This conference took place on April 8th and with the nature of the changing advice, be aware that any specific advice relating to government policy may be out of date at the time of reading.
To help you get straightforward and reliable answers to your questions on the coronavirus pandemic and its impact, this month at Famly we ran the UK’s first free digital conference on coronavirus and how the early years industry can respond.
One of the three sessions focused on business sustainability. During this session, we spoke to nursery owners Tricia Wellings and Roopam Carroll who also work in early years advisory through their companies (MBK Training and The Nice Boss respectively). You can check out the key points below or watch the full Famly Sessions event on-demand here.
Something to be aware of when looking to other settings for advice is that while the national government sets the policy on furlough, the local authorities are responsible for administering it. As there are 343 of these across the country, this leads to many differing approaches. An example of where this can cause confusion is the case of whether or not funding follows a child when they move to an open setting, or if the setting in question is where the funding lies and they have to absorb the cost of this new child. As such, it’s important to contact your own local authority for advice on funding and furlough as opposed to any anecdotal evidence.
It can be difficult to justify staying open to care for key worker children when there’s very few in your setting, and in some cases it’s just not possible without putting your business at risk. To make sure you can still help these families though, a great idea is banding together with other local settings and pooling resources.
It’s important to be open with parents and appeal to their goodwill about why from a business sustainability perspective, it’s vital that you continue to receive some form of payment form them. While it can be tricky to get all parents on board with doing this, a great way to encourage them is by continuing to provide value. Some different approaches include home learning packs, regular communication via video chat, educational activity ideas, or ‘story time’ over video chat. You can also consider offering a ‘placeholder’ fee, where you charge your parents a percentage of their regular fee to guarantee their child’s place when you reopen.
In the below clip Tricia suggests a number of ways that early years settings can ensure their business stays afloat. She also highlights how businesses of different sizes should take advantage of the different schemes available to them.
Work out the way different people feel most comfortable with communicating such as phone calls, emails, video chat and consider incorporating these into your week as regular check-ins to establish a sense or routine and continuity. Depending on whether your staff are working from home as opposed to being furloughed, it’s also worth ensuring they continue to have a constructive purpose, this might be recording videos for the children, finding new resources or sending out communications to parents.
If you’d like to watch the full virtual conference, including talks from Imogen Edmunds and Beverley Bacon on staffing and furlough, as well as Ruth Swailes and Dr. Sue Allingham on home learning, please click here.
Please note: here at Famly we love sharing creative activities for you to try with the children at your setting, but you know them best. Take the time to consider adaptions you might need to make so these activities are accessible and developmentally appropriate for the children you work with. Just as you ordinarily would, conduct risk assessments for your children and your setting before undertaking new activities, and ensure you and your staff are following your own health and safety guidelines.