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Schools and families

Last Updated 2:06pm, 16 July 2020


Introduction

Information about coronavirus is available in different formats and languages, including easy read, BSL and for people who are not online.

Summer holiday provision

The Prime Minister has confirmed that providers who run community activities, holiday clubs, after-school clubs, tuition and other out-of-school provision for children will be able to operate over the summer holiday with safety measures in place.

The government have set out guidance for providers of out-of-school settings, like holiday or tuition clubs, that wish to operate over the summer holidays and have also released protective measures guidance to help them put measures in place to reduce the risk of infection and transmission of coronavirus (COVID-19).

When schools in the local area have closed for the summer term, children of all ages and from multiple schools may attend these settings.

Finding summer provision and other childcare

The Early Years and Childcare Service have put a list together of those holiday schemes that are intending to open over the summer holidays. The list is available on Pinpoint, which includes up to date information about early years group settings, childminders and holiday clubs.

If you cannot find what you need, please complete the Unable to Find Childcare Form and return it to Pinpoint.

If you are happy to do so, one of our team will contact you to help with finding the childcare you need over the summer holiday period.

Exam results, what next?

Exams and assessments were cancelled this year due to coronavirus (COVID-19) but most students will still receive grades in time to progress to further study or employment.

Resources are available to explain how your results will be calculated, and the options available to you if you do not receive the grade you wanted.

Return to school in September

The government plan is that all children and young people, in all year groups, will return to school and college full time from the beginning of the autumn term. This is because the prevalence of coronavirus (COVID-19) has decreased since schools and colleges restricted their opening in March, the NHS test and trace service is up and running and more is understood about the measures that need to be in place to create safer environments in schools.

It’s really important for children and young people that they return to school and college,  for their educational progress, wellbeing, and wider development.

So, school and college attendance will again be mandatory from the beginning of the new academic year.

That means there’s a legal duty for parents and carers of compulsory school-age to send their child to school regularly.  Where children are not able to attend school because parents are following medical and/or public health advice, the absence will not be penalised.

What to expect

Teachers and staff have been working hard to implement the necessary steps so they can welcome all pupils back in the autumn term.   However, it’s important to note that this year all pupils may not be asked to return on the first day of term.  Some schools may ask pupils to return one year group or class at a time so that they can get used to any new arrangements.

All children should have been given a return date within the first two weeks of term, though there may be a few exceptional cases.   Your school will have told you about the plans they have made for pupils to return, and you might have received this information directly from the school, or it will be published on their website.

Parents can find out more information about how schools are making their preparations online.  There is also guidance for parents which sets out some of the changes and protective measures the government is asking schools and colleges to put in place, and about what parents, carers, children and young people will need to do to help ensure schools and colleges are as safe as possible for everyone.

Parents of children with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) should also refer to the separate guidance for full opening of special schools and other specialist settings.

If in September you have concerns about your child returning to school or college, because you consider they may have other risk factors, please do not hesitate to discuss with your school or college.

In June Dawn Stabb, Head of Education and Learning, detailed Devon’s response to the government’s plans for a wider return to school in an open letter to parents and carers.

Emotional support

Parents may be feeling a mixture of emotions about their child’s return to school, and that is understandable. If you would like help or support, please contact your school first and they will put you in touch with services who can help.

Support for parents of children with special educational needs and disability

Please read our advice for parents about SEND and EHC plans. Guidance is also available from the Devon Information and Advice Service.

Please note that although some children with an Education, Health and Care Plan (EHCP) have a social worker, the government guidance is clear that many of them can remain safely at home. Please speak to your social worker if you are concerned.

Information for key workers

If you are key worker and your child’s usual school is closed, please contact us by email at educate.covid19criticalworker-mailbox@devon.gov.uk or call 0345 155 1019 so we can find them a place at a suitable alternative.

Travelling to school

When planning how your child(ren) will get to and from school, the Department for Transport has issued the coronavirus (COVID-19): safer travel guidance for passengers.

The government has also released guidance about adjusting transport arrangements so that protective measures are implemented on school transport.

For any children entitled to transport assistance from the Local Authority, our Transport Coordination Service is working with transport providers and your school. Please speak directly to your school regarding this.

Devon County Council’s Head of Education and Learning has written to parents and carers to keep them informed of the arrangements in Devon.

Further guidance for parents and carers to help prepare for the wider opening of nurseries, schools and colleges is available on the government website.

Post-16 vacant seat applications

If students are planning to return to their existing sixth-form for post-16 courses for the 2020/21 academic year but have not yet completed a school transport vacant seat application then please see the post-16 transport guide for instructions on how to do so.

Please note that the stated application deadline has now passed. However, Transport Coordination Services will continue to accept applications, but they should be submitted as soon as possible.

Please read the guidance notes on the application form carefully and note that the form can only be submitted if there is no public service route that serves your school within 1.5 miles of your home address.

Closure of educational settings

You can check if your school is closed completely on the current school closures page. Please also refer to your school’s own web pages.

