Nursery News July 2021
Updated: Dec 23, 2022
Nurseries Self-isolation Rules and Bubbles Scrapped
The nursery sector has breathed a huge sigh of relief that children in England will no need to self isolate if they have been in close contact with a person who has tested positive for Covid-19. Many nurseries have been forced to shut in the last few months as Covid cases have increased and this has impacted parents and carers with no other child care options available as well as resulting in children missing out on learning.
Education Minister Gavin Williamson told MPs, self-isolation for nurseries and schools as well as ‘bubbles’ will be ditched to allow children “to get the education they deserve”.
However, Wales are still yet to announce any changes to their Covid restrictions but the nation's health minister has said, ‘Wales is going to have to "learn to live with" coronavirus’.
The Welsh government’s next moves could be announced over the next few weeks and the delay in any changes and restrictions easing is very frustrating for Welsh businesses and people living in Wales.
The Welsh government is increasingly confident the current Covid wave will cause less serious illness than before due to mass vaccination.
But Baroness Morgan said the Welsh government would not move to a "political deadline that has been set out artificially" by the UK government for England.
In England, as of 16th August 2021, any child (under the age of 18) who has been in contact with a person who has tested positive with Covid can still continue going to nurseries, schools and colleges. This will stop the issues we have had over the last 18 months whereby thousands of children across the UK have missed out on learning and their education when in isolation. It will also relieve the huge pressure from parents who struggle with childcare when their child has had to be in isolation. The number of children being sent home to self-isolate has quadrupled in June and July and early years settings saw Covid-19 cases double in the first two weeks of June, which forced many nurseries to have to close.
As of 16th August:
Only children who have tested positive for Covid-19 will need to self-isolate
Children who are identified by NHS Test and Trace as a close contact of someone with Covid will be advised to take a PCR test, and will only need to self isolate if they test positive
Early years children will only have to take a PCR test if a member of their household tests positive with Covid-19
As of the 19th of July face, coverings and social distancing will also not be required in any educational setting in England.
Gavin Williamson told the Commons, “We know from our own experience and evidence that children are better off in classrooms with their friends and teachers“.
“Keeping children in consistent groups was essential to control the spread of the virus when our population was less vaccinated, we recognise that the system of bubble and isolation is causing disruption to many children’s education. That is why we’ll be ending bubbles and transferring contact tracing to the NHS Test and Trace system for early years settings, schools and colleges."
Thousands of nurseries across the UK have welcomed the changes after many have been forced to shut due to the self-isolation rules.
There has been some annoyance in the early years sector that the self-isolation rule is not being removed at the same time as the scrapping of bubbles on 19th July.
Purnima Tanuku, chief executive of National Day Nurseries Association (NDNA), said: “We welcome the relaxation of bubbles or small consistent groups from 19th July and from 16th August, the nursery sector will give a huge sigh of relief at being able to scrap the self-isolation policy for close contacts.
“But ending the self-isolation rules for children at the same time as removing small groups would have really helped providers.
"Nurseries and providers of holiday clubs will have to carry on struggling with little or no financial support from the government for most of the summer holidays. Extending the isolation rules beyond 19th July will create further challenges for providers."
Demand to Rural Nurseries has Grown During the Pandemic
There has always been a high demand for sale of day nurseries and according to property adviser Christie & Co, the lack of high-quality nurseries coming onto the property market has significantly increased their value.
During the pandemic, more parents have been working from home and this has resulted in a heightened interest in rural nurseries from parents and potential nursery buyers.
Christie & Co’s Mid Year Review of the Childcare & Education Market 2021
In the past six months, Christie & Co has seen the appetite and appeal for nursery sales grow from a wide range of buyers for early years settings at all levels.
During the second quarter of the year, demand continued for larger nursery groups and there was strong consolidation from regional providers looking to protect their current portfolios and wanting a larger market share, with larger providers selling off nurseries that are more suited to being run as a sole concern.
Courteney Donaldson, managing Director at Christie & Co, said: “The day nursery, education and specialist childcare markets have rebounded incredibly well and, whilst operators continue to experience some operational challenges, this hasn’t hindered the appetite coming from buyers looking to acquire. Owners thinking about the sale of their business can be confident of pre-Covid demand.”
