As part of the country’s ongoing response to coronavirus, Schools, colleges and early years settings are to close on Friday.

Schools will remain closed until further notice when they shut their gates on Friday afternoon. 

Children of key workers and vulnerable children will still be able to attend.  

Children who do not fall into these groups should remain at home with appropriate care.

Children of key worker and vulnerable children exempt.

Examples of these workers include NHS staff, police and supermarket delivery drivers.  

Those who need to be able to go to work to support the country’s fight to tackle coronavirus.

Vulnerable children include those who have a social worker and those with Education, Health and Care Plans – a legal document that describes a child’s special educational needs and the support they require.

Where schools are unable to look after these children, local authorities will work with the DfE’a regional teams.  

This is to ensure an alternative option is available in the same area.

Nurseries, private schools and sixth forms should also follow this guidance.

Financial support for these settings will be provided by the DfE as required.

Scientific Advice

All advice shows that these settings are safe for this small number of children to continue attending.  Asking others to stay away will help to slow the spread of the virus.

Education Secretary Gavin Williamson said:

“Fighting Coronavirus and protecting the vulnerable and our NHS are the Government’s top priorities right now. That’s why we are asking schools, nurseries and colleges to close – except for vulnerable children and the children of key workers.

We are facing increasingly extraordinary circumstances, but by asking schools to support our key workers and vulnerable children I am confident we will help beat this virus.”

Ofsted and Assessments

To lift the pressure on schools themselves and to allow them to focus on supporting those children who need it most, Ofsted will cease all inspections of schools and colleges with immediate effect.

Primary school assessments or secondary exams will also not be going ahead this Summer and performance tables will not be published.

The DfE will work with the sector and Ofqual, to ensure children get the qualifications they need.

Free School Meals Scheme – How this will be impacted?

To support children eligible for free school meals, schools will be able to purchase meals or vouchers for supermarkets or local shops.

The government has also confirmed that the total value of vouchers offered to each eligible child per week, will exceed the rate it pays to schools for free school meals.

This also recognises that families will not be buying food in bulk and may therefore incur higher costs.

The final amounts will be confirmed shortly.

Effective immediately, schools will be able to order vouchers directly from supermarkets or shops in their communities.  

They can then be emailed or printed and posted to families.  The costs will be covered by the Department for Education.

Guidance for schools will be published shortly.

Universities and Higher Education

Many universities and other higher education institutions are already taking necessary steps to keep their staff and students safe.

The DfE are confident that the vice-chancellors are making the right decisions and the DfE continues to support them in doing so,

Nurseries

To support nurseries at this time, the Chancellor has also decided that they will also now be eligible for a business rates holiday for one year.

That means non-local authority providers of childcare will pay no business rates in 2020-21, from 1 April.

Local authorities will be fully compensated for the cost of this measure.

The Barnett formula is being applied to this additional support in England. 

Guidance for local authorities on the application of the holiday will be published by MHCLG shortly.

Original source: gov.uk