To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what steps his Department has taken to support primary schools in enabling the parents of prospective students to attend open days before the primary school admissions deadline in January 2021.
23 November 2020
Local authorities are required, through the School Admissions Code and the School Information (England) Regulations 2008, to provide parents with information about all schools in their area ahead of application deadlines, through publishing a composite prospectus.
Traditionally, schools have also held open events and arranged visits for prospective parents in the autumn term. This year, as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak, schools have also had to consider how to minimise the risk of transmission of the virus.
On 2 July 2020, the Department published guidance to help schools prepare for all pupils to return to school full-time from the beginning of the autumn term. This guidance can be viewed at: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/actions-for-schools-during-the-coronavirus-outbreak/guidance-for-full-opening-schools.
This sets out a framework for school leaders to put in place a range of proportionate protective measures for children, staff and visitors. In addition, under the current national restrictions only certain kinds of gatherings are allowed, including gatherings that are reasonably necessary for the purposes of education or training. As a result, face to face open events and visits are unlikely to be possible and schools are considering alternatives. The national restrictions guidance can be viewed at: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/new-national-restrictions-from-5-november.
The provision of information to parents remains an important part of enabling them to make an informed choice about the schools they wish their children to attend. The Department recognises that many schools have worked creatively to do this, for example, by making videos or holding virtual events. If a school does decide to hold a face to face event, it is essential that a risk assessment is carried out and appropriate control measures are put in place, in line with the guidance and the law.