Education updates for the week ending 28 August 2020

3 September 2020

The Department for Education (DfE) issued a flurry of new and updated guidance at the end of last week. The following are a selection of the key updates:

School meals during the Autumn Term

DfE have announced that school leaders should look at making the following changes in how they deal with school meals:

  • working out arrangements for lunchtimes so that pupils do not mix with pupils from other groups
  • having several lunch sittings or serving lunch in more than one location including, if appropriate, in a classroom
  • asking caterers to look at other flexible ways of giving pupils access to lunch, for example, taking food to pupils in the areas they are in for the day

Drinking water must be provided at all times to registered pupils on school premises, so the DfE recommends that schools consider appropriate ways to deliver this to children who do not have access to water fountains for public health reasons.

With regard to free school meals, the guidance also addresses support available for eligible pupils, the COVID Summer Food Fund, and contracts with food suppliers for schools providing free school meals.

For more information, please visit the DfE guidance here.

Safety measures for schools under local lockdown

Guidance published on 28 August 2020 provides for four tiers of restrictions for schools located in areas which are subject to local lockdowns.

The position for each year group and type of pupil is set out in the following table:

Tier Type of school/pupil in the local lockdown area


1 All pupils at all schools

Schools remain fully open to all pupils.

Face coverings required in communal areas for pupils in Year 7 and above.
2 Early years settings, primary schools, alternative provision providers (AP), special schools and other specialist educational settings These pupils will continue to attend on site full time.
  Secondary schools Pupils will attend on a rota model for pupils to alternate between on-site schooling and remote education.
  Vulnerable and children of critical workers (Priority Groups) These pupils will continue to attend on site full time.
3 Childcare, nurseries, primary schools, AP, special schools and other specialist settings

These pupils will continue to attend on site full time.

  Secondary schools, FE colleges and other educational establishments

Remote education full time.

  Priority groups and selected year groups (to be identified by DfE) in secondary schools, FE colleges and other educational establishments.

These pupils will continue to attend on site full time.

4 Pupils at nurseries, childminders, mainstream schools, colleges and other educational establishments

Remote education only.

  Priority Groups These pupils will continue to attend on site full time.
  AP, special schools and other specialist settings These pupils will continue to attend on site full time.

In all cases, face coverings should be worn in communal areas of schools where pupils in year 7 and above are educated.

Further information is available from the DfE's press release and the following government guidance.

Attendance at temporary schools and school inspection requirements

On 28 August 2020, the Secretary of State for Education issued a fifth modification notice regarding the registration requirements for schools temporarily taking external students due to coronavirus disruption.  This notice extends the four previous notices, and provides that a child need not be registered as a pupil of a school just because education is provided for them on a temporary basis for coronavirus related reasons.  

The latest notice applies until 30 September 2020.

However, the child or young person will continue to be counted a pupil for all other purposes, including SEN, safeguarding and school medical duties. They will also be subject to the behaviour policy of the host school.

For more information on this latest notice, visit the government website to view the modification notice and the Department for Educations guidance for recording attendance.

The DfE has also issued a fifth disapplication notice to extend the temporary disapplication of the following measures:

  • Ofsted's duty to inspect state-funded schools at prescribed intervals and to provide inspection reports;
  • The local authority's (or in the case of academies, the proprietor's) duty to prepare a statement of action following an Ofsted assessment that the school requires special measures or significant improvement; and
  • In regards to schools with a religious character, the governing body's (or in the case of academies, the proprietor's) duty to arrange inspections relating to collective worship and denominational education at prescribed intervals, as well as the inspector's duty to inspect and produce a report.

The disapplication will remain in place until 30 September 2020.

Further information on the disapplication notice is available here.

Arrangements for autumn term exams

We have recently published an article addressing how schools should deal with grading disputes resulting from the Summer Term 2020 exam results.

One option pursued by many pupils will be to sit exams in the autumn term to improve their grades.

Recently updated DfE guidance provides that, where pupils wish to sit exams in the autumn, schools are still responsible for entering them for the relevant exams. For those students who are required to continue studying maths or English GCSE, because they have not achieved a grade 4 or above, the school will also be responsible for entering them with the exam board.

DfE expects schools and colleges to pay exam fees for all students whose exams were cancelled this summer, rather than making the pupils or families pay for them. 

The guidance also provides details about the DfE Exam Support Service, which is due to launch at the beginning of the autumn term. It will cover fees charged by awarding organisations, sites and invigilation, and will provide support to schools and colleges to ensure they do not incur a net loss as a result of the Autumn exam fees.

For more information on the autumn exams, please visit the DfE guidance here.

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