Guidance for schools, colleges and local authorities on maintaining education provision, including list of critical workers

Refer to the latest advice for schools and other educational settings, published jointly by Public Health England and Department for Education, including posters for use in schools.

Free school meals

If your salary is reduced as a result of these changes, you may be eligible for support through the welfare system, including Universal Credit.

Whether you are currently in or out of work, if you are on a low income and affected by the economic impacts of COVID-19, you will be able to access the full range of the welfare system, including Universal Credit.

From 6 April the government are increasing the standard allowance in Universal Credit and the basic element in Working Tax Credit for 1 year. Both will increase by £20 per week on top of planned annual uprating.

This will apply to all new and existing Universal Credit claimants and to existing Working Tax Credit claimants. More information on applying for Universal Tax Credit.

If you are on low income, you or your family may also be entitled to claim for free school meals. View the criteria for free school meals here.

The Free School Meal Team have a platform that enables you to make a quick application online where your eligibility can be assessed and an outcome can be given instantaneously. To apply for free school meals please visit the Free School Meal Portal.

If you have any other queries relating to free school meal entitlement you can email the team at freeschoolmeals@devon.gov.uk.

National voucher scheme

If you are in receipt of free school meals you will be eligible for a weekly monetary voucher. The vouchers will be issued by your child’s school.

Please note this does not include children who are registered as receiving elective home education and children who are universally entitled to a free school meal because they are in key stage 1. Children in key stage 1 (reception and years 1 and 2) will only be eligible for the vouchers if the household qualifies for free school meals on low-income grounds.

You will be able to access the voucher scheme using the Edenred portal. Read the help and information from Edenred.

Edenred has also published a user guide for school administrators.

McColl’s has joined the list of supermarkets that will redeem vouchers secured through the free school meals national voucher scheme. Supermarkets available also include Aldi, Sainsbury’s, Tesco, Waitrose, M&S, Asda and Morrisons.

Temporary extension of free school meals eligibility to NRPF groups

During the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak, the Department for Education (DfE) is temporarily extending free school meal eligibility to include some children of groups who have no recourse to public funds (NRPF). These groups are:

  • children of Zambrano carers
  • children of families with no recourse to public funds with a right to remain in the UK on grounds of private and family life under Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights
  • children of families receiving support under Section 17 of the Children Act 1989 who are also subject to a no recourse to public funds restriction

To be eligible for free school meals, applicants must also be below the maximum household income threshold of £31,500 within London, and £28,200 outside of London. This equates to a maximum of £2,625 per month within London or £2,350 outside of London, and includes any wider income or support you may be receiving in addition to any earnings from employment.

The DfE is also temporarily extending eligibility to children of a subset of failed asylum seekers supported under Section 4 of the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999. This group is not subject to a maximum household earnings threshold. This extension is temporarily in place to support families facing difficulties due to the current unique circumstances. It covers both children who are attending school and children who are at home.

These changes are now in place and anyone wishing to apply for free school meals under the above criteria must follow a slightly different process which involves completing the temporary application form and emailing it to freeschoolmeals@devon.gov.uk

If you cannot email the form to us, please contact us on 0345 155 1019 and we will be able to post you a copy of the form.

Assessment of applications

The Free School Meals Team will assess each application individually which is why it is important you apply using the temporary free school meal application form.

You must clearly indicate which category you are applying under. The application form clearly indicates the evidence you should provide depending on the category you are applying under.

The team will also need to assess the household income by looking at evidence. To be eligible for free school meals, applicants must also be below the maximum household income threshold of £31,500 within London, and £28,200 outside of London. This equates to a maximum of £2,625 per month within London or £2,350 outside of London, and includes any wider income or support you may be receiving in addition to any earnings from employment.

We can make this assessment from one of the following forms of evidence which you should submit with your application:

  • payslip
  • P60
  • bank statement
  • letter from your bank
  • letter from your employer

Please note that the household earnings will not be assessed if you are applying under section 4 of the immigration and asylum act.

Be aware of scam emails

The DfE have been informed that some parents have received an email stating the following: ‘As schools will be closing, if you’re entitled to free school meals, please send your bank details and we’ll make sure you’re supported’.

The DfE can confirm that this is a scam email and is not official. We urge parents that if you receive any emails like this, please do not respond and delete it immediately.

If your child has symptoms

If your child has symptoms of coronavirus (COVID-19), however mild, they must stay at home for 7 days from when their symptoms started.

If someone your child lives with has symptoms, everyone must stay at home and not leave the house for 14 days.

Full government guidance for households with possible coronavirus infections is available online.

Online education resources

The Department for Education has published a list of online resources for schools and parents to help children learn at home.

Department for Education coronavirus (COVID-19) helpline

There is a helpline to answer questions about coronavirus (COVID-19) related to education. Staff, parents and young people can contact the helpline as follows:

No school should close in response to a suspected (or confirmed) COVID-19 case unless directed to do so by Public Health England.

Guidance for early years and childcare settings

Guidance for local authorities, early years settings and childminders about childcare provision is available on the government website.

See opening times for childminder services with listings on Pinpoint Devon.


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