Guidance published on a full return to school in September – Friday 3 July 2020

This week I report on the publication of guidance helping schools to plan for the return of all pupils in September, as well as a consultation launched by Ofqual on the 2021 exams series reflecting the impact of Covid-19 on teaching time.

DfE guidance on a full return in September
Yesterday the DfE published guidance to help schools to plan for the return of all pupils in September including separate guidance for Special schools. Whilst Covid-secure measures will remain in place to reduce the risk of transmission, schools will be expected to deliver a full curriculum. Schools have been asked to keep pupils in class bubbles or year group bubbles with staff able to work across bubbles.

Schools will also be expected to have plans in place to offer remote education for pupils who are self-isolating. Mandatory attendance will be reintroduced, and routine Ofsted inspections won’t resume until January 2021.

Primary tests will also go ahead as planned next year and these include the phonics screening check, Key stage 1 and Key stage 2 SATs and Year 4 times tables test.

School Senior Leadership Teams will be working on their risk assessments and control measures for a full return of pupils in September and the NGA held an informative webinar yesterday on issues governing bodies need to consider ahead of the Autumn term.

Consultation on the 2021 examination series
Yesterday Ofqual launched a consultation on the 2021 exams and assessments with a range of proposals for general qualifications including:

  • Adaptations to free up teaching time – to give teachers more time to cover the full content in some subjects and help relieve the pressure on students.
  • Adaptations to allow for future public health safeguards – identifying those subjects that could be particularly affected if public health safeguards were needed and suggestions on how these might be addressed.
  • Sampling of subject content – exploring the use of content sampling in question papers and increasing the use of optional questions – but not for English literature, maths and the sciences.
  • Changes to the exam timetable – whether GCSE exams could start after half term, on 7 June 2021 and whether it would be appropriate for the AS/A level exam timetable, and the impact of any delay in issuing results.

The consultation is open until Thursday 16 July, with final decisions announced in August.  Ofqual has indicated that learners taking vocational and technical qualifications have also experienced lost teaching time and appropriate arrangements need to be put in place to mitigate the impact of this disruption, with plans to be published in more details in the coming weeks.