Coronavirus: Schools

Updated 3rd April 2020, 18:24. For the latest medical advice, visit NHS.uk/Coronavirus.

Schools are now closed until further notice, except for vulnerable children, and those of key workers. 

The scientific advice shows that these settings are safe for this small number of children to continue attending – but asking others to stay away will help slow the spread of coronavirus. 

Key workers, who's children can continue attending school include: 

Health and Social Care

This includes, but is not limited to doctors, nurses, midwives, paramedics, social workers, care workers, care workers, and other frontline health and social care staff including volunteers; the support and specialist staff required to maintain the UK’s health and social care sector; those working as part of the health and social care supply chain, including producers and distributers of medicines and medical and personal protective equipment.

Education and childcare

This includes childcare, support and teaching staff, social workers and those specialist education professionals who must remain active during the COVID-19 response to deliver this approach.

Key public services

This includes those essential to the running of the justice system, religious staff, charities and workers delivering key frontline services, those responsible for the management of the deceased, and journalists and broadcasters who are providing public service broadcasting.

Local and national government

This only includes those administrative occupations essential to the effective delivery of the COVID-19 response, or delivering essential public services, such as the payment of benefits, including in government agencies and arms length bodies.

Food and other necessary goods

This includes those involved in food production, processing, distribution, sale and delivery, as well as those essential to the provision of other key goods (for example hygienic and veterinary medicines).

Public safety and national security

This includes police and support staff, Ministry of Defence civilians, contractor and armed forces personnel (those critical to the delivery of key defence and national security outputs and essential to the response to the COVID-19 pandemic), fire and rescue service employees (including support staff), National Crime Agency staff, those maintaining border security, prison and probation staff and other national security roles, including those overseas.

Transport

This includes those who will keep the air, water, road and rail passenger and freight transport modes operating during the COVID-19 response, including those working on transport systems through which supply chains pass.

Utilities, communication and financial services

This includes staff needed for essential financial services provision (including but not limited to workers in banks, building societies and financial market infrastructure), the oil, gas, electricity and water sectors (including sewerage), information technology and data infrastructure sector and primary industry supplies to continue during the COVID-19 response, as well as key staff working in the civil nuclear, chemicals, telecommunications (including but not limited to network operations, field engineering, call centre staff, IT and data infrastructure, 999 and 111 critical services), postal services and delivery, payments providers and waste disposal sectors.

 

Additional Information

If you think you call within the above categories, you should confirm with your employer that, based on business continuity arrangements, their specific role is necessary for the continuation of this essential public service.

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

Where schools are unable to look after these children, local authorities will work with the Department for Education’s regional teams to ensure an alternative option is available in the same area.

Registered early years providers, including childminders, private schools and sixth forms should also follow this guidance. We will provide financial support for these settings as required.

Where possible, the government encourages settings to also look after key workers’ children and vulnerable children throughout the Easter holidays.

The scientific advice shows that these settings are safe for this small number of children to continue attending – but asking others to stay away will help us to slow the spread.

Free School Meals

Low-income families whose children are eligible for free school meals will be offered vouchers, food or meals to make sure they continue receiving this support, even if they are no longer attending school due to the coronavirus outbreak. Schools can either provide meals or vouchers for supermarkets or local shops, which can be sent directly to families who are either self-isolating at home or whose schools are closed on government advice. It is up to headteachers to decide which option is best for the school. 

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, recognising that families will not be buying food in bulk and may therefore incur higher costs.

Click here to find out whether your child is eligible for free school meals and, therefore, the voucher replacement scheme. Any child already receiving free school meals may still qualify. 

School Inspections

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.

School Summer Exams

Primary school assessments or secondary school exams will not go ahead this summer, and there will be no performance tables. These exams have been cancelled, and they will not go ahead this summer under any circumstance. 

The exam regulator, Ofqual, and exam boards will work with teachers to provide grades to students. This means ensuring GCSE, A and AS level students are awarded a grade which fairly reflects the work that they have put in. There will also be an option to sit an exam early in the next academic year for students who wish to.

Ofqual will develop and set out a process that will provide a calculated grade to each student which reflects their performance as fairly as possible. To produce this, teachers will take into account a range of evidence and data including performance on mock exams and non-exam assessment – clear guidance on how to do this fairly and robustly will be provided to schools and colleges. The exam boards will then combine this information with other relevant data, including prior attainment, and use this information to produce a calculated grade for each student, which will be a best assessment of the work they have put in. 

Ofqual and exam boards will be discussing with teachers’ representatives before finalising an approach, to ensure that it is as fair as possible. More information will be provided as soon as possible.

University representatives have confirmed that they expect universities to be flexible and do all they can to support students and ensure they can progress to higher education.

The Department for Education aim to provide these calculated grades before the end of July. In terms of a permanent record, the grades will be indistinguishable from those provided in other years. If students do not feel their calculated grade reflects their performance, they will have the opportunity to sit an exam at the earliest reasonable opportunity, once schools are open again. Students will also have the option to sit their exams in summer 2021.

The Government will not publish any school or college level educational performance data based on tests, assessments or exams for 2020.