Department for Education publishes new guidance for schools and other educational settings in September

Today the Department for Education has published detailed guidance to support schools and colleges to fully reopen in September and early years and childcare providers from 20 July.

At a press conference this afternoon, the Education Secretary, Gavin Williamson announced:

  • Limits on attendance to be lifted to allow schools to open at full capacity
  • Schools and colleges to deliver their full curriculum, ahead of exams next summer
  • Limits on nursery group sizes to be lifted from 20 July
  • “Covid-19 secure” measures to remain in place, with children self-isolating at home where needed

This means all children are expected back in school, full time from September and all provision for SEND should be in place.

Risk assessments for children and young people with education, health and care plans will remain in place. The government published ‘Guidance for full opening: special schools and other specialist settings’.

Below is an extract:

“Following the partial closure of educational and childcare settings from 20 March 2020, we asked local authorities to consider the needs of all children and young people with anEHCplan and to carry out a risk assessment. Local authorities were asked to work with education settings and parents or carers to determine whether children and young people would be able to have their needs met at home and be safer there than attending an education setting.

Risk assessments may prove useful now and over the autumn term, in identifying what additional support children and young people withEHCplans need to make a successful return to full education. Risk assessments may also prove useful if children and young people have to self-isolate, or if a local outbreak of coronavirus (COVID-19) requires a setting to return to more limited attendance, or temporarily close.

Whether individual risk assessments are used to help plan for the autumn term or not, education settings should, in the spirit of coproduction, contact parents and involve them in planning for their child’s return to their setting from September. They should also contact and involve young people over 16 who have EHC plans. That might include visits to the setting, social stories, and other approaches that specialist settings normally use to enable a child or young person with SEND, who has spent some time out of education, to return to full provision.”

The usual rules on school attendance will apply, including:

  • parents’ duty to secure that their child attends regularly at school where the child is a registered pupil at school and they are of compulsory school age;
  • schools’ responsibilities to record attendance and follow up absence
  • the availability to issue sanctions, including fixed penalty notices in line with local authorities’ codes of conduct

The only pupils who are exempt are those who are unable to attend school because they are complying with clinical and/or public health advice. In that case, schools will be expected to be able to immediately offer access to remote education. Schools are also required to ‘monitor engagement with this activity’.

In regards to the temporary changes to SEND legislation where local authorities and health commissioners were required to use ‘reasonable endeavours’ to secure or arrange provisions for a child’s EHC this is expected to cease on July 31st and the absolute duty to provide back in place.

 

Dame Christine Lenehan, Director of CDC has issued the following statement:

CDC believes that all children have a right to education and we support the return to school. However, the key to this will be confident schools keen to welcome children with SEND back and confident parents who will be keen to send them. We will be keen to look at any issues such as transport, blanket behaviour policies and lack of risk assessments which may undermine this confidence.

 

There is guidance around social distancing and creating effective bubbles, hygiene and discrimination, uniform, transport, and how to deal with Covid-19 outbreaks in a school setting.

You can find the guidance here:

Guidance for full opening of schools

Guidance for full opening: special schools and other specialist settings

Guidance for further education and skills providers

Guidance for early years and childcare providers