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Coronavirus | Updates, advice and resources for families and practitioners

Coronavirus | Guidance for families on education and childcare in Redbridge

This section provides advice for parents and carers about education and childcare. 

Please look at the 'frequently asked questions' below by clicking on each question. 

Are schools and childcare open?

Schools, early years settings, colleges and childcare provision in England are now able to open to those shown below. Please note however that to ensure that children can socially distance, each school or setting will need to complete a risk assessment to ensure the safety of children and put additional measure in place. As a result, your child’s school or setting may not be able to provide a place for every child that is eligible to return.

If your child is included in the eligibility below and you wish to find out if their school or setting is open and able to offer a place to your child, please contact them directly.

Those who may be able to return are as follows:

 

Early Years and Childcare Settings

  • These settings can now open to all children.
  • Where they do not have enough places to meet demand they have been asked to prioritise children of critical workers and vulnerable children first, and then by the child’s age starting with 3 and 4 year olds first.

 

Primary Schools

 

Secondary Schools, Sixth form and other Further Education colleges

  • These can begin some face to face support with Year 10 and Year 12 pupils, although it is not expected for them to return on a full-time basis at this stage.
  • Secondary schools will continue to support children of critical workers and vulnerable children (those with a social worker or EHCP).

 

Special schools, special post-16 institutions and hospital schools

  • These will be asked to work towards a phased return of more children and young people without a focus on specific year groups. Decisions will be made based on risk assessments.

 

Siblings of children who are eligible to return

  • Siblings of children who are in the year groups asked to return are not able to attend unless they are a child of a critical worker, have a social worker or an EHCP.

 

Children with underlying health conditions

  • Children considered extremely clinically vulnerable should continue to shield and should not be expected to attend.
  • Clinically vulnerable (but not extremely clinically vulnerable) are those at higher risk of severe illness. A minority of children will fall into this category and parents should follow medical advice.

 

Children who live in a household with someone with an underlying health condition

  • Children and young people who live in a household with someone who is extremely clinically vulnerable and shielding should only attend if stringent social distancing can be adhered to and the child or young person is able to understand and follow those instructions.
  • Children and young people who live with someone who is clinically vulnerable (but not extremely clinically vulnerable) as defined in the social distancing guidance and including those who are pregnant, can attend.

My child is in a group that can now attend – do they have to?

Parents and carers can decide whether their child attends school or childcare at the moment.

Parents will not be fined for non-attendance at this time.

There is however an expectation that vulnerable children who have a social worker will attend school, so long as they do not have underlying health conditions that put them at higher risk than others. If you have concerns about your child attending school, please contact your social worker to discuss this further.

My child is in a group that still can’t attend – when will they be able to return?

The DfE have said they hope that all primary school children can come back to school before the summer holidays, for a month if feasible, although this will be kept under review.

My child’s childcare setting is closed; how do I find an alternative?

Many childcare providers have already re-opened, or will be re-opening over the next few weeks for those eligible to return. To get support in finding an alternative setting please email your details to find@redbridge.gov.uk.

If you are a key worker or your child is vulnerable, and they are eligible for 2, 3 or 4 year old funding, you will be able to have their funding entitlement transferred temporarily where your child’s usual setting is closed or unable to offer your child a place

 

How will my child’s funded early years entitlements be affected by the recent closures?

Will my child be able to access any additional hours to make up for the hours we have lost?

No. Although children can now return to settings and access any remaining weeks left of term (or the remainder of summer where your child usually accesses a ‘stretched offer’, settings will not be able to offer additional hours to compensate for any hours lost.

 

Will my child’s setting be expected to provide any discount or money to make up for the hours we have lost?

No. There is no monetary value to the early education entitlements.

 

Are settings making extra money from the early education entitlements?

No. The DfE asked Local Authorities to continue funding early years settings for any early years entitlements. However, where a setting receives funding it would have reduced their access to the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme. As a result, the funding was provided to ensure that settings could continue to pay their staff during the required closures.

 

My child’s setting is closed. Can I access the remaining funded hours elsewhere?

If you are a critical worker, your child has an EHC plan or has a social worker, you will be able to transfer your child’s funding entitlement to an open setting.

If you do not meet the critical worker criteria, your child does not have an EHC plan or a social worker, you will not be able to access your child’s remaining entitlement in another setting.

 

My child usually accesses the funded entitlement in two settings, what happens to their funding now?

The DfE recommends that, wherever possible, children only attend one setting in summer term. To enable you to follow this advice we will continue to fund both settings that your child usually attends.

In addition, if the setting that you choose to return to can offer you additional funded hours that your child usually accesses at the other setting, we will fund them to provide this to you. This will allow you to access the maximum hours without your child needing to attend two settings.

 

Who do I speak to if I feel my setting have been unfair regarding the early years entitlements in summer term?

You should speak to your child’s setting in the first instance. If you remain unhappy, please email your concerns to find@redbridge.gov.uk.

Please note FiND will be unable to look into any concerns regarding any hours or services that you pay privately, outside of the early years entitlements.

Will SEN Transport be available?

Yes. For those with an EHC Plan who usually receive SEN Transport, we are currently operating and will endeavour to maintain a service. However, we may need to make changes to routes and pick-up drop-off times and where we need to do so, we will take all reasonable steps to inform you in advance.

Can children on SEN Support attend school?

Children who usually receive SEN Support will only be able to return if they are in one of the groups of children that can return from 1 June:

How will my child’s absence be recorded and follow up?

For those able to access a place

Schools will record who attends each day. If your child is due to attend but won’t be in on a particular day, let your child’s school or setting know.

Parents will not be penalised if their child does not attend school.

Where schools advise the local authority of an absence, this will not be followed up unless the child has a social worker. If your child has a Social Worker then the Council Education Welfare Service will contact you to check up on your child’s welfare.

 

For children who are unable to access a place as they are not eligible to return yet

Schools will use a different attendance code so that the days missed while schools are unable to accept the child will not form part of your child’s individual attendance/absence record

How will schools and settings protect my child from the virus when they are at school?

The DfE have provided guidance and support on implementing protective measures in education and childcare settings to help them to reduce the risk of transmission as more children and young people return.

To prevent the spread of coronavirus, schools and other settings will make a number of changes to create safer environments in which the risk of spreading the virus is substantially reduced. How this looks in each setting will vary.

Your child’s school or setting should provide you with more information on their plans once they have had a chance to work through them in detail. Some of the things they are being asked to do are:

  • carry out a risk assessment – this should consider what the risks are and how they can reduce the risk
  • make sure that staff and children do not attend if they, or a member of their household, has symptoms of coronavirus
  • promoting regular hand washing for 20 seconds with running water and soap or use of sanitiser and ensuring good respiratory hygiene. Parents can help with this by teaching their children the ‘catch it, bin it, kill it’ approach
  • cleaning rooms, door handles and toys or resources more frequently to get rid of the virus on frequently touched surfaces
  • minimising contact through smaller classes or group sizes
  • changing the layout of rooms to ensure children are socially distanced
  • making sure contact between groups is reduced by changing timetables (such as staggered break times or by introducing staggered drop-off and collection times)

 

Small groups

Small groups are being implemented within schools and early years settings to reduce the number of people every comes into contact with, which reduces the risk of spreading infection. How big the groups are and how they are implemented will vary depending on your child’s age and setting.

For young children in the early years, groups will be small and it will not be expected for each child to socially distance from those in their group. However, each small group will be socially distanced from the next group by at least 2 metres.

For children who can understand social distancing (i.e. Year 6), children will be in a group of no more than 15 and expected to stay 2 metres away from each other where possible. Again, their group will stay distanced from the next group.  Where schools cannot socially distance this many children in a group due to the size within their classrooms, group sizes will be reduced.

Wherever possible, children and staff will stay within their own group from one day to the next.

 

Will children be taught as they would be ‘normally’?

Schools and settings have the flexibility to provide support and education in the way they see fit during this time and will be best placed to make decisions about how to support and education pupils.

Early years settings should be using their best endeavours to deliver the EYFS framework as far as possible.

Primary schools will be able to make their decisions whilst considering children’s mental health and wellbeing, assessment of where pupils are in their learning and prioritising high needs groups and those in transition years.

Secondary schools will be supplement remote working with some face to face support for Years 10 and 12 from 1 June 2020. They will not be expected to provide a full timetable to these year groups.

What if my child, or a member of our household, shows symptoms of coronavirus?

Coronavirus symptoms are any of the following:

  • a high temperature
  • a new, continuous cough
  • a loss or change to your sense of smell or taste

If you or a member of your household shows symptoms you should all self-isolate immediately and not attend school/work. The person with symptoms should isolate for 7 days and others for 14 days.

Where a child presents symptoms of coronavirus when at school or their setting, they will contact you immediately to make arrangements for your child to be collected and to go home. Families will then be expected to follow the guidance on self-isolation and/or coronavirus testing.

Guidance on staying at home can be found at https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/covid-19-stay-at-home-guidance/stay-at-home-guidance-for-households-with-possible-coronavirus-covid-19-infection.

Can children be tested for the virus?

Children of all ages can now be tested in England. Tests can be requested if an individual, or a member of their household, has coronavirus symptoms.

Visit https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19/testing-for-coronavirus/ask-for-a-test-to-check-if-you-have-coronavirus/ for more information.

What happens if there is a confirmed case in my child’s school or childcare setting?

Anyone presenting with coronavirus symptoms will be asked to go home and self-isolate for 7 days and the members of their household should isolate for 14 days. Everyone will have access to a test if them or a member of their household has symptoms.

If someone tests positive, the staff and children who are in their ‘small group’ within the school or setting will be sent home and advised to self-isolate for 14 days, although their household members will not need to isolate unless they subsequently develop symptoms.

If other cases are detected within their cohort or wide education or childcare setting, Public Health England’s local Health Protection Teams will conduct a rapid investigation and advise on the most appropriate course of action to take. This may include more staff and children being asked to self-isolate at home as a precautionary measure.

Where settings are observing guidance on infection prevention and control, which will reduce risk of transmission, closure of the whole setting will not generally be necessary.

How should we travel to/from school or childcare?

Everyone is encouraged to walk or cycle where possible and avoid public transport at peak times where possible.

Will school meals be available for those attending school?

Speak to your child’s school or setting about their arrangements. Meals should be available free of charge to children who meet the free school meal eligibility criteria.

Will free school meals continue to be available to those not attending school?

The local authority is currently running a weekly food parcel service or some schools will be continuing to provide vouchers for children confirmed as eligible for Free School Meals.

If your school is using the food parcel service, the Local Authority will contact you with details of how and when to collect your food parcel.

If your school is using food vouchers, the school will contact you and let you know what the arrangements are for providing vouchers. 

If you have not previously applied for Free School Meals but think you may be eligible, please apply online - https://parentportal.redbridge.gov.uk/Live/Website/default.aspx/

Will opening hours be the same as before closures?

It is possible that some settings will make changes to their start and finish times or introduce processes for drop-off and collection times to keep children and families safe.

Start and finish times should be clearly communicated to parents and carers alongside any other new arrangements.

Technology support for children and schools

On Sunday 19 April, the Government announced support for vulnerable and disadvantaged children and young people who do not have access to a digital device during the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak.

Laptops and tablets will be provided to support remote education and help children and young people stay in touch with social care services. Each local authority or Academy Trust will be provided with a fixed number of devices which are allocated by the Department for Education (DfE).

 

Who is eligible?

Care leavers, children with a social worker (including pre-school children) and children in year 10, ahead of GCSEs next year are eligible for this support.

 

How does the process work?

Each local authority is responsible for collecting information on which eligible children do not have access to a device and placing the orders. The delivery of devices for care leavers and children with social workers will be organised by the local authority. The delivery for disadvantaged year 10 pupils will be organised by schools.

 

When will devices be delivered?

It is expected that the local authority or schools will not receive devices from the DfE until mid-May at the earliest. Unfortunately, the timeframe for delivery is not in our control. Thousands of devices will need to be distributed to children across the country which will understandably take some time to achieve.

 

What devices are available?

Initially, there is a choice of three devices including a Microsoft laptop, a Google Chromebook or a Microsoft tablet. No further information has been provided on these devices. Each device will come packaged with a protective sleeve and power supply. No further details have been provided.

 

Can children choose what device they receive?

No, the device specification is standard for all children and decided by the DfE. The local authority and schools can decide which devices they would like to receive to suit the systems and devices they currently have in place. Parents and children will not be able to request a specific device or specification.

 

Do children get to keep the device?

No, these devices are to be loaned to children. For children with social workers, the devices will belong to the local authority. For disadvantaged year 10 pupils, schools will own the device.

 

Will ALL children with social workers or disadvantaged year 10 pupils receive a device?

Unfortunately, this is unlikely - at least initially. Each local authority has been allocated a number of devices which covers around one in three children with social workers or disadvantaged year 10 pupils. We therefore need to prioritise children that are most in need of a device which will be a decision of the local authority or school. If the DfE allow further devices to be ordered in the future, it may be possible to offer a device to all eligible children.

 

Will internet access be provided also?

Yes, the DfE have announced that 4G hotspots will be available to families that do not have access to the internet at home. However, these devices are not currently available to order so will arrive at a later date. We do not have any information about when these devices will be available.

 

What will be pre-installed on the devices?

Laptops and tablets will have settings to make sure they are safe and secure online. Additional settings and software may be pre-installed by the local authority or school to match the education resources used.

 

Further information

Further information is available on the GOV UK website here - https://www.gov.uk/guidance/get-help-with-technology-for-remote-education-during-coronavirus-covid-19 

How can I get help for my children for their mental health and wellbeing if they are in self-isolation or away from school?

The Council’s Education Psychology service has set up a helpdesk which can provide specific advice and guidance. You can access the helpline on 07741 331009 Monday to Friday from 10.00am to 12pm, Wednesday evening from 5.00pm to 7.00pm.

In addition, YOUNG MINDS have produced a guide for children’s well-being which you can access at https://youngminds.org.uk/blog/talking-to-your-child-about-coronavirus/
 
You can find additional advice and guidance from the Place 2 Be children’s charity to support child and family mental well being here
https://www.place2be.org.uk/about-us/news-and-blogs/2020/march/coronavirus-information-for-children/

Public Health England have also published a guide for parents and carers on supporting children and young people's mental health and wellbeing during the outbreak. Visit https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/covid-19-guidance-on-supporting-children-and-young-peoples-mental-health-and-wellbeing/guidance-for-parents-and-carers-on-supporting-children-and-young-peoples-mental-health-and-wellbeing-during-the-coronavirus-covid-19-outbreak

How can I get help talking to my child about coronavirus?

YOU CAN FIND THE LATEST ADVICE AND GUIDANCE FROM PUBLIC HEALTH ON CORONAVIRUS HERE

 

YOU CAN FIND GOVERNMENT ADVICE ABOUT SELF ISOLATION HERE

 

YOU WILL FIND A LINK TO A CHILD-FRIENDLY PRESENTATION ABOUT THE VIRUS IN A NUMBER OF DIFFERENT LANGUAGES HERE

 

BBC NEWSROUND HAVE PUBLISHED A SHORT ONLINE VIDEO FOR CHILDREN HERE

 

THE NATIONAL AUTISTIC SOCIETY HAVE PUBLISHED ADVICE FOR PARENTS WHICH YOU CAN FIND HERE

 

THE GUARDIAN NEWSPAPER HAVE PUBLISHED A SHORT GUIDE FOR PARENTS ABOUT FAMILY SELF-ISOLATION WHICH YOU CAN ACCESS HERE

 

MENCAP HAVE PREPARED A SHORT GUIDANCE LEAFLET ABOUT THECORONAVIRUS WHICH YOU CAN ACCESS HERE

 

THE DEPARTMENT FOR EDUCATION HAVE ALSO PRODUCED ADVICE FOR PARENTS AND CARERS ABOUT SCHOOLS AND CHILDCARE WHICH YOU CAN ACCESS HERE

 

THE DEPARTMENT FOR EDUCATION HAVE ALSO SET UP A PHONE AND EMAIL HELPLINE WHICH YOU CAN ACCESS HERE

Can private childcare providers continue to charge during closures?

What is the DfE advice on charges for private childcare during closures?

On 17 March 2020, the DfE provided guidance asking all early years and childcare providers to close their settings to all children except those considered to be vulnerable and the children of key workers. The DfE also confirmed that they would continue to provide the early years entitlements to all local authorities, with the expectation that local authorities would continue to fund providers regardless of closures and where children are unable to access their place.

 

Is there advice and guidance for parents and carers on the DfE Website?

Yes. The DfE website states:

‘The government acknowledges that in many cases, the insurance that early years providers have will not cover them for income lost during coronavirus (COVID-19) related closures.

That is one of the reasons why it was announced on 17 March that government would not claw back early years entitlements funding from local authorities during closures, or where children are withdrawn because of coronavirus (COVID-19). This protects a significant proportion of early years providers’ income.

In addition, the government has set out a range of support for businesses to reduce the impact of coronavirus (COVID-19) on them. This includes a business rate holiday for all private childcare providers for one year from 1 April. Local authorities will be fully compensated for the cost of this. The government has also announced significant support for workers, which will help support private early years providers.

In light of these steps taken already, we are asking providers to be reasonable and balanced in their dealings with parents.’

 

What has the London Borough of Redbridge done to help?

London Borough of Redbridge confirmed to all funded settings that their access to the entitlements would be unaffected by the closures. We have also provided sums for entitlement funding up front to help with cash flow and we have provided guidance to settings on the above considerations. Like other businesses, are also being given a one-year Business Rates holiday in 2020/21.

 

So if the DfE and Redbridge are helping settings why is my nursery the only setting telling me they are going to charge me even when they are closed?

This is actually the case in many, many settings though the policy of each provider might vary between a full suspension of all fees from day one of closures and charging of 100% of fees. This is also happening in most other local authorities.

 

Why do settings need to charge me when they are closed for my child if they are getting all this financial help from the government – isn’t the Job Retention Scheme enough?

The Job Retention Scheme will pay up to 80% of staff salaries when they are furloughed. We are aware of some settings trying to continue to top up staff salaries to 100%. Where settings are being asked to continue caring for eligible children, they are not able to furlough all staff as they need to maintain sufficient staffing and allow for any absence as a direct or indirect result of Coronavirus to ensure provision continues to be available

 

My setting has closed in March and yet it has charged me in full for March with no rebate or discount on those March fees – why not?

Some of the financial support like Business Rate relief and Job Retention funding was not available to settings immediately upon closures and therefore settings had full wage costs and other bills for the month of March

 

Why can’t settings take a mortgage holiday or come to an arrangement with their landlord?

Our experience is this is not always being made available depending on their current circumstances

 

If the DfE are funding them the Early Years entitlement money even when they are closed, why is this not enough?

The DfE guidance refers to the early years entitlements protecting a significant proportion of early years providers’ income. In practice however, this varies significantly between different areas and individual settings.

Many of the early years settings market their services to either a majority of funded families or to those who are requiring full time care. Their staffing and provision is often very different depending on their market and as a result some will be well protected by the ongoing early years entitlements whilst others will only be receiving a small portion of their income from the ongoing funding

 

Why can’t settings claim on their insurance instead of charging me?

In our many discussions with providers we have not yet heard from any provider who is covered under the current circumstances

 

I’m a key worker and my child needs to go to a setting – but my usual setting is closed and now I’m being asked to pay – why is that?

Where a child is eligible to attend because they are the child of a key worker, and their usual setting closes, the parent/carer may be in a position where they need to pay for a further childcare place because in effect the setting that you use instead is receiving no funding for offering that place

 

Why can’t the Council simply decide what the charges are to be and impose them so every setting is the same?

Although we have provided guidance to settings on the above considerations, the matter of charging for any hours and services accessed over and above the early years entitlements remains is a private contractual matter between parents/carers and their early years provider

Where families do have issues or concerns about an approach being taken by a provider which isn’t covered by the information here, please let us know at find@redbridge.gov.uk.

How can I support my child’s learning at home?

Primary school children 

 

Children under 5 years

 

 

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