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This publication is available at https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/what-parents-and-carers-need-to-know-about-early-years-providers-schools-and-colleges-during-the-coronavirus-covid-19-outbreak/what-parents-need-to-know-about-early-years-providers-schools-and-colleges-during-covid-19
The key messages from this guidance are:
nurseries, pre-schools and childminders are open, including maintained nursery schools and nursery classes in schools
children can attend for their usual hours of care
the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health has made it clear that the overwhelming majority of children and young people still have no symptoms or very mild illness only
all secondary and college students, their families and support bubbles have been offered coronavirus (COVID-19) testing (rapid lateral flow test)
rapid lateral flow testing is now available to everyone in England and you’re advised to do a test twice a week
all pupils and students should attend school or college whether they take part in testing or not
from 17 May, in line with Step 3 of the roadmap, face coverings will no longer be recommended for pupils in classrooms or communal areas in all schools and colleges
children and young people aged 11 and over must still wear a face covering on public transport, and in accordance with advice from Public Health England (PHE), they must also wear a face covering when travelling on dedicated transport to secondary school or college (unless exempt)
Attendance and remote education
Attending nursery, childminders, school or college is vital for children’s and students’ educational progress, for their wellbeing, and for their wider development.
To continue to manage the risks, nurseries, childminders, schools and colleges will carry on implementing a range of protective measures.
Your child’s nursery, childminder, school or college can give you more information about the measures they have in place.
Attending nursery and childminders
Sending your child to a nursery or childminder is your decision. We encourage you to take up a place for your child.
You can check if your child is eligible for any of the free childcare entitlements through Childcare Choices.
Attending school and college
Attendance is mandatory. This means it’s your legal duty as a parent to send your child (if they are of compulsory school age) to school regularly if they are registered at one.
If you have concerns about your child attending, you should discuss these with your school or college.
Local authorities and schools have a range of legal powers to enforce attendance if a child or young person misses school without a valid reason.
If your child is over 16 and attends college or other training, they are not legally obliged to attend. Their college or training provider may not continue to offer them a place if they do not attend.
A small number of pupils will still be unable to attend in line with public health advice to self-isolate because they:
- have symptoms or have had a positive test result
- live with someone who has symptoms or has tested positive and are a household contact
- are a close contact of someone who has COVID-19
- shielding advice has been paused nationally from 31 March - all clinically extremely vulnerable (CEV) pupils should attend their school unless they are one of the very small number of pupils under paediatric or other specialist care and have been advised by their GP or clinician not to attend
Pupils who live with someone who is CEV should continue to attend school as normal.
Attending alternative provisions, special schools and special post-16 provisions
All children and young people should attend their special school, special post-16 provider or alternative provision setting again.
Your child’s school or college should continue to work collaboratively with you to agree an approach that is in your child’s best interests.
Education health and care (EHC) plans
If your child has an EHC plan they should receive the support they need as usual when they attend their nursery, childminder, school or college.
There may be circumstances in which early years providers, schools and colleges cannot offer your child their usual on-site provision because there are not enough staff or staff with the right training available. In these cases they will seek to resume as close as possible to your child’s usual provision as soon as possible.
Nurseries, childminders, schools and colleges will be in touch with you to discuss the right support for your child. Any decisions taken should be regularly reviewed.
Remote education if your child cannot attend school or college
All state-funded schools must provide remote education for school-aged children if they cannot attend in person because they are:
- one of the very small number of children, pupils or students under paediatric or other specialist care and have been advised by their GP or clinician not to attend
Independent schools also need to provide remote education in these circumstances to meet the necessary standards.
FE providers are expected to provide remote education for students aged 16 to 19 who cannot attend on-site because they are:
- one of the very small number of students under paediatric or other specialist care and have been advised by their GP or clinician not to attend
Guidance is available to help you support your child while they are learning from home.
Schools should provide remote education equivalent in length to the teaching your child would usually get in school.
