Schools: Coronavirus

Department for Education written question – answered on 31st March 2020.

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Photo of Angela Rayner Angela Rayner Shadow Secretary of State for Education

To ask the Secretary of State for Education, how (a) teachers and (b) other school staff will be deployed between schools due to school closures during the covid-19 outbreak; what powers (i) local authorities and (ii) academy trusts will have during that period; and what steps he is taking to ensure that there is effective co-ordination between those organisations and (A) nurseries and (B) other childcare providers.

Photo of Nick Gibb Nick Gibb Minister of State (Education)

We understand that this is a very difficult time for teachers – we are asking a lot of them and all school staff to help the country fight this virus.

Once schools have assessed their demand and capacity, they should liaise with their local authority to establish whether any staff need to be moved to an alternative setting. We have set out in guidance (published 22 March 2020) that local authorities will need to work closely with educational settings to ensure sufficient provision is available across the local area. Local authorities and educational settings may need to redeploy staff, such as teachers, support staff or other critical workers. They may need to do this across the usual boundaries of maintained, academy, college or other status to ensure the right staff are in the right settings.

Parliament has passed the Coronavirus Act 2020, which includes powers to direct schools and other educational settings, including academies and independent schools, to close, open, re-open or remain open. The Act allows my right hon. Friend, Secretary of State for Education, to delegate these powers to local authorities. The Act also supports schools to stay open by granting powers to the Secretary of State to relax certain elements of education law which would be impossible to fulfil in the current circumstances.

Local authorities are also responsible for coordinating the response to these new arrangements and we expect them to work with schools, nurseries, childminders and others to ensure that different settings are supported to stay open wherever possible, taking into account their circumstances and cohort to ensure there is adequate provision.

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