Schools to get two weeks’ notice of reopening – Friday 22 January 2021

This week I report on confirmation schools will be given two weeks’ notice of reopening, the pausing of daily contact Covid testing in schools, confirmation the submission of this year’s EYFSP is no longer mandatory and consultations on alternative arrangements for GCSE and A Level results in the summer and new proposals for post-qualification admissions have opened.

Schools to get two weeks’ notice of reopening
Yesterday the Education Secretary announced in press interviews that the Government wanted to give schools as much notice as possible of full re-openings, so teachers and parents could get ready and children could prepare. Schools would be given a clear two weeks’ notice period however, he was non-committal on a return date saying it would happen “as soon as scientific and health advice is there”, and he hoped it would happen “before Easter”.

Daily contact Covid testing in schools paused
Until now the DfE has been telling secondary schools, special schools and colleges to use rapid lateral flow tests in three ways: to test pupils returning to school, to carry out weekly tests on staff and to do serial testing of anyone who has been in contact with a confirmed case of the virus. Contacts were to be given a daily test for seven days and allowed to stay in school if they tested negative rather than being asked to self-isolate. However, this week the DfE paused this last part of the school testing programme after a recommendation by Public Health England and NHS Test and Trace.

Testing of staff and pupils in secondary schools will continue and Public Health England has said secondary schools should continue to test pupils twice upon return to school, as has been the case since the start of January.

Other DfE news/consultations this week
This week the DfE has also confirmed arrangements regarding the EYFSP and is carrying out two consultations as follows:

  • Early Years Foundation Stage Profile (EYFSP) no longer mandatory – it was confirmed the assessment was no longer mandatory this year and schools that decide to complete the profile and provide the information to parents and Year 1 teachers, will not be externally moderated. The requirement to submit the data to LAs or confirm whether they have completed it has also been removed.
  • Consultation on alternative arrangements for GCSE and A Level results in Summer 2021 opens – Ofqual has now published its two-week consultation and you can use this link if you would like to respond. 
  • Consultation on new proposals for post-qualification admissions (PQA) – a consultation into proposed changes for a PQA system into higher education opened today.  One model would see pupils apply to university after receiving their A-level results, while a second model would allow pupils to make ‘pre-qualification’ applications but would likewise only receive offers after results are announced. Under the first model there would be the need for a longer application window which would be created by moving A-level results day forward from mid-August to the end of July and pushing back university term start dates to “no earlier than the first week of October”. Under the second model, applications would be made during term-time, as they are now, but offers would come after results day. The consultation closes on 13 May.