You can find out about your school’s remote education offer on their website. You should talk to your child’s teacher or headteacher if you have concerns about the amount or quality of the remote education they are receiving.
If you have exhausted the school’s complaints process and you still have concerns, you can raise them with Ofsted. Ofsted will consider the complaint and act where appropriate.
Colleges will use their best endeavours to deliver as much of students’ planned hours, recognising this may not be possible if your child’s course involves practical teaching and training which involves:
- specialist equipment and supervision
- work experience and placements
You can find out more about your college’s remote education offer on their website.
Help to get online
Contact your child’s school or college if your child:
- does not have access to a device
- needs support with internet access for remote education
Schools and colleges have been allocated a number of devices and are distributing these to the children who need them most.
Talk to your child about staying safe online and encourage them to talk to you if they come across something worrying.
Our guidance for parents and carers to keep children safe online explains how to talk about online safety issues.
The guidance about staying safe online includes information on setting up age appropriate controls, on-line fraud, privacy settings, and screen time recommendations.
Helping make nurseries, childminders, schools and colleges as safe as possible
Nurseries, childminders, schools and colleges have their own health and safety risk assessments, and keep them under review.
As part of this, there are certain approaches that we have asked nurseries, childminders, schools and colleges to implement that are essential to reduce health risks. You can ask your nursery, childminder, school or college for more information.
Based on the current state of the pandemic and the positive progress being made, it is no longer necessary to recommend the additional precautionary face covering measures put in place from 8 March.
All schools, colleges, nurseries and childminders
From 17 May, in line with Step 3 of the roadmap, face coverings will no longer be recommended for pupils in classrooms or communal areas in all schools.
Face coverings will also no longer be recommended for staff in classrooms.
In all schools we continue to recommend that face coverings should be worn by staff and visitors in situations outside of classrooms where social distancing is not possible (for example, when moving around in corridors and communal areas).
Where schools are delivering education and training, including extra-curricular activities and wraparound childcare, in a community setting (for example, library or community centre), staff and pupils will be exempt from the legal requirement to wear a face covering if they are in a private room or the premises have been exclusively hired for the sole use of its pupils and staff.
College students may be asked to wear face coverings where:
- the teaching setting is more similar to, or is, a workplace environment
- it is a requirement in the workplace or indoor environment and students are likely to come into contact with other members of the public
The reintroduction of face coverings for pupils, students or staff may be advised for a temporary period in response to particular localised outbreaks, including variants of concern. In all cases, any educational drawbacks should be balanced with the benefits of managing transmission.
Travelling to school or college
Children and young people aged 11 and over must still wear a face covering on public transport. In accordance with advice from PHE, they must also wear a face covering when travelling on dedicated transport to secondary school or college. This does not apply to children and young people who are exempt from wearing face coverings.
Some children, pupils, students and adults may be exempt from wearing face coverings. These exemptions will apply in nurseries and childminders, schools and colleges, including educational visits.
Symptoms, testing and self-isolation
One in 3 people with COVID-19 do not experience any symptoms and may be spreading the virus unwittingly. Rapid testing detects cases quickly, meaning positive cases can isolate immediately. As part of the universal testing offer announced on 9 April, everyone in England can access twice weekly rapid lateral flow tests for COVID-19. Regular rapid coronavirus (COVID-19) tests if you do not have symptoms has more details.
All secondary schools and colleges are offering their pupils and students COVID-19 testing (rapid lateral flow tests) to carry out at home.
All pupils and students should attend school or college whether they take part in testing or not.
If you’re in a childcare or support bubble with someone who attends or works at a school, college or nursery, you can get a rapid test at a rapid lateral flow test site or order tests to do at home. You’re advised to do a test twice a week.
Rapid testing using lateral flow devices (LFDs) will support attendance in face-to-face education by helping to identify people who are infectious but do not have any COVID-19 symptoms.
Those who test positive will self-isolate, helping to reduce transmission of the virus and keeping other pupils and students in face-to-face education. If someone in their household also tests positive, they should self-isolate.
