Latest guidance in relation to COVID-19 – Friday 3 April 2020

In my final update this term I report on the latest DfE guidance produced in light of the current coronavirus situation as well as support provided by the NGA and Governors for Schools to assist governing bodies during this time.

DfE guidance
Safeguarding in relation to COVID-19
This week the DfE published new guidance on safeguarding for schools during the coronavirus outbreak, advising them to review and revise policies as the epidemic evolves.

It states that while schools will have an effective child protection policy in place for use during normal operations, it is likely that the policy will not accurately reflect new arrangements in response to COVID-19.

The policies should reflect any arrangements to support children the school is concerned about who do not meet the ‘vulnerable’ definition. Schools should also consider what arrangements are in place to keep children safe while they are not physically attending school, as well as how victims of peer-on-peer abuse might be supported given the very different circumstances schools are now operating in.

COVID-19 Free school meals guidance
This week the DfE also published guidance on providing free school meals whilst schools are closed. Schools can continue to provide meals for collection or delivery themselves, but where this is not possible, a new national scheme will allow schools to provide £15 weekly vouchers electronically or as a gift card for those without internet access.

The vouchers can be spent on food at a range of shops including Sainsbury’s, Tesco, Asda, Morrisons, Waitrose and M&S, with the DfE working to get more shops to join the scheme as soon as possible.

Changes to induction for newly qualified teachers
The DfE has recognised that the current coronavirus outbreak will likely have a profound impact on the number of absences newly qualified teachers (NQTs) take this academic year.

Current arrangements state that ad-hoc absences totalling 30 days or more automatically extends induction by the aggregate number of days absent. However, Government intends to amend the regulations to ensure that any absence related to the current coronavirus outbreak, including school closures, sickness or self-isolation, will not count towards this limit. This means that NQTs who are currently undertaking statutory induction can complete their induction this academic year as expected, provided they meet the Teachers’ Standards.

KCSIE consultation suspended
Given the current circumstances the DfE has suspended the 2020 consultation on revisions to Keeping Children Safe in Education statutory guidance.

Governance support
NGA webinar on virtual governance
On Friday last week the NGA delivered a webinar on virtual governance and also made its GOLDline advice service available to all governing bodies that have questions about maintaining their business in the current circumstances. You can contact GOLDline by emailing gold@nga.org.uk or by calling 0121 237 3782.

Governors for Schools
School governance during the coronavirus pandemic
Yesterday a webinar was held to provide governing bodies with an understanding of key, relevant Government advice and to secure governors confidence in holding schools to account during the coming months.

Microsoft Teams for school governing bodies
A webinar in conjunction with Microsoft will be held on Tuesday 7 April 2020 from 11:30 am to 12:30 pm to help schools get the best out of working remotely using online communication and collaboration platform Microsoft Teams.

The webinar will look at how the platform can support schools to hold productive governing board meetings online and deliver remote learning for pupils effectively. Microsoft Teams is currently free for all schools and educational institutions.

You can sign up to the webinar using this link.