Covid-19 Guidelines for UK Schools and Childcare Providers

This page will provide a rolling update of the UK’s latest COVID-19 guidelines and information for childcare providers and schools. We’ll update this page regularly as new announcements come in from the Government and the childcare sector.

Here is what we know so far.

06 April 2020

Wales diverts 30-hour childcare funds to pay for key workers’ children

The Welsh Government is introducing a coronavirus childcare assistance scheme to support critical care workers. The Government has announced they will suspend the 30-hour childcare scheme temporarily and use the funds to pay for childcare availed by keyworkers. Childcare providers will receive funding for children who have already been booked into a place until June. More guidance to follow.

DofE updates guidance on childcare closure and staffing requirements

The Department of Education has added a new section to the guidance on childcare closures and encouraging schools and early years providers to continue providing childcare to the children of critical care workers during this period. Some of the key areas covered in the guidance are:

  • ‘Hub working’, where centres can merge and pool staff to ensure the businesses can remain viable while offering sufficient number of places to keyworkers’ children
  • Details on whether centres are still covered by public liability insurance
  • Clarifications on DBS and Paediatric-First Aid Requirements of staff

HMRC clarifies childcare providers can rotate staff on furlough

The HMRC has clarified that childcare staff can be placed on furlough more than once, giving early years settings the ability to ‘unfurlough’ and ‘refurlough’ staff if they are sick or in ‘self-isolation’. The announcement has been welcomed by the childcare sector and is expected to allow providers much-needed flexibility in accessing the Job Retention Scheme. Read more

PACEY raises concerns with Treasury Committee regarding support for the self-employed

The Professional Association for Childcare and Early Years (PACEY) has submitted supporting evidence to the Treasury Committee about concerns regarding the financial package offered for the self-employed. Some of the key concerns raised are:

  • The delay until June for the payment of financial support
  • The exclusion of sole traders with no tax return for the 18/19 tax year
  • Not considering the full-time self-employed
  • The omission of limited company owners from the list

1140 hour childcare delayed to focus on pandemic response

The Scottish Government has announced that local authorities will no longer have a statutory obligation to provide 1140-hours of childcare from August 2020. The rollout has been revoked to ensure local authorities can focus on the coronavirus pandemic response and continue providing emergency childcare to key workers during this period. Read more

CAF announces grants of up to 10k for  small charities

Childcare providers and organisations who are registered as charities can avail grants of up to 10k from the Charities Aid Foundation to cover their core costs including staffing, supplies and equipment, communication etc. Organisations can apply if they fall under the following category:

  • UK registered charities (registered with Scottish Charity Regulator, Charity Commission or Charity Commission for Northern Ireland, or as indicated in the Charities Act 2010)
  • Organisations registered with the Public Mutuals Register, or Companies House as a charitable or not-for-profit entity
  • Unregistered entities and social enterprises

The charity said it aims to make the funds available to chosen applicants within 2 weeks of application.

Government publishes detailed information on the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme

The updated guidelines cover the following:

  • Details on who will and will not be eligible for the grant
  • Calculating the support for those with variable earnings or zero-hour contracts
  • The impact on Living Wages and National Minimum Wage
  • The evidence employers will need to submit to apply for the scheme
  • Training, volunteering and additional jobs

UK Government announces aid for self-employed

In a monumental announcement, Chancellor Rishi Sunak has announced a COVID-19 grant of up to £2500 per month for the self-employed sector, which includes nearly 40,000 childminders across the UK. The grant will be worth 80% of their average income for the last three years, for up to a maximum of 2500. This will be available at least for three months and will be extended if necessary. Read more

New emergency measures unveiled for childcare providers in Ireland

The Minister for Children has announced new emergency measures to pay childcare providers in full for the next three months. Providers will be required to sign a COVID-19 Emergency Agreement confirming they will not be charging parents during this period. Read more

DfE issues new guidance on social distancing for children in emergency childcare

The latest social distancing guidelines issued by the DfE on 25th March outline the following:

  • Make sure the children who can be cared for are kept at home to reduce the chances of spread. The likelihood of children contracting the virus is about the same as that of adults. But the symptoms are usually mild. 
  • Children with mild underlying health conditions can continue to receive emergency childcare, but not those who fall in the most vulnerable groups. However, staff who are in this category must also not attend work
  • Children who have an EHC plan must be risk-assessed by the Local Authority and can continue to attend if appropriate
  • Social distancing measures to be followed within the setting are also outlined such as staggering lunchtimes, pick-ups and drop-offs and improving hygiene practices

Morton Michel setting up online platform to expedite insurance claims for nurseries

Insurance providers Morton Michel notify NDNA about setting up a new online claim form for nurseries to speed up the processing of policy claims due to COVID-19. Depending on individual policies and level of cover, nurseries may be able to claim under Extension 7 in the Loss of Revenue section of the policy. More details to follow.

New Buddy Scheme for early years providers to stay connected

Juliette Davies of EY Matter and senior childhood lecturer Aaron Bradbury has launched a new Buddy Scheme to provide an online platform for childcare providers to share concerns and stay connected. The scheme is aimed at ensuring the providers and frontline workers have someone to talk to and do not feel alone or suffer in silence during this uncertain period.

