Some pupils in England have started to return to the classroom, as the coronavirus lockdown is eased.
But when will schools fully reopen and how will pupils catch up with lost learning?
How will children catch up?
During lockdown, many schools have offered a limited curriculum online – relying on parents and guardians to supervise work.
Despite this, around a third of pupils are not engaging with the work they’ve been set, a survey of 3,000 leaders and teachers in England’s state schools suggested.
To help pupils in England catch up, the government has announced a £1bn fund.
Of this, £650m will be available to head teachers to provide tutoring sessions for small groups of primary and secondary pupils.
The remaining £350m will be spent on a national tutoring programme aimed at the most disadvantaged pupils.
To further support home learning, the BBC expanded its Bitesize website, which offers daily online lessons in English, maths and other core subjects.
Who can attend secondary schools, sixth forms and colleges?
Secondary schools in England have been allowed to reopen for Years 10 and 12 since 15 June. Teaching of vulnerable children and those of critical workers in all year groups will continue.
But only a quarter of eligible pupils are allowed in school at any one time.
Students who do return are encouraged to travel separately and avoid public transport.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock conceded that England’s secondary schools may not fully reopen until September “at the earliest”.
What about nursery and primary schools?
Plans to get all primary pupils in England back for four weeks before the summer holidays have been dropped.
But some nursery and pre-school children – plus pupils in Reception, Year 1 and Year 6 – started to go back on 1 June.
Not all schools have reopened, some due to local council advice and some because they don’t have the staff or space to safely accommodate pupils. Some parents have chosen not to send their children back.
On 11 June, 868,000 children in England – or 9.1% – are estimated to have been in classes.
What about the rest of the UK?
Schools in Wales will reopen from 29 June to all age groups – but only a third of pupils will be in classes at any one time.
Schools and councils will make their own decisions over managing their return.
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon says early learning and childcare will be allowed to start up again in Scotland on 15 July.
Scottish schools will reopen at the start of the autumn term on 11 August, using a blended model, with some continued home-learning.
Some Northern Irish pupils preparing for exams and those about to move to post-primary schools will go back in late August, with a phased return for the rest in September.
How does school differ now?
Plans in England include keeping classroom doors and windows open to encourage air flow, and introducing one-way systems around school buildings.
Here are seven other things that could be different:
- No more than 15 children per classroom
- Pupils asked to stay 2m (6ft 6in) apart where possible
- More regular hand washing
- Staggered break and lunch times, plus different arrival and departure arrangements
- Less sharing of equipment such as books and toys
- Parents should not gather at school gates or in the playground
- Carers should only enter school buildings by appointment
If any pupils or staff – or anyone they live with – develop coronavirus symptoms, they will be asked to stay away from school.
Is it safe to send my child to school?
The risk of coronavirus to pupils in the classroom is “very, very small, but not zero”, according to sources in the government’s scientific advisory group, Sage.
The group has published documents about the safety and impact of reopening English schools, which also say teachers would not be at above-average risk compared with other occupations.
Teachers’ unions have warned it is not safe to allow more children into primary schools.
The government acknowledges some schools are not ready to open, but says the necessary five tests for easing the lockdown in England have been met.
in England, 21 May
Source: DfE/National Statistics (2019 school census)
Do I have to send my child to school?
It is not currently compulsory to send children to school.
This temporary arrangement – where usual sanctions do not apply – is expected to continue in England during the summer term.
What about exams?
Summer exams have been cancelled in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland. This includes GCSEs and A-levels in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, plus primary school Sats national curriculum tests in England. In Scotland, Highers and Nationals will not be going ahead.
The Education Secretary Gavin Williamson says exams will take place in 2021 in England. “We are working with Ofqual and the exam boards on our approach to this,” he told MPs.
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