Updates and further information on the partial closure of Kent schools, and provision for children and young people, will be published here as it becomes available
Council supporting schools in their preparations to welcome more pupils back from June 1
Head teachers and their staff in schools across Kent are working extremely hard to prepare to welcome back additional pupils from Monday, June 1. Kent County Council staff and colleagues at The Education People are liaising with schools, offering guidance and support.
Matt Dunkley, Kent County Council’s Corporate Director for Children, Young People and Education, said: “We are monitoring the national position carefully, following guidance from Government and working closely with head teachers in support of their preparations to further open schools to a wider cohort of children on Monday, June 1, at the earliest. Our priority will be to ensure all children, young people and staff in Kent schools can learn and work in a safe environment and we will do everything necessary to support schools to achieve this.”
‘We will provide childcare for key workers during summer half term holiday’
The Head of Early Years and Childcare at Kent County Council/The Education People has written to parents and carers who are key workers as schools and early years settings prepare to welcome back more pupils.
Alex Gamby told the recipients of the letter they “are essential to the local and national effort in fighting Covid-19” and assured them childcare will be available to them during the summer half term holidays if they need it.
She said: “Kent County Council recognises that Critical Workers, like yourselves, are essential to the local and national effort in fighting Coronavirus (COVID-19), and that access to childcare at this time is vital to enable you to fulfil your roles. We have been working closely with our schools and early years and childcare settings (pre-schools, nurseries, childminders and out of school provision) to ensure that all Critical Workers can access the childcare they need. We are grateful to staff in our schools and early years and childcare settings for their commitment to meeting the challenges they face daily in delivering this essential service to both Critical Workers’ children and to vulnerable children.
“We are mindful that the Summer Half Term Holidays may put pressure on parents/carers who are Critical Workers, as their normal holiday childcare (e.g. family/grandparents) may be compromised due to vulnerable people self-isolating or because Critical Workers themselves may be working extended hours. Many schools and early years and childcare settings have confirmed to us that they will open during the holiday period to support their families. Others have made arrangements with neighbouring schools or early years and childcare settings to provide this support through joint working. If your child attends a provision that is opening during the holidays, they should have contacted you directly.
“If you, as a Critical Worker, have any unmet childcare needs over the Summer Half Term Holiday please contact the Children and Families Information Service at firstname.lastname@example.org or telephone 03000 412323 where you will be supported to find details of provision that is operating during this period.
“Thank you so much for all the hard work you are doing to support everyone at this difficult and unprecedented time.”
Guidance for parents and carers as schools prepare to open to more pupils
On Sunday, May 10, Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced that schools and early years settings should start to open to more pupils and children from Monday, June 1.
We understand families will have a lot of questions about how this will work, and more details will be shared as they become available, however, the Government has produced a document containing guidance for parents and carers on the wider opening of nurseries, schools and colleges.
You can find the document here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/closure-of-educational-settings-information-for-parents-and-carers/reopening-schools-and-other-educational-settings-from-1-june
Following Mr Johnson’s announcement, Matt Dunkley, Kent County Council’s Corporate Director for Children, Young People and Education, said: “The Government has announced a conditional, phased return to school for years R, 1 and 6 in primary schools, and to early years settings for younger children, from June 1 at the earliest, and years 10 and 12 in secondaries later, but before the end of summer term. We still await more details from Government on how this will be implemented across England.
“My colleagues and I understand this change will present some challenges for head teachers and their staff and we will continue to work closely with schools and support them during this period of transition. Our priority will be to ensure all children, young people and staff in Kent schools can learn and work in a safe environment and we will do everything necessary to ensure this is achieved.
“I would like to take this opportunity to thank all the fantastic staff who have worked hard to keep schools and early years settings open for vulnerable learners and the children of key workers over the past seven weeks; your efforts have helped to keep your communities going during the Covid-19 pandemic and they are greatly appreciated. As soon as we have more details to share with schools and parents of the Government’s plans, we will do so.”