Nursery settings have seen huge challenges during the pandemic with changes to processes, the creation of bubbles, staffing, recruitment and self-isolation issues, as well as changes to parents working locations with a new hybrid way of working, however, optimism in the sector remains high.
Ms Donaldson added that with ‘lockdown babies’ starting nursery in the coming months and requiring additional support, “it is paramount that nursery businesses continue to receive the financial support they so desperately need to regain confidence and occupancy, and to deliver the vital services for families and for our country’s economic recovery”.
Football Mania in Nurseries & Early Years Settings
England’s youngest football fans have been getting involved throughout the Euros with excitement at an all-time high thanks to England's success at securing their place in the final against Italy.
Children, parents and staff have been involved in mini outdoor football tournaments in nurseries and early year settings across the UK and the nation and industry have neem pulling together to support our national team.
England's Euro 2020 semi-final match against Denmark resulting in a 2-1 victory for manager Gareth Southgate's squad secured them a place in the finals against Italy and mini-football tournaments have got pre-school kids scoring goals up and down the country.
Jackie Hardie, nursery owner at The Nursery Portishead in Bristol, said: “The children are very much aware of all the sport on TV at the moment, especially the UEFA Euro 2020 tournament, and this has led to many discussions about football at The Nursery.”
The Nursery's children have weekly sports coaching sessions led by gym clubs that are focused on football to coincide with the televised action of Euro 2020.
As well as footy lessons, the children are learning about the cultures of the different countries which competed in the European tournament.
Ms Hardie added: “We are now learning about the flags and cultures of the countries involved and have been learning words and songs in Russian and Italian from members of staff at The Nursery.”
Shiremoor Nursery is among the many nurseries teaching children about football. It (@ShiremoorNur) tweeted: “We are excited to play a game of football. We have yet to master turning the ball back to the pitch when being chased for the ball.”
Proud mum shares a photo of son showing off football skills learned at Darton Nursery.
At Hollingarth Day Nursery in Barrow-in-Furness, teacher Paige McDermott said: "The children and parents have absolutely loved getting involved in our football-themed days and it has been a fantastic way of incorporating exercise and healthy living in our Summer term's curriculum.
"To promote British values in nursery we always encourage taking turns and so everybody has had a go in goal.”
Miss McDermott who has been playing for Morecambe Ladies FC since she was a teenager, says her own passion for football led her to organise football events with early years apprentice Lucy Tomkins.
Miss McDermott said: "Lucy has been teaching the children to dribble the ball and do drills”.
At Flowers Day Nursery the flags were flying and the children were encouraged to kick a ball and get more involved with the football.
Nurseries Encouraged To Use Snack and Break Times to Teach and Embed Maths
Staff working in early years settings have been asked to use daily activities like snack times and storytime to teach and encourage children to count, add, subtract, time and share and this will add to any curriculum-based maths activities and reinforce their learning.
A report published by the Education Endowment Foundation (EEF) recommends that early years settings and schools boost the math skills of three to seven-year-olds.
The report says early years practitioners should 'take advantage of such time to support mathematical development’ in a bid to close the numeracy attainment gap, particularly for disadvantaged children.
'Crucial we start early'
Professor Becky Francis, chief executive of the Education Endowment Foundation (EEF) said: ‘It is crucial, then, that we start early and make sure that all young people—regardless of background—have access to great mathematics teaching in the early years and at primary school.
‘Not all children learn the skills they need to succeed. In 2018, just 66% of disadvantaged children achieved at least the expected level of development for numbers at the end of the Early Years Foundation Stage compared to 82% of their peers.
'Once children fall behind, it is hard for them to catch up and they are likely to fall further behind throughout school.’
Early years staff are encouraged to use books, games, songs and rhymes to help young children with maths. For example, the guidance urges staff to ask children to count the feet of different animals in a picture book and show them with their fingers.
The report recommends seizing chances to reinforce children’s mathematical vocabulary. Staff are encouraged to use everyday objects as well as math resources, to help children develop their understanding of concepts like addition.
The guidance also urges practitioners to develop their understanding of how children learn maths.
Professor Francis, added: ‘Mathematics plays a key role in a child’s development. Very young children are naturally curious, noticing differences in quantity and the shape of objects, and use early mathematical concepts when they play.
