 September onwards.

The Early Years Alliance has called on the government to urgently ensure that early years staff are given priority access to testing and to provide all childcare settings with home testing kits to align with the approach taken with schools and colleges.

Neil Leitch, chief executive of the Alliance, commented: “Early years providers have been on the frontline throughout this crisis, putting themselves at risk in order to continue providing the care and education that families need for little reward and even less recognition.

“The absolute least the government could do is to ensure that those working in the sector who need a test can access one without delay – and yet, it is clear from the reports that we are receiving that despite being promised priority testing status alongside other key workers, in too many cases, this simply isn’t happening.

“Worse still is that weeks after schools and colleges have been given home testing kits, those working in the early years seem to have been completely forgotten. Given that childcare practitioners spend their days in particularly close contact with young children, there is simply no excuse for this inconsistency.

The full story, as reported by the EY Alliance can be found here.



New legislation planned to help redundant apprentices finish their qualification

New legislation planned to help redundant apprentices finish their qualification

The government is intending to put new legislation in place to help more apprentices that have been made redundant complete their course and achieve their qualification.

Statutory Instrument (SI) has been laid in parliament that will allow the ESFA to continue to fund apprentices to complete their training, providing they are at least 75% of their way through their course when they were made redundant.

The current legislation states that the ESFA will continue to fund apprentices to completion, if they are made redundant within six months of their final day of training.

This new SI must be debated in both the House of Commons and House of Lords before it can become law. Once the legislation has come in to force it will apply to apprentices made redundant from that day onwards – it will not apply retrospectively.

Apprenticeships and skills minister Gillian Keegan said: “Covid-19 has had a big impact on the economy, and we know that some apprentices have lost their jobs or are facing redundancy as a result. Our redundancy support service is making sure apprentices can get the help they need. We are going even further by changing the law so more apprentices who have been made redundant can complete their programmes. We want to make sure that every apprentice has the training and skills they have gained recognised so that they can continue on their track and build their career.”

The “redundancy support service” is new online and telephone support for apprentices who have lost their jobs during Covid-19 outbreak.

The full story, as reported in FE Week can be found here.



New parents urged to have their say on available early years support

New parents urged to have their say on available early years support

New parents are being invited to have their say – via a new online survey – on what support they need, and how it is best delivered, so that every baby is given the best start in life, no matter what their circumstances.

New parents, health service professionals, charities and volunteer groups are being asked to share their views to help shape the outcome of the review, by completing an online questionnaire which went live on GOV.UK on Friday 18 September.

This major new review into improving the healthy development of infants was launched by the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) in July, aiming to break down the barriers that can impact on early years development and level up the opportunities given to every newborn.

Led by Early Years Healthy Development Adviser Andrea Leadsom MP, the review will focus on improving the support available to babies and their families in the period from conception to age 2, often referred to as the 1,001 critical days.

The review will consider the barriers that impact on early years development, including social and emotional factors, and early childhood experiences.

Public Health Minister Jo Churchill said:

“To help inform our work on the Early Years Development Review we want to hear from new or expectant parents, carers and healthcare professionals about their experiences of life with baby throughout this recent critical and unusual time living with coronavirus. What worked well and what could have been improved – so we can ensure babies and young children are supported and nurtured during these vital early years. Now is your chance to help shape this important piece of work, so please let us know your views through our online questionnaire so we can better understand what building blocks we need for those first critical 1,001 days.”

The full press release on the government website can be found here.



“Stay Safe, Stay Happy”: Preschool’s heartfelt message to Portsmouth Care Home

“Stay Safe, Stay Happy”: Preschool’s heartfelt message to Portsmouth Care Home

Press release from Tops Day Nursery

With everyone adapting to the new normal, children from Tops Day Nurseries Havant decided to check in on their elderly friends at Southlands Nursing Home by making them cards and pictures with the hope of making them smile.

