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Last reviewed on 22 January 2021
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School types: All · School phases: All

Keep up to date with the latest COVID-19-related announcements that affect your school. We check this daily and update whenever there's a significant change.

This article reflects the latest government guidance as of 5pm on 22 January

There are no significant changes since yesterday's update – we've just changed the link in the first 'Testing' point below, now the DfE has updated its guidance to reflect PHE's previous announcement about pausing daily contact testing.

Click 'save for later' on the right-hand side of this page to get email alerts whenever we update this article.

The latest news is...

  • Partial closure and who should be in school
    • All schools are closed except to vulnerable pupils and children of critical workers. This now includes those whose work is critical to the transition out of the EU - see the full list of who counts. The DfE is also encouraging critical workers to keep children at home if possible
    • The DfE has published guidance for all schools on restricting attendance during lockdown. This replaces the former 'guidance on full opening'. See our summary of the new guidance
    • The DfE has also published additional guidance for special schools and alternative provision on delivering education and who should attend during the national lockdown 
    • The DfE has updated the questions in its 'educational setting status form', which needs to be completed by 2pm each day - find out more in this article
    • Your employer's general workplace risk assessment should consider whether adapting duties and/or facilitating home working may be appropriate to mitigate risks for staff who are pregnant
  • Ofsted
    • Ofsted will be enforcing the requirement for schools to provide high-quality remote learning. It'll inspect schools of any grade if it has serious concerns about the quality of remote provision
    • Non-graded monitoring inspections are planned to start from 25 January for 'inadequate' and some ‘requires improvement’ schools. They'll be carried out remotely until after the February half term, and will focus on how well your pupils are being educated (they'll no longer focus on school improvement as previously planned). Read more here
    • Early years assurance inspections are paused until after the February half term, but Ofsted will still continue with regulatory work
    • Ofsted has published guidance on what's working well in remote education
  • Assessment
    • GCSEs, AS and A Levels won't go ahead this summer. Ofqual and the DfE have launched a consultation on alternative arrangements - read more and share your views here. It closes on 29 January
    • You can go ahead with vocational exams and assessments planned for January if you feel it's appropriate
    • Statutory KS1 and KS2 assessments planned for summer 2021 won't go ahead (as explained in the DfE's guidance on restricting attendance during the national lockdown, page 55). But if you want, you can administer the optional multiplication tables check within the 3-week period from 7 June 2021
    • The DfE has added temporary disapplications to the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) - as such, it won't be mandatory to complete the EYFS profile assessment in 2021 (the disapplications also mean that paediatric first aid certificates that expired on or after 1 October 2020 remain valid until 31 March if coronavirus prevents staff doing requalification training)
  • Free school meals
    • If you're providing food parcels to FSM-eligible pupils at home, you can claim an additional £3.50 of funding per week for each eligible pupil receiving these
    • If you're providing local shop and supermarket vouchers, you can claim to be reimbursed up to £15 per eligible pupil per week (note that you should only claim for either food parcels or local vouchers each week, not both)
    • If, between 4 January and 16 January, parents received an inadequate lunch parcel, you can claim retrospectively for a locally arranged voucher - however, you can't also claim the lunch parcel top-up funding for this period
    • The national voucher scheme has now reopened. Read more about FSM provision here
  • Testing 
    • The rollout of daily contact testing of pupils and staff in secondary schools has been paused, unless your school is involved in further evaluation. Staff should still be tested regularly (ideally twice a week), and pupils should still be tested twice upon their return to school. See our summary here
    • Primary schools (including school-based nurseries) and maintained nursery schools will receive home testing kits for staff from 18 January, which staff should self-administer twice a week. You don't need to start using the tests until 25 January - if you don't receive yours by then, fill out this contact form. Read more here
    • Private early years providers will be eligible for regular asymptomatic coronavirus testing through local community testing programmes

Key actions to take this week

  • Make sure your risk assessment is up to date - use our template to save time
  • Review your remote education provision to make sure it's in line with the latest requirements set out in the DfE's guidance on restricting attendance during the national lockdown - you can use our SEF
  • Publish information about your remote learning offer on your website by 25 January 2021use our article to help
  • Use the DfE's technology service to request data increases for your disadvantaged pupils, and see the latest information about device allocations
  • Visit our article on in-school coronavirus testing and 'save for later' to stay up to date with the latest developments

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