Free, safe and anonymous online support for young people in Kent
A mental health and wellbeing online platform for young people has been extended during the Covid-19 pandemic.
As part of the Headstart Kent Programme, the Kooth digital mental health support service has already given one in five young people, aged 10 to 16, easy access to an online community of peers and a team of experienced counsellors. Now it has been extended for all young people across Kent.
Read the full article here: https://kccmediahub.net/free-safe-and-anonymous-online-support-for-young-people-in-kent745
Learn and Engage with the Turner Contemporary during lockdown
Kent County Council’s partners, the Turner Contemporary, have been reviewing their approach and thinking about how they can respond as an arts organisation to the Covid-19 pandemic.
The team at the Margate art gallery are instigating new initiatives to empower their community to be creative. There are new YouTube Art Rebel Workshops for families at home, delivered by artists from the Turner Contemporary’s creative community. Members of the public can download unique resources directly from the art gallery’s website. It’s also possible to join hundreds of others and take part in a Portfolio Art Competition or explore their list of inspirational creative resources from around the internet.
To find out more visit https://turnercontemporary.org/learn-and-engage-with-us-during-covid-19/
Kent County Council staff celebrated
We are recognising Kent County Council staff who are going above and beyond to help others during the Covid-19 outbreak. Today we’re saying ‘thank you’ to Ruth from our Disabled Children’s Team.
Tell us how the Covid-19 situation is affecting your family’s health and well-being
HeadStart Kent, which sits under Kent County Council’s Children, Young People and Education directorate, is conducting research into how the Covid-19 outbreak is impacting young people’s and parents’ health and well-being. The aim of the research is to show the team how they can help to improve young people’s mental resilience during this time.
Below are the links to two short surveys.
The first survey is for the parents and carers of young people aged 10 to 16. It asks for views about their own well-being as well as their child’s well-being: https://www.smartsurvey.co.uk/s/KCCCV19/
The second survey is for young people aged 10 to 16 and will help HeadStart Kent gather information about how Covid-19 is affecting them: https://www.smartsurvey.co.uk/s/KCCCV19YP/
Earlier in the Covid-19 response, HeadStart Kent launched new pages on its two websites aimed at helping families cope with the different and difficult situation they now find themselves in. Click here for advice on how parents and carers can support young people through the Covid-19 pandemic: https://kentresiliencehub.org.uk/resources/supporting-young-people-through-covid-19/ and visit this page for activities that can easily be undertaken with your children while practising social distancing: https://kentresiliencehub.org.uk/resources/activities-for-young-people-during-covid-19/
HeadStart Kent also has a website called MoodSpark, which was designed for young people, with input from young people. This page on the MoodSpark website talks to young people about what they can do to help themselves get through this difficult time: https://moodspark.org.uk/supporting-you-during-covid-19/ This page features activities that can be undertaken while practising social distancing: https://moodspark.org.uk/activities-that-you-can-do-during-covid-19/
Kent County Council staff celebrated
Kent County Council staff are going above and beyond during the Covid-19 outbreak and we are making an effort to thank them for their efforts. Today we recognise Andrea from our Integrated Children’s Services team.
New information, guidance and support for parents and carers of children who are learning at home
As schools continue to open only for vulnerable learners and the children of key workers, the Government has issued fresh guidance for parents and carers who are educating their children at home.
Help and advice for parents and carers of primary school children can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/help-primary-school-children-continue-their-education-during-coronavirus-covid-19?utm_source=b0838257-848b-4d77-b72f-37767d087fd1&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=govuk-notifications&utm_content=immediate
Advice for parents and carers looking after children with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/help-children-with-send-continue-their-education-during-coronavirus-covid-19
Information for parents and carers on looking after the mental health and wellbeing of children or young people during the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak is available on this link: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/covid-19-guidance-on-supporting-children-and-young-peoples-mental-health-and-wellbeing
There is also guidance for parents and carers of children aged two to four, who have not yet started school. This includes advice on learning at home, keeping active and socialising while social distancing. This can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/help-children-aged-2-to-4-to-learn-at-home-during-coronavirus-covid-19
Education Secretary uses speech to thank school staff and pupils
On Sunday (April 19) the Education Secretary, Gavin Williamson, used his speech during the Downing Street briefing to pay tribute to key workers, including staff at nurseries, schools, colleges, universities and children’s services, for the work they are doing for their communities during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Mr Williamson said the Government could not give a date when schools and other education settings were likely to fully re-open because it needed to ensure a number of criteria had been met around managing the virus before such discussions could begin.
