Schools will remain closed until further notice, except for children of critical workers and vulnerable children who are encouraged to attend where it is appropriate for them to do so. We will only re-open schools when the scientific advice indicates it is safe to do so, and will consult closely with the sector on our approach.
It is important to underline that schools, all childcare settings (including early years settings, childminders and providers of childcare for school-age children), colleges and other educational establishments, remain safe places for children. Reducing the number of children making the journey to school, and reducing the number of children in educational settings, will protect the NHS and save lives by reducing the risks of spreading the virus.
Schools, and all childcare providers, are therefore being asked to continue to provide care for a limited number of children – children who are vulnerable, and children whose parents are critical to the coronavirus (COVID-19) response.
While as many schools as possible should try to stay open for eligible pupils, this will not be possible for all settings, and the local authority should oversee arrangements so that pupils are able to access provision elsewhere.
The following guidance should be read alongside:
- guidance on implementing social distancing in education and childcare settings
- guidance on critical workers
- guidance on vulnerable children and young people
Vital role of schools
Those who work in and with our schools rightly take their place next to our NHS staff and other critical workers as central to our efforts in battling this virus.
School leaders around the country are taking the lead in supporting families through this difficult time, and we are keenly aware that the extraordinary measures that have been taken to prevent the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19) present an unprecedented challenge for schools, trusts, and local authorities, as well as the communities they serve.
We appreciate the selfless dedication that school, trust, and local authority staff, demonstrate in their work every single day. During this difficult time, we are asking you to go further still so that we can collectively address the challenges we face. You are vital to the country’s response to this outbreak, and we offer our full support and gratitude during this difficult time. As this outbreak progresses, we will aim to provide you with as much certainty and flexibility as possible, and will do all we can to support the vital service you are providing.
We expect schools and local authorities should work together to ensure that different settings are supported to stay open wherever possible, taking into account their circumstances and cohort (for example, special settings and alternative provision). And, we want local authorities to help coordinate what this means, working with education settings to deliver the services required. That includes academies, the independent sector, and boarding schools.
1.1 What are schools responsible for?
Schools are responsible for providing places to vulnerable children, and children of workers critical to the coronavirus (COVID-19) response, while schools are closed due to the outbreak. It may be that not all schools can remain open. Schools should work with local authorities to agree the provision needed locally to support the needs identified.
1.2 What are local authorities responsible for?
Local authorities are responsible for co-ordinating a response to the new arrangements. Working with education settings (including academies and the independent sector), they should use the critical worker list, and the definition of vulnerable children, to support schools and trusts to ensure that there is sufficiency of places for children of critical workers and vulnerable children.
Local authorities are also responsible for monitoring demand and capacity. This may involve working with schools to provide places in alternative settings if necessary, and supporting residential special schools, alternative provision, and other special settings to remain open, wherever possible.
They are also responsible for supporting trusts and schools to assess the risks for children and young people whose education, health and care (EHC) plans they maintain, and ensuring those children are safely cared for whether at school/college or at home.
1.3 Are schools expected to share resources?
If some schools are experiencing high demand for places, or severe staff shortages, local authorities will co-ordinate support from other schools in the area. Schools are expected to be flexible and work together where required.
1.4 Can provision be shared across local authority areas?
If a school is unable to open, local authorities should try to co-ordinate provision for pupils in other schools in their area. If this is not possible, local authorities should consider working with neighboring local authorities, while keeping in mind the impact on children. Regional school commissioners (RSCs) can support conversations between local authorities where necessary.
Some multi-academy trusts operate across different local authorities, and can assist in making arrangements between their schools if appropriate.
2. Prioritising pupils
2.1 Is it necessary to prioritise children?
The first aim of the partial school closure measures, set out by the Secretary of State for Education, is to reduce the overall population of children moving around local areas, in order to further reduce the number of social interactions, and thus flatten the upward curve of the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak.
However, the second aim is to continue to care for children whose parents are critical to the coronavirus (COVID-19) response, so that they can continue to work where alternative childcare arrangements cannot be made, and for children who are vulnerable.
2.2 How are critical workers defined?
Children with a parent or carer who is listed as a critical worker should be considered for a school place, so long as their job cannot be done from home.
Many parents working in these sectors will be able to ensure their child is kept at home. And every child who can be safely cared for at home should be, to limit the chance of the virus spreading.
We will monitor closely the experience of schools in identifying critical workers and their capacity to respond to the needs of critical workers. Government is working with representatives of school leaders to ensure they have the clarity they need in identifying critical workers. We will publish updates to guidance should it prove necessary to provide further points of clarification over the identification of critical workers.
We can confirm that:
- researchers are included if their work is critical to the coronavirus (COVID-19) response
- pharmacists are included in the list of health and social care staff that are essential to the coronavirus (COVID-19) response
- staff who work for the embassies of other countries, and who are essential to the coronavirus (COVID-19) response, are included in the definition of local and national government
- parliamentarians and essential parliamentary staff are also included in this list
2.3 How are vulnerable children defined?
During the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak vulnerable children and young people are defined as those who:
- are assessed as being in need under section 17 of the Children Act 1989, including children who have a child in need plan, a child protection plan or who are a looked-after child
- have an education, health and care (EHC) Plan whose needs cannot be met safely in the home environment
- have been assessed as otherwise vulnerable by education providers or local authorities (including children’s social care services), and who are therefore in need of continued education provision. This might include children on the edge of receiving support from children’s social care services, adopted children, or those who are young carers, and others at the provider and local authority discretion
2.4 Is it compulsory for critical workers to accept their place offer?
Many parents working in these critical sectors will be able to ensure their child is kept at home. Every child who can be safely cared for at home should be, to limit the chance of the virus spreading.