Chancellor considering support for self-employed

Chancellor, Rishi Sunak, announced in the House of Commons that the Government is looking at how to support self-employed individuals, which includes the tens of thousands of childminders, who were left out of the financial aid packages announced so far. Although Mr Sunak said it is ‘incredibly complicated’ to design a system to support the self-employed, he said intensive work is underway to deliver a  ‘fair and deliverable’ package to the self-employed.  Read more

Economic support for childcare providers

A range of financial packages have been announced by the government to support childcare providers through the period of disruption caused by COVID-19:

  • Grant to cover staff wages: The chancellor has announced a grant for organisations to cover the salaries of staff who are not working due to shutdowns, but who haven’t been laid off. The HMRC grant will cover 80 per cent of the salaries of retained workers for up to £2,500 a month. Visit the Gov.UK Covid:19 Support for Businesses page for updated details on how to claim your reimbursements.
  • Exemption from business rates: All voluntary, private, independent nurseries will be exempt from business rates for one year from 01 April.
  • Payment deferral for VAT: Deferring VAT payments for businesses for the next quarter. You will have until the end of the 2020-21 tax year to pay off any liabilities accumulated during the deferral period.
  • Business Interruption loans: An extension has been provided for the coronavirus business interruption loan scheme to offer interest-free loans for 12 months (up from six months).
  • Universal credit An increase to the universal credit allowance by £1,000 for the next 12 months, which means universal credit payments will be paid at a rate equivalent to statutory sick pay.
  • Vouchers for families on free school meals: Schools will have the flexibility to offer meals or vouchers for food shopping for to low-income families who are not going to school because of school closures. Schools can order the vouchers directly from supermarkets or shops and post or email them to the families. The costs will be covered by the Department of Education. More details including the value of the vouchers will be announced shortly via published guidance.

Key workers list

The Government has published a list classifying workers from the following sectors as key workers essential to help in the Covid-19 crisis response:

  • Health and Social Care: Doctors, nurses, paramedics, midwives, social workers, care workers and other frontline health and social care staff
  • Education and childcare: Teaching and nursery staff, social workers and those specialist education professionals who must remain active during the COVID-19 response  
  • Local and national Government: Administrative occupations which are essential to the effective delivery of the COVID-19 response or delivering crucial public services, such as the payment of benefits
  • Key public services: The justice system, religious staff, charities and workers offering vital frontline services, broadcasters and journalists who are providing public service broadcasting
  • Food and other necessary goods: Workers involved in food production, processing, distribution, delivery and sale, as well as those crucial to the provision of other vital goods
  • Transport: Those who will keep the air, water, road and rail passenger and freight transport modes operating during the crisis, including those working on transport systems through which supply chains pass
  • Public safety and national security:  Police and support staff, contractors and armed forces personnel, ministry and defence civilians, fire and rescue service employees, National Crime Agency staff, those maintaining border security, prison and probation staff and other national security roles
  • Utilities, communication and financial services​: Workers needed for essential financial services provision, the oil, gas, electricity and water sectors, information technology and data infrastructure sector and primary industry supplies to continue during the Covid response, as well as key staff working in the civil nuclear, chemicals, telecommunications, postal services and delivery, payments providers and waste disposal sectors

The Government has advised the Local Authorities to ensure children of key workers have continuing access to appropriate learning and childcare so that the parents/carers on the front line can participate in the COVID response. Please make sure you contact your local authority ELC team if you are planning to offer services to the categories listed above.

Support from the sector

PACEY urges Government for financial support to childminders

As over 41000 childminders in England and Wales have not been offered any substantial financial support in the plans announced so far, PACEY is calling for more action to prevent childminding businesses from shutting permanently. The chancellor’s current job retention scheme does not apply to the self-employed who are out of work – which includes the childminders sector. Read more

New early years working group to lobby and coordinate responses

More than 20 leading nursery operators and early years organisations have joined hands to create the UK Childcare Covid19 Crisis Working Group. The group will represent the entire sector and will feed in the industry’s needs to the Government by joining up with lobbying member organisations (the Early Years Alliance and NDNA).

Some of the key points discussed in its first meeting held on 19 March are:

  • The ongoing lobbying efforts, including the recent success in business rates exemption.
  • The inconsistency in insurance coverage for nurseries (from zero coverage to a cap of £100,000)
  • Offline conversations which providers have had with MPs, in which they were told about ‘substantial measures’ which would be announced soon.
  • The need for an electronic forum to enable transparent sharing of information across the sector in relation to the COVID-19 crisis (a plan is currently being put in place by the group to do so). Read more

Appeal to supermarkets to prioritise access for early years providers

The Early Years Alliance has reached out to all major supermarkets to develop a scheme to ensure childcare providers across the UK has access to vital provisions to ensure a smooth service. The sector has requested the supermarkets to consider a prioritisation scheme for childcare providers – similar to what is currently offered to the over 70s during the first hour of morning trade. Read more

Useful links:

Helplines for support:

Free access to Cheqdin:

If you are a school, nursery or out of school club planning to remain open for the children of keyworkers, we’d like to offer you free access to our online bookings, registration and parent communication platform to manage your services during this period.

You can use our platform to coordinate your efforts with parents, manage occupancy and minimise chaos as you adapt your services for COVID-19 response. Please get in touch with us at to set up your free account.




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