[FURTHER UPDATE] 04.11.20 – National lockdown in England – what this means for children’s activities

04.11.2020 – An update regarding the November lockdown in England from ICAP:

Since our last statement (Tue 3rd Nov) the Government have ratified legislation and released new guidance surrounding children’s activities that we need to update you about.

Please understand, this is a very live situation and guidelines continue to be adapted and this will likely continue over the coming days. 

We highly recommend you keep yourself updated with the official Government guidelines and accompanying legislative document.

We recognise that these guidelines remain somewhat ambiguous, contradictory in places and open to interpretation and we have done our best to summarise our thoughts below.

1. School and nursery providers
In general, the advice for those operating in schools and nurseries hasn’t changed.

Schools and nurseries largely have the final say over whether providers can continue their services, for both in curricular provision and/or extra-curricular activities used as wraparound care.

You should check whether they wish for you to continue operating in their settings.

Please ensure you refer to both the above guidelines and also these education and childcare specific guidelines.

2. Baby, Toddler and Preschool activities
There has been great debate, consternation and confusion in this part of the sector for a variety of reasons, not least because of unclear wording in the guidelines and viral social media posts.

There have been a number of talking points based on the guidelines, none more so than the word ‘support’ referenced multiple times. Some will feel they are a ‘support group’ whereas others will feel that ‘support’ is a part of the activity but perhaps not its primary function. 

Regrettably, this ambiguity has put a large amount of unnecessary pressure on providers in the sector. We understand that this wording may change in the future.

It is our general opinion, that the majority of the children’s activities sector would not typically be classed as ‘support groups’ (i.e. Bereavement counselling, PND groups, perinatal mental health, breastfeeding support) and therefore should close (or move activities online) if they don’t meet other exemptions allowing them to continue.

Ultimately, providers who fall into this category will need to decide whether or not they can/should continue to run based on the current guidelines and with appropriate safety measures in place.

3. Venues
We anticipate most venues will be closed from 5th November in line with general guidelines meaning providers who are allowed and choose to continue operating may need to find an alternate venue for the lockdown period.

4. Insurance
All activity providers who continue operating (including online) should ensure they continue to be covered under their insurance during the lockdown period.

Closing thoughts
As a professional membership body in the children’s activity sector we believe it’s important to prioritise the health, safety and wellbeing of parents, children, staff and the general public. Activity providers must consider not only the need to follow guidelines relevant to our sector, but also a key purpose of the national lockdown, which is to protect the NHS from becoming overwhelmed and save lives.

Our sector will continue to be an integral part of society – we educate, entertain and inspire the next generation and over the past few months we’ve shown ourselves to be great collaborators. While the moral fabric of our sector continues to be tested, we urge providers to continue working together and supporting each other.

We will endeavour to continue following the guidelines closely as and when they are updated and will release a further statement where appropriate.

By becoming a member of ICAP you’re joining a community of like-minded professionals and business owners in the children’s activity sector working towards excellence