Coronavirus, early years and childcare

Early education and childcare during coronavirus

For child safety, early education and childcare providers follow the guidance issued by the Department for Education. Early education and childcare settings are now open to everyone. 

Children's centres remain open

All 12 Children’s Centres in Tower Hamlets will remain open with the easing of lockdown. Health and safety remains our top priority - for staff, families and the community. We have adapted our services to be ‘Covid-secure’ and we continue to offer:

- Health appointments

- Early learning for two-year-olds

- Face-to-face support for vulnerable, and newly vulnerable, parents 

- Collection of vitamins

Some small group sessions will be operating, please check our timetable for details.

We follow the latest government guidelines, which means our timetables and services are subject to change.

Please phone your local children's centre before you visit to make an appointment and find out the latest information.

Training sessions 

We continue to provide blended learning for our first aid and safeguarding courses and adult education courses.

Thank you

We would like to express our gratitude to all early education and childcare settings and childminders who have continued throughout COVID to offer Tower Hamlets children a wonderful, safe, caring and stimulating time. Thank you!

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Interim arrangements for transition in response to Coronavirus (COVID-19) guidance for PVI settings

This guidance covers a range of possibilities in relation to transition for children with additional needs during this current situation. It is essential to consider the individual circumstances for each child and parents as different approaches may be required to facilitate effective transition.

There are a variety of considerations and options regarding transition. Please contact your link Area Inclusion Coordinator to share information and discuss how the transition process will be achieved for children with additional needs at your setting.

Consider the range of possibilities for effective transition meetings

  • Is it appropriate and possible to have a face to face meeting where required social distancing guidance will be followed?
  • Is it possible to hold an online transition meeting? Is this suitable for the parents, setting and school?
  • Is it necessary to consider alternative venues or meeting spaces which can accommodate social distancing requirements?
  • If it is not possible to hold a face to face or online meeting, is there an alternative way of facilitating the transition process?
  • What information is needed from the SEN Section regarding the school placement?

At the time of producing this guidance, the following links contains information from the government website with regards to online communication with parents and social distancing. There may be subsequent updates and please check for the most recent advice and guidance.

Children that live outside of the borough

Where children live out of borough or will be attending a school/setting which is out of borough, this will need to be discussed with the parents to consider appropriate transition planning arrangements and liaise with the receiving school/setting as appropriate. If it is not possible to hold a meeting in person or online, it is important to agree with the parents how the information will be shared with the school/setting.

Children moving to a special school

Where a child is moving to a special school, be aware that the school will have specific transition arrangements. Therefore, it is essential to liaise with the special school beforehand in order to plan transition.

A setting is closed

Where a setting is closed and the link Area Inclusion Coordinator is unable to make contact, the link Area Inclusion Coordinator will take a lead in transition planning with the parents considering the steps outlined in the transition process.

Transition Process

  1. Setting contact parents and find out which school the child will be attending.
  2. When discussing transition with the parents, it is important to consider and enquire about the parents’ wishes. It is essential to think about how the parents can be safely involved.
    • If the meeting is to be face to face, how will social distancing be maintained?
    • Are the parents comfortable to attend a face to face meeting?
    • Is it possible to have an online meeting? Do the parents, setting and school have access to facilities for an online meeting?
    • If the parents are unable to participate in a meeting, do they give consent for the setting to share information with the receiving school/setting?
    • How can the parents contribute and have their views recorded if they are unable to be involved in a meeting?
    • Is an interpreter required for the meeting?
  3. Completing the transition profile with parents. This must reflect information about the child’s current progress and needs.
    • Is there any progress and are there any achievements that the parents can share?
    • Are there any changes in the child’s development or needs?
    • Where children have temporarily attended another setting, is it possible for the temporary setting to share information about the child’s development? Can they share information about how they supported the child to settle? Where possible, it is recommended that the Inclusion Coordinator/keyperson from the temporary setting contributes directly to the transition meeting if there is capacity to do so.
  4. When contacting the school/setting to make transition arrangements, here are some things to explore in order to establish the most appropriate transition arrangement for the child and parents.
    • Who is the named contact for transition into nursery/YR?
    • How do you contact them? Do they have an email and work phone number?
  5. Face to face meeting
    • Is the school/setting able to facilitate a transition meeting in a space which gives room for recommended social distancing?
    • If the meeting is to be held at the school, are there any particular arrangements or protocols to be aware of, for example, procedure for social distancing, hand washing, hand sanitiser, signing in/out process?
    • If the meeting is to be held at the school, you will need to share the school’s protocols and how the meeting will be facilitated with the parents.
  6. Or online meeting
    • Have you read and considered the advice about safeguarding and online meetings?
    • Do parents have access to a device (smartphone, tablet, laptop, computer)?
    • Are parents comfortable and experienced in using this format for communication?
    • Would it be helpful to have a practice run before the meeting?
    • If an interpreter is needed, how will they be prepared and involved?

Preparing for the Meeting

The setting Inclusion Coordinator is responsible for arranging the meeting. This includes inviting the people who should attend and arranging a suitable date.

Consider the following when preparing for the meeting:

  • Are the child’s developmental records and medical information up to date?
  • Are there other services which provide support for the child and parents?
  • Do the other services need to be invited to the meeting? If they are unable to attend, are there any updates which they can provide?
  • If the child has an Individual Healthcare Plan, does it need to be reviewed?
  • If appropriate do you have the relevant and up to date information from the SEN Section?
  • Who will chair the transition meeting?
  • Who will complete the transition profile?

During the Meeting

The meeting is the opportunity to discuss the child’s interests, progress and needs. Completing the process together enables everyone to share and hear important information about the child. It is an opportunity for the school/setting to prepare and be ready for the child. The Transition Profile format can be found on the Useful Practitioner Resources webpage.

Consider important information which may need to be discussed during the meeting:

  • How will the child be supported to settle?
  • Does the child have medical needs?
  • Does the child have an Individual Healthcare Plan?
  • Is specific specialist training required in order to support the child at the school/setting?
  • Will any adaptations be needed to support mobility, vision, hearing, communication or other needs?
  • Is any specialist equipment required to meet needs such as seating, mobility, eating and drinking, hearing or vision?

For further guidance to support planning effective transitions see Moving On: Supporting Children's Transitions in the Early Years (2010).