Children: Coronavirus

Department for Education written question – answered on 24th July 2020.

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Photo of Ian Lavery Ian Lavery Labour, Wansbeck

To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what support he plans to make available to children who live with elderly or vulnerable people in the Autumn in the event that there is a second wave of covid-19.

Photo of Vicky Ford Vicky Ford The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Education

We now know much more about COVID-19 and so in future, there will be far fewer children and young people advised to shield whenever community transmission rates are high. Therefore, the majority of pupils and students will be able to return to school. Shielding advice for all adults and children will pause on 1 August, subject to a continued decline in the rates of community transmission of COVID-19.

Schools should note that:

  • a small number of pupils and students will still be unable to attend in line with public health advice because they are self-isolating and have had symptoms or a positive test result themselves; or because they are a close contact of someone who has COVID-19;
  • shielding advice for all adults and children will pause on 1 August, subject to a continued decline in the rates of community transmission of COVID-19. This means that even the small number of pupils and students who will remain on the shielded patient list can also return to their setting, as can those who have family members who are shielding. Current advice on shielding is available here:

    https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/guidance-on-shielding-and-protecting-extremely-vulnerable-persons-from-covid-19;

  • if rates of disease rise in local areas, children and young people (or family members) from that area, and that area only, will be advised to shield during the period where rates remain high and therefore they may be temporarily absent; and
  • some pupils and students are no longer required to shield, but those who generally remain under the care of a specialist health professional may need to discuss their care with their health professional before returning to school in September (usually at their next planned clinical appointment). Advice from the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health is available here:

    https://www.rcpch.ac.uk/resources/covid-19-shielding-guidance-children-young-people#children-who-should-be-advised-to-shield.

Where a pupil is unable to attend their setting because they are complying with clinical or public health advice, we expect settings to be able to immediately offer them access to remote education. Settings should monitor engagement with this activity. For more detail, see the guidance for full opening, which is available here:

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/actions-for-schools-during-the-coronavirus-outbreak/guidance-for-full-opening-schools#section-3-curriculum-behaviour-and-pastoral-support.

As part of remote education contingency planning, we are supporting sector-led initiatives such as the Oak National Academy. This new enterprise has been created by 40 teachers from schools across England. It will provide 180 video lessons for free each week, across a broad range of subjects, for every year group from reception through to year 10. By 21 June, 3.9 million unique users had accessed the Oak National Academy website and 13.2 million lessons had been viewed.

Additionally, the BBC has developed resources for families as part of a comprehensive new education package, which is now available on TV and online at BBC Bitesize.

The government has also committed over £100 million to boost remote education, this includes: providing devices and internet access for those who need it most, ensuring every school that wants it has access to free, expert technical support to get set up on Google for Education or Microsoft’s Office 365 Education, and offering peer support from schools and colleges leading the way with the use of education technology.

We have published a comprehensive range of advice and guidance to support schools in providing remote education during this time, which is available here:

https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/guidance-for-schools-coronavirus-covid-19.

This includes a list of high-quality online resources, which have been assessed with support from some of the country’s leading educational experts, to help pupils learn at home. We also recognise the importance of schools learning from each other’s emerging practice in developing their approach to remote provision. Our guidance includes case studies from schools developing their practice in a variety of different circumstances. The list of online resources is available here:

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-online-education-resources.

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