Reflections on the Week

It's Friday, and whilst this is normally a time to start thinking about relaxing into the weekend, from 6pm tonight many of us are heading into tier 4 of lockdown. This will restrict lives further, and we know this may cause increased anxiety for some- please stay safe and make sure you think about your own wellbeing as well as that of others.

What does tier 4 mean for out of school care? As we have highlighted, out of school care (as well as other registered childcare and schools) can remain open and although it is a 'lockdown' it is not as strict as the one earlier in the year, thus it is not about only providing 'critical childcare'. The guidance says that enhanced measures should be in place, which should be the case at present anyway. It also says that settings 'may be asked to implement additional public health measures that may affect capacity'. Our understanding is that this MAY be implemented in localised situations within local authorities, but will not necessarily be default across a local authority. Furthermore, we believe, if you are required to make changes, settings will be contacted directly by local health protection teams and guided in what to do. Our message is to keep risk-assessing and ensuring that you have the best measures in place, and familiarise yourself with the COVID school-age childcare guidance relating to Tier 4. We know it's hard but try not to worry- you've got this!

This week has been one of trying out new things- we have held our first online AGM and joint events with the school-age childcare team. We have also organised an online outdoor play conversation for early December. We're having to learn new technologies and ways of working, and with each step we're gaining confidence. The events this week have proved successful and participants enjoyed the opportunity not just to hear from speakers but also share practice and ideas- we are looking at ways of creating a community of practice. With this in mind here's some of the good practice ideas that have come out of this weeks' events.


Small groups/bubbles

As our reopening survey showed, some services find this problematic and others are seeing benefits. One common way seems to be based on year groupings which might be per primary year or a range of years, depending on number of children attending each day. One service has said the smaller groupings has made walking from the school to service more manageable as they now don't need to wait for lots of different children- the groups can leave as and when all children within the group have been collected. This is something that will be continued beyond the pandemic.

Offering play sessions

Again, as our survey showed, most services are experiencing a considerable drop in numbers which is causing concerns over long-term financial sustainability. One service said they are promoting play sessions to try and increase numbers in recognition that parents might not need childcare at present but children still need interactive play opportunities with peers outside school.

Outdoor play

Our survey also showed that many more services are delivering more outdoor play opportunities than previously and children are loving it. A number of services spoke about buying torches/head torches for playing out in the dark. One service has said they have bought a couple of gazeebos and 2 wood burning ovens- they are cooking outdoors and looking to deliver woodworking activities. One service says they now operate with one bubble group being wholly outdoors in a nearby wooded area- the group changes on a daily basis, and children are picked up from this space by parents. Staff have had forest schools training.

Connecting with families

One service said that when they were closed during lockdown they provided children with play packs and developed their facebook page to allow more sharing of information and communication between the service and parents/carers. One service has also talked about how they provided online play activities for their children. Whilst we hope that childcare will not be required to close again, home play packs and online activities could be useful for children and families who are self-isolating.

At the present time relationships and communication are so important - people need to feel more connected because it's all too easy to become isolated. We'll keep in touch!

Stay safe.

last updated: 20/11/2020