Thank you from the Secretary of State

The Secretary of State for Education, Gavin Williamson, has written a letter to all school and college staff to share his thanks for your efforts in meeting the challenges of the COVID-19 outbreak and the preparations you have done to welcome all students back to education for the autumn term.

Read the full letter. 

Back to school information pack to help reassure parents

As you welcome pupils back to school full-time for the autumn term, we have created a communications pack filled with materials to help you reassure parents. The pack includes leaflets, images and videos to share with parents on the importance of regular handwashing, advice on travelling to and from school, and adaptable assets for your school to tailor accordingly. 

These resources are available to download via the PHE communications resource hub and DfE Dropbox. Versions of the parent leaflets in other languages will be available to download shortly. 

Parents are also encouraged to visit gov.uk/backtoschool for information and practical guidance to help them plan for their children’s return to school.

Guidance on contingency planning

The government will be publishing new guidance on contingency planning in schools and colleges in local intervention areas on GOV.UK.

Click here for the latest guidance.

Latest guidance on face coverings in secondary schools

As a result of the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) new statement on the 21 August, the government has revised its guidance on face coverings for staff and children in Year 7 or above in England: 

  • Nationwide, while the government is not recommending face coverings are necessary, schools will have the discretion to require face coverings in communal areas if they believe that is right in their particular circumstances. 
  • In areas where transmission of COVID-19 is high, face coverings should be worn by adults and pupils in secondary schools when moving around the school, such as in corridors and communal areas where social distancing is difficult to maintain.  

This revised approach will also apply to further education colleges and will be reflected in guidance to universities, but does not apply to children in primary schools where the risks to children are lower.  

Click here to read the revised guidance on face coverings

Home testing kits and PPE delivered to schools

The best and fastest way for students or staff to access a test for COVID-19 is to visit a testing site. But, in the exceptional circumstance that a school or college believe an individual may not be able to access testing, we have sent 10 testing kits to every school and college in England. Schools and colleges can request more test kits if required.  

Schools and colleges will also shortly receive a delivery of a small amount of personal protective equipment (PPE). This one-off distribution of PPE will contain clinical face masks, aprons, gloves, visors and hand sanitiser and is being provided free of charge by the Department of Health and Social Care to help build resilience across the education sector to respond to any suspected cases of COVID-19 arising in schools and colleges. 

Click here for further guidance.

Further support for the new academic year

Returning to school is vital for children’s education, development and wellbeing, and a full return in September will be an important move back towards normal life for many children, families and the country. 

We’ve pulled together some further information below, to support you and your staff, as well as the conversations you are having with parents. 

On curriculum expectations – our guidance sets out some key principles and expectations for curriculum planning so that all pupils are given the catch-up support needed to make substantial progress by the end of the academic year.  

On wellbeing and mental health – this period has placed unprecedented pressures on the wellbeing of the whole school community 

  • Our new Wellbeing for Education Return training programme provides schools and colleges with the knowledge and practical skills they need to support teachers, students and parents to help improve how they respond to the emotional impact of the coronavirus pandemic on their students and staff. These videos from primary and secondary schools show how the last few months have affected the school communities. 
  • We announced support for staff mental wellbeing– schools can access a range of new online resources, funded by the DfE, to help them respond to the impact of coronavirus on staff mental health and wellbeing. This includes free counselling for teachers through the Education Support Partnership. If you would like to speak to someone, you can call 08000 562 561, 24 hours a day.

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