He said: “I would like to applaud the remarkable way our education community has responded to this outbreak. I am enormously proud and inspired by the incredible spirit they are showing.
“Schools are supporting their communities in every way, from preparing food parcels to sharing their facilities with local hospitals. Colleges are manufacturing and donating equipment and universities are working flat out to develop diagnostic tests and, of course, a vaccine which will help us beat this invisible enemy.
National Primary Offer Day during Covid-19 response
On Thursday, April 16, families across Kent found out which primary school their child has been offered a place at for September 2020, with more than 97% getting a place at one of their preferred schools. Due to the ongoing response to the Covid-19 pandemic, and the partial closure of all schools, the process from this point forward will be different to previous years. Details of what parents/carers should do if they are not happy with the school they have been offered are in emails and letters sent home by KCC.
KCC’s Cabinet Member for Education and Skills, Richard Long, praised colleagues and school staff for working even more tirelessly than in previous years to ensure all 17,855 children who applied for a place at a Kent primary school have got one. He also recognised that this year would be very different to previous National Primary Offer Days for parents, carers and children.
Mr Long said: ““My colleagues and I fully appreciate that there is an additional layer of worry this year for children hoping to start school in September due to the uncertainty of the current situation. KCC and Kent schools will continue to follow Government guidance around school closures and further updates will be provided as the situation changes. In the meantime, I would urge all families to follow Government guidance in terms of hygiene, social distancing, and self-isolation where required, to keep themselves safe and well.”
You can read the whole article and Mr Long’s full quote here: https://kccmediahub.net/national-primary-offer-day-2020745
The Government’s guidance for parents and carers on the closure of educational settings can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/closure-of-educational-settings-information-for-parents-and-carers/closure-of-educational-settings-information-for-parents-and-carers#admissions
Update from Government on assessment for vocational and technical qualifications
Just before the Easter weekend the Government released new information with regards to vocational and technical qualifications and other general qualifications, where normal assessment will not be possible this academic year due to the Covid-19 pandemic. The guidance was published 10 days after similar information was released about GCSE, AS and A level qualifications. Letters from Secretary of State for Education Gavin Williamson to Sally Collier, Chief Regulator of Ofqual (The Office of Qualifications and Examinations Regulation), about the different options for assessment can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/direction-issued-to-the-chief-regulator-of-ofqual?utm_source=5069e110-7eec-4e0f-a5ba-6125f5dca4d7&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=govuk-notifications&utm_content=immediate
Tips and activities help young people stay mentally resilient – and have fun – during Covid-19 response
Staying indoors for long periods of time, a change to our normal routine and worrying about our own safety and the safety of loved ones can all lead to feelings of anxiety, stress and other negative emotions. That is why, as well as looking after our physical health during the Covid-19 crisis (by practising good hygiene and exercising regularly) it is also very important to look after our mental health.
