COVID-19 (CORONAVIRUS) UPDATES FROM FAIRFIELD FARM COLLEGE
LAST UPDATED: 26TH JUNE 2020 @ 16:00 PM
PLEASE BE AWARE THAT YOUTH CLUB IS CANCELLED UNTIL FURTHER NOTICE. THANK YOU FOR YOUR UNDERSTANDING
LATEST UPDATE FROM FAIRFIELD FARM COLLEGE
Since our last communication, we have seen an increase in student numbers to 61 with a few more returning next week. We continue to operate the bubble model and even held a socially distanced sports event this week with pictures available on the website and Facebook.
We have extended the term in an attempt to compensate for some of the missed time in college. As such, term will now end on 17 July at 1300 hours. We have informed taxi firms but if you could also confirm this with them.
Unfortunately, all our summer term events have been cancelled with the exception of Graduation. Our plan is to proceed with Graduation for our leavers on 10 July. We will communicate with families directly on arrangements which can now include attendance by 1 family member as well as live streaming.
Home learning, Zoom tutorials and weekly welfare calls will continue for students that are shielding.
If you would like your child to return prior to the end of term then please contact Helen on 01373 866066 or firstname.lastname@example.org.. This enables us to plan effectively within group bubbles.
Keep safe and well.
Dr. Tina Pagett
CLICK A QUESTION FOR THE RELEVANT INFORMATION | DOWNLOAD A PDF VERSION HERE
How are you responding to the Government guidance to re-open schools and colleges?
Fairfield has remained open as the Country has responded to COVID-19, this is because the Government classify our students as ‘vulnerable young people’ and as such, instructed us to remain open. We quickly adapted to different ways of working and continue to do so in order to best meet the needs of our students.
Can my child return to college?
Yes, young people are strongly encouraged to attend (where there are no shielding concerns) so that they can gain the educational and wellbeing benefits from attending.
Can my child return to college if someone at home is shielding?
Yes, where someone in the household is shielding (but not clinically extremely vulnerable), including those who are pregnant, can attend their education setting.
How are you preparing for greater numbers of students returning to college and the houses?
We have been working with small numbers of initially 8, 11, then 15 and as a result we have been in the fortunate position of being able to trial different ways of working in response to changing Government guidance in keeping staff and students safe.
How are students and residents in college coping with the changes?
Remarkably well, hygiene and infection control is always a priority with established systems and students have adapted to increasing handwashing and sanitising, they even have an hand gesture to remind people to use sanitiser. Systems such as sitting at a table by their photography or using different entrances and exits to minimise numbers passing in corridors, as well as following 2m markers has become the new norm. We have been amazed at how resilient our young people are.
Will my child’s timetable change?
Yes, the curriculum is constantly adapting to ensure social distancing and safety. There will be a continued emphasis on learning, however the main timetable will not be in place. Instead we are prioritising using outside spaces for learning, minimising the movement of students across the site and reducing the numbers of staff and students that individuals come into contact with.
What about infection control measures?
The college and houses were recently deep cleaned by a contractor. We have commissioned a team of cleaning contractors to double our capacity within the team. The team is on site daily with an additional plan for wiping down surfaces and equipment between sessions across the day. We have anti-bac soap and sanitiser across the site with systems in place to ensure regular and routine use.
What other measures are you taking to minimise risk of infection?
Additional measures we are taking include:
• Guidance issued to ensure people are alert to symptoms and follow the self-isolation guidance
• Deep cleaning and increasing the capacity by contracting with a local cleaning company
• Anti-bacterial soap and sanitiser in all key areas
• Strict handwashing and hygiene guidance
• Reduced numbers of staff working with students
• Small and consistent groups of students with key staff
• Adapted timetable focusing on education outdoors
• Minimising the use of corridors by using outside access to classrooms
• Using large vehicles to space students when travelling to Hope Nature Centre
• Visible spacing measures to promote 2m distancing
• Full PPE including gloves and aprons available
• Introducing face coverings for those that feel more comfortable wearing them
Are there enough staff to support my child if they go back to college?