Testing is voluntary for all settings but is strongly encouraged.
Nurseries and primary school children
Pre-school children and primary aged pupils will not be tested with rapid lateral flow tests. Staff will be testing to help reduce the spread of COVID-19.
Secondary school pupils and college students
All secondary aged pupils and students in school and college (year 7 and above) should take a test twice a week 3 to 4 days apart.
All secondary aged pupils and college students will be given home test kits and should report their results to NHS Test and Trace, as well as with your school or college.
The home test kits include instructions for testing and reporting results.
Positive rapid lateral flow test results
Anyone with a positive test result will need to:
- self-isolate in line with the stay at home guidance (if they test positive at school, you should arrange for them to be collected)
- book a further test (a lab-based polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test) to confirm the result, whether the test was done at home, school or college
If the PCR test is taken within the 2 days following the positive LFD result, and is negative, it overrides the self-test LFD test and your child can return to school or college, as long as they don’t have COVID-19 symptoms.
Anyone with symptoms, should book a free NHS test and follow government self-isolation guidance until the results of their test are known.
If you have any questions about the asymptomatic testing programme, please speak to your school or college.
Testing in school or college
Schools and colleges will continue to offer testing on site, so that pupils who are unable to test themselves at home can still take part.
Staff across all settings will be taking part in the asymptomatic testing programme to help reduce transmission of the virus and keep everyone safe.
Managing cases in nurseries, schools and colleges
Nurseries, childminders, schools and colleges will take swift action when they become aware that someone who has attended has tested positive for COVID-19. They will contact their local health protection team if they:
- have 2 or more confirmed cases of COVID-19 among pupils or staff within 14 days
- see an overall rise in child or staff absence rates where COVID-19 is suspected
The local health protection team will advise what action is required. Closure will not usually be necessary, but some groups may need to self-isolate.
Your child’s school will send you a letter if they are asked to self-isolate. This letter will allow you to apply for financial support under the Test and Trace Support Payment scheme if you need to.
If you suspect your child has coronavirus
Do not send your child to their nursery, childminder, school, college or to an entry test for a selective school if:
- they are showing one or more coronavirus (COVID-19) symptoms
- someone in their household is showing symptoms
- someone in their support bubble or childcare bubble has symptoms and they have been in close contact with them since the symptoms started or during the 48 hours before they started
- they or someone in their household or support or childcare bubble has tested positive for COVID-19
- they are required to quarantine having recently visited a red list travel ban country
Book a PCR test if you or your child develop symptoms. Inform your nursery, childminder, school or college of the results.
Positive PCR test results
If the test is positive, follow guidance for households with possible or confirmed coronavirus (COVID-19) infection, and engage with the NHS Test and Trace process.
If your child is identified as a close contact of someone who has tested positive for COVID-19 and is asked to self-isolate, you do not need to self-isolate unless your child develops symptoms.
This also applies to other members of your household (including any other children in the same school or college).
If your child has been a close contact of someone who has tested positive, and then develops symptoms but has a negative test result, they will still need to self-isolate for the full 10 days from the day after contact with the person who tested positive.
If your child develops symptoms at nursery, school or college
If your child displays symptoms, or has a positive test, while at nursery, childminder, school or college, you or a member of your family or household should collect them. They should not use public transport.
In exceptional circumstances, if you cannot arrange to have your child collected, as long as it is age-appropriate and safe to do so, they should walk, cycle or scoot home. If this is not possible alternative arrangements may need to be organised by the nursery, childminder, school or college.
Older students who drive to school or college should try to be the only person in the vehicle, but can share a car with their household or support bubble if necessary. If sharing they should:
- open windows
- wear a face covering
- sit as far away from others as possible
Your child does not need a test if they:
- have a runny nose, are sneezing or feeling unwell, but do not have a temperature, cough or loss of, or change in, sense of smell or taste
- are advised to self-isolate because they have been in close contact with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19, for example, another pupil in their class, but are not showing symptoms themselves
Anyone contacted by NHS Test and Trace and told to self-isolate has a legal obligation to do so, but you may leave home to:
- avoid injury or illness
- escape the risk of harm.
