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Education and childcare settings update

Department for Education written statement – made on 13th May 2020.

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Photo of Gavin Williamson Gavin Williamson The Secretary of State for Education

This week I have published guidance to set out how we will support early years, schools and colleges to welcome back more children from 1 June at the earliest.

It is over seven weeks since we asked schools, colleges, and childcare settings to allow only vulnerable children and those of critical workers to attend, and I encourage them to continue to take up this offer. This has been a huge ask of teachers, parents and children. I am immensely grateful for the response of all those working in education, childcare and children’s social care who have undoubtedly helped to support the NHS and save lives.

But we all know the best place for children to be educated is in school and it was always my intention to get them back there as soon as the scientific advice allowed.

As the Prime Minister has confirmed, we are now past the peak of the virus and he has set out a roadmap for the next phases of our recovery. If progress continues to be made we expect that, from 1 June at the earliest, we will be able to begin a phased return to school, college and childcare for children and young people in key transition years, alongside the priority groups currently eligible to attend:

  • Primary schools in England will be able to welcome back nursery, reception, Year 1 and Year 6 children, in smaller class sizes.
  • Nurseries and other early years providers, including childminders, will be able to begin welcoming back children of all ages.
  • Secondary schools and colleges will be able to provide some face-to-face support for Year 10, Year 12, and 16-19 college students who are due to take key exams and assessments next year.

I have published the following guidance to support education and childcare settings to prepare for these changes on

  • Actions for educational and childcare settings
  • Implementing protective measures in education childcare settings
  • Information for parents and carers
  • Initial planning framework

This guidance sets out protective measures that settings should put in place to reduce the risk of transmission. These include children and young people staying within their new, smaller, classes wherever possible and limiting contact between different groups. We have also set out a range of additional protective measures including frequent cleaning, encouraging good hand and respiratory hygiene, considering refreshing the timetable to limit movement and stagger break and lunchtimes, and using outdoor space.

Staff and pupils in all settings will be eligible for testing if they become ill with coronavirus symptoms, as will members of their households, to enable a track and trace approach to be taken in response to any confirmed cases.

We continue to follow the best medical and scientific advice and believe that this phased return is the most sensible course of action to take. We will only do this provided that the five key tests set by Government justify the changes at the time

We will also be updating our guidance for early years settings to confirm that paid childcare can be provided to the children of one household from today, Wednesday 13 May, including by childminders, who may choose to look after the children of one household if they are not already looking after vulnerable children or those of critical workers.

This statement has also been made in the House of Lords: HLWS232