We have a dedicated and committed workforce that have worked hard to ensure the safety of students and residents. We have a full team of tutors and support staff ready to work with increasing numbers of students and residents.
Do the staff have access to sufficient PPE?
Yes, we have anti-bac soap, sanitiser, aprons, gloves, face masks, face shields and face coverings*. We have a full stock of PPE to enable us to follow the guide for barrier nursing with clear instructions on how and when to implement the use of PPE, namely when a resident shows symptom of COVID-19.
*Face coverings are not recommended for use within education settings, but we will issue a face covering for all staff and students to use where social distancing cannot be reliably followed or where people feel more confident doing so.
What is the ‘bubble’ model the Government keep referring to?
This approach is aimed at reducing the number of people that children and young people will come into contact within school and college. For example, small numbers of students will work with a core group of staff based in a limited number of areas within the building. This reduces the risk of mixing with large numbers of people.
Do I have to send my child back to college on the 1 June?
To be clear, we are sharing this advice with you and will continue to work with you to ensure that we are meeting the needs of your child. We are not informing you that you must send your child back to college on the 1 June and fully intend to continue to operate home learning for those students that continue to isolate.
Will transport services be operational?
Transport services are operational for those that are currently accessing, we have found them to be responsive to families as students have started to return. You will need to liaise with transport services to check on availability of routine services.
How will transport services keep my child safe?
We have seen some drivers wearing masks, larger vehicles are spacing students within the vehicle. It is our understanding that individual taxis will not be available, but you should speak directly to the service in your area. The use of face covering is one option to provide additional protection in the vehicle.
Will you be routinely taking my child’s temperature?
No, Government guidance states that parents, carers and settings do not need to take children’s temperature. Routine testing of an individual’s temperature is not a reliable method for identifying COVID-19.
What happens if my child becomes unwell with COVID-19 symptoms at college?
We will move them to a designated isolation room with adult supervision. We will ensure there is additional ventilation, staff will maintain 2m distance and allocate a separate toilet facility. We will make contact with the family them and follow Government isolation guidance to remain at home and self-isolate for a period of 7-days.
If they are a resident and you would like them to return home, this can be arranged. However, if you prefer or it is safer to remain at college then staff are skilled to take care of them. Barrier nursing would be implemented which will mean they are unable to leave their room for at least 7-days, maybe 14 depending on others in the residence also having symptoms.
Can my child be tested for COVID-19 if they show symptoms?
Yes, all staff and children in all settings will be eligible for testing if they become ill with symptoms, as will members of their households.
What happens if there is a confirmed case of COVID-19 at the college?
The student or member of staff will be sent home and asked to self-isolate for 7-days, their fellow household members will be asked to isolate for 14-days. If the test is negative, they can return to college and household members can end isolation. Where the test is positive the rest of their class and staff working with them will be asked to self-isolate for 14-days. Areas affected in the college will be deep cleaned.
We report all confirmed cases to Public Health England who will advise us on any further actions. Where settings are observing guidance on infection control, which will reduce the risk of transmission, closure of the whole setting will not generally be necessary.
Will the residential houses still be under self-isolating household restrictions?
Yes, self-isolating restrictions will need to be in place for residents.
Would my child be at higher risk of catching COVID-19 at college than at home?
Public Health England are clear that if education settings apply comprehensive infection control measures such as taking steps to ensure symptomatic individuals do not attend settings, regular hand cleaning, respiratory hygiene and cleaning measures, then the risk of transmission will be lowered.
Can residential students go home for weekends and can my family visit?
Yes, student residents can return home for the weekend as long as families are adhering to Public Health England guidance. However, we do not want families the houses to minimise the number of people that residents are coming into contact with.
If my child has symptoms of COVID-19 or been in contact in the last 14-days with someone who has symptoms can they return to college?
No, if they have symptoms, they must not return for 7-days or until symptom free. If they have been in contact with someone with symptoms, they must not return for 14-days and can only do so if they have remained symptom free. Symptoms include a cough or temperature of 37.8 or above.
If my child can’t return to college this term can we apply for an extension request?
