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Summary of changes Guidance for full opening: schools

Based on the guidance from the 28th August 2020.

We have created a document to support school leaders with the changes to the guidance to school opening based on


These are what we feel are the important changes. If you feel we have missed something, do let us know at admin@headteacherchat.com

Disclaimer: Please be aware that these notes are for guidance only and are intended to be a summary. Please keep up to date with the latest government guidance.

Face covering in schools

Year 7 and above which are not in specific local restrictions measures will have the discretion to require face coverings for pupil, staff and visitors in areas outside the classroom where social distancing cannot be easily maintained, such as corridors and communal areas.

In primary, it’s the discretion of the headteacher.

Access to face coverings

It is reasonable to assume that staff and young people will now have access to face coverings due to their increasing use in wider society, and Public Health England has made available resources on how to make a simple face covering.

However, where anybody is struggling to access a face covering, or where they are unable to use their face covering due to having forgotten it or it having become soiled or unsafe, education settings should take steps to have a small contingency supply available to meet such needs.

No-one should be excluded from education on the grounds that they are not wearing a face covering.

Safe wearing and removal of face coverings

Schools should have a process for removing face coverings when those who use face coverings arrive at school, and when face coverings are worn at school in certain circumstances. This process should be communicated clearly to pupils and staff.

Safe wearing of face coverings requires cleaning of hands before and after touching – including to remove or put them on – and the safe storage of them in individual, sealable plastic bags between use. Where a face covering becomes damp, it should not be worn and the face covering should be replaced carefully.

Pupils must be instructed not to touch the front of their face covering during use or when removing it and they must dispose of temporary face coverings in a ‘black bag’ waste bin (not recycling bin) or place reusable face coverings in a plastic bag they can take home with them, and then wash their hands again before heading to their classroom.


Manage confirmed cases of coronavirus (COVID-19) amongst the school community

If a test is positive, children should isolate for 10 days not 7.

Child with mild symptoms - parent insist they come to school

In the majority of cases, schools and parents will be in agreement that a child with symptoms should not attend school, given the potential risk to others. In the event that a parent or guardian insists on a child attending school, schools can take the decision to refuse the child if in their reasonable judgement it is necessary to protect their pupils and staff from possible infection with coronavirus (COVID-19). Any such decision would need to be carefully considered in light of all the circumstances and the current public health advice.

School transport

Social distancing should be put in place on school transport. The recommendation for ventilation of fresh air to be maximised in vehicles. Recommendations:

  • social distancing should be maximised within vehicles

  • children either sit with their ‘bubble’ on school transport, or with the same constant group of children each day

  • children should clean their hands before boarding transport and again on disembarking

  • additional cleaning of vehicles is put in place

  • organised queuing and boarding is put in place

  • through ventilation of fresh air (from outside the vehicle) is maximised, particularly through opening windows and ceiling vents

Children must not board home to school transport if they, or a member of their household, has symptoms of coronavirus (COVID-19). If rates of the disease rise in local areas, children (or family members) from that area, and that area only, may be advised to shield during the period where rates remain high and, therefore, they may be temporarily unable to attend. This has change from will to may. https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/transport-to-school-and-other-places-of-education-autumn-term-2020/transport-to-school-and-other-places-of-education-autumn-term-2020

Children on shielding patient list

Fewer children should be on the shielding list and can only be taken off by their GP or specialist.


First Aid

The Health and Safety Executive published guidance on first aid during coronavirus (COVID-19) which will support local risk assessments and provides guidance for first aiders. It is clear that treating any casualty properly should be the first concern. Where it is necessary for first aid provision to be administered in close proximity, those administering it should pay particular attention to sanitation measures immediately afterwards including washing hands.

Supply Teachers

Supply Teachers Schools can get direct support from Crown Commercial Services on how to use the agency supply deal by emailing supplyteachers@crowncommercial.gov.uk with the school’s details and contact details.