When making alternative arrangements, parents should not rely upon those outside their household for childcare.
2.5 What are our expectations regarding vulnerable children and young people attending educational settings?
Educational settings remain open and safe for vulnerable children and young people. Being at an early years setting, school or college can be an important lifeline for many vulnerable children and young people, particularly where their needs cannot be met safely at home or where they may be at risk of harm. We have published guidance on social distancing to help educational settings support safe provision for these children.
The sections below set out the different groups of vulnerable children and young people who may benefit from being encouraged to attend, where appropriate, and how we recommend providers follow up on non-attendance.
Children and young people who have a social worker
Children and young people assessed as being in need under section 17 of the Children Act 1989, including children who have a child in need plan, a child protection plan or who are a looked-after child.
Expectations on attendance
These children and young people are encouraged to attend provision, unless their social worker decides that they are at less risk at home or in their placement, for example, due to underlying health conditions.
Following up non-attendance
Providers should follow up with the parent or carer – and social worker/local authority, where appropriate – to explore reasons for absence.
Where a vulnerable child does not take up their place at school or college or discontinues, the provider should notify their social worker. Where appropriate, they should keep in contact with the family.
Children and young people with an education, health and care (EHC) plan
Children and young people who have an EHC plan whose needs cannot be met safely in the home environment.
Expectations on attendance
We are asking local authorities to work with educational providers, families and the child or young person to carry out a risk assessment to judge whether the child or young person’s needs cannot be met safely at home.
Where the risk assessment determines a child or young person with an EHC plan will be as safe or safer at an educational setting, it may be more appropriate for them to attend the educational setting.
Many children and young people who have an EHC plan can remain safely at home. Where the risk assessment determines a child or young person with an EHC plan will be safer at home, it may be more appropriate for them to stay at home.
Following up non-attendance
Providers should follow up with the parent or carer – and social worker/local authority, where appropriate – to explore reasons for absence.
Children and young people who are otherwise vulnerable
Children and young people who have been assessed as otherwise vulnerable by education providers or local authorities (including children’s social care services), and who are therefore in need of continued education provision.
This might include children on the edge of care, in alternative provision or young carers, or others, at the education provider and/or local authority’s discretion.
Expectations on attendance
Educational settings should use their discretion to encourage the attendance of children and young people that they – or other local services, such as local authorities or the police – feel would be safer by attending provision.
Following up non-attendance
Providers should follow up with the parent or carer – and other partners, where appropriate – to explore reasons for absence.
2.6 How do we identify pupils who are the children of critical workers?
Schools should speak to parents/carers to identify who requires a school place.
If it proves necessary, schools can ask for simple evidence that the parent in question is a critical worker, such as their work ID badge or pay slip.
2.7 Should schools only offer places to children of single-parent critical workers and children where both their parents are critical workers?
Children with at least one parent/carer who is critical to the coronavirus (COVID-19) response can go to school if required.
However, many families with parents working in critical sectors will be able to ensure their child is kept at home. And every child who can be safely cared for at home should be, to limit the chance of the virus spreading.
2.8 Can support and teaching staff send their children to school?
Teachers and school staff are critical to the coronavirus (COVID-19) response, so can send their children to school. In the same way as for other critical workers – many such families should be able to ensure their child is kept at home. And every child who can be safely cared for at home should be, to limit the chance of the virus spreading.
2.9 Can schools, trusts and local authorities take a flexible approach to the vulnerable children definition depending on their local circumstances?
We know that schools and trusts will have some knowledge of children they consider vulnerable, who have not yet been formally recognised as such, for example, children who have been referred to children’s social care but not yet appointed a social worker. It is reasonable for schools and local authorities to take a judgement on including those pupils, although they should take care to balance this with overall numbers of pupils going to school in their local area.
Eligibility for free school meals should not, in and of itself, be a determining factor in assessing vulnerability.
2.10 Do children in foster care come under the definition of vulnerable children?
Yes, all children who are looked-after by the local authority are eligible. For all looked-after children, local authorities will be well placed to identify them and ensure that foster carers know that they will be eligible for a temporary school place and how to access support.
3.1 Will state-funded schools receive funding support?
State-funded schools will continue to receive their budgets for the coming year, as usual, regardless of any periods of partial or complete closure. That will ensure that they are able to continue to pay their staff, and meet their other regular financial commitments, as we move through these extraordinary times.
We know that schools may face additional costs as a result of COVID-19 and have published guidance setting out the process for schools needing to claim for these exceptional costs.
4.1 Do schools need to take an attendance register?
During this period, schools do not need to take an attendance register. For administrative purposes Code # (planned whole or partial closure) should be used.
