Publication - Advice and guidance

Coronavirus (COVID-19): school age childcare services guidance

Non-statutory guidance to support a safe and supportive environment.

Coronavirus (COVID-19): school age childcare services guidance
Outdoor spaces

Maximising use of outdoor spaces

Evidence suggests that outdoor environments can limit transmission, as well as more easily allowing for appropriate physical distancing between staff and between groups of children. Staff should consider how they can safely maximise the use of their outdoor space.

Where school age childcare services have access to an outdoor area or garden, they should try to use this space as much as possible during each session. If outdoor equipment is being used, settings should consider appropriate cleaning between groups of children using it.

Staff should liaise with parents to take the necessary precautions to protect children from the elements and this should include suitable clothing for the weather, head coverings and sunscreen when appropriate in summer and suitable outer clothing to allow outdoor play in winter. Advice on sun safety is also available from the NHS.

Using outdoor spaces extensively during sessions may allow for more children to access the service, provided this is in line with staffing ratios and Care Inspectorate registration capabilities. Staff should therefore consider how they can safely maximise the use of outdoor spaces. Staff should plan for children to enjoy active energetic play across each session and this may include making use of other outdoor areas near to the service. Within any public spaces staff should be aware at all times of the need to keep children distanced from any other children who are not part of the setting, and / or other adults who may be in the vicinity.

Read guidance to promote high quality learning and play experiences for children outdoors.

Short local excursions which promote outdoor learning

Short local excursions which promote outdoor learning (such as a short visit to a local park or green space) can take place as long as these excursions are appropriately risk assessed. The appropriate size of any group travelling off site to undertake outdoor learning should also be considered.

Settings should exercise judgement as to what constitutes a short local outdoor excursion and what constitutes a more substantial day visit. More substantial day visits should be undertaken in line with the guidance set out in the section below.

Day visits

Day visits (i.e visits which go beyond a local excursion and that do not include an overnight stay) can take place subject to the following conditions:

Singing, music and drama

Advice from the Advisory Sub-Group on Education and Children’s Issues shows that there are increased transmission risks associated with music and drama activities.

The sub-group has now reconsidered its advice in the light of the ongoing success of the vaccination programme in suppressing community transmission and the importance of singing for the health and wellbeing of children well as their social, physical and cognitive development.

Table 4: singing

Level 0 and below

Level 1

Level 2

Level 3

Level 4/Stay local

Singing indoors and outdoors is permitted



At levels 3, 2 and 1, singing outdoors and indoors is permitted for children and adults in childcare settings, as long as careful attention is paid to ensuring effective and adequate ventilation and subject to risk assessment and other risk mitigation measures being implemented. Other risk mitigations include singing: outdoors or indoors in large, well ventilated spaces; at low volume; for short periods of time; in small groups; and with appropriate physical distancing between adults.


Singing should not happen indoors as an organised large group activity.

At any protection level, children need not be discouraged from singing naturally in the course of activities and play and singing can also be used to comfort young children when necessary.

Lead-in time for adapting to change in protection level: as soon as the protection level increases.

First published: 5 Mar 2021 Last updated: 11 Oct 2021 -