4th January 2021 Update
Going to school, college and university
All primary schools, secondary schools and colleges will move to remote learning, except for the children of key workers and vulnerable children. Schools will be required to provide remote education for those learning at home. Early years settings such as nurseries, alternative provision and special schools will remain open and vulnerable children and children of critical workers can continue to use registered childcare, childminders and other childcare activities.
Vulnerable children and young people who can still attend school include those who:
- are assessed as being in need under section 17 of the Children Act 1989, including children and young people who have a child in need plan, a child protection plan or who are a looked-after child
- have an education, health and care (EHC) plan
- have been identified as otherwise vulnerable by educational providers or local authorities (including children’s social care services), and who could therefore benefit from continued full-time attendance, this might include:
- children and young people on the edge of receiving support from children’s social care services or in the process of being referred to children’s services
- adopted children or children on a special guardianship order
- those at risk of becoming NEET (‘not in employment, education or training’)
- those living in temporary accommodation
- those who are young carers
- those who may have difficulty engaging with remote education at home (for example due to a lack of devices or quiet space to study)
- care leavers
- others at the provider and local authority’s discretion including pupils and students who need to attend to receive support or manage risks to their mental health
Parents whose work is critical to the coronavirus (COVID-19) and EU transition response include those who work in health and social care and in other key sectors outlined in the following sections. Children with at least one parent or carer who is a critical worker can go to school or college if required. To view the list of critical workers in full, please visit: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-maintaining-educational-provision/guidance-for-schools-colleges-and-local-authorities-on-maintaining-educational-provision. For Summary of critical workers, please read below:
- Health and social care
- Education and childcare
- Key public services
- Local and national Government
- Food and other necessary goods
- Public safety and national security
- Transport and border
- Utilities, communication and financial services
Free School Meals
The Government are going to provide extra funding to support schools to provide food parcels or meals to eligible children. Where schools cannot offer food parcels or use local solutions, the Government will ensure a national voucher scheme is in place so that every eligible child can access free school meals while their school remains closed.
Support and childcare bubbles
You are still permitted to form support and childcare bubbles. You have to meet certain eligibility rules to form a support or childcare bubble. This means not everyone will be able to form a bubble.
The Government have set out clear, legally binding requirements for schools to provide high-quality remote education. This is mandatory for ALL state-funded schools and will be enforced by Ofsted. Schools are expected to provide between three and five teaching hours a day, depending on a child’s age.
If parents feel their child’s school is not providing suitable remote education they should first raise their concerns with the teacher or headteacher and failing that, report the matter to Ofsted. Ofsted will inspect schools – of any grade – where it has serious concerns about the quality of remote education being provided.
The Government’s delivery of laptops and tablets continues apace. The Government have purchased more than one million laptops and tablets and have already delivered over 560,000 of these to schools and local authorities, with an extra 100,000 this week alone. By the end of next week we will have delivered three quarters of a million devices.
Supporting your children's education at home
While staying at home due to coronavirus, parents and carers may be worried about their children’s development and the effect of missing school or nursery.
No one expects parents to act as teachers, or to provide the activities and feedback that a school or nursery would. Parents and carers should do their best to help children and support their learning while dealing with other demands. Get specific advice on how education can continue at home for children:
- aged 2 to 4
- at primary school
- at secondary school
- with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND)
Alongside any work your children receive from school, you can try using online educational resources covering various subjects and age groups. The fantastic Oak National Academy continues to provide video lessons for all ages across all subjects.
Educational programmes to help children learn at home are available from the BBC. For primary, BBC Bitesize online has an expanded offer of structured lessons in Maths and English for all year groups - these can be used at home or in the classroom. ‘This Term’s Topics’ also covers other curriculum subjects and curates learning content that works for the Spring curriculum. This content can be easily incorporated into a learning plan or used to explore different topics at home. Visit bbc.co.uk/bitesize, click on the year group and subject and all the content is there. For secondary pupils, Bitesize is also home to two-week learning packs for English and Maths in KS3 (years 7, 8 and 9) as well as ‘This Term’s Topics’ for other subjects to be used at home or to support teachers in the remote classrooms.
Have regular conversations about staying safe online and tell your child to speak to you if they come across something worrying online.
Get help with remote education Access guidance, resources and support for teachers and school leaders on educating pupils and students during coronavirus
If you don’t have broadband at home, your local school can use the Government’s scheme to increase your mobile data allowance so that children can access remote learning on mobile networks. This scheme will support disadvantaged children, ensuring that children and young people can access remote education if their face-to-face education is disrupted. For more information, please visit: https://get-help-with-tech.education.gov.uk/about-increasing-mobile-data.