Performance Management and Appraisal

Maintained schools must continue to adhere to the School Teachers’ Pay and Conditions Document (STPCD), which includes the requirement to ensure that all pay progression for teachers is linked to performance management. We would expect schools to use their discretion and take pragmatic steps to adapt performance management and appraisal arrangements to take account of the current circumstances. Schools must ensure that teachers are not penalised during the appraisal process or in respect of any subsequent pay progression decisions as a result of the decision to restrict pupil attendance at schools, such as where this has had an impact on the ability of the teacher to meet fully their objectives.

Appraisals and performance management for support staff should be carried out in accordance with the employee’s contract of employment. DfE does not specify pay or terms and conditions of employment for support staff.

Music, dance and drama in school

All pupils should have access to quality arts education. Music, dance and drama build confidence and help children live happier, more enriched lives, and discover the joy of expressing themselves. There may, however, be an additional risk of infection in environments where singing, chanting, playing wind or brass instruments, dance and drama takes place.

Additional mitigations, such as extended social distancing, were previously required for singing, and playing of wind and brass instruments given concerns that these were potentially higher risk activities. Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) has commissioned further scientific studies to be carried out to develop the scientific evidence on these activities, which has allowed the government to reconsider appropriate mitigations and further research is continuing.

Singing, wind and brass instrument playing can be undertaken in line with this and other guidance, in particular guidance provided by the DCMS for professionals and non-professionals, available at working safely during coronavirus (COVID-19): performing arts. However, these studies have also indicated that it is the cumulative aerosol transmission from both those performing in and attending events is likely to create risk. DCMS is continuing to develop a more detailed understanding of how to mitigate this potential aggregate risk, but in that context, organisations should follow the guidance set out below.

Schools that offer specialist, elite provision in music, dance and drama may also wish to consider this guidance alongside the DCMS guidance on the performing arts.

Wraparound provision and extra-curricular activity

Schools should work to resume any breakfast and after-school provision, where possible, from the start of the autumn term. Schools should also work closely with any external wraparound providers which their pupils may use, to ensure as far as possible, children can be kept in a group with other children from the same bubble they are in during the school day.

If it is not possible or practical to maintain the same bubbles being used during the school day (for example, if the number of bubbles in place during the school day prove impractical to adopt within the wraparound provision) then providers should maintain small, consistent groups. We recognise that schools may need to respond flexibly and build this provision up over time. Such provision will help ensure pupils have opportunities to re-engage with their peers and with the school, ensure vulnerable children have a healthy breakfast and are ready to focus on their lessons, provide enrichment activities, and also support working parents.

Schools can consult the guidance produced for providers who run community activities, holiday clubs, after-school clubs, tuition and other out-of-school provision for children, as much of this will be useful in planning extra-curricular provision. This includes schools advising parents to limit the number of different out-of-school settings providers they access, as far as possible. Where parents use childcare providers or out of school extra-curricular activities for their children, schools should encourage parents and carers to seek assurance that the providers are carefully considering their own protective measures, and children should only attend settings that can demonstrate this.

DfE has also issued guidance for parents and carers, which schools may want to circulate.

Where schools are satisfied that it would be safe to do so, they may choose to open up or hire out their premises for use by external bodies or organisations, such as external coaches or after-school or holiday clubs or activities. In doing so, schools should ensure they are considering carefully how such arrangements can operate within their wider protective measures and should also have regard to any other relevant government guidance. For example, where opening up school leisure facilities for external use, ensuring they do so in line with government guidance on working safely during coronavirus (COVID-19) for providers of grassroots sport and gym or leisure facilities.

Physical Activity in schools

Schools have the flexibility to decide how physical education, sport and physical activity will be provided whilst following the measures in their system of controls.

Sports whose national governing bodies have developed guidance under the principles of the government’s guidance on team sport and been approved by the government are permitted. Schools must only provide team sports on the list available at return to recreational team sport framework.

Pupils should be kept in consistent groups, sports equipment thoroughly cleaned between each use by different individual groups, and contact sports avoided.

Outdoor sports should be prioritised where possible, and large indoor spaces used where it is not, maximising natural ventilation flows (through opening windows and doors or using air conditioning systems wherever possible) distancing between pupils and paying scrupulous attention to cleaning and hygiene. This is particularly important in a sports setting because of the way in which people breathe during exercise. External facilities can also be used in line with government guidance for the use of, and travel to and from, those facilities.

