Free childcare offers to continue during coronavirus closures

The Chancellor confirmed yesterday (17 March) that the Government will continue to pay funding to local authorities for the free entitlements for two, three and four-year-olds during any periods of nursery, preschool or childminder closures, or where children cannot attend due to coronavirus (COVID-19).

The advice from Public Health England continues to be that all educational settings, including nurseries, preschools and childminders, should remain open unless advised otherwise. The Department for Education is providing daily updates to local authorities and early years sector organisations.

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Ofsted suspend routine inspections

The Department for Education also confirmed yesterday that Ofsted is to temporarily suspend routine inspections of schools, colleges, early years settings, children’s social care providers and local authorities to reduce the burden on staff who are providing vital services to the nation in response to coronavirus. Urgent inspections where specific concerns have been raised can still go ahead.

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Government response to fees consultation published

To provide maximum clarity and stability to the early years sector during this time of rapidly changing circumstances, the Government also confirmed that there will be no rise in the fees paid by early years and childcare providers to register with Ofsted in 2020-21. This follows a recent consultation with the sector, which took on responses on fees for the Early Years Register.

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A message from Children and Families Minister Vicky Ford

“I want to thank all the early years practitioners who day-in and day-out do such an excellent job. I know these must be difficult times and I hope these announcements show that we are listening to their concerns and taking urgent action.”