'Mathematical understanding helps children make sense of the world around them, interpret situations, and solve problems in everyday life, whether that’s understanding time, sharing amounts with their peers, or counting in play.’
Boris Johnson urged to 'level up' for young children by 2030
An early years Commission’s manifesto calls on Prime Minister Boris Johnson to “level up” for young children with post-lockdown support. The manifesto reveals that, too many children are ‘falling behind in the first 5 years of their life’ and when they attend an early years setting they are not ready to learn and struggle with their health and wellbeing.
The cross-party Early Years Commission’s manifesto, published by think tank the Centre for Social Justice and the Fabian Society states:
The harsh reality facing early years ‘obstructs’ the UK’s path to a more prosperous future and ‘we will never truly level up if we don’t recognise this’, states
Only 1% of families think PM prioritised young children in pandemic
In December 2020, 99 percent of 3,023 adults polled in England believed that children’s early years had not been prioritised by the Government during the pandemic. The Early Years Commission is now calling for post-Covid support for young children and their parents with action to be taken by 2030.
More than 2 million families with children under the age of 5 live in poverty in the UK according to the Department for Work and Pensions. At the age of 3, children in poverty are almost one and a half years behind their more affluent peers when it comes to language development.
According to a 2020 report by the Children’s Commissioner, every year, 185,000 children start school who are not ready to learn and the pandemic has now worsened this. The Covid-19 pandemic has narrowed life chances and entrenched existing disadvantages. Inequalities have opened up across society’, the manifesto stated.
The manifesto states that action is needed by the UK government as well as local government, community organisations, the private sectors, parents, and society as a whole with much more investment needed for the early years.
The Early Years Commission urged that more equal spending is needed between early years and primary education which sees far greater investment. It has called for an ‘overhaul’ of the early years funding model and its replacement with a new settlement ‘that prioritises the younger child more effectively’.
Purnima Tanuku chief executive of National Day Nurseries Association (NDNA) said: “The fact that only 1% of the public believe the Government is investing enough in our children’s earliest years is a damning indictment of the current offers.
“We back the commission’s recommendations to address underfunding in early years to make sure providers are sustainable and children are truly at the heart of the policy.”
Extended Rights for Maternity, Paternity and Shared Parental Leave
The Early Years Commission has also urged for greater pre and post-natal support for new parents who are currently unable to afford to take time away from work to nurture their children.
The manifesto calls for the expansion of parents’ statutory day-one employment right to paid leave to attend antenatal appointments, and for care or medical appointments during the early years period by 2024. The commission demanded rights to maternity, paternity and shared parental leave for employees to be extended by 2030.
Mandatory Health Checks and Children's Centre Roll Out
The manifesto has stated that children are not receiving the health visits they need to ensure they are healthy and ready for school and it calls for every child to receive all the health visits they are entitled to by 2024. It said two mandatory new age-based health visitor checks should be introduced for children by 2030.
The commission said ‘low quality’ parent-child and parent-parent relationships during the early years period ‘have lasting negative effects on children’s development’ and its manifesto urged local authorities to develop a ‘locally relevant parent support service’ in every community by 2030.
The report also highlighted public services ‘work in silos’ and are unable to give young children top priority. By 2030, the commission also wants to see high-quality children’s centres and family hubs rolled out across the country – prioritising areas that need them most.
It demanded the skills of early years practitioners be raised by investing in professional development by 2024.
Neil Leitch, Early Years Alliance chief executive, said for years now, the early years sector has been “at the bottom of the pile of government priorities”. He said with early years providers and parents of young children “all too often completely overlooked during the pandemic, the findings of this survey sadly come as no surprise.”
Mr Leitch called on the government to “completely rethink its approach to the early years” to ensure that those caring for and educating children in their most important years are given the support they need and deserve."
Early Years Funded Place Registrations Dropped During COVID-19 Pandemic
New figures from the Department for Education (DfE) have shown that as a result of the pandemic eligible 2-year-olds who can receive funding for early education registration has dropped by 13 percent so far in 2021.
The statistics show a 7 percent drop with 62 percent (124,500) of eligible2-year-olds being registered for the free 15 hours compared to 69 percent in 2020.
