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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 currently closed for most children and are only open to a very small number of pupils who are identified as being vulnerable or who have at least one parent or carer whose role is considered to a ‘key worker’.

At the moment almost all of the schools in Redbridge are open for children of key workers and vulnerable pupils. We will try and keep schools open though we will need to monitor staff absence rates and ensure we can continue to have enough staff. Should we need to make any changes you will be notified in advance.

We are aware that some special schools outside of Redbridge have not re-opened. If this is affecting your child, please contact your child’s SEN case worker in the first instance to discuss your child’s needs.

If your usual childcare setting has closed, or you need to access a new childcare place due to a change in your circumstances, please first refer to the document ‘Early Years & Childcare settings able to cater for children during closures. If you are unable to find a suitable place for your child then please contact the FiND team at

Which children can attend school or childcare?

For children of key workers and those with an EHC plan, only those who are unable to be safely cared for at home should continue to attend school.

There is 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.

Am I a key worker?

You may be classed as a ‘key worker’ if your job is listed on a set of jobs which have been defined by government as critical for the steps being taken to tackle the impact of Coronavirus AND your employer considers your specific job to be critical

There are several roles listed in the criteria and you can check to see if your job is on the list here

Government advice however is clear that if at all possible, children should remain at home if it is safe to do so. So even though you are identified as a key worker, you do not have to take up the offer of attending if for example your spouse or partner will be at home or if there is another adult living with you who will care for the child while you are at work.

If you and your employer agree that your role is a ‘key worker’ job then you should let your local school know. Schools and settings in Redbridge have all written to parents asking them to notify the school if you think you are a key worker. 

Schools and settings are likely to need evidence from your employer about your key worker role – this is usually a letter from your employer advising the school that you are a key worker AND some form of ID such as an ID Badge

If you think you should have been identified as a key worker and have been overlooked by your school or if your child’s school has rejected your application to be considered a key worker then please contact

Is my child identified as being vulnerable?

Government have set clear criteria. Vulnerable children are those with a social worker and those who have an Education Health and Care Plan. If your child is considered vulnerable for one or other of these reasons you will already have been contacted by your school. If for any reason you have not been contacted and your child has a social worker or an Education Health and Care plan, then contact your school directly.

Does my child have to attend school?

This depends on why your child is being offered a place at school or childcare. 

Children of key workers

Government advice is clear that if at all possible, children should remain at home if it is safe to do so. So even though you are identified as a key worker, you do not have to take up the offer of attending if for example your spouse or partner will be at home or if there is another adult living with you who will care for the child while you are at work.

Children with an EHC Plan

The advice from both health and education is that if it is safe and possible for your child to remain at home, then you should keep them at home if you can. Your usual provider should complete a risk assessment to determine if it would be appropriate and safe for your child to continue attending. 

Children with a social worker

Where possible it is expected that chlidren with a social worker will continue to attend their school or childcare provider.  

Children with underlying medical conditions meaning they should be 'shielded', or a member of their household should be 'shielded'

If your child or a member of their household has underlying health conditions which mean they they should be shielded then you should follow the advice from your GP/medical professionals. 

Will SEN Transport still 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 receiving SEN Support attend school?

For those who do not have an EHCP, no. At this stage government have asked schools to support only those vulnerable children who have an EHCP or a Social Worker. So, there will be no school for your child until further notice and instead you can access the online/home learning resources made available by your child’s school

How will my child's absence be recorded and followed up?

For those able to access a place (children of key workers and vulnerable children)

Schools will record who attends each day. If you are a key worker and you decide your child can’t or won’t attend on any particular day you should let the school know in advance. Schools will advise us of pupil attendance but we will not follow up on individual absences for children of key workers.

If your child has an EHCP and your child can’t or won’t attend on any particular day, you should let the school know in advance. Schools will advise us of pupil attendance but we will not follow up on individual absences for children with an EHCP unless your child also has a Social Worker. If your child does have a Social Worker then the Council Education Welfare Service will contact you to check up on your child’s welfare.

If your child has a Social Worker and your child can’t or won’t attend on any particular day, you should let the school know in advance. Schools will advise us of pupil attendance for children with a social worker and the Council Education Welfare Service will then contact you to check up on your child’s welfare.

For children who are unable to access a place as they are not identified as a child of a key worker or a vulnerable child)

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

Will critical workers or parents of vulnerable children be penalised if they do not send their child to school?

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

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

Schools will take all steps they can to ensure children practice social distancing in classrooms and around the school

Children at school will be encouraged to attend normally.

Will children attending school be taught as they would be 'normally'?

No. The number of children attending most schools will be small. Most pupils will be at home. Schools are making arrangements to help supervise and support children who attend school but it will not follow the national curriculum and will not be ‘normal’ lessons.

This is because there will be changing staff available and classes will be organised around staff availability. Pupils attending schools will be able to access the learning materials that schools have provided for all pupils

What will happen if my child is unwell when they are at school?

Schools will respond to pupil illness as they would do normally. If they think the child has symptoms of a cough or a temperature, the school will contact you immediately and make arrangements for your child to go home, where you will then be able to follow health advice and self-isolate your child for 14 days.

How will schools provide support for children who are at home and not able to attend school?

Redbridge schools have made arrangements for pupils to access online learning tools and resources. Such as home learning packs. These will be updated and overseen by individual schools

Should you have difficulty accessing the online materials then you should contact your child’s school in the first instance

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 -

Is Redbridge Alternative Provision (RAP) or the Constance Bridgeman Centre (CBC) open?

Yes. Both RAP and CBC are open to pupils and children should continue to attend. 

How long will school be closed to my child?

At the moment it is not possible to say when schools will re-open to all children and so for now, the position is that schools remain closed to all children except those who are the children of key workers or are vulnerable, until further notice

How will Free School Meals be provided?

The local authority are 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 -

What if I need help with special dietary requirements for my child who gets Free School Meals?

If you are in a school that will be using weekly food parcels, then the special dietary requirements for your child will have been considered when your food parcel was made up

If you are in a school that will be using vouchers, then you’ll be able to use the vouchers to buy the products you need

How can I get help for my children for their mental health and well being 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
You can find additional advice and guidance from the Place 2 Be children’s charity to support child and family mental well being here

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

If my child is showing signs of Coronavirus what should I do?

If your child has a high temperature or a new, persistent cough, they should self-isolate at home for 14 days and the rest of the family should self-isolate with them.

If possible, you should try to keep them in a separate room from other people in the house.

All other people in the household should also stay at home and self-isolate, where possible.

If your child’s symptoms worsen, or do not improve after 7 days, you should contact NHS 111

Can I get help in talking to my child about Coronavirus?


















The DfE helpline number is 0800 046 8687 (open 8am to 6pm Monday to Friday)

You can email the DfE helpdesk at

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 

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

Primary school children 

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