Advice to schools on reopening to more pupils
Our Director of Public Health has revised his guidance to schools about reopening to more pupils. We can now encourage them to take the decision to reopen to more pupils from 22 June, if they are ready to do so.
Dr Sakthi Karunanithi had issued blanket guidance to schools to delay reopening to more pupils because his professional view was that two of the government's five coronavirus tests were not being met in the county.
However, a reduction in the rate of confirmed coronavirus infections combined with our readiness to support the local implementation of the national NHS Test and Trace Programme means that enough progress has now been made to adjust the advice. It is important to stress that the prevalence of coronavirus is still higher in Lancashire than elsewhere in the country so the room for manoeuvre is limited.
The decision to welcome back more pupils to Lancashire's schools lies with headteachers, in consultation with their board of governors, taking into account their individual circumstances.
As has been the case throughout the emergency, all schools continue to be encouraged to admit vulnerable pupils and those of key workers as long as their risk assessments suggest it is safe to do so. The government says that children from Reception, Year 1 and Year 6 can now be welcomed back. For secondary schools and colleges, the government is keen for teachers to have some face-to-face contact with specified year groups.
Each school in Lancashire is different, and head teachers will take into consideration a number of factors as they reach their decision, including their ability to introduce measures to encourage social distancing. The county council will work closely with schools to provide advice and support.
The advice also applies to early years settings such as nurseries and childminders.
The county council recognises these are exceptional times, so if a child is invited back by their school, but parents choose not to send them, the council will not be exercising enforcement powers such as fines.
Read our latest news story on this.
All of the latest government guidance is available from the gov.uk website.
The Educational Psychology Team have put together some practical ideas to support you to prepare your child for their return to school.
For younger children, there is also the guide: Helping your child return to childcare or school after coronavirus.
Summer Food Fund
(updated 29 June 2020)
In addition to the free school meals national voucher scheme a COVID Summer Food Fund has been established for those who are eligible for benefits-related free school meals to claim vouchers to the value of £90 for the 6-week holiday period.
National voucher scheme
(updated 31 March 2020)
The Department for Education (DfE) have issued guidance about a national voucher scheme for pupils eligible for free school meals. The guidance explains what schools should do to make sure eligible pupils have access to free school meals when they are attending and are not attending school.
The Department for Education’s chosen supplier for the scheme is Edenred. Further information including frequently asked questions for parents is available on the Edenred website.
(updated 9 April 2020)
Schools have been asked to remain open for children who are vulnerable and for those children of key workers critical to the COVID-19 response who absolutely need to attend. If you require a school place, please contact your child's school first, as they are responsible for providing a place either on site or in partnership with another local school.
If your child's school has been forced to close and they are unable to identify an alternative school, please contact your local school admissions team on the numbers below. The County Council has a list of all the schools that remain open and we will contact the nearest school to your home address, on your behalf, to find a place.
Lancaster, Wyre and Fylde: 01524 586417 or 01524 581134
Preston, South Ribble, Chorley and West Lancashire: 01772 531797 or 01772 531859
Hyndburn, Ribble Valley, Burnley, Pendle and Rossendale: 01254 220707 or 01254 220722
Central: 01772 531878
School buses summer term 2020 and COVID-19
(Updated 19 June 2020)
If you wish your child to use the school bus services during the current term you must contact your school to book a place on the bus. This will allow us to ensure that social distancing is in place.
The county council recommends that students (aged 11years and over) wear face coverings on dedicated school transport services. Students travelling on commercial public transport services must wear a face covering in line with government advice unless they are in an exempt category.
Season ticket applications for September 2020
(Updated 10 June 2020)
Please see the School bus season tickets pages for important information about applying for September 2020.
Children of key workers and vulnerable children
(Updated 25 March 2020)
Some buses will continue to operate for those students who will still be attending school, for example the children of key workers. We will be advised by the schools who these children are and there will be no charge for this transport.
School bus season tickets
(Updated 19 March 2020)
In light of the school closures due to coronavirus (COVID-19), we will be arranging for direct debit payments for season tickets and denominational transport to be suspended until further notice.