However, we will be asking schools to submit a short daily return, reporting whether they are open, and how many children and staff are in school. This will allow for a record of attendance for safeguarding purposes, and allow schools to provide accurate, up to date data to the government. This will also help the Department for Education to track capacity in the system, enabling the department to feed into wider tracking of the impact of the virus to support scientific advice.
4.2 Will critical workers or parents of vulnerable children be penalised if they do not send their child to school?
Children with a parent or carer listed as a critical worker are eligible for a school place. However, many parents working in these sectors will be able to ensure their child is kept at home. And every child who can be safely cared for at home should be, to limit the chance of the virus spreading.
For vulnerable children who do not attend, or who discontinue, particularly where there are child protection concerns, the education provider should follow the process below, including through notification of the child’s social worker.
Parents will not be penalised if their child does not attend school.
4.3 Is attendance required and what should educational settings, local authorities and social workers be doing to track and encourage attendance?
There is an expectation that vulnerable children and young people will continue to attend educational provision, where it is appropriate for them to do so. We appreciate that decisions on attendance will likely be based on finely balanced discussions between the education provider, the parent/carer, and others, including social workers, local authorities, and other relevant professionals, where applicable. Providers should make judgments with these partners about whether it is beneficial and appropriate for children and young people to continue to attend educational settings. In doing so they may need to consider the balance of risk, including health vulnerabilities, family circumstances and the child or young person’s assessed special educational needs.
In circumstances where a parent does not want to bring their child to an educational setting, and their child is considered vulnerable, the social worker (where appropriate) and educational setting should explore the reasons for this, directly with the parent. Where parents are concerned about the risk of the child contracting the virus, the school or social worker should talk through these concerns with the parent following the advice set out by Public Health England.
Educational settings should notify the child’s social worker (where relevant) where the child does not take up their place.
Where applicable, designated safeguarding leads and/or equivalent staff should keep under review their lists of vulnerable children and young people who should be attending provision. Providers are encouraged to share their lists of vulnerable children and young people who should be attending provision with their local authority. Education providers, social workers, local authorities and other professionals will want to work together to ensure adequate and appropriate arrangements are in place to keep in touch with vulnerable children and young people (whether they are attending provision, or not attending for an agreed or non-agreed reason), such as by letter, phone or visit. To support this, education settings should take the opportunity when communicating with parents and carers to confirm emergency contact numbers are correct and ask for any additional emergency contact numbers where they are available.
Local authorities and educational settings do not need to complete their usual day-to-day attendance processes. To minimise the burden on educational settings, the Department for Education is collecting data on the attendance of vulnerable children differently. You can read further information on attendance recording for educational settings.
5. Working with parents
5.1 How should schools identify which pupils are the children of critical workers?
Schools should speak to parents/carers to identify who requires a school place.
If required, we recommend asking for simple evidence that the parent in question is a critical worker, such as confirmation from their employer on what their job is and how it is critical to the coronavirus (COVID-19) response.
If any problems occur, schools should speak to their local authority.
5.2 What if my school is closed, but parents bring their children in?
Once schools have assessed their demand and capacity, any schools that are unable to stay open should liaise with their local authority, and communicate with parents regarding whether their child needs to attend an alternative setting.
5.3 What are the expectations on schools regarding staying in touch with parents whose child is at home?
We want to support schools and parents to ensure children and young people’s education can continue. To help our most disadvantaged young people access online learning, devices will be ordered for children who would otherwise not have access and are preparing for exams (in year 10), receive support from a social worker or are a care leaver.
Where care leavers, children with a social worker at secondary school and children in year 10, do not have internet connections, we are providing 4G routers to them so that they can learn at home. And, the country’s major telecommunication providers will make it easier for families to access selected educational resources by temporarily exempting these sites from data charges.
We recognise that many schools have already shared resources for children who are at home and are grateful for this. Further support includes:
- a list of educational online resources which have been identified by some of the country’s leading educational experts to help pupils to learn at home
- enhanced education provision from the BBC to include daily lessons, starting from 20 April 2020
- resources from Oak National Academy, a sector led initiative to support teachers educating their pupils remotely during the summer term
Schools should work with local authorities to monitor the welfare of vulnerable children who are not attending school, and other pupils they might wish to keep in touch with, for safeguarding purposes.
6.1 Should my school still have a Designated Safeguarding Lead (DSL)?
The optimal scenario for any school providing care for children is to have a trained DSL or deputy available on site. Where this is not possible schools should either arrange for a trained DSL or deputy from the school to be available to be contacted via phone or online video (for example working from home) or share trained DSLs or deputies with other schools. Further advice on DSL arrangements is in the department’s recently published safeguarding guidance.
6.2 Does my school still have to follow Keeping Children Safe in Education (KCSIE)?
Yes. KCSIE is statutory safeguarding guidance that schools should continue to have regard to. Advice to support schools to do this is available in the department’s recently published safeguarding guidance.
6.3 How does my school support parents and carers keep their children safe online?
In their regular communications with parents and carers, schools should emphasise the importance of parents and carers securing any online support for their children from a reputable organisation/individual who can provide evidence that they are safe and can be trusted to have access to children. Read further information for parents and carers.
6.4 What about children with mental health issues?
Leaders of educational settings and designated safeguarding leads know who their most vulnerable children and young people are and will have the flexibility to offer a place to those children and young people.