Many studies have concluded that social interaction between children and the elderly cannot only decrease loneliness in the older generation, but can also delay mental decline as well as promote a number of health benefits including reducing frailty.

There are also a number of benefits to children including increased confidence, risk-taking and the opportunity to mix regularly with elderly people, which some children may not have the chance to do on a regular basis.

Katie Duke, Nursery Manager of Tops Havant, which is based at Trosnant Primary School Said “Before lock down the children across the nursery were due to go and visit the residents at Southlands Nursing Home in Havant however due to current restrictions this has been unable to happen. We used to visit the residents on a regular basis and it is an activity the children have really missed.

To let the residents know we are still thinking of them and looking forward to visiting as soon as we can, the children have made some cards and pictures which have been delivered to the home. Risk assessments were in place to minimise risk of infection & everything was steamed before being handed over, but we really just wanted to share the message to stay safe, stay happy and that we couldn’t wait to come back and play soon!”

Tops Havant introduced a ‘Joining Generations programme in 2018, which meant all children attending the setting have the opportunity to visit Southlands Nursing Home to interact with the residents there, but it is not just the children that miss these visits. The residents were pleased to receive the cards from Tops Havant and are looking forward to their next visit.


About Tops Havant:

Tops Havant is a day nursery & preschool based on Trosnant Primary school Site in Havant, in which we have a great working together relationship with. We provide childcare for children from 3 months until they are ready to start school and also have a holiday club for 5-7 year olds.

Our Havant nursery and pre-school holds a fantastic accolade of being the first day nursery in the UK to achieve the Surfers Against Sewage Plastic Free School title.

Throughout September Tops Havant is running a special offer for all new children who enrol within the month to receive a goody bag. Click here for more information.

About Tops Day Nurseries:

Tops Day Nurseries is the South’s leading Eco-Sustainable childcare provider. There are 30 settings across the South Coast, covering Dorset, Hampshire, Devon, Wiltshire, Somerset and the Isle of Wight.

For PR enquiries, please contact:

Zoe Roberts – Marketing Manager

01202 879430



Primary pupils’ learning gap widens for first time since 2007

Primary pupils’ learning gap widens for first time since 2007

The learning gap between rich and poor primary age pupils in England has widened for the first time since 2007, analysis of government data suggests.

In addition, figures for both primary and secondary education show progress in helping poorer pupils catch up has stalled overall.

The 2019 figures show the shift began even before the pandemic, says the Education Policy Institute.

The government said September’s return to school was a “national priority”.

The analysis highlights that policymakers have not adequately responded to warnings that progress in closing the attainment gap was “losing momentum”, says the EPI.

The researchers identify the increasing proportion of children in persistent poverty as a key cause of the reversal which, they say, is becoming more entrenched each year.

It is widely expected that lockdown school closures will widen the gap even further, says the EPI.

Disadvantaged secondary pupils are more than 18 months behind their better-off classmates by the time they take their GCSEs – the same as five years ago, the researchers found.

The study also highlights several strong indications that the overall gap has started to widen, including:

  • disadvantaged primary pupils more than nine months behind, with the gap widening for the first time since 2007
  • disadvantaged reception pupils nearly five months behind, the same as in 2013
  • last year’s report said it would take more than 500 years to close the gap – now it looks as if it is no longer closing at all, says the EPI

Kevin Courtney, joint general secretary of the National Education Union, said with children coming to school too hungry to learn, education staff had been working flat out to tackle the effects of poverty, even before the pandemic.

He said the new school term was “the government’s chance to right the wrong of society-wide inequality and its impact on educational achievement”.

In a statement, the Department for Education did not directly respond to the report’s finding that progress on narrowing the learning gap was stalling even before lockdown, but said it was determined to counter educational disruption caused by the pandemic.

“Our £1bn Covid catch-up package will tackle the impact of lost teaching time, including a £650m catch-up premium to help schools support all pupils and the £350m National Tutoring Programme for disadvantaged students.

The full story, as reported by the BBC can be found here.


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