Actions for FE colleges and providers during the coronavirus pandemic

Find out what you'll need to do during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic to maintain provision.

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Applies to England



This guidance is for:

  • post-16 further education (FE) providers
  • FE colleges
  • sixth-form colleges
  • other FE providers
Published 23 March 2020
Last updated 24 February 2022 + show all updates
  1. We’ve updated the guidance to reflect new public health guidance tracing close contacts, isolation and when someone has symptoms or a positive test.

  2. Updated to correct information on AEB funding.

  3. Updated to reflect the end of the asymptomatic testing programme. Reference made to UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) guidance on contact tracing and isolation which comes into effect from Thursday 24 February 2022.

  4. Updated ‘Further education COVID-19 operational guidance’ to align with the Plan B announcement today. This includes the removal of the recommendation to wear face coverings in classrooms.

  5. Updated guidance in line with the UKHSA announcement about confirmatory PCR tests and clarifying that students can return to college after day 7 if they've had 2 negative LFD tests.

  6. Updated advice on the face coverings section to include the use of face coverings in classrooms and teaching environments.

  7. Updated to reflect that daily rapid testing is now recommended for contacts of COVID-19.

  8. Following the Prime Ministers announcement on 8 December 2021, we have updated guidance on tracing close contacts and isolation, ventilation, asymptomatic testing, mandatory certification and the content on clinically extremely vulnerable young people and staff.

  9. Converted to HTML to improve accessibility and add clarification on the use of face visors and face shields by those who are exempt from wearing face coverings.

  10. Updated advice on travel and quarantine, face coverings and vaccination of under 18 year olds to reflect new measures announced on 27 November 2021.

  11. Guidance updated as follows: confirmation that no under-18s are now considered to be CEV; guidance for CEV staff and students; confirmed new guidance for unaccompanied minors from red list countries; information on connectivity grants, exam support service for the 2021 autumn exam series, ESFA AEB grant funding, high needs funding and VTQ qualifications in 2021 to 2022.

  12. ‘Further education COVID-19 operational guidance’ - updated information on CO2 monitors in the 'Control measures: Keep occupied spaces well ventilated' section.

  13. We have updated the operational guidance to reflect the changes to self-isolation from 16 August in the tracing close contacts section. We have also added information about the contingency framework in the stepping measures up and down section.

  14. Converted the previously published version from PDF to HTML format and made the following updates: refreshed the advice on CEV pupils, students and staff and provided a link to advice from DHSC, and made minor changes to reflect that Step 4 has taken place.

  15. Updated to clarify that, from 19 July, government is removing the requirement to wear face coverings in law but expects and recommends that they are worn in enclosed and crowded spaces where you may come into contact with people you don't normally meet. This includes public transport and dedicated transport to school or college.

  16. Added operational guidance for FE providers which applies from Step 4. This guidance removes restrictions such as keeping students in consistent groups (bubbles) and wearing face coverings in classrooms and communal areas and on dedicated transport. It also includes information about updating your outbreak management plan and what to do when an individual in your setting tests positive for COVID-19. From Step 4, close contacts with be identified by NHS Test and Trace. We have also updated the guidance for testing over the summer and autumn term. By the autumn term, children under the age of 18 years old will no longer be required to self-isolate if they are contacted by NHS Test and Trace as a close contact.

  17. We have converted the guidance to HTML to make it easier to read. We have not changed any of the guidance from the update on 10 May.

  18. We have updated the guidance in line with Step 3 of the roadmap, including information on face coverings, educational visits, extra-curricular activity and Ofsted inspection. We have also added further guidance on domestic residential educational visits and a section on transitional activities.

  19. We have updated the information in the operational guidance on face coverings, educational visits and inspections. We have also removed out of date information in the exams and assessment section.

  20. We have updated our guidance to reflect the DHSC announcement that a confirmatory PCR test is required following a positive LFD test result in England.

  21. We have updated the operational guidance to set out our expectations for the summer term in line with the coronavirus (COVID-19) roadmap steps. We have also added new information on extra-curricular activity, sports activities and educational day, residential and international visits.

  22. Updated the FE coronavirus (COVID-19) operational guidance to remove references to 8 March and convert it to HTML to make it more accessible.

  23. Updated FE operational guidance on face coverings and on Ofsted inspections to bring in line with Ofsted guidance.

  24. Updates to the FE operational guidance to include changes to the sections on physical activity and sports, support for students who are unable to access remote digital education to include information on requesting free data and the 16 to 19 tuition fund. We have also updated the examinations and assessments section to reflect the announcement last week about awarding qualifications in 2021.

