Only a third of children are expected to return to nurseries across England

Only a third of children are expected to return to nurseries across England when they reopen from this week – with up to 71% of companies facing possible closure due to loss of demand

  • Nurseries are expecting just a third of children to return this week 
  • 71 per cent of nursery leaders expect to make a loss over the next three months 
  • The snapshot poll comes from the National Day Nurseries Association
  • **Are you a concerned parent, or do you work in childcare? Email your thoughts on nurseries reopening to**
  • Here’s how to help people impacted by Covid-19

Nurseries are only expecting around a third of children to return this week amid fears some providers could be forced to close down permanently.

As many as 71 per cent of nursery leaders expect to operate at a loss over the next three months amid reduced demand and increased costs associated with operating safely during the coronavirus pandemic, a survey suggests.

The snapshot poll, from the National Day Nurseries Association (NDNA), comes as nurseries across England have begun reopening their doors to more children as lockdown measures have been eased.

Nurseries are planning for 35 per cent of their usual numbers of children coming back straight away, according to the poll of 528 nursery owners and managers which closed on Monday morning.

A mother drops off her daughter off as nurseries and primary schools partly open after the COVID-19 lockdown in London, June 1

Nurseries have implemented a range of measures – including risk assessments, keeping children and staff to small groups inside settings and infection control measures – to welcome children back safely.

From hula-hoop ‘bubbles’ to toilet restrictions, the changes to nursery-life after lockdown 

All schools, colleges and early years centres closed in mid-March, with childcare only provided to children of parents classified as ‘key workers’, including NHS staff and delivery drivers. 

In May, Boris Johnson outlined hopes for children in reception, year 1 and 6 – as well as years 10 and 12 – to return from June 1. 

It came after a primary school sparked fury among parents after it revealed its social distancing plan, which saw children as young as four playing in hula-hoop ‘bubbles’, pupils being given set times to go to the toilet and students being told to clean up their own cuts if they fall over. 

Holywell Village First School in Northumberland came under fire over the plans, which they suggested would be put into place when pupils return to the classroom in June.

In a now-deleted post on the school’s Facebook page, seen by Metro, the school said pupils will be assigned ‘play bubbles’ where they will have to stay when they go outside to the playground.   

More than four in five said they were planning to reopen more widely on Monday, but the vast majority of providers said they were still expecting to operate at a loss until September.

The poll found 4% said they were likely to close permanently in the coming months without support.

Purnima Tanuku, chief executive of the NDNA, said it was a ‘tragedy’ that some settings have not been able to reopen and others are looking at potential closure in the near future.

She said: ‘The Government needs to act now and bring in a recovery and transformation fund to help providers weather this challenging period. Local authorities have revealed they share our concerns for the sustainability of early years as well.

‘This type of fund is essential to support early years’ providers to be sustainable as demand for places slowly recovers.

‘Many nurseries and childcare providers have stayed open through this crisis to support critical workers keep our country going. If we want the economy to recover we need a sustainable and viable childcare sector to ensure parents can work and children can access high quality early education.’

Children and Families Minister Vicky Ford said: ‘We have been working very closely with the sector as we begin the wider opening of settings, and have provided significant financial and business support to protect them during these unprecedented times.

‘It’s testament to the great impact nurseries, preschools and childminders have on children’s education and the reassurance they offer families that so many parents are confident in returning their child to childcare this week.’

It comes after more than half a million primary school children were kept at home yesterday as dozens of councils sided with unions to defy the government’s aims to ease students back into schools.

Signs outside a nursery in Buckinghamshire advising people to keep two metres apart

Signs outside a nursery in Buckinghamshire advising people to keep two metres apart

At least 54 councils in England took the side of teaching unions, who argued it is not yet safe for its members to return to schools amid the pandemic.

The councils either told schools not to reopen, or left the decision up to headteachers.  

The Association of School and College Leaders said that of the facilities that are open attendance is ‘highly variable’ and ranges between ’40 per cent and 70 per cent’.

But the union’s general secretary Geoff Barton said this figure is likely to increase as ‘parents become become confident about sending their children to school’.

Up to two million pupils were due to return to lessons but some were turned away because headteachers ‘weren’t ready’ for them while around half of parents have chosen to keep their children at home because of safety fears.

UK’s largest childcare provider reveals plans for dividing nursery children into ‘close friendship groups’ 

The UK’s largest childcare provider has outlined their plans to ‘divide children into close friendship groups’ and ‘spend more time outdoors’ as parents prepare to send their children back to nursery amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Busy Bees, which has 378 centres,  has kept over 100 of its nurseries open throughout the crisis to support key worker families and vulnerable children by looking to its colleagues around the globe including Australia, North America and particularly south-east Asia for learning.

The nursery has now outlined life after lockdown for Britons youngsters, from regular hygiene checks to changes in the toys they’re allowed to play with. 

In late May Emily Brimson-Keight, Head of Safety at Busy Bees, revealed how children would be encouraged to play outdoors in smaller groups, while limiting the number of people youngsters come into contact with.

All children and staff will have their temperature checked upon their arrival at the nursery each day.

Meanwhile those parents or families waiting to enter the nursery will be asked to wait two metres apart at the designated drop off and pick up area. 

Meanwhile the nursery also outlined how it will enforce regular temperature checks for both children and team members will continue throughout the day.

Meanwhile the nursery outlined how more traditional games such as Play-doh, sandpits, or water games would be outlawed. 

It will instead focus on dividing children into close friendship groups, limiting the number of people each child come into contact with, and reduce the space that children can explore within the nursery. 

It will aim to keep life as close to normal for children, with team members advised to cuddle their key children if they become upset during the day and to only wear face masks for temperature checks. 

The childcare provider also outlined how they would not be putting down floor markings or making children take timed toilet breaks.    

The nursery provider will also be encouraging frequent handwashing and disinfecting of communal areas. 

And a safety mascot called Safety Buzz will help the children learn and understand about safety, health and wellbeing in all aspects of their lives both at home and whilst in nursery.  

Emily Brimson-Keight, Head of Safety at Busy Bees, said: ‘There is much speculation about how life after lockdown could look in nurseries and schools, and parents are understandably very anxious.