Education Advice

*Photo taken well before social distancing measures came into effect.

School Arrangements

General information for young people is available here.

As part of national social distancing measures to limit the spread of Coronavirus, the Government had to limit the numbers of children and young people attending educational and childcare settings, to ensure that pupils and staff attending could do so safely. That is why, since 23 March 2020, education and childcare settings have only been open to priority groups (vulnerable children and children of critical workers).

Throughout this period, the work and dedication of critical workers has been crucial to our country. This of course includes all our critical workers working with children and young people – leaders, teachers, support staff, childcare workers, social workers and others, who have worked tirelessly to support the education and welfare of young people.

As a result of the huge efforts everyone has made to adhere to strict social distancing measures, the transmission rate has decreased. On 10 May the Prime Minister announced a roadmap towards recovery, outlining the phased return of some pupils to education settings from the week commencing 1 June, including an ambition that secondary pupils facing exams next year will get some face-to-face support from their teachers this term, subject to the government’s 5 tests being met.

On 24 May the Prime Minister announced that secondary schools should plan on the basis that from the week commencing 15 June, they can invite year 10 and 12 pupils (years 10 and 11 for alternative provision schools1) back into school for some face-to-face support with their teachers, subject to the government’s 5 tests being met. The Government is asking secondary schools to offer this face-to-face support to supplement the remote education of year 10 and year 12 pupils, which should remain the predominant mode of education during this term for pupils in these year groups. The Government's assessment, based on the latest scientific and medical advice, is that we need to continue to control the numbers attending school to reduce the risk of increasing transmission. Therefore, schools are able to have a quarter of the year 10 and year 12 cohort (for schools with sixth forms) in school at any one time.

In line with the Roadmap setting out how the UK will adjust its response to the virus, the approach to schools remains a cautious, phased one. It is also broadly in line with other European countries. The Government continue to consider all the evidence and will continue to work with schools, teachers and unions over the coming week before making a final decision. It also remains the case that schools will only reopen to more children if the government’s five tests are met by Thursday 28 May. Clear, detailed guidance has been published by the Department for Education on how schools can open in a way which is safe for children, teachers and parents.

Government guidance sets out a range of measures to protect children and staff. This includes reducing the size of classes and keeping children in small groups without mixing with others; staggered break and lunch times, as well as drop offs and pickups; and increasing the frequency of cleaning, reducing the used of shared items and utilising outdoor space.

All children and staff, and their families, will also have access to testing if they display symptoms. This will enable children and staff to get back to school if they test negative, and if they test positive a test and trace approach can be taken. Children will also be encouraged not to travel on public transport where possible, in line with the advice to the wider population.

The Government is working closely with local authorities, and a Department for Education helpline has been set up to help answer any queries.

Which year groups will be returning to school?

Initially, the Government expect primary schools to welcome back children in Reception, Year 1 and Year 6, while nurseries and other early years providers will begin welcoming back children of all ages. Secondary schools, sixth forms and colleges will also provide face-to-face contact for Year 10, Year 12 and equivalent 16-19 further education students to help them prepare for exams next year. It is expected this will begin from 15 June, with around a quarter of these secondary students in at any point.

What is the latest information on examinations?

The Government is consulting on proposed arrangements for an additional GCSE, AS and A level exam series to take place in autumn 2020. The exceptional exam series was announced by the Government when it cancelled the summer 2020 exam series as part of its response to the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. The Government also set out proposed arrangements for Extended Project Qualifications and the Advanced Extension Award.

This consultation will be open on 22 May 2020 and close on 8 June 2020 at 23.45. The short timeline has been set in order to provide more certainty to exam boards, students and centres. Please respond to this consultation by completing the online response here.

What information are decisions on school arrangements based on?

An overview of the latest scientific information can be viewed here. In addition, sector representatives have attended an expert panel to be briefed on the science underpinning government decisions.

The Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE) regularly publishes papers outlining the scientific advice provided to the government. Further batches will be published in due course.

Government Guidance:

Visit the Government's childcare and education (including further and higher education) Coronavirus landing page here.

Overarching Government guidance for schools and other educational settings can be access here.

Page Last Updated: 29/05/2020.