New and updated guidance in relation to COVID-19 – Friday 24 April 2020

This week I highlight some of the new and updated guidance published by the DfE for schools and parents in relation to COVID-19 and information from Schools NorthEast on its Northern Governance Conference which is now being delivered as a series of webinars.

New and updated guidance from DfE in relation to COVID-19
The DfE continues to provide new and updated guidance for schools and parents on a range of issues including:

  • Complaints – confirmation it doesn’t expect schools to handle new or existing complaints while they are closed but should engage with parents where they can.
  • Online learning support package – children “in the most vital stages of their education” will be given free laptops and tablets to make remote learning easier. These devices will be available for disadvantaged pupils in Year 10, pupils who receive support from a social worker, and care leavers, with schools able to keep the devices once they have reopened.  The Government will provide 4G routers to vulnerable pupils who do not have access to the internet and major telecommunications providers. The Education Secretary has also backed a national online academy providing a “comprehensive” virtual curriculum for schools to use during the pandemic. Oak National Academy provides a “sequenced” plan of hour-long lessons and curriculum resources, compiled by 40 teachers from schools across the country.
  • Furlough guidance – state schools that have private income streams, such as catering, sports facilities lettings or boarding provision, can furlough staff in these areas. However, the Government doesn’t “in general, expect state schools to furlough staff”.
  • Managing school premises – guidance on maintaining the school premises with reduced occupancy.
  • Halting of ‘all but essential’ data collections – this aims to “help reduce the burden” on schools and councils amid the coronavirus outbreak.
  • Proper notice regarding schools re-opening – the Education Secretary has pledged that schools, parents and children will be given proper notice of when schools will reopen. He is unable to give an exact date yet because the Government needs to be confident it can meet five tests which are: confidence that the NHS can continue to be protected, a fall in daily death rates, confidence in testing, appropriate PPE capacity, and confidence that changes to the Government’s approach won’t risk a second peak of coronavirus infections.
  • Calculated GCSE and A Level grades – it has been confirmed calculated grades will be published on the dates originally planned for this year’s results days: 13 August for A-levels and 20 August for GCSEs.
  • Admissions appeals – in order to protect parents’ right to appeal to any school which has refused their child a place, new regulations will relax some of the rules surrounding appeal panels. They provide Admission authorities with scope to convene panels remotely in line with advice on social distancing. Also amended are the rules in relation to deadlines, with the DfE recommending that appellants be given at least 28 days written notice of a new appeal deadline.

Schools NorthEast Northern Governance Conference 2020
Due to COVID-19 the Northern Governance Conference has been transformed into a series of online events. The event will be held via webinar every Wednesday for three weeks on 29 April, 6 May and 13 May from approximately 10.30 am to 12.30 pm.

The full programme includes keynote speeches from Sir David Carter, Executive Director of System Leadership at Ambition Leadership and ex National Schools Commissioner, Emma Knights, CEO of The National Governance Association and Emma Ing, Regional Director North East, Yorkshire and Humber, Ofsted.

The cost is £60 per delegate or £100 for your whole Governing body. All delegate and school bookings will receive a recording of all three webinars along with a CPD certificate.