The Government has announced that schools in England are to remain closed after the February half-term and will not re-open until it is safe to do so.

However, nurseries and early years education settings have been left out of the conversation entirely.

With a lack of clear direction and support from the Government through the pandemic, early years settings have found themselves in chaos and forced to make difficult decisions about whether it is safe and financially viable to stay open.

With many being asked to remain open, while schools are shut, it is absolutely vital that the Government recognises teachers and early years professionals as key frontline workers and gives them priority access to the vaccine, as they continue to provide face-to-face education.

There should also be a roll-out of mass asymptomatic testing in these settings, and for those that have been forced to close or that have seen a fall in demand for funded places, the Government must introduce targeted funding to protect the future sustainability of the sector.

Maccs Pescatore

Chief executive, Montessori Centre International,

Bloomsbury Square, London