All NHS mental health trusts are setting up 24/7 helplines and seeking to use digital and virtual channels to continue delivering support during the pandemic.
Social connections, alongside exercise, sleep, diet and routine, are important protective factors for mental health. Resources to promote and support mental wellbeing are included in the list of online resources we have published to help children to learn at home. Public Health England have also published wider guidance on supporting children and young people’s mental health and DHSC is providing £5m of additional funding for mental health charities (to support adults and children).
Digital support includes:
- an educational resource for adults about children and young people’s mental health, which is relevant for teachers, other professionals working with children, volunteers, parents and carers
- The Every Mind Matters platform about looking after your mental health (from Public Health England)
- Rise Above, targeted at young people, which also has schools-facing lesson plans
7.1 Who can work in schools in light of recent social distancing measures?
We have published separate guidance on implementing social distancing measures in education and childcare settings.
7.2 Should school staff with an underlying health condition stay at home?
Our guidance on implementing social distancing measures in education and childcare settings sets out that staff with conditions that mean they are at increased risk of serious illness as a result of coronavirus (COVID-19), such as those who are pregnant, should work from home where possible, and education and childcare settings should endeavour to support this.
7.3 Should staff with serious underlying health conditions, which put them at very high risk of severe illness from coronavirus (COVID-19), stay at home and take shielding measures?
We are strongly advising people, including education staff, with serious underlying health conditions which put them at very high risk of severe illness from coronavirus (COVID-19), such as solid organ transplant recipients, and people with specific cancers, to rigorously follow shielding measures in order to keep themselves safe. Staff in this position must not attend work. More advice on this can be found in the guidance on shielding and protecting people defined on medical grounds as extremely vulnerable.
7.4 Should staff who live with someone with a serious underlying health condition, who is taking shielding measures, stay at home?
If a member of staff lives with someone in a vulnerable health group, including those who are pregnant, they can attend their education or childcare setting. The number of social interactions in the education or childcare environment will be reduced, due to there being fewer children attending, and social distancing and good hand hygiene being practised.
If a member of staff lives in a household with someone who is in the most vulnerable health groups, as set out in the guidance on shielding, they should only attend work if stringent social distancing can be adhered to. Settings should allow staff who live with someone in the most vulnerable health groups to work from home where possible.
7.5 Are education and childcare workers eligible for coronavirus (COVID-19) testing?
The government has announced that all essential workers, and members of their households who are showing symptoms of coronavirus (COVID-19), can now be tested. This list of essential workers includes education and childcare staff, support and teaching staff, social workers and specialist education professionals in addition to social care staff.
Booking is done through a new online system. Employers can register and refer self-isolating staff, and employees are able to book a test directly for themselves or members of their household who are exhibiting symptoms.
Employees can choose to visit one of the drive-through testing sites across the country, or to receive a home testing kit.
To obtain a login to the employer referral portal, employers of essential workers should contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
For further information, read guidance on coronavirus (Covid-19) getting tested.
8. Staffing levels and deployment
8.1 How many teachers and other school staff will be needed to keep schools open?
This will vary on a school by school basis, based on the number of pupils each school is supporting and their individual needs. Schools should make an assessment of the capacity required and, when in doubt, discuss this with their local authority or trust when making decisions.
8.2 Should schools be using temporary workers?
If schools think they may struggle to meet demand for places, they should liaise with their local authority or trust over their arrangements.
Schools may use temporary workers if alternative arrangements cannot be made. We trust headteachers to use their discretion and judgement in this regard and are grateful to all teachers for their support.
8.3 Will teachers and other school staff be asked to work in alternative settings?
Staff may be asked by their employer to work in different locations to help maintain the required provision during this challenging period. We ask all those working in schools to be flexible when considering whether to make or agree to such requests. Whether an individual can be required to work in an alternative setting will depend on their individual contract of employment.
Once schools have assessed their demand and capacity, any schools experiencing problems should liaise with their local authority or trust to establish whether there is a need to move any pupils, teachers or other school staff to an alternative setting.
Schools and local authorities should have regard to guidance on social distancing when making these arrangements.
Any schools that are unable to stay open should liaise with their local authority or trust about teachers providing support elsewhere.
Teachers and other school staff should continue to be paid by their employer as normal, regardless of where they are working.
8.4 Do teachers and other school staff require new DBS checks to work in an alternative setting?
Where members of the school workforce are already engaging in regulated activity, and already have the appropriate DBS check, there is no expectation that a new DBS check should be obtained for them to temporarily move to another setting to support the care of children.
The type of setting on the DBS check for example, a specific category of school, is not a barrier. The receiving setting should risk assess as they would for a volunteer. See paragraphs 167 to 172 of keeping children safe in education (KCSIE).
Whilst the onus remains on schools to satisfy themselves that someone in their setting has had the required checks including, as required, those set out in part 3 of KCSIE, in the above scenario this can be achieved, if the receiving setting chooses to, via seeking assurance from the current employer rather than requiring new checks.
8.5 Will there be changes to the way DBS checks are carried out as a result of social distancing guidance?
Yes. Please refer to the guidance on changes to DBS ID checking guidelines.
8.6 Will there be enough support staff to provide support for pupils with EHC plans?
Local authorities are responsible for provision for pupils with EHC plans. Schools will need to consider the support required for individual pupils with an EHC plan on a case-by-case basis, and liaise as appropriate with their local authority to ensure adequate support is available.
