EYFS Disapplications guidance from the DfE

We wanted to draw your attention to an update that has been made to the EYFS disapplications guidance.

This update is to:

  • Link to the current version of Ofsted’s early years inspection handbook, published on 28 June 2021, for inspections taking place from 1 September 2021
  • Clarify that the period in which the EYFS disapplications can be used ends on 31 August 2021
  • Clarify that if government restrictions and requirements are lifted before 31 August 2021 the disapplications can no longer be used as the necessary conditions for using them will no longer be met

We are aware that some sector bodies and providers are raising concerns about ongoing challenges with recruitment in the sector, particularly around level 3 qualified staff. Due to the limited legal scope of the current disapplications and the very specific circumstances in which they can legally be used, we do not think that they are the right policy response to the current recruitment challenges and they were not intended or designed to be used in this way. However, we are committed to working with the sector and Local Authorities to fully understand the scale of the challenge over the coming weeks and months and ensure that the right response and messaging is in place.

In the meantime, we thought it would be helpful to draw your attention to the following section of our Covid-19 guidance for early years providers, which covers existing flexibilities within the EYFS with regard to staffing ratios. There are no plans to change this guidance when the disapplications end in September:

Varying staff to child ratios and qualifications

Paragraph 3.30 of the EYFS states ‘Exceptionally, and where the quality of care and safety and security of children is maintained, changes to the ratios may be made.’

We consider the extent of COVID-19 to be an exceptional temporary circumstance in which the staff to child ratios set out in the EYFS can be changed if necessary. Early years settings and schools, however, remain responsible for ensuring the safety and security of children in their care.

Early Years Entitlements