  25. Added the 'Further education coronavirus (COVID-19) operational guidance' which explains the actions FE colleges and providers will need to take from 8 March.

  26. Added 'Further education guidance for operation during the national lockdown: January 2021' and removed 'Further education guidance for restricting attendance during the national lockdown'.

  27. Guidance updated following the Public Health England statement on daily contact testing and to add information on supporting students with special educational needs in special post-16 institutions.

  28. Added information about updates coming shortly.

  29. We have updated the monitoring attendance section to reflect that colleges should now resume completing the educational settings status form.

  30. Added guidance for further education providers on restricting attendance and other actions to be followed during the national lockdown.

  31. Updated information on pregnant employees.

  32. Added new information on tier 4 restrictions and coronavirus (COVID-19) asymptomatic testing in colleges.

  33. We have updated the information on remote education and added new information about publishing your remote education offer. We have also changed the isolation period from 14 days to 10 days from the day after the individual tested positive. We have also updated the action list self-isolation information to 10 days from the day after contact with the individual tested positive (from 14 days).

  34. Updated guidance on ensuring access to education on-site for students who need it, the expectations for education provided remotely, examinations and assessments, qualification achievement rates and inspections.

  35. Updated the information for clinically extremely vulnerable staff and students.

  36. Updated guidance on the appropriate use of face coverings outside of the teaching and learning environment, safe behaviour off-site, residential providers and managing national and local restrictions. Removed the supplier relief guidance as that ended on 31 October.

  37. Updated guidance to reflect the most recent information, including the New National Restrictions which came into force on Thursday 5 November.

  38. Updated guidance on local outbreaks and shielding or self-isolation.

  39. Added information for colleges on reporting actual or suspected cases through the education setting status form.

  40. Updated the section on managing confirmed cases of coronavirus (COVID-19) and what to do if a student is displaying symptoms of coronavirus (COVID-19).

  41. Added updated version of 'What to do if a student is displaying symptoms of coronavirus (COVID-19)'.

  42. Added 'What to do if a student is displaying symptoms of coronavirus (COVID-19)'.

  43. We have updated content on implementing risk assessments, face coverings, ventilation, managing confirmed cases of coronavirus (COVID-19), managing local outbreaks, public transport, music, performing arts and physical activity, remote and blended learning, health and safety and equalities duties, educational visits, the 16 to 19 tuition support fund and funding audits.

  44. Added guidance on supporting vulnerable young people and specific advice for learners with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) to 'What FE colleges and providers will need to do from the start of the 2020 autumn term'.

  45. Updated guidance on what FE colleges and providers will need to do from the start of the 2020 autumn term to confirm that from 13 July, providers can welcome back priority 19+ learners.

  46. We have added guidance on what FE colleges and providers will need to do from the start of the 2020 autumn term.

  47. We have updated the wording to reflect the changes following publication of PPN 04/20 effective from 1 July to 31 October 2020. PPN 04/20 updates and builds on provision in PPN 02/20 that expires on 30 June 2020. The changes are minor and include transition planning.

  48. We have added additional wording to clarify that we would not normally expect adults to be included in the cohort returning to on-site delivery from 15 June and that providers can offer all learners under 19 years old a face-to-face meeting before the end of term, where it would be beneficial. We have also added information on the date traineeship flexibilities run from, supported internships, awarding of vocational qualifications and additional case studies in the toolkit for engaging vulnerable young people.

  49. Updated guidance to provide further information to plan for wider opening, including clarification on the total proportion of learners from eligible cohorts that should be in education settings at any one time.

  50. Guidance updated to provide further information to plan for wider opening, including what to consider and steps to take when planning increased attendance. Other updates include vulnerable young people, safeguarding and mental health support.

  51. Added Procurement Policy Notice (PPN) 02/20: Supplier relief due to COVID-19 – additional post 16 educational sector guidance.

  52. Updated to include new sections on high needs funding for students with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) and traineeship flexibilities. It also includes updates on functional skills flexibility in apprenticeships and acceptance of confirmation emails for qualification achievement from awarding organisations.

  53. Updated to signpost to other recent publications including free school meals guidance and support for young people who are unable to access remote education. Also, updated information on governance arrangements and provision around the European Social Fund (ESF).

  54. Updated with latest guidance.

  55. First published.