HeadStart Kent, a programme which aims to build young people’s mental resilience and help them cope better with the difficult situations they may face in life, has responded to the crisis by publishing advice for parents and carers on how to support their children emotionally through these challenging times. The post, on HeadStart Kent’s Kent Resilience Hub website, recognises the difficulties children, young people and their parents and carers may be facing right now and offers advice on how they can get through the difficult times ahead while also developing skills and knowledge to help them bounce back from future difficult circumstances. The advice on building resilience covers areas such as health, friendships and emotions and behaviour. Click here for advice on how to support young people through the Covid-19 pandemic: https://kentresiliencehub.org.uk/resources/supporting-young-people-through-covid-19/
Another new page has also been added to the Kent Resilience Hub with details of activities young people can do as the Covid-19 response continues. The activities are designed to be fun but will also help the young people learn new skills, develop talents and interests, stay healthy, keep in touch with family and friends and manage their feelings and emotions. Just some of the suggestions include learning a language, discovering new facts about wildlife, taking up yoga and writing and sending postcards to family and friends they may be missing. For full details click here: https://kentresiliencehub.org.uk/resources/activities-for-young-people-during-covid-19/
The content on the Kent Resilience Hub will be updated on a regular basis so parents, carers and young people are encouraged to check back often for more tips and activities.
HeadStart Kent comes under Kent County Council’s Children, Young People and Education directorate and receives funding from the National Lottery Community Fund. To find out more about HeadStart Kent and its aims click here: https://kentresiliencehub.org.uk/about-headstart-kent/
Youth services go online as council responds to Covid-19 crisis by supporting young people in new and innovative ways
Many of us are finding new ways to keep in touch with friends and family while practising social distancing and at Kent County Council we are doing the same. With youth hubs now closed it is important the young people who visited them can still keep in touch with one another as well as access support. In order to achieve this, KCC has set up an Online Youth Services offer page, which sets out what is available in each area of the county. The KCC staff and commissioned organisations who have made this change possible have been praised for their quick response and the way they are adapting to deliver services in ways they never have before.
Matt Dunkley, Kent County Council’s Corporate Director for Children, Young People and Education, said: “We commission seven organisations to provide open access youth services for young people across Kent. In response to the Covid-19 crisis, these organisations have been hugely quick to respond, and are already starting to offer new, exciting and innovative online services that have never been delivered in Kent in this way before. Through social media and online video platforms such as Zoom, Instagram and YouTube, they are leading the way in adapting to the times and making sure our young people have the support they need.
“We have set up an Online Youth Services offer page, which brings together everything that is being offered in one place. This page is a work in progress and will be updated as required. The outreach has already proved hugely popular with more than 1,000 young people accessing and taking part in sessions in only a few days.
“In addition, KCC has been promoting and encouraging parents and young people to access resources to help keep them emotionally healthy. The HeadStart Kent Resilience Hub is aimed at parents and carers but can be accessed by young people as well. MoodSpark has been developed for young people in Kent, with young people in Kent by HeadStart Kent, which comes under KCC’s Early Help and Preventative Services directorate.
“It is very encouraging and positive to hear how young people in Kent are using social media to maintain contact with their network of friends, share their creativity and to also spread joy to their communities during this difficult time.”
Free school meals available during Easter holidays
The Government has today updated its guidance to schools on providing free school meals for eligible pupils during the Covid-19 response. The Department for Education has confirmed pupils who receive free school meals during term time will also be offered this assistance during the Easter holidays, when the majority of Kent’s schools remain open to vulnerable learners and the children of key workers. This provision will be available to both eligible children who are in school and eligible children who are at home. Families of eligible children who are at home may receive vouchers or food parcels. National guidance, plus some questions and answers and information on the eligibility criteria for receiving free school meals, can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/covid-19-free-school-meals-guidance/covid-19-free-school-meals-guidance-for-schools However, if a parent/carer believes their child/children are eligible for free school meals but are unaware what arrangements are in place for them they should contact their child’s school in the first instance.
Online resources to help parents and carers who are homeschooling their children
The Government has today released a list of online education resources for home education to assist parents and carers when home schooling resumes for the majority of children after the Easter holidays. A wide rage of support and resources are available for children of all ages and there is a section for children with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND). The resources are currently being offered free.
Education Secretary Gavin Williamson said: “Schools across the country are going above and beyond to support children during this hugely challenging period. We are ensuring parents and schools are able to access high-quality resources to support children to continue learning while they stay at home to protect the NHS and save lives.”