More information can be found on NHS Test and Trace: how it works.
Financial support to care for a child who is self-isolating
You may be eligible for a one-off Test and Trace Support Payment of £500 from your local authority if your child has been advised to self-isolate by their education or childcare setting (even where they have not been told to self-isolate by NHS Test and Trace).
To be eligible, you must be either:
- the parent or carer of a child that is aged 15 and under
- the parent or carer of a young person aged 16 to 25 with an education health and care plan
You also need to:
- be on a low income
- be unable to work from home
- be taking time off work to care for a child who is self-isolating
- be living in England
- meet the eligibility criteria
You do not require an NHS Test and Trace Account ID number in order to claim.
Further information on claiming financial support under the Test and Trace Support Payment scheme is available.
Ask your nursery, childminder or school to provide you with a letter, detailing your child’s name and the dates of their isolation period. You will need to use this letter as supporting evidence as part of your application. You will not be able to apply for financial support without this letter.
When you apply to the Test and Trace Support Payment scheme your local authority will contact your child’s nursery, childminder or school to verify the information you’ve supplied. This includes your child’s:
- dates of self-isolation
This is a standard check against fraudulent claims, and may take place before or after a payment is made.
Exams, assessment and awards for 2021
Assessments in primary schools
Statutory key stage 1 and 2 tests and teacher assessments planned for summer 2021 are cancelled.
Schools will continue to use assessment during the summer term to:
- inform teaching
- give you information about your child’s attainment in their annual report
- support your child’s transition to secondary school if they are in year 6
GCSEs and A levels
GCSE, A and AS level exams will not go ahead this summer as planned.
Students taking GCSE, AS and A levels, will receive grades based on assessment by their teachers. The exam boards have published guidance on the determination of grades to support teachers to reach their judgements.
Any work your child does after the May half term is unlikely to contribute towards their grade because it takes considerable staff time for schools to assess work and prepare grades. Schools are required to submit grades by 18 June 2021.
Read the JCQ guidance for students and parents to find out how your child will be assessed this year.
Vocational and technical qualifications (VTQs)
From April onwards, different approaches should be taken for awarding VTQs in 2021.
VTQs most similar to GCSE, AS and A levels that are used for progression to further or higher education
Exams for these VTQs will not go ahead, and results will be awarded using similar arrangements to GCSEs and AS or A levels. This will apply to many VTQs approved for performance tables including:
- many BTECs
- Cambridge Nationals and Technicals
- T Level core assessments
VTQs used to enter directly into employment
Exams or assessments will continue where they are critical to demonstrate occupational or professional competence and can be delivered in line with public health measures.
Where the assessment cannot take place safely, it will be delayed.
Other qualifications that are used to progress to FE or employment such as Functional Skills qualifications and English for speakers of other languages (ESOL)
Exams and assessment for these will continue in line with public health measures, alternative arrangements will be available for those who cannot access the assessments.
Summer term for pupils in years 11 to 13
DfE has asked schools to provide educational activities during this period to:
- reinforce what they have learnt during the year
- help them prepare for the next steps in their education
- provide support to pupils around their training and pastoral needs
Schools should make appropriate judgements on the activities for their own pupils. This might not mean full-time provision and could include:
- visits to education providers
- independent study or remote provision combined with attendance in person
Annex B of our guidance to schools has more information about what schools should offer.
The legislation that governs compulsory school age isn’t changing. Pupils cease to be of compulsory school age on the last Friday of June in the year in which they turn 16. That means that those pupils (most of whom will be in year 11) are not required to attend school after this date.
Getting to and from education and childcare
Your child’s start or finish times may change to allow their setting to stagger arrivals and departures in order to keep groups apart.
Always keep your distance from others when dropping off and picking up your child.
