Council calls on government to review testing provision for early years providers

Telford & Wrekin Council’s cabinet member for Children, Young People, Education and Lifelong Learning has written to the Education Secretary to raise concerns over the government’s lack of home testing provision for early years providers.

Government has required that early years providers should remain open to all children during the current lockdown.

However, no provision has been made available for early years staff access to asymptomatic home testing kits. 

All schools have been offered access to two rapid tests every week to each member of staff while early years staff have not had the same offer.

Cllr Shirley Reynolds and council leader, Cllr Shaun Davies, have written to Gavin Williamson to ask him to reconsider the government’s position and look again to establish home testing arrangements for early years providers.

Telford & Wrekin Council opened its rapid testing centre at The Place in Oakengates at the end of 2020. This centre is open to anyone in the borough who has to leave home for work purposes.

Cllr Shirley Reynolds, cabinet member for Children, Young People, Education and Lifelong Learning, said:

“We are really concerned that the government have not provided home testing for early years staff.

“Early years settings have been told to stay open for all children during the current lockdown with absolutely no protection for staff. This is frankly unreasonable.

“Nurseries and pre-schools in the borough are understandably frustrated by the lack of testing.

“They have stepped up during both this and previous lockdowns to support the development and learning of our very youngest children and to enable their parents to continue to work.

“We’re calling on the Education Secretary to reconsider this position.

“We have our own rapid test centre in Oakengates but we think the government should be providing the same test kits to early years providers, as they are already providing in schools.”

Emma Hill and Jayne Doodson from Teagues Bridge Pre-school said: 

“As a small committee run setting we are already struggling with the impact of the pandemic. We speak for many settings in our local Authority. Staff wellbeing is already struggling and they are exhausted with the additional procedures in place to protect children in their care. 

"Staff are expected to carry on as normal, in an environment where it is not possible to social distance and little or no PPE is expected.

“At present our staff are being tested weekly at the Oakengates testing centre, this is to make sure they are safeguarding themselves, children, families and their community. However, in an environment where we teach children equality, staff cannot understand why we receive unfair treatment compared to other educational providers. 

“We are only asking for the same, to have home kits twice a week, so staff who are already exhausted are able to do this more conveniently in their own homes like schools and maintained nurseries.”