A group of 70 early years providers has written to the government urging ministers to consider allowing children to stay on at nursery until at least January 2021.
The Early Years Covid-19 Response group has said that nurseries could help primary schools cope with social distancing rules by keeping children under their care for months longer than planned.
In the letter, they suggest that children should “take up their Reception place from either January or April 2021”.
Background: Baseline going ahead as planned, says DfE
The group writes: “We are very aware of the difficulties faced by young children who will be transitioning back into settings, and for some also due to move on to primary school settings in just a few months, having spent in many cases a number of months away from their key attachments and familiar learning environments.
“To support their wellbeing and social/emotional implications of lockdown, alongside ongoing social distancing demands placing additional pressure on schools, we would require government to reinforce the existing mandatory school starting age of five for this cohort of children, allowing them to take up their Reception place from either January or April 2021.”
The group says that early years settings are “ideally placed” to support this move, and could be helped to do so if schools guaranteed children a Reception place later in the academic year and if local authorities funded term-time provision in nurseries.
It also says that early years settings would need to continue to provide “a rich and varied curriculum as per the existing EYFS (early years foundation stage) which already covers the age range up to 5 years”, and that parents could pay providers for out of school hours care.