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Private, voluntary and independent childcare providers excluded from home Covid testing programme

The Department for Education has received fierce criticism for not including private, voluntary and independent (PVI) childcare providers in the home testing Covid programme.

Early years leaders have branded the move ‘insulting’ with mass asymptomatic testing in the early years to be restricted to the maintained sector, with no provision being made for PVI.

Neil Leitch, chief executive of the Early Years Alliance (EYA) said "All early years providers have been asked to remain open to children and families during national lockdown. How can it be right, then, that only maintained nurseries and nursery classes will - like primary schools - have testing kits delivered direct to their doors, while those working in PVI settings are simply told to access the same testing centres that are open to the general public?

"We urge the Department for Education to rethink this appalling decision as a matter of urgency and ensure that all early years providers are treated fairly and equally."

Purnima Tanuku, National Day Nurseries Association (NDNA) chief executive, added: "This announcement once again shows that the Department for Education has total disregard for the pressures on PVI nurseries and the whole early years workforce. Promises of access to mass-testing for all have unravelled with different treatment for those in maintained settings compared with the rest of the sector.”

“Excluding the majority of the workforce from receiving at-home tests available to those in the maintained sector is unfair, irresponsible and neglectful of a sector that is being asked to go above and beyond for our children.”