Schools: Coronavirus

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

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Photo of Ian Lavery Ian Lavery Labour, Wansbeck

To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what additional funding from the public purse he plans to make available to schools to enable them to hire more staff so that pupils can work in smaller groups during the covid-19 outbreak.

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

On 2 July we published guidance to help schools prepare for all pupils, in all year groups, to return to school full-time from the beginning of the autumn term. The guidance can be viewed at https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/actions-for-schools-during-the-coronavirus-outbreak/guidance-for-full-opening-schools.

The above guidance sets out a ‘system of controls’ which provides a framework for school leaders to put in place a range of proportionate protective measures for children and staff, which also ensure that all pupils receive a high quality education that enables them to thrive and progress. Measures include minimising contacts between groups and maintaining distance where possible, encouraging regular handwashing, and enhanced cleaning.

The guidance sets out that the use of small groups can restrict the normal operations of schools, presenting both educational and logistical challenges, so class sizes can return to normal. The overarching principle that schools have been asked to apply is reducing the number of contacts between children and staff. This can be achieved through keeping groups separate in class or year group sized ‘bubbles’ and through maintaining distance between individuals. These are not alternative options and both measures will help, but the balance between them will change depending on children’s ability to distance, the lay out of the school and the feasibility of keeping distinct groups separate while offering a broad curriculum.

To implement the required protective measures, schools may also need to alter the way in which they deploy their staff and use existing staff more flexibly. Managers should discuss and agree any changes to staff roles with individuals. Schools should use their existing resources to make arrangements to welcome all children back.

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