We trust headteachers to use their discretion and judgement around the deployment of support staff, in line with guidance on vulnerable children and young people.
8.7 What are the expectations on school staff working from home?
We would expect school staff to continue to support the education of pupils, and wider work of the school, in appropriate ways agreed with their school leadership team, but school leaders should be mindful of staff wellbeing and practical circumstances when designing these arrangements.
8.8 Can schools use volunteers to support the care and supervision of children?
DBS-checked volunteers may be used to support the work of the school, as would usually be the case. It is important that they are properly supported and given appropriate roles.
8.9 What advice is available for teachers from overseas?
Staff from overseas who have immigration concerns should follow government guidance about visas and immigration.
Staff from overseas who have questions about travelling during the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak should follow government guidance for education staff.
9.1 Can schools continue to recruit teaching and support staff during coronavirus (COVID-19) closures?
Yes, they can. It is important that schools have the workforce they need, and recruitment should continue where it is necessary and practical to do so, in line with social distancing guidelines. We trust schools to use their judgment on whether recruitment is needed and how this can best be done given the circumstances.
DfE is asking publicly funded schools to use the Teaching Vacancies service. This is a free, national service for searching and listing teaching roles. Listing vacancies here will help save schools money and enable the department to gather information on the impact of school closures on teacher recruitment.
9.2 Can schools continue to recruit head teachers during coronavirus (COVID-19) closures?
The recruitment of headteachers is a matter for individual schools and their governing bodies. Schools may wish to refer to the guidance issued by the National Governance Association (NGA) on how governing boards should recruit headteachers during coronavirus (COVID-19).
9.3 How can schools recruit while social distancing is in place?
Social distancing guidelines will mean it is not possible for schools to hold face to face recruitment processes. Interviews should either happen remotely, for example, via an online video or telephone interview, or be delayed to a later date. Schools will need to ensure that all employment laws are met and that applicants have equality of opportunity throughout the selection process. We trust schools to use their judgment in implementing this.
9.4 Will there be changes to the way pre-employment checks are carried out as a result of social distancing guidance?
When recruiting, schools must continue to adhere to the legal requirements regarding pre-appointment checks. We refer schools to part 3 of the statutory guidance Keeping children safe in education. Please note that the following temporary changes have been made to the DBS standard and enhanced ID checking guidance:
- ID documents to be viewed over video link
- scanned images to be used in advance of the DBS check being submitted
- the applicant will be required to present the original versions of these documents when they first attend their employment or volunteering role (the change came into effect from 19 March 2020)
In addition, the Home Office guidance regarding face-to-face interviews when checking the right to work has been revised.
As of 30 March 2020, the following temporary changes have been made:
- checks can now be carried out over video calls
- job applicants and existing workers can send scanned documents or a photo of documents for checks using email or a mobile app, rather than sending originals
- employers should use the Employer Checking Service if a prospective or existing employee cannot provide any of the accepted documents
9.5 Can schools extend notice periods during coronavirus (COVID-19) closures?
The terms of employment and notice periods for the school workforce are not determined by the Department for Education and are a matter for schools and responsible bodies to determine. We do not envisage that schools will need to formally change staff notice periods due to coronavirus (COVID-19), but schools may wish to operate in a co-operative and flexible manner to facilitate continuity of employment and staffing levels.
9.6 Can schools retract offers of employment for new staff due to financial implications of coronavirus (COVID-19) closures?
We do not expect schools to rescind offers of employment for new teaching or support staff due to financial implications relating to coronavirus (COVID-19). Schools will continue to receive their budgets for the coming year as usual, regardless of any periods of partial or complete closure. This will ensure that they are able to continue to pay for staff and meet their other regular financial commitments.
10.1 Will teachers and other school staff continue to be paid?
Yes. Teachers and other school staff will continue to be paid during this period as normal, and we expect schools to continue to fulfill their contractual duties to their staff.
10.2 Will teachers and other school staff, be entitled to sick pay for an absence caused by coronavirus (COVID-19), including the need to self-isolate if a member of their household has displayed symptoms?
Arrangements for teachers and school staff sick pay are agreed between employers and relevant unions. We have confirmed that schools will receive the same level of funding regardless of any period of partial or complete closure, and so would expect pay to continue as normal.
10.3 Should appraisals and performance management processes continue for teachers during this period?
Yes, maintained schools must continue to adhere to the School Teachers Pay and Conditions Document (STPCD), which includes the requirement to ensure that all pay progression for teachers is linked to performance management. However, we would expect schools to use their discretion and take pragmatic steps, consistent with the Education (School Teachers’ Appraisal) (England) Regulations 2012 to adapt performance management and appraisal arrangements to take account of the current circumstances e.g. by basing performance on the period schools were open, adjusting, if necessary, for expected trajectory had there been no closures.
10.4 Should appraisals and performance management processes for support staff continue during this period?
Appraisals and performance management for support staff should be carried out in accordance with the employee’s contract of employment. The department does not specify pay or terms and conditions of employment for support staff.
11. Supply teachers and other contingent workers
For information on supply teachers and other contingent workers in state funded schools, please refer to the guidance on financial support for education, early years and children’s social care.