Schools should refer to the following guidance:

Schools are able to work with external coaches, clubs and organisations for curricular and extra-curricular activities where they are satisfied that it is safe to do so. Schools should consider carefully how such arrangements can operate within their wider protective measures.

Activities such as active miles, making break times and lessons active and encouraging active travel help to enable pupils to be physically active while encouraging physical distancing.


With regard to statutory guidance on exclusions from maintained schools, academies and pupil referral units in England, head teachers should, as far as possible, avoid excluding any looked-after child. Where a looked-after child is at risk of exclusion, the designated teacher should contact the relevant authority’s virtual school head as soon as possible to help the school decide how to help the child and avoid exclusion becoming necessary. Where a previously looked-after child is at risk of exclusion, the designated teacher should speak with the child’s parent or guardian and seek advice from their virtual school head to avoid exclusion where possible.

Pupil Wellbeing

Pupils may be experiencing a variety of emotions in response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak, such as anxiety, stress or low mood. This may particularly be the case for vulnerable children, including those with a social worker and young carers. It is important to contextualise these feelings as normal responses to an abnormal situation. Some may need support to re-adjust to school, others may have enjoyed being at home and be reluctant to return, a few may be showing signs of more severe anxiety or depression. Others will not be experiencing any challenges and will be keen and ready to return to school. The return to school allows social interaction with peers, carers and teachers, which benefits wellbeing. The government has recently launched the Wellbeing for Education Return programme, which will provide training and resources for teachers and staff in all state-funded schools to respond to the wellbeing and mental health needs of children and young people as a result of coronavirus (COVID-19). The training provides practical examples to support staff, children and young people within a school. Local authorities have received funding to employ skilled staff to deliver the training to schools and provide ongoing advice and support from the Autumn until March 2021. Schools can prepare by nominating a lead to receive the training, and who will then have the capability to disseminate the learning and practice to staff and pupils within the school. The training will be available in the autumn term. DfE, Public Health England and NHS England hosted a free webinar for school and college staff on 9 July 2020 to set out how to support returning pupils and students. A recording of this is available: This includes experts discussing the impacts of the pandemic on pupils’ mental wellbeing and recovery techniques, and education leaders discussing the actions they have been taking. The Whole School SEND (WSS) consortium will be delivering some training and how-to ideas for mainstream school teachers (including free insets and webinars) on supporting pupils with SEND to return to their mainstream school after the long absence, and on transition to other settings. WSS have co-produced 2 leaflets, funded by DfE, to support young people with SEND and their families to have conversations with schools about successful returns following a period of absence and about transition planning for post-year 11 destinations. WSS have also produced resources to support the schools’ workforce to prepare for the return, such as the COVID-19 SEND review guide which settings can use to reflect on their provision and a handbook to support teachers to take a whole school approach to supporting pupils following a traumatic event. You can access WSS resources on the Whole School SEND Resource page of the SEND Gateway and professionals in the schools’ workforce can sign up to the Community of Practice to be kept up to date with further information. DfE has also published the first of the relationships, sex and health education training modules for teachers to support them in preparation to deliver content on mental health and wellbeing. The training module on teaching about mental wellbeing, which has been developed with clinical experts and schools, will improve teacher confidence in talking and teaching about mental health and wellbeing in the classroom. It has been published early given the importance of supporting pupils’ mental health and wellbeing at this time. Schools should consider the provision of pastoral and extra-curricular activities to all pupils designed to:

  • support the rebuilding of friendships and social engagement

  • address and equip pupils to respond to issues linked to coronavirus (COVID-19)

  • support pupils with approaches to improving their physical and mental wellbeing

Schools should also provide more focused pastoral support where issues are identified that individual pupils may need help with, drawing on external support where necessary and possible. Schools should also consider support needs of particular groups they are already aware need additional help (for example, children in need), and any groups they identify as newly vulnerable on their return to school. To support this, teachers may wish to access the free MindEd learning platform for professionals [Link added], which contains materials on peer support, stress, fear and trauma, and bereavement. MindEd have also developed a coronavirus (COVID-19) staff resilience hub with advice and tips for frontline staff. Where there is a concern a child is in need or suffering or likely to suffer from harm, the school (generally led by the Designated Safeguard Lead or deputy) should follow their child protection policy and part 1 of the statutory safeguarding guidance keeping children safe in education and consider any referral to statutory services (and the police) as appropriate. Schools should consider how they are working with school nursing services to support the health and wellbeing of their pupils; school nursing services have continued to offer support as pupils return to school – school nurses as leaders of the healthy child programme can offer a range of support including:

