The last two weeks have been a whirlwind in education and as soon as plans seem to be made then they are changed again. The purpose of this blog is to try to create a simple guide (If such a thing can exist!) around the expectations over the next few weeks within education. I know the constant media about school’s being open will have made many of us anxious and then it can become difficult to focus on the job in hand, particularly when we are concerned about our own families and our own health.
So to simplify what we know to date (for the majority of schools):
From 4th January
– Primary Schools and Alternative Provision Academies (APA’s) are to open as normal. Secondary Schools are to open for vulnerable children and those of critical workers. Remote education is to be offered to all other children.
From 11th January
– Secondary schools are expected to have children who are due to sit public exams on site, as well as those children deemed vulnerable or who have a critical worker parent.
– All other students are to be offered remote education.
From 18th January – all students are expected to be back on site within schools.
A small number of schools have been asked to work within the contingency framework and only offer education to those deemed vulnerable or children whose parents are critical workers. A list of schools which are following the contingency framework can be found at Contingency Framework – implementation guidance (publishing.service.gov.uk)
Vocational exams are to go ahead as planned from 4th January 2021.
Which children are considered vulnerable?
Vulnerable children are identified by the DfE as those who:
- have an Education, Health, Care plan (EHCP);
- have been assessed as needing support under section 17 of the Children’s Act 1989 (Children in Need; Child Protection and Looked After Children)
- have previously been adopted from care
- may be at risk of NEET
- are living in temporary accomodation
- are young carers
- are care leavers
- are on the edge of receiving support from social care or may be in the process of being assessed.
- children who may have difficulties engaging in remote education as identified by school or another local authority agency.
- children who may be receiving mental health support and where it is felt that being in school helps to manage the risks to their mental health
Critical workers are defined as those whose role is critical to the Covid-19 and EU transition responses. A full list of who are considered critical workers can be found here Critical workers and vulnerable children who can access schools or educational settings – GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)
For those students not expected to attend on in the weeks beginning 4/01 and 11/01 due to the set up of mass testing the X code should be used.
Where the contingency framework is in place – the X code should be used for the majority of children. Where vulnerable children and the children of critical workers are expected to attend they should not routinely be coded X (unless they are self-isolating as a result of Covid-19 or are shielding) but should be coded as C only if the leave of absence has been agreed with the school (and other agencies as appropriate).
The expectation is that all students are offered remote education which is high quality and meets the demands of the curriculum.
For primary age children an average of 3 hours work a day should be set.
For secondary age children this increases to 4 hours a day, with the expectation that children who are due to sit exams will be offered more.
A system must be in place which checks, at least weekly, whether a child is engaging in remote learning. If they are not, the expectation is that parents are made aware of any concerns.
Any remote education must be gauged to monitor progression and adjusted as necessary to ensure that children are able to engage effectively.
I believe a lot of issues around mass testing will need to be ironed out across the next few weeks. Not least, how this can be staffed effectively and safely to ensure children are safeguarded and the tests can be taken accurately.
The DfE has recommended that school staff, agency staff or volunteers are used as each school believes appropriate. I suspect that this will vary widely depending on the demands made on each school and the availability of staff/number of children involved.
All staff are to be offered lateral flow device (LFD) testing weekly.
Students can only be tested where agreement is in place from a parent/carer that they can be tested.
Students are to initially be tested twice, 3 to 5 days apart using the LFD test. It is believed that for the majority of children they should be able to swab themselves.
Where a student tests positive, then they should be isolated from their group and parents contacted. Parents are advised to seek a PCR test to confirm the positive test result and the student should self-isolate for 10 days (code X, offer remote education).
Students who are identified as close contacts are to be tested each day for 7 days following last contact to avoid the need for those students to self-isolate. If a student/parent refuses permission to test then the child must stay at home for 10 days and self-isolate as they would have done previously in the Autumn term.
The next few months in Education will remain challenging. As ever, we are here to offer advice and support as needed.