11.1 Should schools continue to pay contingent workers that they directly employ?
We expect schools to ensure any employees funded by public money continue to be paid in the usual fashion, from their existing staff budgets, in line with the HMRC guidance to public sector organisations.
Where schools have live assignments with contingent workers that they directly employ, and where the school is that workers’ employer, schools should continue to pay these workers from their existing school budgets and not furlough them.
11.2 Should schools continue to pay contingent workers that they directly employ on a zero hours or casual basis?
We trust schools and local authorities to make appropriate decisions to protect the interests of their staff and workers during the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak.
Where schools or local authorities use public funding to employ workers directly but on an ad-hoc basis, for instance workers who work on a zero-hours or casual basis, they may continue to engage these workers where they are needed during this period. If these workers continue to be provided with work they should be paid as normal under the terms of their contracts, from existing financial budgets.
Where schools or local authorities had expected to use their public funding to engage such workers and had budgeted for this, but work is no longer needed due to COVID-19, we encourage schools to follow the approach for casual workers set out in paragraph 20 of the Procurement Policy Note 02/20 on contingent workers impacted by COVID-19. This will ensure directly-hired casual workers have access to the same levels of support as casual agency workers during the COVID-19 period.
Schools should pay the worker at 80% of their typical pay, in a similar way to agency workers who were not on live assignments when schools began closing or reducing capacity. Schools should calculate the 80% by conducting a retrospective review of the previous 12 weeks (or as many weeks as the contingent worker has been on assignment) to determine the average days or hours worked. This average should be used to underpin the calculation of 80% of gross pay for the worker (up to a £2,500 monthly cap to align treatment of casual direct hire workers with casual agency workers). The total amount payable should be limited to the amount the school or local authority had originally budgeted for such workers from their public funding.
Schools and local authorities should not furlough workers unless the circumstances meet the criteria set out in DfE’s guidance for education, early years and children’s social care sectors.
11.3 What should schools do if they have already ended contracts with contingent workers that they directly employ?
Where schools had contracts with directly hired staff that have been terminated earlier than the original terms set out due to coronavirus (COVID-19), these contracts should be reinstated on the terms previously agreed, as long as the contractor is not already accessing another government support scheme.
11.4 Should schools continue to pay agencies for workers on live assignments?
Schools are advised to refer to all parts of the Procurement Policy Note 02/20 (PPN 02/20), which provides guidance for public bodies on payment of their suppliers for the purposes of ensuring the continuity of critical service during and after the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak.
Where schools have agency workers on live assignments who can continue to work, they may continue to make previously agreed payments for the supply of workers in line with the approach set out in PPN 02/20. Agencies who receive money for workers in line with this guidance should not furlough these workers, and should follow the open book accounting rules set out in PPN 02/20 to provide schools with proof that workers are continuing to be paid as normal.
Where schools have agency workers on live assignments who cannot continue to work due to coronavirus (COVID-19), schools and agencies should refer to the guidance set out in Procurement Policy Note 02/20.
11.5 Does the advice in PPN 02/20 require existing contracts to be extended when they expire?
The Procurement Policy Note 02/20 advice covers the length of existing live assignments up to the end date that had been previously agreed. It does not require these agreements to be extended further if the resource will not be required.
11.6 What support is there for agency workers who are not on a live assignment or whose work has come to an end?
Where agency workers are not on live assignments with schools, or where a previously agreed assignment is due to end, schools and agencies should discuss any further demand for the worker. If there is no further demand, the employer can apply to furlough the worker via the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme.
Once a worker has been furloughed, they become unavailable to work and cannot provide services for their employer for a minimum of 3 weeks. Schools and agencies should bear this in mind when discussing ongoing resource requirements and agencies should keep this under regular review.
11.7 How much should temporary workers be paid if they are furloughed?
Read information about the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme and how it operates. This includes how payments for furloughed workers are calculated.
11.8 What support is there for self-employed workers?
Self-employed workers who no longer have access to work due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) will be able to access support through the Self-Employed Income Scheme.
11.9 Can schools start new temporary contracts with agencies and workers?
We expect schools will draw first on their existing staff to maintain necessary provision, but schools may continue to need supply teachers and other temporary workers throughout this period. We encourage schools and employment businesses (agencies) to continue to liaise on any potential need to ensure workers are available where required.
11.10 Will schools receive additional funding to manage the cost of hiring additional temporary workers?
Schools will continue to receive their budgets for the coming year as usual, regardless of any periods of partial or complete closure, and this will ensure they are able to continue to pay for staff, and meet their other regular financial commitments, whilst providing the reduced provision required during this unprecedented period.
We do not anticipate schools will need additional funding specifically to manage the cost of hiring additional temporary workers, as we expect most schools will draw on their existing staff and budgets to provide ongoing provision.
12.1 What is expected of schools in terms of opening hours?
We expect schools to operate for their normal hours. Where possible, we would encourage breakfast club and after school provision, to help support the children of workers critical to the COVID-19 response.
12.2 Are schools opening on the early May bank holiday?
Schools should decide, in consultation with the parents of children who are currently attending school, whether it is necessary for them to continue to look after critical workers’ children and vulnerable children on Friday 8 May 2020.
