Summer holiday and autumn term FAQs

We are reviewing all FAQs on a regular basis – adding new questions as they arise, updating answers to existing questions as information changes, and removing obsolete questions. 

If you have a question which is not covered here, and you are an ASCL member, please email coronavirus@ascl.org.uk, and we will try to find an answer and share it here. 

These FAQs are provided for general information purposes only and do not constitute legal or professional advice. They represent ASCL’s views, but you rely on them at your own risk. For specific advice relevant to your particular circumstances, please contact your employer’s HR service or legal advisers.

The government guidance on full opening in the autumn term, published on 2 July, states that where schools are able to implement all the recommendations in the guidance, the risks to all staff will be mitigated significantly, including those who are extremely clinically vulnerable and clinically vulnerable (they categorise pregnant women as clinically vulnerable). The government expects the implementation of this guidance to allow most ‘at risk’ staff to return to the workplace. 

From 1 August, the advice for those who are extremely clinically vulnerable and for those who are clinically vulnerable (including pregnant women) will be the same.  However, employers should note that the advice relating to the period after this date states that people in these categories will be advised that they can go back to work as long as they are able to maintain social distancing as much as possible and their workplace is COVID-19 secure.

The government guidance states that school leaders should be flexible in how those members of staff are deployed to enable them to work remotely where possible or in roles in school where it is possible to maintain social distancing.  

Pregnant staff should only be asked to return to the workplace where employers can ensure that social distancing can be maintained.  

Employers will need to consider these requirements when discussing arrangements for a return to the workplace with pregnant staff. They will need to take appropriate advice and look at how pregnant staff can work safely, particularly with younger children.  

The government’s COVID-19 Secure workplace guidance also advises against sharing workstations, so employers will need to give consideration to this and include it in their risk assessments. 

HSE advice on working safely during the COVID-19 outbreak also covers pregnant workers as follows:

There is a long-standing requirement for employers to put in place measures to ensure workplace safety where a significant health and safety risk is identified for a new or expectant mother.

Additionally, a proportion of pregnant workers will be at greater risk of severe illness from coronavirus. They should have received a shielding letter from the NHS advising them:

  • to stay at home where possible
  • that they are not expected to be in a workplace

Employers will need to take this into account in their risk assessment.

If you cannot put the necessary control measures in place, such as adjustments to the job or working from home, you should suspend the pregnant worker on paid leave. This is in line with regulation 16(3) of the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999.


It is ASCL’s view that, wherever possible, pregnant staff should be allowed to continue working from home. Where this is not possible, employers must follow the advice above to ensure that they have mitigated risks and provided a safe working environment for these staff. 

 

Yes. We have produced detailed planning checklists to help schools and colleges to consider how to implement the government’s autumn term guidance in their own context. 
 

We know that many members have detailed questions about transport arrangements for the autumn term. We understand that government is working on additional guidance around this, and we are expecting to see a draft of this guidance imminently. 
 

The DfE has asked us to share some information to support settings with sourcing PPE and cleaning products. This is particularly pertinent to local authority colleagues, or those who work closely with LAs. This isn’t published guidance, but we have uploaded this information to our website here.
 

ASCL has published detailed guidance for members to help you to think through how to handle this year’s results days. This includes advice on whether, when and how to release students’ centre-assessed grades as well as their final calculated grades, and on whether or not students can be invited into school or college to collect their results.
 
This guidance has been shared with both DfE and Ofqual. We have also liaised with a number of other organisations in developing this guidance, to encourage a joined-up approach.

 

On 20 July, the government published more details of how the catch-up premium will be allocated, and the parameters within which schools are expected to spend this money. This guidance also includes some more information about the National Tutoring Programme. 

Key points are as follows:  
 

  • As expected, the £1 billion total is split into a £650 million ‘universal catch-up premium’ and £350 million for the National Tutoring Programme.  
  • The £650 million will be shared between primary schools, secondary schools, special schools, PRUs and other APs, hospital schools and independent special schools.  
  • Most schools will receive £80 per pupil in Reception to Year 11.  
  • Special, AP and hospital schools will receive £240 per pupil. 
  • The money will be paid in three tranches, in the autumn, spring and summer terms.  
  • While the funding has been calculated on a per pupil basis, schools ‘should use the sum available to them as a single total from which to prioritise support for pupils according to their need’.  
  • Ofsted may ask schools how they plan to use, or are using, the catch-up funding during the proposed non-graded visits in the autumn term and once routine inspections resume from January.  
  • The majority of the £350 million being spent on the National Tutoring Programme will be used to subsidise tutors and mentors for 5 – 16 year-olds in state-funded primary and secondary schools. Schools will have to pay a proportion of the costs involved in this, and can use their catch-up premium to do so if they wish.  
  • Tutors will be available from the second half of the autumn term. ‘A portal will open in due course’ for schools to register interest.  
  • £96 million of the £350 million will now be ringfenced for school sixth forms, colleges and other 16 to 19 providers ‘to provide small group tutoring activity for disadvantaged 16 to 19 students’. More detail on this element of the funding will be issued shortly.  

