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Guide to developing an Admissions Policy during Covid-19

The current restrictions that settings are working to, mean that some may need to start thinking about developing or amending the settings admissions policy to help prioritise children that can receive a place in their setting. Government guidance is limited and therefore we have developed a set of considerations to help settings develop or amend their policy during this time.

Why introduce or adapt a policy?

Having an admissions policy means that you can be clear and transparent with parents about how you intend to prioritise places, whilst the current restrictions remain in place. A policy will help you manage your places.

What the guidance says

Department for Education (DfE) guidance is clear that:

Providers are encouraged to work to the following cohort sizes:

  • Keeping group sizes to a maximum of 8 children is preferable (whilst adhering to EYFS ratios), so groups are as small as possible, and providers are expected to ensure that there are no more than 16 children in a group in early years settings.

And prioritise:

Please note: the restrictions are accurate as of 22 June 2020 but are subject to change by government.

Thinking about your policy

The number of children of critical workers, those who are vulnerable and three-and four-year olds will vary from setting to setting. It’s important to think about what type of setting you are and how you adapt your setting to the current guidance. Looking at your previous policy consider what is already in place and what may need to change.

Here are some considerations to help develop your policy:

  • Children already registered at the setting but have not yet returned - are you keeping in regular contact with parents about their requirements and the settings capacity to accommodate this? Do you know when they are likely to return? What does this look like moving forward with regard to your safe bubbles and staff required? Are you utilising outdoor space? You may wish to consider how you organise your outdoor environment and use the space safely and effectively.

  • Employers - is there are local employer or a cluster of local employers who you regularly serve? Do these employers employ critical workers? You may wish to provide places based on certain employers in your locality where you know you have provided childcare for their workers in the past and will need to do so in future. This could be a good time to develop a strong partnership with those employers.

  • Catchment areas - schools use catchment areas for admissions purposes, although this is not always the case for early years settings, as parents may choose childcare that is near to their employment for example. You may be a setting that takes pride in serving your local community and have strong relationships with feeder primary schools, however during Covid-19 this may not be a priority.

  • Children eligible for the Think 2 programme - many settings have shared success stories of how they have supported parents back into work. There are lots of examples of where children then becomeeligible for the full 30 hours from aged 3. Some of these children may be classed as vulnerable and would therefore take priority.

  • Children with SEND - you may be a setting that take particular pride in inclusive practice. Prioritising children with SEND will send a strong signal out to parents of your inclusivity and desire to work with all children.

Review the policy

It’s important to ensure that this policy during Covid-19 is constantly reviewed and adapted as government guidance changes and your provision reaches its safe capacity. Good practice is to ensure that any updates and review dates are signed and dated on the policy itself. Your revised admissions policy may be in place during Covid-19, however you may need to revert back to your previous admissions policy at a later date.   

This document is for guidance purposes only to help advise settings on forming policy and who may be challenged by parents on how the setting has selected children to start back from 1 June 2020 onwards. Ultimately settings will need to make decisions that best suit their own practice and business requirements.

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