  • support for resilience, mental health and wellbeing including anxiety, bereavement and sleep issues

  • support for pupils with additional and complex health needs

  • supporting vulnerable children and keeping children safe

Schools and school nurses need to work together to ensure delivery of the healthy child programme (which includes immunisation), identifying health and wellbeing needs which will underpin priorities for service delivery.

Primary assessment

We recognise that pupils will have missed a critical period of their education in the 2019 to 2020 academic year. Maintaining national curriculum assessments in the 2020 to 2021 academic year will allow the department to measure the remaining [previously sounded less certain] impact of coronavirus (COVID-19) on this cohort of pupils nationally and help target support to local areas, schools and pupils that need it the most.

We are, therefore, planning on the basis that statutory primary assessments will take place in summer 2021. The early year's foundation stage profile and all existing statutory key stage 1 and 2 assessments, should return in 2020 to 2021 in accordance with their usual timetables. This includes:

  • the phonics screening check

  • key stage 1 tests and teacher assessment

  • the year 4 multiplication tables check

  • key stage 2 tests and teacher assessment

  • statutory trialling

For 2020 to 2021 academic year only, schools will be required to administer a past version of the phonics screening check to year 2 pupils during the second half of the 2020 autumn term. Year 2 pupils who meet the expected standard in the autumn check will not be required to complete any further statutory assessments in phonics. Year 2 pupils who do not meet the expected standard in the autumn check will be expected to take the statutory check in June 2021. Further guidance for schools will be published by the Standards and Testing Agency in September 2020.

The statutory rollout of the reception baseline assessment has been postponed until September 2021. During the summer term 2020, schools had the opportunity to sign up to the 2020 to 2021 early adopter year.

In light of the impact of coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak, the 2020 to 2021 academic year will be a transitionary year (subject to the necessary legislation being made) to allow schools time to prepare for, and start embedding, the engagement model. The engagement model is the new attainment framework (replacing P scales 1 to 4) for pupils working below the standard of national curriculum assessments and not engaged in subject-specific study.

The 2020 to 2021 academic year will be a transitionary year where schools that have prepared to implement the engagement model will be able to report against it and schools that need more time to implement this change will have the option to assess against P scales 1 to 4, for one final year. The engagement model will become statutory from September 2021 and further information can be found at the engagement model.

SEND legislation

From 1 May to 31 July, Section 42 of the Children and Families Act 2014 was modified by a notice issued under the Coronavirus Act 2020. Local authorities and health commissioners were required to use their ‘reasonable endeavours’ to secure or arrange the specified special educational and health care provision within EHC plans. To ensure that children and young people receive the support they need to return to school, we will not be issuing further notices to modify this duty unless the evidence changes. Our focus is now on supporting local authorities, health commissioning bodies and education settings to restore full provision for all children and young people with EHC plans. The temporary changes to the law on the timescales for EHC needs assessments and plans, which give local authorities and others who contribute to the relevant processes more flexibility in responding to the demands placed on them by coronavirus (COVID-19), will expire as planned on 25 September 2020. Further information on the temporary changes to the law on EHC needs assessment and plan processes is available at changes to the law on education, health and care needs assessments and plans due to coronavirus (COVID-19). We remain committed to listening to and working with local authorities, parent carer representatives and specialist SEND organisations, to ensure that the lifting of the temporary changes is managed in a way that supports the needs of children and young people with SEND. Many children and young people will have found lockdown exceptionally difficult socially and emotionally. Settings should consider any challenging behaviours or social or emotional challenges arising as a response to the lockdown (following discussion with the parents or young person) and offer additional support and phased returns where needed, as a reasonable adjustment to support a disabled child to return successfully to school.

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