The government has published guidance for providers who run community activities, holiday clubs, after-school clubs, tuition and other out-of-school provision for children, setting out the protective measures they will need to put in place if they wish to operate this summer. 

The DfE has confirmed that this guidance also applies to schools planning to offer provision over the summer holidays. 
 

The government has published specific guidance for schools and colleges caught up in the Leicester lockdown in July. This broadly requires settings to go back to only being open for children of key workers and vulnerable children. We presume that a similar approach will be taken if other areas are required to go back into lockdown. 

On 16 July we submitted a detailed response to Ofqual’s consultation on proposed changes to the assessment of GCSEs, AS and A levels in 2021. You can read our full response here, and our accompanying press release here
 
We called for more radical changes to the exams to make them fairer on students, as well as contingency plans if there are local or national outbreaks of coronavirus.

 

On 2 July the government published the following guidance for schools, colleges and other education settings for the autumn term: 


School and college leaders might find the following documents helpful in preparing for the autumn term: 

The DfE guidance for full opening: schools sets out the following guidance for school-based equipment and resources: “Classroom based resources, such as books and games, can be used and shared within the bubble; these should be cleaned regularly, along with all frequently touched surfaces. Resources that are shared between classes or bubbles, such as sports, art and science equipment should be cleaned frequently and meticulously and always between bubbles, or rotated to allow them to be left unused and out of reach for a period of 48 hours (72 hours for plastics) between use by different bubbles.”

Whilst there no specific guidance on marking, here are some suggestions that you could consider within your own context:

  • When planning your process for marking, consider any guidelines set out within your school or trust risk assessment. As far as reasonably possible teachers may be better not taking work home to mark, but again refer to and follow the guidelines set out by your employer. 
  • Consider whether electronic submission of work is possible. Pupils could do their work to be marked on a single sheet of paper which they themselves stick in their books once marked.
  • When considering or needing to use paper books, documents, booklets, folders, and textbooks, consider following Covid-19 guidelines for other related situations, such as those set out in bookshops. 
  • Consider having a crate or tray labelled with the day/date, for pupils to deposit work in, which they then leave for the appropriate number of hours. 
  • The CILIP (Library and information association) guidance for textbooks is 72 hours’ quarantine for plastic covers, and 24 hours’ quarantine for cardboard and paper-backed books (see further details below). You may wish to consider scanning and projecting pages and/or photocopying extracts (although bear copyright in mind).
Guidance on quarantine periods for library materials
Please note guidance from the COVID-19 Guidance Cell of Public Health England’s National Infection Service, as advised to CILIP and DCMS:
  • The risk from books covered in a plastic cover handled by someone who is a possible COVID-19 case is negligible after 72 hours.
  • The risk from books with a cardboard/paper cover is negligible after 24 hours.
We note that each individual library and information service has developed their own policies and protocols for safe book handling, including leaving books in ‘quarantine’ for 72 hours before handling.
 

This is an issue of concern to most settings but is particularly acute for colleges. We are continuing to lobby DfE on this issue. So far, this is the response we have received:

We are currently drafting, and will test with stakeholders, advice to local authorities on the provision of home to school/college transport in the autumn term. 

DfT have also written to LAs asking them to:

  • Work with schools, colleges and transport providers to make sure they understand supply and demand on a granular level
  • Promote alternatives to the use of public transport, particularly through active travel (cycling and walking) where feasible – recognise it isn’t for some journeys
  • Contract additional coaches, where necessary, to provide dedicated school and college transport services 
  • Work with schools and colleges to consider whether staggering school start/finish times would reduce pressure on transport services 

Colleges can use the Bursary Fund to support 16-19-year-old students where they need help with meeting the costs of transport to enable them to participate. 

Colleges with an Adult Education Budget allocation from the ESFA can use Learner Support Funds to help students aged 19+, where they need support. 

The Government has no plans at this stage to provide additional financial help to schools and colleges
.”
 

Yes. The government has confirmed that the £320 million PE and sport premium, designed to help primary schools to improve the quality of their PE and sport provision, will continue in 2020/21. 
 

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