Looking ahead to September

Our intention is that all pupils will go back to school in September, and we will be releasing further guidance next week to assist schools to prepare for a full return.

Since 1st June schools have been welcoming more pupils back as part of a phased and cautious return. This has been a huge exercise for school staff – thank you for all the thought, hard work and careful planning that has gone into making that a success.

Since then attendance has steadily increased and we continue to encourage schools to bring back more of their pupils if they can, in line with the measures that we have set out.

Primary schools should continue to operate in groups of no more than 15 and secondaries should not exceed 25% of year 10 and year 12 pupils in at any one time. The changes to social distancing, announced by the Prime Minister this week, will give heads and teachers the confidence to maximise to available capacity within schools and classrooms, ahead of all pupils returning from September.

Primary pupils do not and have not needed to be kept apart in the classroom, and we are encouraging primary heads to use the capacity they have and the flexibility provided to bring more groups of children back into school.

No child should be disadvantaged by the COVID-19 outbreak

The coronavirus outbreak has meant that all children and young people have missed out on time in education. We are rolling out a hugely ambitious £1 billion “catch-up” package to directly tackle the impact of lost teaching time. As plans continue for a full return from September, we have announced funding for the 2020/21 academic year:

  • £650 million will be shared across state primary and secondary schools. The Education Endowment Foundation has also published a guide to help school leaders and staff decide how to use this funding to best support their pupils and their outcomes.
  • A £350 million National Tutoring Programme will increase access to high-quality tuition for the most disadvantaged young people. This will help accelerate their academic progress and prevent the gap between them and their more affluent peers widening.

Read more about this announcement.

Continued support for remote education

As we look to limit the impact of the outbreak on all children’s education ahead of their return to school in September, we are also expanding the support available for remote education:

  • The online classroom, Oak National Academy, will stay open for another academic year, supported by the DfE. Resources will remain free and accessible for teachers to help ease their workloads, support high quality teaching in the classroom and minimise any disruption for pupils who are not able to attend.
  • The DfE has published a list of independently quality assured online resources, all of which are currently free to schools. This includes Isaac Physics, Hegarty Maths and a wide range of other excellent provision.
  • The BBC’s expanded Bitesize offer is attracting over 4 million users each week and they have plans for themed weeks over the summer term, in partnership with the Royal Shakespeare Company and the Science Museum Group.

Guidance to expect in coming weeks

You can expect further detail on the following topics before the end of the summer term:

  • Guidance on preparing for September
  • Curriculum expectations for the new academic year
  • Further detail on arrangements for accountability, assessment, qualifications and inspection from September

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. We’ve recently announced extra support for early career teachers and staff wellbeing:

  • Support for new teachers – schools in the North East, Bradford, Doncaster and Greater Manchester can sign up to an early roll-out of the Early Career Framework: a 2-year programme of early career teacher development and support. To support schools in other regions, recognising that all early career teachers have had their training disrupted due to coronavirus, we are also making the ‘Core Induction Programme’ – resources and tools for delivering early career development – available to all schools, ahead of national roll-out next year.
  • 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.

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.

Keep up to date with our teaching blog

The Teaching Blog is a DfE blog for teachers, by teachers. Covering everything from reducing workload and remote education, to working flexibly, school leadership and wellbeing. Here are some recent blogs from teachers during the COVID-19 outbreak.

The impact of COVID-19 on staff mental health and wellbeing – what support is available?

“We can best support our teachers and education staff by being human first, and managers second.”

Chief Executive of Education Support Partnership, Sinead McBrearty, explains how senior leaders can support their staff but also get the support that they need too, as leaders during a challenging time.

Read Sinead’s blog.


First week back with my class after 10 weeks of lockdown

“They took to the new normal like ducks to water – now we’re back into a routine and it feels like we’ve never been away.”

Year 6 teacher Lee writes about his first week back with his class since his school opened more widely on 1 June.

Read Lee’s blog.


Returning from maternity leave as a headteacher

“Say yes when help is offered and do not see this as a failure.”

When headteacher Kate Jefferson returned to work after maternity leave, she joined a new school. But she didn’t expect to be returning in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic. How has she coped with the challenges of juggling home and family and leading her school through the pandemic?


Recruiting during lockdown? How we did it

“I would be happy to use remote interviewing in future, especially to connect with high-calibre candidates who were not able to travel to us.”

Headteacher, Joy Mitchell explains how she implemented successful interviews remotely due to social distancing measures.


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Make sure you are receiving the right information from us

We are currently sending daily emails to schools to provide the latest coronavirus guidance. If your school isn’t receiving the daily email, please check which email address, if any, you have registered on our national database – Get Information About Schools (GIAS). Find out how to update your information.

We will also send out this Teacher Bulletin a few times per half term. It brings together some of the recent advice and information we’ve published. Your colleagues can subscribe to this Bulletin by following the link at the bottom of this email.

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