The Education People (TEP), a Kent County Council Local Authority Trading Company (LATCo), also released a number of free online home learning resources last month when it looked likely all schools would be told by the Government to partially close. Separate resources for primary and secondary aged pupils can be accessed from TEP’s homepage, here: https://www.theeducationpeople.org/ Parents/carers can read a blog post about TEP’s new resources here: https://www.theeducationpeople.org/blog/kent-childrens-university-home-learning-resources-pack-is-live/
Parents and carers receive reassurance from Head of Early Years and Childcare
As the Easter holidays begin, Alex Gamby, Head of Early Years and Childcare at Kent County Council/The Education People, has written to parents and carers who are key workers and who rely on childcare while they are working. She recognised how valuable they are to the Covid-19 response and assured them childcare provision would be available to them.
Ms Gamby said: “Kent County Council recognises that Critical Workers, like yourselves, are essential to the local and national effort in fighting Coronavirus (COVID-19), and that access to childcare at this time is vital to enable you to fulfil your roles. We have been working closely with our schools and early years settings (pre-schools, nurseries and childminders) to ensure that all Critical Workers can access the childcare they need. We are grateful to staff in our schools and early years settings for their commitment to meeting the challenges they face daily in delivering this essential service to both Critical Workers’ children and to vulnerable children.
“We are mindful that the Easter Holidays may put pressure on parents who are Critical Workers, as their normal holiday childcare (eg family/grandparents) may be compromised due to vulnerable people self-isolating or because Critical Workers themselves may be working extended hours. Many schools and early years settings have confirmed to us that they will open during the holiday period to support their families. Others have made arrangements with neighbouring schools or early years settings to provide this support through joint working. If your child attends a provision that is opening during the holidays, they will have contacted you direct.
“If you, as a Critical Worker, have any unmet childcare needs over the Easter holidays please contact the Children and Families Information Service at email@example.com or telephone 03000 412323 where you be supported to find details of provision that is operating during this period.
“Thank you so much for all the hard work you are doing to support everyone at this difficult and unprecedented time.”
Head teachers, school staff, local authority employees and families thanked and praised ahead of Easter holidays
As Kent residents continue to deal with the new situation they have found themselves in as a result of the nationwide response to the Covid-19 virus, a positive message of thanks has gone out to those involved in caring for our children and young people.
Matt Dunkley, Kent County Council’s Corporate Director for Children, Young People and Education, said: “I am delighted that the vast majority of schools which were open to qualifying children last week (vulnerable pupils as well as the children of those key workers who are critical to the UK’s Covid-19 response) will continue to be so over Easter. Where schools are not open, either because numbers are too small or due to staffing shortages, they will arrange for their eligible children to go to a neighbouring school. Qualifying parents will get this information from their child’s school. Any parent who qualifies for a place but believes they have not got an offer can contact us through the hotline numbers or email us (details are on the KCC website) and we will follow up on each individual case. I would like to thank all teaching and support staff in Kent schools for their hard work, professionalism and dedication and for rising to the difficult challenge the Government has set us.
“Thanks must also go to KCC staff who are working tirelessly with schools to ensure arrangements are in place as well as working hard behind the scenes to minimise disruption to children and young people’s ongoing education as a result of the current situation. Finally, I would like to thank parents, carers and the children and young people themselves for their patience and cooperation. I know this is a worrying time and you will have lots of questions. Please be assured that we are working our way through various sets of circumstances and we will provide updates as soon as they are available. In the meantime, please focus on keeping your family safe; everyone should be following the latest Government guidance in terms of hygiene and practising social distancing, and if anyone in the household has symptoms of Covid-19 then the relevant self-isolation guidance must be followed.”
The hotline number and email address can be found on this link under ‘Education and schools’: https://www.kent.gov.uk/social-care-and-health/health/coronavirus/coronavirus-service-updates#tab-9
The Government has launched a voucher scheme for schools providing Free School Meals. You can find out more here: https://www.gov.uk/government/news/voucher-scheme-launches-for-schools-providing-free-school-meals
Further details on arrangements for exams, which have been cancelled to fight the spread of coronavirus, have been released by the Government. Click here for more details.
