Coronavirus Update 19/03/20

Following yesterday’s announcement on the closure of early years settings, schools and sixth forms, the Government have published an announcement detailing these measures. Its key points include:

  • The announcement states that the Department for Education will “provide financial support for these settings as required.”
  • Nurseries will also be eligible for a 12-month “business rates holiday”, starting on 1 April. Local authorities will be fully compensated for this, and the Barnett formula is being applied to this additional support in England.
  • Guidance for local authorities on the “holiday” will be published by the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government shortly.
  • These settings will be closed to all but the children of key workers, such as NHS staff, police and supermarket delivery drivers, as well as vulnerable children; those with a social worker and children with Education, Health and Care Plans.
  • Where schools are unable to look after these children, local authorities will work with the Department for Education’s regional teams to ensure an alternative option is available in the same area.
  • Settings are also encouraged to look after key workers and vulnerable children during the Easter holidays.
  • The announcement states that scientific advice shows it is safe for a small number of children to continue attending childcare and education settings, but asking most to stay away will help to slow the spread.
  • Primary school assessments and secondary exams will not go ahead this summer. Performance tables will not be published.
  • The announcement states the Department will work with the sector and Ofqual to ensure children get the qualifications they need and recognises that special schools and residential settings are likely to need to continue to look after their pupils.
  • To support children eligible for free school meals, schools will be able to purchase meals or vouchers for supermarkets or local shops. The total value of vouchers offered to each eligible child per week will exceed the rate it pays to schools for free school meals, recognising that families will not be buying food in bulk and may therefore, incur higher costs. The final amounts will be confirmed shortly. Schools will immediately be able to order vouchers directly from supermarkets or shops in their communities and will have costs covered by the Department for Education. Guidance for schools will be published soon.

Posted in: Coronavirus updates