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School and early years provision during Coronavirus pandemic

From 1 June early years providers are able to welcome back children of all ages. Primary schools in England have also been asked to welcome back children in key transition years – nursery, reception, year 1 and year 6.

Schools will also continue to offer places to children who are vulnerable, including those with an Education, Health and Care Plan (EHCP), and to children of critical workers.

From 15 June secondary schools, sixth form and colleges can offer some face-to-face support for pupils in year 10 and year 12, and for 16 to 19 learners in the first year of a 2-year study programme.

Colleges and schools will continue to offer places to vulnerable children and young people and children of critical workers.

View GOV.UK guidance for parents and carers on closure of educational settings for further information and answers to frequently asked questions.

Flexibility for primary schools to welcome back additional children this term

We know that in some schools there will be capacity to welcome more children back, in group sizes of no more than 15, before the summer holidays. This may be because take-up amongst eligible children is lower than expected, or because there is additional space still available within the school and available staff to teach and supervise. There is no expectation on primary schools to welcome back additional children where they do not have the capacity to do so.

Your school will contact you if it is able to welcome back additional children. It will be up to individual schools to decide which children to invite back.

If you have a child in nursery, reception, year 1 or year 6 and have not yet taken up on the offer of a place for your child, your school may be in touch to ask if you intend to send your child back this term. If you do not, the school may choose to offer this capacity to another pupil.

Vulnerable children

Vulnerable children and young people in any year group should attend school where it is appropriate, and there are no shielding concerns for the child or their household, and/or following a risk assessment for children with an EHCP. This is so that they can gain the educational and wellbeing benefits of attending.

Vulnerable children and young people are those who:

  • Are assessed as being in need under section 17 of the Children Act 1989, including children and young people who have a child in need plan, a child protection plan or who are a looked-after child.
  • Have an EHCP and it is determined, following a risk assessment, that their needs can be as safely or more safely met in the educational environment.
  • Have been identified as otherwise vulnerable by educational providers, local authorities (including children’s social care services) or other multi-agency partners (such as health care professionals, youth services and the police), and for whom attending early years, school or college would be protective and/or helpful at this time. This might include children and young people on the edge of receiving support from children’s social care services, adopted children, those at risk of becoming NEET (‘not in employment, education or training’), those living in temporary accommodation, those who are young carers, those who would benefit from attendance because of a mental health need, and others at local-level discretion.

The term ‘any year groups’ in this context refers to children under 5 eligible for early years entitlements and children and young people aged 5 to 18 (or aged 5 to 25 for children and young people with an EHCP).

Critical workers

Critical workers include those working in health and social care and in other sectors which are essential to provide basic public services. If you're unsure if you qualify, please check this GOV.UK guidance.

Should I send my child to school or childcare?

If your child has been classed as vulnerable, or one or more adults in the household are critical workers, the government is now strongly recommending that you send your child to school. If their usual school is closed, please call us on 01225 477000, and we will arrange alternative arrangements for your child's education.

School meals

Schools should provide meal options for all children attending school. Meals should be available free of charge to all infant pupils and pupils who meet the benefits-related free school meals eligibility criteria.

If your child normally gets free school meals

Schools and early years settings are also providing food, or funding, to families whose children normally get free school meals. Please look at the current arrangements for your child's school to find out about how they can support you.

Getting children to school

We are aiming to maintain school transport services for all children still attending school who would normally get them. For now, the transport will be with the same bus or taxi service that your child normally has. However, we expect the arrangements may change over time, as the numbers of children requiring transport will be significantly fewer than normal. Please keep in touch with your child's school for details of any changes.

Early years providers

From 1 June we are asking all early years providers to welcome back children of all ages.

View early years arrangements

If you have further enquiries

If you have an enquiry, and you cannot find an answer on our Coronavirus pages, or by contacting your child's school or early years provider, you can call Council Connect on 01225 477000. We will log your query, and pass it on to the most appropriate officer who is available to respond. Please bear with us, as this is an exceptionally busy time for call handlers.