Department for Education written question – answered on 7th September 2020.

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Photo of Chris Green Chris Green Conservative, Bolton West

What steps his Department is taking to support good (a) attendance and (b) behaviour as pupils return to school as covid-19 restrictions are eased.

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

It is vital for all pupils to return to school to minimise the impact of the pandemic on their education. It is important for schools to also be calm and disciplined environments, where everyone follows the rules.

We have published guidance for school leaders to support them to:

  • communicate clear and consistent expectations around school attendance to families throughout the summer ahead of the new school year
  • identify pupils who are reluctant or anxious about returning or who are at risk of disengagement and develop plans for re-engaging them using the additional catch-up funding schools will receive
  • work closely with other professionals as appropriate to support the return to school, including social workers and other specialist services
  • update behaviour policies and communicate any new rules clearly and consistently to staff, pupils and parents
  • ensure appropriate provision is in place for pupils with additional needs. Some children will return to school having been exposed to a range of adversity which may lead to social, emotional and mental health concerns.

To support this work on the ground, regional teams continue to engage regularly with local authorities to understand any barriers to attendance. We are also working with stakeholders to enable schools and LAs to share best practice to improve attendance and ensure a smooth transition back to school.

More widely, we are running a ‘Back to school’ campaign which seeks to reassure parents and explain the measures that education providers are taking to reduce the risk of transmission.

We have also worked with local authorities and transport providers to make sure children/young people can get to school/college safely, providing more than £40 million of additional funding to create extra capacity.

The Department will shortly be inviting schools with exemplary behaviour to deliver the Behaviour Hubs programme and support those schools that need additional support in turning around their behaviour cultures. Over the Autumn term, National Leaders of Education will continue to work with schools most affected by COVID-19, including in improving behaviour.

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