Corporate director’s letter to parents and carers
Kent County Council’s Corporate Director for Children, Young People and Education, Matt Dunkley, has today issued the following letter to parents and carers:
Support for parents of children entitled to and needing a school or childcare place during the period of partial closure of schools and childcare settings
The Government has asked schools and childcare settings to remain open from Monday, March 23, 2020 to children of key workers, vulnerable pupils (ie those with a social worker) and those with Education, Health and care Plans.
Some schools if they cannot open due to staff shortages or very small numbers, may make arrangements with other schools for their eligible students to go there. The Government’s definition of key workers is now available.
The Government’s guidance means that if one or more parents in a family are key workers their children are in the group of those who should be able to access school or childcare provision during this current period.
If your child falls into the eligible category and you are unsure whether your child’s school or setting is open you can find information on the KCC School Closures websites
This will tell you if your child’s school is open, closed and if any limitations are in place. The information is updated directly by schools.
If your child’s school or childcare setting is closed to you and you need help finding provision at this time please contact:
For nursery and childcare settings:
Email – firstname.lastname@example.org
Telephone – 03000 41 23 23
For school settings:
Email – email@example.com
Telephone – 03000 41 21 21
Government has released a list of key workers – schools are being asked to continue to provide care for children whose parents are critical to the Covid-19 response and cannot be safely cared for at home.
Kent County Council’s Corporate Director for Children, Young People and Education has spoken to reassure parents, carers, pupils and school and nursery staff after the Government announced schools will close from today(Friday, March 20).
Matt Dunkley, said: “We have been in regular contact with schools since the beginning of the Covid-19 outbreak and we will continue to support them now the Government has announced the closure of all schools and nurseries to the majority of pupils.
“Head teachers will now communicate with parents and carers to let them know what arrangements are in place for their school and we will continue to update families via the county council and individual school websites.
“We are already liaising with the Kent Association of Headteachers, and our partner agencies, to explore ways that teachers who are fit to work can help to support vulnerable learners and the children of key workers during term time.
“We are also looking into the possibility of putting some school buildings into use during the school holidays. We will continue to develop these plans in response to the Government’s announcement.
“These discussions are in the very early stages and more information will be released as it becomes available.
“We anticipate that more detailed information, including around examinations, will be released by the Government in due course.
“We appreciate this is an uncertain time and that many families will be worried but we would like to reassure them that the measures have been introduced to protect all members of our community.
“We would ask all families to continue to monitor the latest guidance from Public Health England, the NHS and the Department of Health and Social Care and to follow the basic hygiene and safety advice issued by these organisations as this is the most effective way to keep your loved ones safe.”
Schools are being asked to continue to provide care for children whose parents are critical to the Covid-19 response and cannot be safely cared for at home.
Vulnerable children include children who are supported by social care, those with safeguarding and welfare needs, including child in need plans, on child protection plans, ‘looked after’ children, young carers, disabled children and those with education, health and care (EHC) plans.
- If it is at all possible for children to be at home, then they should be.
- If a child needs specialist support, is vulnerable or has a parent who is a critical worker, then educational provision will be available for them.
- Parents should not rely for childcare upon those who are advised to be in the stringent social distancing category such as grandparents, friends, or family members with underlying conditions.
- Parents should also do everything they can to ensure children are not mixing socially in a way which can continue to spread the virus. They should observe the same social distancing principles as adults.
- Residential special schools, boarding schools and special settings continue to care for children wherever possible.
If your work is critical to the COVID-19 response, or you work in one of the critical sectors listed below, and you cannot keep your child safe at home then your children will be prioritised for education provision:
Health and social care
This includes but is not limited to doctors, nurses, midwives, paramedics, social workers, care workers, and other frontline health and social care staff including volunteers; the support and specialist staff required to maintain the UK’s health and social care sector; those working as part of the health and social care supply chain, including producers and distributers of medicines and medical and personal protective equipment.