Using public transport
Social distancing on public transport means that capacity is limited. Look for alternative transport options if you can, especially walking or cycling or scooting, particularly at peak times. Some local transport authorities are providing extra dedicated school and college transport to support public transport at this time.
Guidance is available from:
If you or your child do need to use public transport follow the safer travel guidance for passengers.
Free home to school transport for eligible children
Local authorities’ will continue to provide free home to school transport for eligible children.
Your local authority might ask you to accept a personal travel budget or mileage allowance instead of a seat on dedicated transport.
Accept any offer if you can. It will not affect your child’s eligibility for dedicated transport in the future. The local authority cannot make you accept if you do not want to or are not able to.
Local authorities will:
- not expect you to commit to accepting a personal payment or mileage allowance for a specified period of time
- need reasonable notice to reinstate home to school transport for your child
Using dedicated school or college transport
Follow any local advice provided by the local authority, school or transport provider and make sure that your child knows and understands the importance of following any rules that are set. Further information about the measures local authorities, schools and transport providers are taking is available in the guidance on transport to schools and colleges.
Wearing face coverings when travelling to and from school and college
You will need to ensure that your child has a suitable face covering and uses it correctly when asked to.
Children and young people aged 11 and over must wear a face covering on public transport. In accordance with advice from PHE, they must also wear a face covering when travelling on dedicated transport to secondary school or college. This does not apply to children and young people who are exempt from wearing face coverings.
Travelling by car
If your child needs to share a car to travel to school or college you should follow the guidance on car sharing.
Out-of-school clubs and school- age childcare
Schools will continue to teach a broad and balanced curriculum in all subjects, and will adapt teaching and curriculum planning to ensure pupils cover the most important content. In exceptional circumstances, schools may consider it appropriate to suspend some subjects for some pupils, but only where this is in the best interest of the pupil and in discussion with parents.
Colleges are expected to continue delivering their courses and training in full.
There may need to be adaptions to some subjects, such as sport and performance subjects, so that schools and colleges can teach these as safely as possible.
We know that extended school and college closures have had a substantial impact on children and young people’s learning.
In June 2020 we announced a £1 billion catch-up package including a National Tutoring Programme and a Catch-up Premium for this academic year, and in February 2021 we committed to further funding of £700 million to fund summer schools, expansion of our tutoring programmes and a Recovery Premium for next academic year.
Contact your child’s school to find out more about the national tutoring programme and what support there is available.
Elective home education
We encourage parents to send all children back to school, but if you’re considering elective home education you should be certain that it’s right for your child and is in their best interests.
Parents who are considering home education due to concerns around safety should discuss these with their school, to see what safety measures have been put in place.
Schools are not required to provide any support to parents who have withdrawn their child for elective home education. Local authorities can provide support and guidance to families who elect to home educate but this is discretionary.
You can apply for school places in the usual way and admission authorities will consider your applications. They will either offer your child a place or, if they refuse to offer a place, offer an appeal.
Admission appeals can now be held by telephone, video conference or in writing, instead of face-to-face hearings.
Entry tests for selective schools
Follow any guidance schools give you about travelling to and sitting an aptitude or ability entry assessment.
Children should take their own writing materials to a test.
Specific guidance on how aptitude or ability entry tests should be conducted can be found in the COVID-19 guidance: assessment processes for selective school admissions.
Holidays and travel abroad
You should plan your holidays within school and college holidays as usual. Avoid seeking permission to take your children out of school or college during term time. You should make sure any travel is in line with national travel guidance.
Keep in mind that you and your children may need to self-isolate when you return from a trip overseas.
Where pupils are abroad and unable to return, local authorities and schools are advised to continue to work with families to understand the child’s circumstances and their plans to return.
They will encourage families to return where they are able to, emphasising the benefits of regular school attendance and reminding you that school attendance is mandatory.
A pupil’s name can only lawfully be deleted from the admission register on the grounds prescribed in regulation 8 of the Education (Pupil Registration) (England) Regulations 2006 as amended.