Summer Examinations have been cancelled. This includes GCSCE, A Levels, BTECTs & SATs
"Although exams are the fairest way we have of assessing what a student knows, the impact of the pandemic means that it is not possible to have these exams this year. I can confirm that GCSE, A-level and AS-level exams will not go ahead this summer. This year, we will put our trust in teachers rather than algorithms. My Department and Ofqual had already worked up a range of contingency options. While the details will need to be fine-tuned in consultation with Ofqual, the exam boards and teaching representative organisations, I can confirm now that I wish to use a form of teacher-assessed grades, with training and support provided to ensure that these are awarded fairly and consistently across the country.
I know that students and staff have worked hard to prepare for the January exams and assessments of vocational and technical qualifications, and we want to allow schools and colleges to continue these assessments where they judge it is right to do so. No college should feel pressured to offer these"- The Secretary of State for Education (Gavin Williamson)
Those students who are undertaking training and study for the following courses should return to face to face learning as planned and be tested twice, upon arrival or self-isolate for ten days:
- Medicine & dentistry
- Subjects allied to medicine/health
- Veterinary science
- Education (initial teacher training)
- Social work
- Courses which require Professional, Statutory and Regulatory Body (PSRB) assessments and or mandatory activity which is scheduled for January and which cannot be rescheduled (your university will notify you if this applies to you).
Students who do not study these courses should remain where they are wherever possible, and start their term online, as facilitated by their university until at least Mid-February. This includes students on other practical courses not on the list above.
To view the Minister of State for Universities letter to students, please visit: https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/949100/Minister_Donelan_Letter_to_Students_on_January_Returns.pdf.
The Government have previously published guidance (https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/higher-education-reopening-buildings-and-campuses/students-returning-to-higher-education-from-spring-term) to universities and students on how students can return safely to higher education in the spring term. This guidance sets out how the Government will support higher education providers to enable students that need to return to do so as safely as possible following the winter break.
If you live at university, you should not move back and forward between your permanent home and student home during term time.
For those students who are eligible for face to face teaching, you can meet in groups of more than your household as part of your formal education or training, where necessary. Students should expect to follow the guidance and restrictions. You should socially distance from anyone you do not live with wherever possible.
Face coverings in education
SEPT 2020 Nationwide, the Government is not recommending face coverings are necessary in education settings generally because a system of control, applicable to all education environments, provides additional mitigating measures. Schools and colleges will have the discretion to require face coverings in communal areas where social distancing cannot be safely managed, if they believe that it is right in their particular circumstances.
Examples of where education leaders might decide to recommend the wearing of face coverings - for pupils and staff - in communal areas of the education setting include:
- where the layout of the school or college estate makes it particularly difficult to maintain social distancing when staff and pupils are moving around the premises
- where on top of hygiene measures and the system of controls recommended in the full opening guidance to schools and FE colleges and providers, permitting the use of face coverings for staff, pupils or other visitors would provide additional confidence to parents to support a full return of children to school or college
Safe wearing of face coverings requires cleaning of hands before and after touching – including to remove or put them on – and the safe storage of them in individual, sealable plastic bags between use. Where a face covering becomes damp, it should not be worn and the face covering should be replaced carefully.
On the basis of current evidence, in light of the mitigating measures education settings are taking, and the negative impact on communication, face coverings will not generally be necessary in the classroom even where social distancing is not possible. There is greater use of the system of controls for minimising risk, including through keeping in small and consistent groups or bubbles, and greater scope for physical distancing by staff within classrooms. Face coverings can have a negative impact on learning and teaching and so their use in the classroom should be avoided.
Where local restrictions apply
Schools and colleges should take additional precautionary measures in areas where the transmission of the virus is high. These areas are defined as areas of national Government intervention.
In these local intervention (lockdown) areas, in education settings where Year 7 and above are educated, face coverings should be worn by adults and pupils when moving around, such as in corridors and communal areas where social distancing is difficult to maintain. As in the general approach, it will not usually be necessary to wear face coverings in the classroom, where protective measures already mean the risks are lower, and they may inhibit teaching and learning.
In the event of new local restrictions being imposed, schools and colleges will need to communicate quickly and clearly to staff, parents, pupils and learners that the new arrangements require the use of face coverings in certain circumstances. This updated guidance on face coverings for areas of national government intervention will come into effect on 1 September. Separate guidance will be issued on this.
Some individuals are exempt from wearing face coverings. For example people who cannot put on, wear or remove a face covering because of a physical or mental illness or impairment, or disability, or if you are speaking to or providing assistance to someone who relies on lip reading, clear sound or facial expression to communicate. The same exemptions will apply in education settings, and we would expect teachers and other staff to be sensitive to those needs.
For more information on face coverings in education, please visit: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/face-coverings-in-education