Education and childcare
This includes nursery and teaching staff, social workers and those specialist education professionals who must remain active during the COVID-19 response to deliver this approach.
Key public services
This includes those essential to the running of the justice system, religious staff, charities and workers delivering key frontline services, those responsible for the management of the deceased, and journalists and broadcasters who are providing public service broadcasting.
Local and national government
This only includes those administrative occupations essential to the effective delivery of the COVID-19 response or delivering essential public services such as the payment of benefits, including in government agencies and arms length bodies.
Food and other necessary goods
This includes those involved in food production, processing, distribution, sale and delivery as well as those essential to the provision of other key goods (for example hygienic and veterinary medicines).
Public safety and national security
This includes police and support staff, Ministry of Defence civilians, contractor and armed forces personnel (those critical to the delivery of key defence and national security outputs and essential to the response to the COVID-19 pandemic), fire and rescue service employees (including support staff), National Crime Agency staff, those maintaining border security, prison and probation staff and other national security roles, including those overseas.
This includes those who will keep the air, water, road and rail passenger and freight transport modes operating during the COVID-19 response, including those working on transport systems through which supply chains pass.
Utilities, communication and financial services
This includes staff needed for essential financial services provision (including but not limited to workers in banks, building societies and financial market infrastructure), the oil, gas, electricity and water sectors (including sewerage), information technology and data infrastructure sector and primary industry supplies to continue during the COVID-19 response, as well as key staff working in the civil nuclear, chemicals, telecommunications (including but not limited to network operations, field engineering, call centre staff, IT and data infrastructure, 999 and 111 critical services), postal services and delivery, payments providers and waste disposal sectors.
If workers think they fall within the critical categories above they should confirm with their employer that, based on their business continuity arrangements, their specific role is necessary for the continuation of this essential public service.
The Government has also released the below FAQ.
What age groups does this cover?
The changes cover children at registered childcare providers (including nurseries and childminders), primary and secondary schools and further education colleges. This is for both state-funded and independent schools.
Will it be mandatory for all schools, colleges and registered childcare providers to remain open in some form?
We are asking schools, colleges, nurseries, childminders and other registered childcare settings to remain open for children of critical workers and vulnerable children where they can.
We understand that some may be unable to do so especially if they are experiencing severe staff shortages. We will work with local areas to use neighbouring schools, colleges and childcare providers to continue to support vulnerable children and children of critical workers.
How long will schools and colleges be closed for?
Due to the coronavirus outbreak, schools, colleges and childcare providers will be closed to the majority of pupils until further notice.
Will this apply to independent schools and boarding schools?
Yes. We are asking independent schools and boarding schools to do the same as state schools and remain open for critical workers and vulnerable children.
Will registered childcare providers, schools and colleges be open over Easter holidays for holiday clubs and childcare?
Where possible, we would encourage childcare providers, schools and colleges to continue to look after critical workers’ children and vulnerable children throughout the Easter holidays.
I am a critical worker or have a vulnerable child – can you guarantee that my child will attend their usual school or childcare provider?
We are expecting the majority of settings to stay open for the children of critical workers and vulnerable children so they can continue to attend their usual provider, but we acknowledge this will be impossible for some – such as small rural schools.
Where a setting is unable to stay open, we will work with the local educational authority, regional school commissioners and neighbouring providers to find an alternative setting for their pupils.
I am a critical worker or have a vulnerable child – how will my child get to school if the only school open is not nearby?
We are working closely with local authorities to ensure that children can attend the best setting for them, and will provide transport arrangements to support them.
I am a critical worker or have a vulnerable child but I don’t want to send my child in to school or childcare, do I have to?
Many parents working in these critical sectors may be able to ensure their child is kept at home. Every child who can be safely cared for at home should be.
This is an offer to parents and carers and there is no requirement for parents and carers to send their children to school if they do not need or wish to do so.