12.3 What public health advice should schools follow?
Schools should refer to the guidance for education and childcare settings on how to implement social distancing, and continue to follow the advice from Public Health England on handwashing and other measures to limit the risk of spread of coronavirus.
12.4 Schools and early years settings in some areas are operating in ‘hubs’ – for example, groups of schools/settings operating at a single site. Is this permitted?
With significantly reduced pupil numbers, and risks of understaffing due to illness, we understand that shared provision through multi-school or early years hubs and clusters is an option being considered in some areas. In some cases, arrangements are already in place.
12.5 Can schools flex on legal requirements in order to deliver this service?
The Coronavirus Act 2020 allows for the temporary disapplication or modification of some requirements on schools, including within the Early Years Foundation Stage to enable them to focus on this core new ask. Schools should focus on safeguarding duties as a priority. Where schools and trusts have concerns about the impact of staff absence – such as their designated safeguarding lead or first aiders – they should discuss immediately with the local authority or trust.
12.6 Are schools expected to provide education as normal to pupils who are in attendance?
We understand that these are extraordinary times. The most important thing is that children of critical workers, and vulnerable children, are supervised and properly cared for in education settings. Schools have flexibility to provide support, activities and education in the way they see fit at this time. No school will be penalised if they are unable to offer a broad and balanced curriculum during this period. The same applies for the Early Years Foundation Stage. No school will be penalised if they are unable to provide learning and development activities across all 7 areas of learning for children in their early years provision.
12.7 Do schools need to provide educational support for pupils at home?
We recognise that many schools have already shared resources for children who are at home and are grateful for this.
We want to support parents and schools to ensure young people’s education can continue. Support available includes:
- a list of educational online resources which have been identified by some of the country’s leading educational experts to help pupils to learn at home
- enhanced education provision from the BBC to include daily lessons, starting from 20 April 2020
- a package of support by the Oak National Academy, a sector led initiative to support teachers educating their pupils remotely during the summer term
To help some of our most disadvantaged young people access education remotely, devices will be ordered for children who would otherwise not have access and are preparing for exams (in year 10), receive support from a social worker or are a care leaver. Where care leavers, children with a social worker at secondary school and children in year 10 do not have internet connections, we are providing 4G routers to them so that they can learn at home. The country’s major telecommunication providers will also make it easier for families to access selected educational resources by temporarily exempting these sites from data charges.
Read DfE’s guidance on getting technology support for children and schools during coronavirus (COVID-19).
12.8 If children are attending an alternative setting, will transport be provided?
We will work closely with local authorities to put the necessary arrangements in place to support children.
12.9 Will it be mandatory for all schools, colleges and early years settings to remain open in some form?
We are asking all schools and early years settings to remain open for children of critical workers and vulnerable children.
We acknowledge that some schools and early years settings may be unable to do so, and will support them to work with local authorities, regional school commissioners, and neighbouring schools and settings, to continue to support these children.
12.10 What else needs to happen if a child is attending a different setting than usual?
Important information should be provided on day one, including emergency contact details, dietary requirements and medical needs to safeguard the health, safety and welfare of children.
12.11 What will happen to data collections, services or requests this year?
It is vital, at this time, that all educational and care settings, including local authorities, are able to focus on the impact of coronavirus (COVID-19), providing for the children and young people in their care and looking after the wellbeing of their staff.
To help reduce the burden on educational and care settings at this time, the Department for Education and its agencies have cancelled or paused all but the most essential data collections, services and requests from educational and care settings until the end of June 2020.
Data collections which are paused will be reviewed and the pause period extended if necessary. A decision on data collections or services which are not due to go live until later in the year will be made in due course.
For further information, and a full list of data collection changes for the remainder of the academic year, please read the guidance on reducing burdens on educational and care settings. If you have any questions, email email@example.com.
12.12 Are schools still required to have a designated first aider on site?
Under the Health and Safety (First Aid) Regulations 1981, employers are responsible for providing adequate and appropriate equipment, facilities and personnel to ensure their employees receive immediate attention if they are injured or taken ill at work. These regulations still apply but there is no set ratio of people to first aiders. Instead, educational settings are expected to conduct risk assessments to determine their own requirements.
We strongly recommend schools consult advice set out by the Health and Safety Executive, including:
For further information on additional first aid requirements in early years settings please read the department’s guidance on actions for early years and childcare providers during the coronavirus outbreak.
12.13 Are schools still required to follow standard procedures for health and safety and general estate management?
Employers still have a statutory duty and responsibility to ensure the heath safety and welfare of their workforce. This includes ensuring that there are proportionate and reasonable measures in place to ensure that their employees (and others) are safe during the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak.
Employers will be aware that many working environments have changed in light of the current social distancing measures. Where this is the case, employers will need to undertake and review risk assessments in line with these changes.
Employers may want to review health and safety arrangements for (but not restricted to) online safety, home working, lone workers, working with display screens, stress, and mental health. Schools should also consider how any partial/ temporary closures might impact on specialist and technical work or learning areas, such as science labs. Read further information on how to manage these areas during this outbreak.
DfE has issued guidance on managing partially open premises to those bodies responsible for the maintenance of school buildings. Schools should consult with these bodies where they have further questions.
