Opening schools and childcare settings to more pupils

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Alert

Following the Government’s announcement that schools should prepare to open for more children from June, we have been working in partnership with our schools to plan how this can be delivered in Waltham Forest. The focus for both the Council and Headteachers remains the safety of children, their families and school staff. 

Due to the nature of the COVID situation school opening patterns are likely to change.

This information will be updated on a fortnightly basis for further information please visit individual school websites. 

Nursery Schools 

Primary Schools 

Secondary Schools

Special Schools

We are very aware of the difficulties being faced by families throughout the borough. The prospect of schools reopening requires schools to balance the duty to protect and keep children safe, and the need for children to access education and social opportunities. For all of these to be achieved we all need to be confident in the decisions being taken.

In discussions with Headteachers of maintained and academy schools in Waltham Forest the following principles were agreed:

  • Safety of children, families and school staff will remain at the heart of every decision
  • Vulnerable children and their families continue to be a priority for schools and the Council
  • Schools will continue to provide crucial support to the community’s response to COVID by providing places for children of key workers
  • Waltham Forest Council does not expect all schools to be open to a full-time basis to all year groups identified by the Government from 1 June nor does not expect all schools to re-open to all additional year groups later in the Summer term.
  • Waltham Forest does expect schools to develop plans for opening that support the needs of their community and plan for a safe increase of pupil attendance, following appropriate risk assessments. There cannot be a model that fits all schools as plans will need to reflect individual school sites and numbers of staff schools have available. Schools may, therefore need to open for one or more-year groups, on either a full or part time basis.
  • Waltham Forest does expect schools to continue to reassess their plans and act appropriately, widening opening to further years when it is safe to do so.
  • Following national advice that it is not necessary for staff or pupils to use PPE unless there are already being used as part of existing education provision or duties (such as when changing nappies or other personal hygiene activities) Waltham Forest Council does not expect schools to have a blanket approach to the use of PPE.
  • Schools will be expected to ensure that appropriate steps are in place to reduce risks to pupils and staff. This will include hand washing facilities throughout the school and may also include staggered play and lunch times and, in primaries, the creation of ‘bubbles’ of no more than 15 children and a member of staff.
  • Delivery of a full national curriculum will continue to be difficult. Waltham Forest Council does expect schools to continue to provide access to educational activities to both children on site and those who remain at home. However, it is expected that following the lockdown period, schools will need to focus on social, mental and physical well-being, positive engagement with learning and returning to a school environment.

Using these principles, we trust and support our Governing Bodies and Headteachers to agree appropriate models for a safe return to school for their pupils.

Is my child required to return to school?

Following the Government’s announcement that schools should prepare to open more widely for children from 1 June, the Council has been working with our schools to plan how this can be delivered in Waltham Forest. The focus for both the Council and headteachers remains the safety of children, their families and school staff.  Waltham Forest Council will support schools to open more widely for priority groups only when they are ready and it is safe to do so, from 1 June.

Waltham Forest does not expect all schools to be open on a full-time basis to all year groups identified by the Government from 1 June.  It does not expect all schools to re-open to all additional year groups later in the Summer term.

Waltham Forest does expect schools to develop plans for opening that support the needs of their community and plan for a safe increase of pupil attendance, following appropriate risk assessments. It expects schools to plan based on the size of their school site and the numbers of staff they have available. Based on these considerations’ schools may decide to be open for one or more priority year groups, on either a full or part time basis. There cannot be a model that fits all schools.

My child is in the vulnerable group, will they still be able to attend school?

Vulnerable children and their families continue to be a priority for schools and the Council, and are expected and encouraged to attend educational provision where it is appropriate for them to do so.  Schools will continue to provide crucial support to the community’s response to COVID-19 by providing places for children of key workers.

Will I be fined for not allowing my child to return to school?

Parents will not be fined for non-attendance.

What communications may I receive from my child’s school?

Schools will be communicating with parents and carers to:

  • Confirm what priority year groups, if any, the school will be open from week commencing 1 June
  • Provide details of protective steps being taken to make the school a low-risk place for their child
  • Let you know what you need to do (such as on drop off and collection)

What if my child is eligible but has siblings who are not?

The Government is asking primary schools to welcome back children in nursery (where they have them), reception, year 1 and year 6 return from 1 June where they are able to safely do so. This does not include siblings in different year groups unless those siblings are in a priority group, for example, the children of critical workers.

Waltham Forest does expect schools to continue to reassess their plans and act appropriately, extending opening to further years only when it is safe to do so.

Will schools and keep their usual opening hours?

School may need to make changes to their start and finish times or introduce processes for drop-off and collection times to keep children and families safe and to prevent placing additional pressure on public transport at peak times. Start and finish times will be clearly communicated to parents and carers alongside any other new arrangements.

Will school meals be available?

Each school will be different and will communicate the individual arrangements. We are working with schools to continue to offer meals, food parcels or food vouchers for benefits-related free school meal pupils.

Will staff and pupils be required to wear personal protective equipment (PPE)

Following national advice that it is not necessary for staff or pupils to use personal protective equipment (PPE) unless there are already being used by staff as part of existing education provision or duties (such as when changing nappies or other personal hygiene activities).
Waltham Forest does not expect schools to have a blanket approach to the use of PPE.

How will risks to children, teachers and families be managed?

Schools will be expected to ensure that appropriate steps are in place to reduce risks to pupils and staff. In primary schools this will likely include creating ‘bubbles’ of say 10 to 12 children, but certainly no more than 15,  and a member of staff, hand sanitising stations throughout the school and staggered play and lunch times.  

Schools will be able to communicate their plans to parents once they have had a chance to work through them in detail.

You must also make sure that your child does not attend if they or a member of their household has symptoms of coronavirus.

Will education be provided as normal to children and young people who are attending?

Delivery of a full national curriculum will continue to be difficult and is not expected. Waltham Forest schools are expected to continue to provide access to educational activities to both children on site and those who remain at home. However, it is expected that following the lockdown period, schools will need to focus on social, mental and physical well-being, positive engagement with learning and returning to a school environment.

Should I keep my child at home if they have an underlying health condition or live with someone in a clinically vulnerable group?  

Children and young people who are considered extremely clinically vulnerable and shielding should continue to shield and should not be expected to attend.

Clinically vulnerable (but not clinically extremely vulnerable) people are those considered to be at a higher risk of severe illness from coronavirus. A minority of children will fall into this category, and parents should follow medical advice if their child is in this category.

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.

Can children be tested for the virus?

Once settings open to more children and young people, staff and pupils in all settings will be eligible for testing if they become ill with coronavirus symptoms, as will members of their household.

How should my child travel to and from their childcare, school or college?
Children, young people and parents are encouraged to walk or cycle where possible and avoid public transport at peak times.

Free Early Education Click to get info

Free Early Education and Ofsted registered Childcare providers response

We are extremely proud of the response so far from Ofsted registered Childcare providers in Waltham Forest who have been working tirelessly throughout the lockdown period:

  • providing places for children of key workers;
  • supporting our most vulnerable children and families; and
  • providing materials to support families with their children’s home education

Find full details regarding the principles of safely increasing attendance in Ofsted registered Childcare settings from June 2020, and details regarding finding suitable childcare 

Free Early Education Entitlement (FEEE) provision for 2, 3 and 4 year olds

Some School Nursery Classes and Ofsted Registered Childcare providers may not be able to provide the FEEE provision straight away. If parents would like to take up their free early education hours but their usual provider is unable to offer this yet, please contact the Childcare Team for support to find an alternative provider

Waltham Forest Educational Psychology Service (EPS) are providing a telephone consultation service to parents and carers.

At this time, there can be increased pressure on families, especially those with vulnerable children.

The EPS consultation service is available to families who may want support with:

  • Emotional support for yourself or your child’s emotional health and well being
  • Talking to your children about COVID19 and the ongoing situation
  • Supporting learning
  • Managing behaviour
  • Accessing information and resources

The consultation service is open to all families in Waltham Forest. If you would like to arrange a consultation please contact the Educational Psychology Service