COVID-19 Education Information for Parents and Carers
In this section, you will find information and guidance to support you whilst looking after your families during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Update 12 May 2020
Schools, colleges, nurseries, childminders, and other registered childcare settings have been asked to stay open for children of critical workers and vulnerable children where they can, including over the Easter holidays. Some may not be able to stay open because of staff shortages and the Local Authority will try to help find another place where this happens.
Vulnerable children include those who have a social worker and those with education, health, and care (EHC) plans. Children who have a social worker include children in need, children who have a child protection plan, and those who are looked after by the local authority. Some schools will also want to support children facing social difficulties.
Critical workers include NHS staff, police, farmers, and food retail workers, who need to be able to go out to work. Children with a parent or carer who is listed on the government’s critical worker list should be considered for a school place. Both parents don’t have to be a key worker to qualify but if you are able to care for your child at home then you should do so.
If children can stay safely at home, they should in order to limit the chance of the virus spreading. That is why the government has asked parents to keep their children at home, wherever possible, and asked schools to remain open only for those children who absolutely need to attend.
Read the Gov.uk Guidance on the closure of educational settings – information for parents and carers:
Will children on free school meals still receive a meal or food voucher as schools have closed?
Yes. Headteachers can decide which of the available options will be best for families in their area where they have a child who is eligible for free school meals. Schools can provide food on-site, arrange deliveries, or order a voucher to be given to the family. Contact your school to find out which option they are providing.
Schools should provide free school meals over the Easter holidays too.
- You can check if your child is eligible for free school meals using the checker
- More information on support for pupils eligible for free school meals is available.
Be aware of fraudulent emails about free school meals. You will not be asked to share your bank account details via email.
National voucher scheme
The Government has chosen a supplier called Edenred to supply vouchers that families can use in supermarkets. Schools will order the vouchers from Edenred and can either send an ‘eCode’ to parents or carers with eligible children who can use the code to choose an eGift card for a range of supermarkets, or the school can select an eGift card and either post the card directly to the family or arrange for it to be collected.
How do families redeem the vouchers?
Once families have received their voucher, they will be able to redeem them in-store at the selected retailer by either:
- presenting the voucher on a smartphone or tablet
- presenting a paper copy of the voucher
Families are free to select the most appropriate food and drink for their child. When selecting products, we encourage families to consider health and nutrition. The School Food Standards may act as a useful guide for families.
The vouchers should not be redeemed for any age-restricted items, such as alcohol, cigarettes, or lottery tickets.
If a family is self-isolating, can they use the vouchers online?
We have checked the Edenred website and it does not appear that the vouchers can be used online at this time. If you can’t get to a supermarket Edenred has said:
You can forward the supermarket eGift card to someone else to purchase goods on your behalf if you’re not able to get to the supermarket. The eGift card email contains a link to a barcode that can be presented at the till in-store, just like a gift card.
How will GCSEs, AS & A levels be awarded in summer 2020?
Primary assessments, including SATs, and exams including GCSEs, AS levels and A levels, will not go ahead this summer. The exam regulator, Ofqual, and exam boards will work with teachers to provide grades to students whose exams have been cancelled this summer.
Further information is available on the cancellation of GCSEs, AS and A levels in 2020.
Awarding vocational and technical qualifications this summer
The direction the Education Secretary has issued to Ofqual today (9 April 2020), which sets out how the government expects vocational and technical qualifications to be assessed and awarded in the coming weeks and months.
International Baccalaureate exams summer 2020
IB statement on May 2020 DP and CP examinations which will no longer be held.
Ofqual recognises that BTEC qualifications offer learners similar progression opportunities as level 2 and 3 General Qualifications (GCSEs and A levels) and, therefore, the approach that will be taken with these qualifications is similar to the one being used for General Qualifications.
Read Buckinghamshire’s frequently asked questions on home to school transport during Covid-19:
Home to School Transport contribution payments for Post 16 Students with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND) – Am I entitled to a refund or payment adjustment due to the school closures?
All parents /carers of post 16 students with SEND who are using home to school transport will not be required to pay contribution costs from Friday 20 March until the end of the summer term 2020. Payments for transport that was provided between 04 September 2019 and 19 March 2020 still need to be made and we will continue to collect payment for that period.
If you have made a single annual payment:
- For those parents/carers who have already paid their annual contribution in full, we will pay you a refund as set out above.
- You do not need to apply for this refund. We will contact all parents/carers as soon as we can to confirm the refund arrangements. In line with the process for mainstream transport, we estimate that refund payments will be made before the end of the summer term.
If you are paying by direct debit:
- Where payments have been set up by direct debit, the monthly charge will be reduced to take into account the period between Friday 20 March and the end of the summer term 2020 where there will be no charge for travel. The revised direct debit payments will be taken on your elected date from May 2020.
- Parents/carers do not need to take any action on existing direct debits. We will contact you as soon as we can to confirm the details of the reduced payment.
We will only use your personal contact information to provide you with updates on Post 16 Transport charges and refunds. If you believe we have an out of date email address or phone number details for you, please provide your updated information to Post16SENcharging@buckinghamshire.gov.uk this will enable us to correspond with you during this time. Thank you for your understanding and continued patience on this matter. If you have any queries, please send us an email.
These are challenging and unexpected times for families struggling with a growing list of major life issues including job loss, illness, financial loss, cancellations, school closures, and figuring out how to provide childcare while working, or trying to work from home with children in the house.
We have created a list of parenting courses that are running online throughout the Coronavirus pandemic.
What schools will need to do during the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/covid-19-school-closures
Guidance about maintaining educational provision for schools, childcare providers, colleges and local authorities in England.
Questions and answers about the provisions being made for vulnerable children and young people - https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-guidance-on-vulnerable-children-and-young-people