Guidance for schools, colleges and local authorities on maintaining educational provision (gov.uk)
The government has today (Friday 20th March 2020) issued further guidance to schools and parents.
Closure of educational settings: information for parents and carers (gov.uk)
The guidance can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/closure-of-educational-settings-information-for-parents-and-carers/closure-of-educational-settings-information-for-parents-and-carers
The key principles are:
- If it is at all possible for children to be at home, then they should be.
- If a child needs specialist support, is vulnerable or has a parent who is a critical worker, then educational provision will be available for them.
Government guidance says, 'many parents working in [critical] sectors may be able to ensure their child is kept at home. And every child who can be safely cared for at home should be'.
A list of critical sectors can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-maintaining-educational-provision/guidance-for-schools-colleges-and-local-authorities-on-maintaining-educational-provision
Government guidance says, 'vulnerable children include children who are supported by social care, those with safeguarding and welfare needs, including child in need plans, on child protection plans, ‘looked after’ children, young carers, disabled children and those with education, health and care (EHC) plans.'
The government adds, 'we know that schools will also want to support other children facing social difficulties and we will support head teachers to do so.'
There is no requirement for parents to take up the offer of a school place
The government says, 'this is an offer to parents and carers and there is no requirement for parents and carers to send their children to school if they do not need or wish to do so.'
Interestingly the guidance says, 'for vulnerable children, your child’s social worker will work with you to assess the best option for your child.'
The government says, 'special schools, colleges and local authorities are advised to make case by case basis assessments of the health and safeguarding considerations of pupils and students on an education, health and care (EHC) plan. For some, they will be safer in an education provision. For others, they will be safer at home. We trust leaders and parents to make these decisions and will support them as required.'
'We want to keep the majority of day special schools and colleges open, including moving staff into these settings to avoid closure.'
'Residential special schools, boarding schools and special settings [should] continue to care for children wherever possible'.