On 18 March 2020 the government announced that schools in England would be closing from the end of the day on Friday 20 March 2020. “Vulnerable children” and children of “key workers” will still attend school, although that will not necessarily be their normal school and they will not be taught the normal curriculum.
This will undoubtedly leave parents with a number of questions. We answer some of the most frequent ones below.
1. Who are key workers?
Key workers are those whose roles are integral to the on-going welfare of the country in these circumstances. Government will be sending a list to schools explaining what jobs are classed as key workers. The Education Secretary has so far stated that this will include people who work in hospitals, schools and national infrastructure. This will also included delivery drivers as they are required to ensure that the movement of food and essentials continues.
2. Who are vulnerable children?
The Government will shortly be confirming who they class as vulnerable children but have so far indicated this includes children who have Educational Health & Care Plans; children with special educational needs; children who have a social worker or children who are in care.
3. My child receives free school meals – what will happen now they are at home?
The Prime Minister indicated that the Government would be drawing up plans for a voucher scheme for children who are entitled to free school meals but who will not be in school to receive them. The Government say that further details will be published shortly.
4. Why are some private nurseries staying open?
All state controlled establishments are being made to close, but there are some private ones that may remain open. The decision to remain open is theirs, although it goes against government advice.
5. My child attends a fee paying school - will I still have to pay remaining term school fees?
These unprecedented circumstances will mean many are looking to see whether they are entitled to a refund in private school fees. It is best to review the T’s and C’s in the contract, and then speak to the relevant person at the school
6. Exams are cancelled, not postponed so what grades will students be granted?
This has not yet been made clear by government, although the Education Secretary is expected to provide additional clarity in the next couple of days at the latest.
7. How long will schools be closed for?
At the moment, all we know is that schools will be closed at the end of the week, indefinitely. It is too early now to predict when schools will be able to re-open and get back to normal.
8. What if schools are forced to close for a long period of time?
The Education Secretary has told MP’s that there could be a knock on effect of school closures into the start of the future academic year. At the moment there isn’t enough information to be able to categorically state whether this will happen.
9. I have to work and can’t be at home with my children. What are my rights?
Please see our article on your employment rights here.
10. I have an outstanding School Admissions Appeal. Will this go ahead?
Currently admission appeals are due to go ahead as scheduled. Most Local Authorities have, however, sought advice from the Department for Education on whether they can go ahead and if so, how they will go ahead. That advice is outstanding.