At the present time we do not fully understand the implications for students that have lost time at College or not achieved their learning outcomes due to the interruption of their education. We are working closely with all local authorities to gain clarification regarding extension requests. Once we have further information, we will share this with you.
Staying at home and away from others (social distancing)
Guidance for schools, childcare providers, colleges and local authorities in England on maintaining educational provision
Coronavirus (COVID-19): guidance on vulnerable children and young people
What parents and carers need to know about schools, colleges and other education settings during the coronavirus outbreak
USEFUL INFORMATION FOR STUDENTS, PARENT’S & CARERS
Down Syndrome Association Coronavirus Advice Sheet
Mencap Information about Coronavirus Easyread document.
How to access the Learning Area.
How to access BKSB.
How to access Zoom.
LATEST GOVERMENT UPDATES
Vicky Ford open letter to Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND) establishments - JUNE 2ND 202020
To all children and young people with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND), their parents/carers and families, and others who support them.
I would like to express my sincere thanks for everything you are doing at this challenging time. I also wanted to explain how the wider opening of schools and other educational settings may affect your family. This letter has been distributed through as many of our partner organisations as possible. I would be grateful if you could also circulate it widely.
I realise that this is a particularly difficult time for children and young people with SEND and their families, and I’m sure that you have lots of questions. As you will be aware, on 28 May the Prime Minister announced that the Government’s five tests had been met and, based on all the evidence, primary schools and early years’ settings will be opening to more children and young people from the week commencing the 1 June. Secondary schools and colleges will begin to offer some face-to-face support to Year 10 and 12 students and 16-19 learners taking key exams next year.
On 26 May, the Department for Education (DfE) published guidance to help colleagues working in local authorities and educational settings to support the needs of children and young people with SEND through the process of wider opening to more children and young people. The full guidance is available at this link:
We have produced this guidance with help from SEND sector organisations, including parent carer forums and representatives, to outline pragmatic approaches that local authorities, educational settings, and parents or carers may wish to take to support children and young people with SEND throughout the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak. This guidance updates our existing advice to local authorities on risk assessments to determine which children and young people should be attending their education setting. It now also includes advice on how to approach the phased return to face-to-face education for children and young people with SEND.
I want to assure you that safety will always be our primary concern. Local authorities and educational settings should work with families to bring children and young people back to face-to-face education to ensure they receive the support that every child or young person deserves.
This new guidance sets out that children and young people with SEND in mainstream and Alternative Provision settings who have not been attending and are in eligible year groups should experience the same return to their school/college or contact with their teachers as their peers without SEND in the same year group. We recognise that each individual child with SEND has their own needs, so decisions should be based on each child’s risk assessment with families and schools working together. Special schools, special post-16 institutions and hospital schools should work towards welcoming back as many children and young people as can be safely catered for in their setting based on risk assessments but not using their year group as a primary deciding factor. Educational settings and local authorities should keep risk assessments up to date, to ensure they are able to offer places to pupils and students, whatever year group they are in, where circumstances have changed.
I know that there has been a huge amount of change at this time, so if you want more details, you may also wish to read further guidance including:
• Actions for education and childcare settings to prepare for wider opening from 1 June 2020 and actions for FE colleges and providers during the coronavirus outbreak, which sets out the overarching aims and principles of wider opening and the next steps for education and childcare providers.
• Guidance on implementing protective measures in education and childcare settings.
• Guidance on safe working in education, childcare and children’s social care, including the use of PPE in education, childcare and children’s social care settings during the coronavirus outbreak.
• Guidance on isolation in residential educational settings.
• Guidance on supporting vulnerable children and young people during the coronavirus outbreak.
• Guidance on the changes to the law on education, health and care needs assessments and plans due to coronavirus.
I realise that whilst the coronavirus pandemic has affected us all, children and young people with SEND and their families have often faced particularly acute challenges. This is why I was happy to announce on 19 May that the Family Fund will receive funding of £37.3 million in 2020-21. The Family Fund provides grants to families on low incomes who have children with disabilities or severe medical conditions, and this funding includes £10 million which has been allocated to help families in response to the Covid-19 pandemic. More details can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/government/news/37-million-to-support-children-with-complex-needs
You can also keep up to date by regularly checking the gov.uk webpages and if you want to speak to an advisor from the DfE, please do call the DfE Coronavirus helpline which we have established for local authorities, providers and parents. The number is 0800 046 8687, and lines are open 8am-6pm (Monday – Friday), and 10am – 4pm (Saturday and Sunday).
The Council for Disabled Children has also pulled together a wide set of resources to respond to frequently asked questions:
Finally, I would like to express my personal gratitude towards all those in the SEND sector for continuing to care for, teach and support vulnerable children and young people in these difficult times.
Vicky Ford MP
Vicky Ford & Helen Whately open letter to Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND) establishments - APRIL 30TH 2020
To all children and young people with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND), their parents/carers and families, and others who support them
As Ministers responsible for children and young people with SEND and their health needs, we wanted to write to let you know that we are committed to doing everything possible to support you during this difficult time.
None of us have faced a challenge like this in our lifetimes. Our response to the pandemic has different impacts on different people, but we know that these have been particularly hard for those children and young people with complex health needs, learning disabilities, autism and behaviour that challenges, and their families. Supporting the most vulnerable children, young people and adults is a priority for us at this time. We want to ensure that children and young people with SEND are supported as well as possible in these difficult circumstances and want to update you on some changes to the law and other actions we are taking in order to enable this.
Changes to the law
We are temporarily changing the law regarding Education, Health and Care (EHC) plans in two key ways. Firstly, we have issued a notice under the Coronavirus Act 2020 confirming that local authorities and health commissioning bodies (e.g. Clinical Commissioning Groups) must now use their reasonable endeavours to secure the provision set out within a child or young person’s EHC plan. This means that local authorities and health bodies must consider, for each child and young person with an EHC plan, what they need to provide during the period of the notice. This may result in a child or young person’s provision being different from that which is set out in their EHC plan, but local authorities and health services will still seek to support the needs of the child or young person in the new circumstances we find ourselves in. For example, they may offer support virtually rather than face to face. This legal change will be in force from 1st to 31st May 2020 and may be extended.
Secondly, where a reason relating to the incidence or transmission of coronavirus applies, the usual timescales in regulations for various EHC processes will be replaced by requirements on local authorities, health care professionals and others to act as soon as reasonably practicable (or in line with any other timing requirement in the regulations being amended). These changes will be in force from 1st May to 25th September 2020 and we will be keeping this under review.
We have published detailed guidance alongside these temporary changes. A link to this guidance can be found at: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/send-code-of-practice-0-to-25.
We know that as parents and others involved in the care of this vulnerable group, your primary concern is their health and wellbeing. As the Ministers for SEND and Care, we share those concerns and want to reassure you that these changes are temporary and all other requirements of the EHC process remain unchanged. The changes are designed to balance the needs of children and young people with the ability of local authorities and health services to respond to the outbreak.
Our aim is that, as far as practicable during this difficult period, EHC processes continue so that children and young people still get help and support whilst accepting that this may have to be done differently. We expect commissioning bodies – and the services they commission – to maintain education, health and care provision for vulnerable children, and also to extend extra support, where possible, to families in most need – recognising that home isolation is extremely hard for many children and young people with SEND and their families.
In addition, we want to emphasise that co-production, partnership and communication remain critical.
Keeping children and young people with EHC plans in education
For those with EHC plans, we are asking local authorities and educational providers to work with families and the child or young person to carry out an individual risk assessment to judge whether the child or young person’s needs can be more safely met at home or at their educational setting. We recognise that some children and young people may be better off with the greater continuity and structure that education brings and that some of those with the most complex needs may need access to support that cannot be provided at home.
We have provided new guidance to help with that risk assessment process: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-send-risk-assessment-guidance/coronavirus-covid-19-send-risk-assessment-guidance.
For parents whose children are not in school, the Department for Education has published the guidance and an initial list of resources to support access to high quality remote education during school closures: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-online-education-resources/coronavirus-covid-19-list-of-online-education-resources-for-home-education.
Local authorities across England will receive a further £1.6 billion to help them to deal with the immediate impacts of coronavirus (COVID-19). This takes the total funding to support councils to respond to the pandemic to over £3.2 billion. Local authorities are best placed to decide how to meet service pressures in their local area, including within SEND and children’s social care.
We have confirmed that schools and colleges will continue to receive their usual funding, including from the high needs block, to support them through this period of disruption: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-financial-support-for-education-early-years-and-childrens-social-care.
We are also providing financial support to schools to meet additional costs arising from Covid-19: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-financial-support-for-schools.
We hope that this letter has been helpful in setting out what we are doing at this time to support children with SEND. At the end of this letter, there are some key resources that may be helpful. Right now, our focus, like yours, is on the current situation and keeping you and your children safe and supported. We know that by working together, we can ensure that children and young people with SEND receive the support they need during this difficult time.
Helen Whately MP
Minister of State for Care
Vicky Ford MP
Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Children and Families
Vicky Ford open letter to Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND) establishments - MARCH 24TH 2020
This is an open letter distributed through as many of our partner organisations as possible. I would be grateful if you could circulate it as widely as possible to children and young people with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND), their parents/carers and families, and all others who support them.
This is an unprecedented, uncertain and testing time for all of us due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. It is particularly challenging for children and young people with SEND, their families, and those who work tirelessly to support and care for them.
This is why, over the past week, we have made announcements and issued guidance about how we will meet the needs of children and young people with SEND during this challenging time. As the Minister responsible for SEND, I wanted to write to let you know that we are committed to doing everything possible to support you during this difficult time.
We are working in partnership with many organisations, including the National Network for Parent Carer Forums and the Council for Disabled Children, to make sure we are focusing our efforts in the right places. In all our decisions, the needs of SEND children and young people and their families and carers, and safeguarding these vulnerable groups, are at the forefront of our minds.
The Government published guidance about supporting vulnerable children on 22 March. It includes a number of frequently asked questions and is available at https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-guidance-on-vulnerable-children-and-young-people. We have also published new guidance that provides household isolation advice for children and young people who live in residential settings, and the staff that support them. This guidance is available at https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-guidance-on-isolation-for-residential-educational-settings.
The guidance on supporting vulnerable children states that local authorities, nurseries, schools, special schools, colleges and other training providers should undertake a risk assessment to establish the individual needs of each child or young person with an Education, Health and Care (EHC) plan. This assessment should incorporate the views of the child or young person and their parents. This will inform the decision about whether they should continue in school or college, or whether their needs can be met at home safely.
If needs are best met at schools or colleges, we will support their school or college to meet their needs, wherever possible. For those on SEN support, schools, colleges and local authorities have discretion to use the same risk judgement to decide whether home or school is the safest setting for these children. It is, however, important that as many children as possible remain at home during this time in order to help reduce transmission rates.
On 19 March, the Government introduced new legislation into Parliament, in the form of the Coronavirus Bill (‘the Bill’), in response to the outbreak (https://services.parliament.uk/bills/2019-21/coronavirus.html).
Our overwhelming aim for SEND, through the Bill and the proposed changes to regulations that are to follow, is to balance the needs of this vulnerable group to receive the support they need with managing the demands on local authorities and health bodies to respond to this outbreak. As a result, we have included in the Bill temporary emergency powers to enable us, where necessary, to modify the legal requirements on local authorities in fulfilling their duties in relation to EHC plans.
In practice, this will mean that where a local authority is, because of the outbreak, unable, for example, to put in place stated provision, they will need to use their reasonable endeavours to do this, but won’t be penalised for failing to meet the existing duty as set out in the Children and Families Act 2014. These emergency powers will only be exercised for the shortest period and where necessary, and will be regularly reviewed. We will also be seeking to amend regulations on the timescales for EHC plan processes where this is appropriate because of COVID-19. I want to reiterate that these decisions are not taken lightly but I believe strike the right balance in these difficult times.
I encourage you to keep up to date by regularly checking the gov.uk webpages, and raise awareness of the DfE Coronavirus helpline we have established for local authorities, providers and parents to get information on the latest Government advice. The number is 0800 046 8687, and lines are open 8am-6pm (Monday – Friday), and 10am – 4pm (Saturday and Sunday).
I realise that the impact of these extraordinary circumstances on this group of children and young people can be particularly acute. This is why I have asked the Council for Disabled Children, in partnership with Contact, to ensure that their websites and forums regularly update both families and services on information, which is available to support them. I have also asked them to collate any questions and queries from stakeholders so that we can maintain as many routes of contact as possible into Government to ensure our actions continue to be focused on prioritising where help is most needed.
The challenges we are now facing serve to further highlight the importance of ensuring the system of support for children and young people with SEND is as effective as possible in the future. Rest assured that completing our review of the SEND system remains a priority for me and for the Government. In light of the current situation, we will think carefully about the right way and timescale to do this. Right now my focus, like yours, is on managing the current situation and keeping vulnerable children safe and supported.
I know that by working together, we can ensure that children and young people with SEND receive the support they need during this difficult time.
Guidance for schools, colleges and local authorities on maintaining educational provision - Department of Education - MARCH 20TH 2020
As a country, we all need to do what we can to reduce the spread of the COVID-19 virus.
And the most recent scientific advice on how to further limit the spread of COVID-19 is clear. If children can stay safely at home, they should, to limit the chance of the virus spreading.
That is why the government has asked parents to keep their children at home, wherever possible, and asked schools to remain open only for those children who absolutely need to attend.
It is important to underline that schools, colleges and other educational establishments remain safe places for children. But the fewer children making the journey to school, and the fewer children in educational settings, the lower the risk that the virus can spread and infect vulnerable individuals in wider society.
Schools are, therefore, being asked to continue to provide care for a limited number of children – children who are vulnerable and children whose parents are critical to the Covid-19 response and cannot be safely cared for at home.
Vulnerable children include children who are supported by social care, those with safeguarding and welfare needs, including child in need plans, on child protection plans, ‘looked after’ children, young carers, disabled children and those with education, health and care (EHC) plans.
We know that schools will also want to support other children facing social difficulties and we will support head teachers to do so.
Parents whose work is critical to the COVID-19 response include those who work in health and social care and in other key sectors outlined below. Many parents working in these sectors may be able to ensure their child is kept at home. And every child who can be safely cared for at home should be.
Please, therefore, follow these key principles:
- If it is at all possible for children to be at home, then they should be.
- If a child needs specialist support, is vulnerable or has a parent who is a critical worker, then educational provision will be available for them.
- Parents should not rely for childcare upon those who are advised to be in the stringent social distancing category such as grandparents, friends, or family members with underlying conditions.
- Parents should also do everything they can to ensure children are not mixing socially in a way which can continue to spread the virus. They should observe the same social distancing principles as adults.
- Residential special schools, boarding schools and special settings continue to care for children wherever possible.
If your work is critical to the COVID-19 response, or you work in one of the critical sectors listed below, and you cannot keep your child safe at home then your children will be prioritised for education provision:
Health and social care
This includes but is not limited to doctors, nurses, midwives, paramedics, social workers, care workers, and other frontline health and social care staff including volunteers; the support and specialist staff required to maintain the UK’s health and social care sector; those working as part of the health and social care supply chain, including producers and distributers of medicines and medical and personal protective equipment.
Education and childcare
This includes nursery and teaching staff, social workers and those specialist education professionals who must remain active during the COVID-19 response to deliver this approach.
Key public services
This includes those essential to the running of the justice system, religious staff, charities and workers delivering key frontline services, those responsible for the management of the deceased, and journalists and broadcasters who are providing public service broadcasting.
Local and national government
This only includes those administrative occupations essential to the effective delivery of the COVID-19 response or delivering essential public services such as the payment of benefits, including in government agencies and arms length bodies.
Food and other necessary goods
This includes those involved in food production, processing, distribution, sale and delivery as well as those essential to the provision of other key goods (for example hygienic and veterinary medicines).
Public safety and national security
This includes police and support staff, Ministry of Defence civilians, contractor and armed forces personnel (those critical to the delivery of key defence and national security outputs and essential to the response to the COVID-19 pandemic), fire and rescue service employees (including support staff), National Crime Agency staff, those maintaining border security, prison and probation staff and other national security roles, including those overseas.
This includes those who will keep the air, water, road and rail passenger and freight transport modes operating during the COVID-19 response, including those working on transport systems through which supply chains pass.
Utilities, communication and financial services
This includes staff needed for essential financial services provision (including but not limited to workers in banks, building societies and financial market infrastructure), the oil, gas, electricity and water sectors (including sewerage), information technology and data infrastructure sector and primary industry supplies to continue during the COVID-19 response, as well as key staff working in the civil nuclear, chemicals, telecommunications (including but not limited to network operations, field engineering, call centre staff, IT and data infrastructure, 999 and 111 critical services), postal services and delivery, payments providers and waste disposal sectors.
If workers think they fall within the critical categories above they should confirm with their employer that, based on their business continuity arrangements, their specific role is necessary for the continuation of this essential public service.
If your school is closed then please contact your local authority, who will seek to redirect you to a local school in your area that your child, or children, can attend.
We are grateful for the work of teachers and workers in educational settings for continuing to provide for the children of the other critical workers of our country. It is an essential part of our national effort to combat this disease.
LATEST UPDATE FROM GAVIN WILLIAMSON, SECRETARY OF STATE FOR EDUCATION - 19TH MARCH 2020
The government recognises the huge importance of the role you have played in maintaining the education, training and social care of our children and young people during this challenging time. I recognise that you will have the same anxieties as the rest of the country about your health and that of your families. On behalf of the Prime Minister and the entire government, I thank you all for all of your work so far, and your continued support. I am deeply grateful for the civic spirit and dedication of everyone working in education, and I will continue to provide my full support throughout this crisis.
It is clear that education and children’s social care settings are increasingly finding it difficult to continue as normal, as illness and self-isolation impacts on staffing levels and pupil attendance. To provide parents, student and staff with the certainty they need we are announcing that schools, colleges and early years settings will be closed to everyone except children of key workers and vulnerable children from Monday, as part of the country’s ongoing response to coronavirus.
Examples of these workers include NHS staff, police and delivery drivers who need to be able to go to work. Vulnerable children include those who have a social worker and those with Education, Health and Care Plans.
A full list of key worker categories will be published by the Cabinet Office tomorrow.
Children who do not fall into these groups should remain at home with appropriate care.
Where schools are unable to provide this reduced provision, local authorities will work with the Department for Education’s regional teams to ensure an alternative option is available.
We are expecting early years providers and sixth form and further education colleges to do the same. We are working with Her Majesty’s Treasury on the financial support required. We are also asking that independent schools and boarding schools follow the same approach.
Where possible, we would encourage settings to stay open for this purpose throughout the Easter holidays.
Many universities and other higher education institutions are already taking necessary steps to keep their staff and students safe and where possible keep providing education. We are confident vice-chancellors are making the right decisions and the Department for Education continues to support them in doing so.
Temporary suspension of Ofsted inspections
Ofsted is to temporarily suspend routine inspections of schools, colleges, early years settings, children’s social care providers and local authorities to reduce the burden on staff who are providing vital services to the nation in response to coronavirus.
Update on assessments and examinations
We can confirm that we will not go ahead with assessments or exams, and that we will not be publishing performance tables for this academic year.
We will work with the sector and Ofqual to ensure children get the qualifications they need.
My Department is working closely with local authorities, representatives of early years, schools and head teachers, regional school commissioners and bodies such as Ofsted and Ofqual about how to deliver this change as effectively as possible.
And we will do whatever is necessary to support local authorities, settings, schools and teachers through the weeks and months ahead.
Free school meal provision
We will give schools the flexibility to provide meals or vouchers to children eligible for free school meals. Some schools are already doing this, and we will reimburse the costs. As soon as possible, we will put in place a national voucher system.
Thank you once again for everything you are doing at this difficult time.
The Rt Hon Gavin Williamson CBE MP
Secretary of State for Education
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