The DfE have issued documents to support schools and settings to understand how to report to the Early Years Census in the context of the pandemic. The guidance states: "The intention is to ensure parity of approach to counting of funded entitlements across both the School Census and the Early Years Census."
This includes the guidance:
Open providers must ensure that they are able to meet statutory requirements to ensure safe and high-quality early education and childcare, in line with the Early Years Foundation Stage (taking into account the disapplications and modifications in place) and COVID systems of control.
The Early Years Census 2021 is intended to reflect the provision made available to parents/guardians, and a provider’s usual expected attendance in the week commencing 18th January 2021. This remains the guiding principle behind all the following scenarios outlined. The intention is to ensure parity of approach to counting of funded entitlements across both the School Census and the Early Years Census.
Where a provider is counting a child on the census, the place must be genuinely ‘available’: this means a provider must not count a child where they have furloughed the staff who would be required to deliver the child’s place.
The first section relates to open PVI settings within which children are benefiting from their funded entitlements in census week. We anticipate that attendance will be lower than previous years within these settings.
• In summary we have taken the view that where a child is reasonably expected to attend Early Years provision, and that provision is made available to them by the provider, their expected hours should be recorded in the Early Years Census. This means children who, were it not for the impact of coronavirus on either their own personal circumstances or on the operation of their Early Years setting, would be attending Early Years provision. This includes children who have previously attended the provision and children who were expected to start attending the provision in January.
The second section relates to closed PVI providers, where children are therefore not benefiting from their funded entitlements in census week.
• Where the provider chooses not to offer the entitlements – i.e. to close, or only offer a limited provision to children of key workers - then then they should not make a return for a child who is not being offered a place.
• Where the provider is temporarily closed due to circumstances such as staff infections or isolation periods, they should return their expected levels of provision for census week.
- Spring School Census 2021 – Readiness Bulletin Number 2: To: All local authorities, service children education providers and school’s MI suppliers
Ths includes the guidance:
Early years - funded hours, extended hours and hours at setting
Early years provision should remain open and continue to allow all children to attend full time or their usual timetable hours. This includes early years registered nurseries and childminders, maintained nursery schools, as well as nursery classes in schools and other pre-reception provision on school sites. This is the default position for all areas irrespective of national lockdown restrictions. It is the government’s intention for there to be parity of approach between the school census and the early years’ census.
Funded hours, extended hours and hours at setting for pupils who are in attendance during census week should be recorded as normal.
Funded hours, extended hours and hours at setting should be recorded as the number of hours the pupil would normally be expected to attend during census week in the following circumstances:
• Pupils are absent because they are self isolating
• Parents have chosen not to send their child to nursery
Where the parent has requested a change to the funded hours entitlement taken at the establishment, schools must record the revised funded hours.
Funded hours, extended hours and hours and setting should be recorded as zero in the following circumstances:
• The nursery provision has chosen to close
• Where the child is not attending because the school has chosen to restrict nursery provision to certain groups of children (e.g. vulnerable children and children of key workers)