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Education: Coronavirus

Question for Department for Education

UIN 67000, tabled on 30 June 2020

To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what steps he is taking to help ensure that children of people who are shielding during the covid-19 outbreak can (a) access education and (b) minimise risk of transmitting covid-19 to others in their household.

Answered on

8 July 2020

During the summer term, we are advising children who live in a household with someone who is shielding to only attend school if stringent social distancing can be adhered to and if they are able to understand and follow those instructions. This may not be possible for very young children and older children without the capacity to adhere to the instructions on social distancing. If stringent social distancing cannot be adhered to, we do not expect those individuals to attend. They should be supported to learn at home.

To aide this, we have published a list of high-quality online resources, which have been assessed with support from some of the country’s leading educational experts, to help pupils learn at home. We have also worked with schools to produce case studies guidance on remote education practice. This guidance provides an opportunity for schools to learn from each other's emerging practice as they develop their own approaches.

In addition, we are supporting sector-led initiatives such as the Oak National Academy. This new enterprise has been created by 40 teachers from schools across England. It will provide 180 video lessons for free each week, across a broad range of subjects, for every year group from Reception through to year 10. By 21 June, 3.9 million unique users had accessed the Oak National Academy website and 13.2 million lessons had been viewed.

The BBC has also developed resources for families as part of a comprehensive new education package, which is now available on TV and online at BBC Bitesize.

The Government has committed over £100 million to support vulnerable and disadvantaged children in England to access remote education and social care services, including by providing laptops, tablets and 4G wireless routers.

We are providing laptops and tablets to disadvantaged and vulnerable children who would otherwise not have access and are preparing for examinations in year 10, receiving support from a social worker or are a care leaver. Where care leavers, children with a social worker at secondary school and children in year 10 do not have internet connections, we are providing 4G wireless routers.

Shielding advice for all adults and children will pause on 1 August, subject to a continued decline in the rates of community transmission of COVID-19. This means that even the small number of pupils who remain on the shielded patient list can return to school, as can those who have family members who are shielding.

Our guidance for fully reopening schools in the autumn sets out a ‘system of controls’ which schools should adopt to minimise the risk of transmission. Where schools apply the full measures in this guidance, the risks to all pupils and staff will be mitigated significantly, including those who were previously classed as extremely clinically vulnerable and clinically vulnerable. This guidance also sets out our expectations of the remote education schools should provide if a pupil is unable to attend school because they are complying with clinical and/or public health advice, including if they are required to self-isolate or a local outbreak occurs.

This guidance can be found here: