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Education news

We understand that some parents would like their child or children to go back to school before the end of term. They've been learning at home for a long time now and will be missing their friends and teachers.

Some children may have been in school full time, some part time and some not at all during the pandemic.

The Government has asked schools to take children back, where it's safe to do so, in this priority order:

  • Critical worker children and vulnerable children
  • Nursery Reception
  • Year 1
  • Year 6

The Government also said where it was safe and all children in the priority groups had a full-time place, schools could consider inviting other age groups back.

Headteachers have a number of issues to think about before inviting more children in to school. These are:

  • Following Government guidance about priority groups
  • Health and safety guidance provided by the local authority
  • Risk assessing and reviewing space, etc, within the building and outside
  • The individual circumstances of staff
  • Surveying parents to find out how many children in any year group are likely to want a place
  • Making arrangements for an enhanced level of cleaning
  • Supporting families with home learning
  • Ensuring safeguarding for all children
  • Space

There are detailed frequently asked questions for parents on GOV.UK.

Further information is available here: Government information for parents and carers about the closure of schools and other educational settings following the outbreak of coronavirus.

Questions asked by parents and carers to schools

This will depend on many factors but the three main ones are:

  • Safety
  • Space
  • Staffing in the context of the government guidance about priority groupings 

Each school will have its own set of circumstances. Governing boards, together with headteachers, will make decisions in the best interests of the children.

Each school will have different and sometimes complex circumstances, so no two schools will be able to make the same offer.

Governing boards and headteachers have to make decisions based on health and safety guidance. Their overriding responsibility is to make sure that children and staff are safe and they need to comply with the Local Authority health and safety guidance.

Whether or not your child has been invited back in to school will depend on many things primarily:

  • Safety-full risk assessment has been carried out
  • Space and configuration of school building
  • Staff availability

Schools are advised to review their arrangements and keep in touch with parents as the government guidance changes. This is how they can then plan for future provision.

It will not always be possible to satisfy the views of all parents, but schools and governing boards will take a balanced view in making decisions.

We're drawing up a list of the available provision across Norfolk. We recognise that there may be some parts of Norfolk where it may be difficult to find childcare.

We hope to make this directory available for schools and parents to access. In the meantime, parents can find information about available childcare provision over the summer by contacting Norfolk County Council Family Information Service at fis@norfolk.gov.uk.

The Secretary of State for Education, Gavin Williamson, has confirmed that schools are not being asked to open over the summer holidays.

He said: "There is no expectation that schools should open for vulnerable children and children of critical workers over this period because teachers, support staff and school leaders deserve a break, to recharge and rest."

Some school leaders may be considering using their catch-up premium to provide summer school activities for their pupils.

Government guidance states that it's not thought children will need to repeat a year due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Curriculum and teaching strategies will be put in place to help children catch up.

The Government recently issued guidance to schools regarding their plans for September. Schools are now drawing up plans and will be in touch with parents during the next two weeks.

Children of critical workers and vulnerable children

Children of critical workers and vulnerable children still have access to schools and early years settings (nurseries, childminders, preschools) in Norfolk. To find out how to access schools and get answers to other common questions, read our guidance for critical workers and parents of vulnerable children.

A few schools and early years education providers have had to close completely to all children. This is due to staffing shortages or deep cleaning being required after coronavirus cases at the school. If you're a critical worker or have a vulnerable child and their school or setting has closed, contact us so we can make arrangements.

We have asked early years settings to let you know directly if they need to close.

Homeschooling 

Children will still be part of a school roll during this time. The expectation is that schools set and guide children’s learning at home. Schools will be communicating with parents about this via their usual routes. We will also update our educational resources for learning at home to support families over the coming weeks. 

Free school meals

Find out about free school meals during the coronavirus situation.

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