12.14 Are statutory inspections of equipment still required?
The Health and Safety Executive have confirmed that there is still a requirement for statutory inspection of plant and equipment. Read HSE’s guidance.
The Department for Education has also written to all responsible bodies giving additional operational health and safety information. Read guidance on managing schools premises which are partially open.
13.1 How will admissions authorities (academy trusts, governing bodies or local authorities, depending on the type of school) manage admissions appeals at this time given the restrictions on gatherings?
We accept that the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak means admission authorities cannot carry out admission appeals in the usual way. On 14 April we announced that we will be making regulatory changes that, subject to legislation, will come into force on 24 April 2020. The new regulations will relax some of the current requirements set out in the School Admission Appeals Code 2012 and enable admission authorities to proceed with their admission appeals. In particular, the new regulations will disapply the requirement that appeals panels must be held in person and instead give flexibility for panel hearings to take place either in person, by telephone, video conference or through a paper-based appeal where all parties can make representations in writing. We will not however be removing any of the clerking duties for admission appeals. Clerks carry out a key role in relation to appeal hearings and provide advice on admissions law as well as keeping an accurate record of proceedings. The new regulations and accompanying guidance will be published later this month.
14.1 What is the effect of COVID-19 on governing board’s duties to consider reinstatement of excluded pupils, and the process for independent review panels (IRPs)?
The timeframes set out in the School Discipline (Pupil Exclusions and Reviews) (England) Regulations 2012 remain in force. This applies to all exclusions, including those that were issued before 23 March.
The government appreciates that it may not be possible to meet the timeframes set out in regulations for review meetings and IRPs, due to the disruption caused by COVID-19 and the health risks of holding meetings. The Regulations themselves envisage that the timeframes may not always be met, which is why they specify that meetings and panel hearings must still go ahead even if the relevant deadline has been missed. It is for the governing board or arranging authority to assess the facts of the case and decide whether the statutory deadlines are achievable or whether, in the circumstances, the meeting has to be delayed or alternative technology (such as telephone or videoconference facilities) may be used. Governing boards and arranging authorities should continue to take reasonable steps to ensure meetings are arranged for a time when all parties are able to attend.
15. School meals
15.1 What about children who rely on free school meals, but will not be in school?
We will give schools and trusts the flexibility to provide meals or vouchers to children eligible for free school meals. Read guidance on supporting children eligible for free schools meals, including details of the national voucher scheme.
15.2 What arrangements should we put in place to feed children attending school?
Schools which are open for the children of critical workers and vulnerable children should provide meal options for staff and children in attendance, and free schools meals for eligible pupils in attendance.
16.1 What will happen to exams?
Primary assessments, including SATs, and exams including GCSEs, AS levels and A levels, will not go ahead this summer. The exam regulator, Ofqual, and exam boards, will work with teachers to provide grades to students whose exams for GCSEs, AS and A levels have been cancelled this summer.
Read further information on the how GCSEs, AS and A Levels will be awarded in summer 2020.
16.2 What will happen to assessments in the Early Years Foundation Stage?
The Early Years Assessment Stage Profile (EYSFP) will not need to be undertaken in the academic year 2019 to 2020.
The progress check at age 2 will not need to be undertaken during the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak.
16.3 How will school and college accountability operate this year?
The government will not publish any school or college level educational performance data based on tests, assessments or exams for 2020. Schools should refer to the Coronavirus (COVID-19): school and college accountability guidance.
17. Types of setting
17.1 Will this apply to alternative provision/pupil referral units?
Alternative provision (AP) settings and pupil referral units (PRUs) serve a small number of children and young people, a high proportion of whom meet the definition of vulnerability and are well-placed to cater for their needs. This would be difficult to replicate elsewhere.
We will support these settings, via local authorities and other key agencies, to identify the best way to protect young people in AP and PRUs, and to keep them open where it is feasible to do so.
17.2 Will this apply to special schools?
All children in special schools, and in particular in residential special schools, are in the vulnerable category. Special and special residential schools/colleges should be supported to remain open, wherever that is possible, to provide vital services and support to children with complex needs and their families. This may include assistance in sourcing and deploying specialist health and care staff, from other settings, to provide cover arrangements, and ensure the right ratios and skills are in place to enable these vital specialist settings to remain open safely where needed.
Schools, colleges, other training providers, and local authorities will need to consider the needs of all children and young people with an EHC plan, alongside the views of their parents, and make a risk assessment for each child or young person. This will inform whether they need to continue to be offered a school/college place in order to meet their needs, or whether they can safely have their needs met at home. We note that some children with EHC plans may also have parents who are critical workers, and will need to have a school/college place available for that reason.
In collaboration with PHE and DHSC, we have produced guidance on isolation for residential educational settings, including residential special schools and colleges. This contains advice on managing the setting, in the case of self-isolation or infection.
17.3 Will this apply to academies, free schools and independent schools?
Yes. We expect all schools to open, from Monday 23 March 2020, only to children of critical workers and to vulnerable children. To ensure this is done as efficiently as possible, we expect all schools to work with local authorities and regional school commissioners as necessary.
17.4 How should boarding and residential schools manage this new operating model?
Most boarding schools will need to keep their residential provision open, and decisions will have to happen on a case by case basis.
Read further information on isolation for residential educational settings.