Where schools are able to do so, they should provide remote education for pupils who are abroad, and facing challenges to return due to Covid-19 travel restrictions, for the period they are abroad.
All pupils travelling to England must adhere to government travel advice and you should bear in mind the impact on your child’s education which may result from any requirement to quarantine or isolate upon return.
Boarding and residential schools and colleges
You will need to confirm if you or your child can travel to the UK under the current rules if they need to travel from abroad to return to boarding school.
All pupils who travel from abroad must quarantine on arrival in the UK (normally for 10 days). Boarding school pupils can quarantine in their school’s boarding facilities. They should buy a home testing package, with COVID-19 tests to be taken on days 2 and 8 after arrival.
Anyone who is not a British or Irish national, or who does not have the right to reside in the UK (this includes those with long-term visas), who has travelled from or through a ‘red list’ travel ban country in the previous 10 days, is not permitted to enter the UK and should not travel.
If your child meets UK entry requirements and has travelled from or through a ‘red list’ country in the previous 10 days, then the school must meet additional requirements covering transport from ports of entry to school, quarantine accommodation and testing.
Your child should not travel if the school has not confirmed that it has arrangements in place that allow for transport, quarantine accommodation and testing that meet the requirements in the guidance for boarding schools.
In line with the COVID response roadmap nurseries, childminders schools and colleges can resume:
- educational day visits
- domestic residential educational visits at Step 3, from 17 May
- transitional, taster and open days
Given the complexities attached to international travel at this stage of the pandemic, we recommend schools do not go on any international visits this academic year up to and including 5 September 2021.
The position beyond 5 September will be reviewed again in advance of Step 4.
Your child’s nursery, childminder, school or college should carry out full risk assessments in relation to all educational visits to ensure they can be undertaken safely.
Schools decide their own uniform policy.
Uniforms do not need to be cleaned:
- more often than usual
- using different methods
School and college food
Schools and colleges, and some nurseries, will continue to provide free meals for eligible students, including those who are at home during term time due to COVID-19.
The guidance on providing school meals during the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak outlines how and when children eligible for benefits-related free school meals should be supported at home.
Mental health and wellbeing
Some children and young people may be experiencing feelings of anxiety, stress or low mood as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Support for children and parents
Encourage your child to talk to you or their teacher if they are feeling anxious or stressed.
Online resources to help you support your child with mental health and wellbeing, include:
- MindEd - a free educational resource on children and young people’s mental health
- Every Mind Matters - an online tool and email journey to support everyone in taking action to look after their mental health and wellbeing
- Bereavement UK and the Childhood Bereavement Network - information and resources to support bereaved pupils, schools and staff
- the DfE blog - includes mental health resources for children, parents, carers and school staff
Public Health England’s (PHE) advice and guidance for parents and professionals on supporting children and young people’s mental health and wellbeing includes actions you can take to support your child and emphasises the importance of taking 60 minutes of daily physical activity. Youth Sport Trust and Sport England have advice and support on helping children and young people stay physically active.
NHS mental health services remain open and have digital tools to connect with people and provide ongoing support. Please use your local children and young people’s mental health service when needed.
Support for children and young people
Get free, confidential support at any time by:
- texting SHOUT to 85258
- calling Childline on 0800 1111
- calling the Mix on 0808 808 4994
Find help online through:
- Young Minds - information on coronavirus (COVID-19) and mental health
- Think Ninja - a free app for 10 to 18 year olds to help build resilience and stay well
- Every Mind Matters - building resilience and supporting good mental health in young people aged 10 to 16
PHE has also launched new e-learning which can help parents and carers to support their children and young people in emergency or crisis situations.
Barnardo’s See, Hear, Respond service, provides support to children, young people and their families who are not currently seeing a social worker or other agency, and who are struggling to cope with the emotional impacts of COVID-19. Use the See, Hear, Respond self-referral webpage or Freephone 0800 151 7015.
Report any safeguarding concerns you have about any child. Contact the NSPCC helpline.