Coronavirus: Schools

School closures

(updated 25 March 2020)

Schools that are able to do so have remained open for vulnerable children and the children of essential key workers.

It is becoming increasingly difficult for all schools to remain open, as numbers of staff reduce, and decisions are made about children and young people remaining at home.

Many schools are choosing to work in 'hubs', so that if one school needs to close, we can make sure there is still an offer in the local area. 

We have asked schools to let you and us know if they need to close and to inform you about the alternative arrangements.

There is no expectation that pupils attending school access any greater level of teaching than those that are learning at home and are being supported remotely by schools. 

A range of on-line learning resources are being provided for schools to share with those learning at home, including resources for children and young people with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND).

Updated Department for Education (DfE) guidance on educational provision over the Easter holidays

(Updated 2 April 2020)

Providers are being asked, wherever possible, to maintain provision for children of workers critical to the COVID-19 response and vulnerable children over the Easter holidays. The DfE is asking social workers and schools, wherever possible, to encourage vulnerable children who have a social worker to continue to attend an education setting during the Easter holidays, so long as they do not have underlying health conditions that put them at severe risk.

(updated 31 March 2020)

The Department for Education (DfE) issued guidance this morning 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.

Locally we are already providing packed lunches in most schools for those who are attending, and now that the government e-voucher scheme is available the packed lunch option will be extended to all schools. For those children and young people eligible for free school meals who are not attending school we are advising schools to implement the national scheme. Schools may also choose to use the national scheme, by asking parents to provide packed lunches for those who are eligible and attending school.

Food voucher scam - fraudulent emails

A number of scams are beginning to emerge; some parents are being asked to provide bank details to keep their free school meal entitlement. Please do not provide your bank details – we would never ask for your bank details in this way.

(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.

We have had a lot of enquiries in relation to school admission appeals and what the arrangements will look like for the academic year 2020-21.

We can only share what our current arrangements are at the moment and hope that you will understand that we are doing everything we can under the current restrictions.

  • We have sought guidance from the Department for Education (DfE) if the School Admissions code can be deviated from under the current legal code of practice set by the DFE.
  • The initial response from the Department of Education is that this is currently being looked at but no decision as yet has been made and it could be a number of weeks until further guidance is available.

Please continue to submit any appeals you wish to log and the appeals team will log and action these submissions when guidance does become available from the DFE.

The current timetable will be void until we receive guidance. We will provide details of any new arrangements when they are available.

Full guidance can be found on the school admission appeals section.

(updated 27 March 2020)

Updated DfE Guidance on children and young people with an education, health and care (EHC) plan

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 24 March 2020)

Children and young people with an allocated social worker must remain in school until a risk assessment by a social worker has taken place.

(Updated 27 March 2020)

The changes to legislation require the Local Authority to use 'reasonable endeavours' to ensure that provision and support for children and young people is in place and is prioritised for those who are most vulnerable. The Local Authority will be applying this principle to a range of statutory processes, such as those relating to education, health and care (EHC) plans, transition plans and personal education plans.

(updated 24 March 2020)

If you are a parent governor please do not visit your school at the moment.

(updated 24 March 2020)

Children and young people should remain in uniform so that they are clearly identifiable.

(Updated 25 March 2020)

Yesterday we received a copy of a letter from the Minister responsible for SEND which we have been asked to share as widely as possible.

(Updated 19 March 2020)

The 2019/20 national curriculum assessments will not take place. This means the following assessments planned between April and July 2020 are cancelled:

  • end of key stage 1 and key stage 2 assessments (including tests and teacher assessment)
  • phonics screening check
  • multiplication tables check
  • science sampling tests
  • all statutory trialling

Primary school performance measures will not be published for the 2019/20 academic year.

(updated 2 April 2020)

Department for Education (DfE) information for parents and carers

The Department for Education (DfE) has information for parents and carers of children at registered childcare providers (including nurseries and childminders), primary and secondary schools and further education colleges: 

Keeping children safe online

As part of the guidance above there is a section on keeping children safe online. It provides links to online resources that will help support parents and carers in keeping children safe online. 

Resources and children’s guide from the Children’s Commissioner

The Children’s Commissioner has recently published a list of handy, free online activities and materials to use at home to help keep your child busy, active and learning.

A children’s guide to coronavirus to help explain the situation has also been produced. The guide aims to answer children’s questions about coronavirus, tell children how to stay safe and protect other people and how to help them make the best of their time at home.

Home learning ideas for pupils with special educational needs

The first newsletter from the Lancashire SEND Specialist Teacher Service has lots of suggestions and practical ideas for parents and carers of young people with SEND.
Topics cover the broad areas of cognition and learning, communication and interaction, social and emotional wellbeing and sensory and physical needs.

Children looked after and previously looked after children

Due to the current situation Virtual School and the Hospital Home Teach Service have created a web resource information guide (PDF 601 KB) of suitable free websites for you to use. This covers from early years through to post 16 study. All sites have been tested and safe to use.

(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.