Back to school: things you need to know

Published: 17 August 2020

Will my child be going back in September?

Yes. All Children and young people in all year groups and setting types are expected to return to education settings, full time, from the beginning of the autumn term in September.


How will there be social distancing in a mainstream setting?

Secondary Schools

In secondary schools: especially in KS4 and KS5, the groups are likely to be the size of a year group. This is to enable schools to deliver the full range of curriculum subjects and students to receive specialist teaching.

Primary Schools

In primary schools and KS3, schools may be able to implement smaller groups the size of a full class. If class-sized groups are not compatible with offering a full range of subjects or managing the practical logistics in school, then look to implement year group sized ‘bubbles’. Some schools may keep children in their class groups for the majority of the classroom time, but also allow mixing into wider groups for specialist teaching, wraparound care, and transport.


How will there be social distancing in a specialist setting?

The average number of pupils or students attending a special school or SPI is much lower than in a mainstream school; this in itself will help to limit the number of contacts for any individual. Things that will be considered include:

  • How to group children
  • Measures within the classroom
  • Measures elsewhere
  • Measures for arriving at and leaving the setting
  • Other considerations


Will teachers be teaching different classes?

Yes. Teachers and other staff can operate across different classes and year groups to deliver the school timetable. Where staff need to move between classes and year groups, they should try and keep their distance from pupils and other staff as much as they can, ideally 2 metres from other adults.


Can specialist workers and supply teachers still provide support?

Yes. Specialists, therapists, clinicians and other support staff for pupils with SEND should provide interventions as usual. Supply teachers, teachers that move around and temporary staff can move between settings. They should ensure they minimise contact and maintain as much distance as possible from other staff.


Should my child have their own equipment?

Yes. It is recommended that staff and pupils have their own items such as pens and pencils. Classroom resources such as books and games, can be used and shared within the bubble; these should be cleaned regularly, along with all frequently touched surfaces.

Resources shared between classes or bubbles such as sports, art, and science equipment should be cleaned frequently and meticulously between bubbles or left unused for 48 hours (72 hours for plastics) between use by different bubbles.


What about specialist equipment?

Settings will assess the ‘cleanability’ of equipment used in the delivery of therapies. This is to see if equipment can withstand cleaning and disinfection between each use. If this equipment can’t be cleaned and disinfected between then the equipment will have to be restricted to one user, or be left unused for the required period between use by different individuals. 


What if my child needs to self-isolate or there is a local lockdown?

Schools are expected to have the capacity to offer immediate remote education when a class, group, or a small number of pupils need to self-isolate, or there is a local lockdown.


Do staff or pupils need Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)?

No. The majority of staff in education settings will not require PPE beyond what they would normally need for their work.

PPE is only needed in a very small number of cases, such as:

  • where an individual child or young person becomes ill with coronavirus symptoms while at school, and only then if a distance of 2 metres cannot be maintained;
  • where a child or young person already has routine intimate care needs that involve the use of PPE, in which case the same PPE should continue to be used


Will the Curriculum be different?

Teachers should assess what pupils have forgotten and missed out on since lockdown, and prioritise their teaching to support catch-up in reading, writing and maths. All pupils will continue to be taught a wide range of subjects, maintaining their choices for further study and employment.


If my child turns 19 this year could they stay at school?

School funding regulations do not allow for those aged over 19 to remain in a school setting unless given exceptional approval by the Secretary of State (SoS). This is an exceptional circumstance and does not happen very much.


My child was doing a supported internship that was interrupted, what happens next?

Where the core aim of a student’s supported internship has not been met due to the impact of coronavirus, students will be able to complete their internship in the next academic year. Each student should be assessed to determine the necessary duration of this extension, and an appropriate planned number of hours agreed. Not all students will require a further full-year programme.

Information from the Department of Education (DfE). Guidelines may change after publication of this article as of 17 August 2020.