For vulnerable children, your child’s social worker will work with you to assess the best option for your child.
Does this affect universities and other higher education institutions?
Universities and other higher education providers should make their own judgements based on latest Public Health England guidance. Vice chancellors are well placed to make decisions about their own institution, and many have already moved all their teaching online. The government is supporting them with these decisions.
Advice continues to be that all student accommodation should remain open unless advised otherwise by Public Health England. Many universities provide homes to international students, estranged students and care leavers who might not have anywhere else to go.
The Department is working with the Home Office to avoid individuals and institutions being penalised if online provision inadvertently leads to non-compliance with Tier 4 visa rules.
Does this apply to special schools?
We recognise that children and young people with special educational needs and disability (SEND) and their parents and carers are facing numerous challenges as a result of coronavirus.
We are encouraging local authorities to keep open both residential special schools and residential specialist colleges wherever possible. In addition, we want to keep the majority of day special schools and colleges open, including moving staff into these settings to avoid closure.
Special schools, colleges and local authorities are advised to make case by case basis assessments of the health and safeguarding considerations of pupils and students on an education, health and care (EHC) plan.
For some, they will be safer in an education provision. For others, they will be safer at home. We trust leaders and parents to make these decisions and will support them as required.
Why is my nursery telling me that they will continue to charge me during corona virus-related closures?
The government acknowledges that in many cases, the insurance that early years providers have will not cover them for income lost during COVID-19-related closures.
That is one of the reasons why it announced on 17 March that government would not claw back early years entitlements funding from local authorities during closures, or where children are withdrawn because of COVID-19. This protects a significant proportion of early years providers’ income.
In addition, the government has set out a range of support for businesses to reduce the impact of COVID-19 on them. This includes a business rate holiday for all private childcare providers for one year from 1 April. Local authorities will be fully compensated for the cost of this.
In light of these steps taken already, we are asking providers to be reasonable and balanced in their dealings with parents. The government is urgently keeping what further support businesses may require under close review.
What will happen to exams?
Primary assessments, including SATs, and exams including GCSEs, AS levels and A levels will not go ahead this summer.
We are working with the sector and Ofqual to ensure young people get the qualifications they need. Further details will be provided shortly.
Is my child counted as vulnerable?
Vulnerable children include those who have a social worker and those with education, health and care (EHC) plans.
Children who have a social worker include children in need, children who have a child protection plan and those who are looked after by the local authority. We will work with schools, early years, FE providers and local authorities to help identify the children who most need support at this time.
We know that schools will also want to look to support other children who are vulnerable where they are able to do so.
What will happen with free school meals for those not in school and colleges?
We know that free school meals are important for many families.
To make sure eligible children can continue to be supported, we will give schools and colleges the flexibility to provide meals or vouchers to children eligible for free school meals.
They will be reimbursed by the Department. As soon as possible, we will put in place a national voucher system.
More information on support for pupils eligible for school meals is available.
Will I be counted as a critical worker?
Critical workers include NHS staff, police, farmers and food retail workers, who need to be able to go out to work.
In order to continue to offer critical services as part of the country’s ongoing response to the virus, children of workers who form a central part of effort – such as NHS workers, police and delivery drivers – will also continue to attend school, college or childcare provider.
A full list of critical workers and further information is available.
If only one parent or carer is a critical worker, can I send my children in to school?
Children with at least one parent or carer who are identified as critical workers by the government can send their children to school if required.
Resources and support
What support will be available to parents to help them educate their children at home?
More information will follow about what DfE is doing to support parents. We are working with the BBC and others to provide resources for children to access while at home. For parents with children under five years old see hungrylittleminds.campaign.gov.uk
There is too much pressure on broadband connections in my area – how can my child do online learning?
The government is having regular calls with the major fixed and mobile operators, and with Ofcom, to monitor the situation and ensure that any problems on the networks are rapidly addressed and rectified.
We fully understand the importance of having reliable internet connectivity at this time, so that people can work from home wherever possible and access critical public services online, including health information.