Please do not cancel your direct debit. A calculation will be done when schools return or at the end of this school year depending on the situation and invoices will be credited for the missed days. If any refunds are due, they will be issued to the bank detailed on our records.
Please note if you choose to cancel the direct debit, the passes must be returned to the school transport team, the address can be found on the back of the pass.
If you have paid in full for a season ticket or denominational transport please contact us at the end of the academic year for your refund. We will require contact information and bank details to process the refund by Bacs.
(Updated 26 May 2020)
Despite the restrictions that are in place, as a result of the coronavirus outbreak, appeals will still be considered over the summer months following emergency legislation from the Department for Education (DFE).
Whilst social distancing measures are in place, we are currently exploring how appeals can be considered.
A provisional timetable of hearings has now been published. This timetable is just a guide and dates may change depending on the number of appeals that are lodged, the views of panel members and the outcome of a virtual hearing pilot survey.
We are currently writing to all appellants who have already submitted an appeal to gather further information from you so that we can consider how the appeal will be heard. An e-mail should be with you within the next couple of weeks.
Full guidance can be found on the school admission appeals section.
Letter from Vicky Ford MP, Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Children and Families
(updated 1 June 2020)
On 26 May, the Department for Education (DfE) published guidance to help colleagues working in local authorities and educational settings to support the needs of children and young people with SEND through the process of wider opening to more children and young people.
The letter from Vicky Ford MP 20 May 2020 (PDF 142 KB) introduces this new guidance and provides some links to further reading.
Updated guidance and letter from ministers
(updated 7 May 2020)
On 30 April 2020 the Department for Education (DfE) published guidance on temporary changes to education, health and care legislation during the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak.
Since then we have been considering the detail and talking to our partners, including the Parent Carer Forum, to agree how best to meet the requirements.
Having done this, we plan to continue to work within the current timescales for all EHC plan processes, unless there are exceptional circumstances, such as a child or young person arriving in the area that we do not have any information about.
We will also build on the processes we have put in place with schools and partners over the last few weeks and record any changes in provision that need to be made.
A letter from the Ministers responsible for children and young people with SEND has been written to parents/carers and families which outlines the changes and provides a link to the guidance.
- Joint ministerial letter 30 April 2020 (PDF 153 KB)
Updated DfE Guidance on children and young people with an education, health and care (EHC) plan
(27 March 2020)
The DfE updated their guidance this weekend including:
- temporarily lifting the statutory duty on local authorities to maintain the precise provision in EHC plans, as long as Local Authorities use their 'reasonable endeavours' they will not be penalised for failing to meet the existing duty in section 42 of the Children and Families Act 2014
- enabling local authorities to prioritise their efforts to support those with the most complex needs on a temporary basis
- reviewing regulations over matters such as the timescales in EHC needs assessments, and the reviews, re-assessments and amendments processes.
Waiting for an EHC plan to be agreed or the outcome from a tribunal
If the local authority has not yet issued an EHC plan for your child, then they will not automatically fall within the definition of 'vulnerable children' for the purposes of attendance at an education setting during the COVID-19 outbreak. However, their educational setting and local authority have discretion to undertake a risk assessment and offer support if that is needed.
If your child has an EHC plan the local authority remains responsible for maintaining it, including until any appeal to the tribunal has been heard and resolved.
(Updated 31 March 2020)
Healthcare provision in and connected to schools, including therapies, continues to be supported, however it is unlikely to be in the same form that you are used to.
Healthcare practitioners have been reviewing their caseloads and prioritising support for the most vulnerable children and those with the most complex needs. This support is being delivered remotely whenever possible, such as by phone or video conferencing, unless there are specific requirements for it to be delivered in person. This is to safeguard children and young people and their families and healthcare practitioners.
There will be some children and young people, who do need to receive physical support from therapists, either because of their specific on-going needs, or because of an emergency situation.
The Department for Education (DfE) has clarified that it does not expect schools to handle new or existing complaints whilst they are closed.
Complaints can be considered once the government confirms schools can safely reopen. The guidance can be found at: