Guidance for getting all pupils back in the autumn term

This week we published guidance for schools outlining our plans for the autumn. The guidance includes details to help schools prepare for all children and young people to return to full-time education in the new academic year. It includes plans to:

  • lift current restrictions on group sizes to allow schools, colleges and nurseries to fully reopen to all children and young people as COVID-19 infection rates continue to fall
  • keep children in class or year group sized ‘bubbles’ and encourage older children and staff to keep their distance from each other where possible
  • encourage testing if staff, pupils or their families develop COVID-19 symptoms and provide access to easy to use home testing kits for children and staff who would otherwise be unable to get a test
  • increase the frequency of cleaning and minimise contact in corridors
  • take action in circumstances where there is a positive case in a school or college

We also published information for parents about what to expect.

Separate guidance has been published for specialist settings supporting children with SEND, further education and early years.

Further detail on some of the other areas outlined in the guidance will be published in the coming weeks.

Leaving no child behind

Reinstating a broad and balanced curriculum across a wide range of subjects from the autumn term will help ensure children can catch up on lost learning and maintain their choices for further study and employment. This is further supported by the £1 billion COVID catch up package we announced last month.

Remote education will also continue to be important for pupils who are self-isolating. It will also help ensure appropriate support is in place for all children in the event of local lockdowns.

There are a lot of resources available to schools to support remote education, including the free resources created by Oak National Academy (which are being developed for the new academic year) and our own list of independently quality assured online resources.

Read more about curriculum expectations.

Exams 2021

Exams will take place in summer 2021 but with adaptations. Ofqual are consulting on arrangements for those exams, including measures to mitigate any impact on pupils of time out of school.

There will be an opportunity for students to sit exams in the autumn and Ofqual has confirmed these exams will be available in all subjects.

Read more about assessment and accountability.


Ofsted is planning to restart routine inspections from January 2021. However, during the autumn term, inspectors will visit a sample of schools to discuss how they are supporting the return to education for their pupils. These will be collaborative discussions, taking into account curriculum and remote education expectations and will not result in a judgement.

Read more about assessment and accountability.

Extra support for school staff

This has been a challenging time for everyone working in education, and we recognise the extraordinary lengths you’ve gone to in order to care for your students. To support you, we have:

Where to find more updates and guidance

You will always be able to find the most recent COVID-19 updates and guidance for schools on our main GOV.UK page.

Learn from other teachers’ experience

Keep up to date with stories from teachers during the COVID-19 outbreak on our teaching blog.

Flexibility in schools – learning from lockdown

“This is the moment for flexible workers and leaders across the education sector to fly the flag for doing things differently.”

Emma Turner currently works part time as Research and CPD Lead for Discovery Schools Academy Trust MAT in Leicestershire. An advocate for flexible working, she reflects on what the sector can learn from the lockdown experience.

Read Emma’s blog.

Reopening our school using a recovery and resilience program

“Our role as leaders is to continue putting emotional needs at the heart of everything we do.”

Embark Federation share how they have overcome the challenges of COVID-19 by creating a Reconnection to Recovery and Resilience programme, which focused on the social, emotional and mental health needs of children and staff.

Read Embark Federation’s blog.

Tips for remote job interviews

“Preparation was key. Not being able to visit the school in person meant that research was even more important to understand their vision, aims and future plans.”

Interviewing for a new teaching role can be a stressful experience without the added complication of COVID-19. On the back of a successful interview for a role at a new school, Miles Schofield shares what it’s like being interviewed while social distancing is in place and gives advice on best practice for other teachers.

Read Miles’ blog.

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