The report stated, ‘The decrease in the number and proportion of children registered to receive funded entitlements reflects the impact of Covid-19 uncertainty on supply (providers) and demand (parents) for early years provision in January 2021 as well as parents could be delaying registering their children for places as a result of the pandemic.
Purnima Tanuku, chief executive of National Day Nurseries Association (NDNA) said: “These newly released statistics are really worrying, not least because of the substantial drop in numbers of eligible two-year-olds taking up places.
“These are the children who really need to take up high-quality learning and care in order to achieve their potential and reduce the widening attainment gap.
“Although we do believe the impact of Covid may have resulted in some people deferring their child’s places – which could explain some of the reduction in demand – it is still a trend that could damage children’s development and threaten the sustainability of the childcare market."
Families, where all parents are working at least 16 hours a week at national minimum wage or living wage who earn less than £100,000 per year, are entitled to an extra 15 hours of childcare per week in addition to their universal entitlement for three and four-year-olds.
Ms Tanuku added: “The vast majority of funded places are provided by the private, voluntary and independent nursery sector. Our members have told us there has been a reduction in the numbers of parent-paid children, so if funded numbers have also dropped, they will struggle to remain on a firm financial footing. This could put the whole sector in jeopardy.
“The government must support parents of the most vulnerable children to make sure they take advantage of early years education and also give urgent financial support to the nursery sector to ensure there are enough places available for all children who want and need them.”
'There is still a long way to go before the sector returns to anything like normal'
The report also finds the number of two-year-olds using the funded early education entitlements has fallen by around 20 per cent since 2018. This is partially due to a seven per cent fall in the estimated number of eligible 2-year-olds since 2018.
The remainder of the decrease is likely due to parents delaying registering their two-year-old with a provider during the pandemic.
Neil Leitch, Early Years Alliance chief executive, said: “Early years settings have been open to all children for over a year now and yet, as these figures clearly show, there is still a long way to go before the sector returns to anything like normal.
“With the number of children registered for early entitlement places falling sharply compared to previous years as a result of the pandemic, it’s clear that the government’s decision to fund early years providers based on the number of children on roll, rather than on pre-pandemic attendance levels, falls short of the support needed.
“Add to this the additional pressures of frequent closures due to self-isolation and illness, the additional costs associated with remaining Covid-secure and the long-running challenge of underfunding more generally, and it’s obvious that much more needs to be done to ensure that the early years sector is able to remain sustainable throughout the pandemic and beyond.”
Information sourced from Day Nurseries UK - https://www.daynurseries.co.uk/news/
About Flowers Day Nursery in Swansea
Flowers Day Nursery is a private day nursery based on the outskirts of Swansea City Centre that looks after children from the age of 3 months through to before and after school care at the age of 8.
We provide caring and supportive wrap-around care for your child from 07.30 - 18.00 to suit the days and hours you require.
We have been a day nursery since 2004 and our building has been designed around the needs of our children. We have our own off-road parking to ensure your drop off and pick up are both easy and safe for you and your child.
We have dedicated rooms for each age group and these all have structure and planned activities every day.
Our baby Unit for ages 3 - 18 months
Buttercups Creative Room for ages 18 - 24 months
Daisy Room Playroom for ages 24 months to 3 years
Our Schoolroom PreSchool for 3 - 4 years
Our on-site kitchen has a 5-Star Environmental Health Award and we prepare the children’s nutritious and varied meals and snacks on-site each day.
Each of our age rooms is fresh and bright with lots of visual stimulation with our children’s work displayed on the walls. We have created different areas in each room and this includes a relaxed area with a homely feel for when your child needs some quiet time.
We have our own garden equipped with playhouses, slides and climbing frames as well as an area that is perfect for trikes, bikes with our water and sandpit play areas. Our outdoor and indoor equipment is cleaned and updated regularly.
The Flowers has created a welcoming and caring environment for both children and parents where your child can play, learn and feel cared for. When you visit us you will see the relationships our teachers and carers have with the children which focuses on ensuring they are happy, content and settled throughout their time with us. At the Flowers, we understand that having positive relationships with carers and parents is really important for the happiness of each child and we work with you to care for your child.
Contact us today if you would like any further information and we can answer any questions you may have or arrange for you to come and see us, our team and our children in their nursery setting.