Schools, education and childcare



During the national lockdown, schools and colleges in Waltham Forest moved to online learning in line with government guidance.

From 8 March, all children and students should return to school and college. All primary pupils should attend school from this date.  

For more information consult the Children Returning to School Booklet

All secondary pupils and college students will be offered testing from 8 March in a bid to keep schools safe as not everyone with Covid-19 will have any symptoms.

Testing is voluntary and your child will not be tested unless they (if they are aged over 18) or you (or another parent/carer) have given informed consent.

Please remember: Pupils should not attend education or childcare if they have symptoms of coronavirus (COVID-19) or are self-isolating due to symptoms in their household.

Primary schools Click to get info

The Government guidance for primary schools is that: 

These local measures will be kept under review and will be reviewed again in future. 

Secondary schools Click to get info

The Government guidance for secondary schools is that: 

These local measures will be kept under review and will be reviewed again in future.


Early Years settings (including nurseries and childminders)

Early years settings (including nurseries and childminders) should continue to allow all children/pupils to attend as normal. School-based nurseries in primary schools have discretion to follow arrangements for the primary school.

Alternative Provision

Alternative Provision schools should continue to allow pupils to attend full-time and pupils of primary or secondary school age are encouraged to attend school full time.

Special schools

Special schools should continue to allow pupils to attend full-time.

Special post-16 settings should allow students to continue to attend as per their usual timetable

Out-of-school settings and wraparound childcare

Providers who run community activities, before or after-school clubs, tuition and other Out-of-school or childcare provision (including wraparound childcare) for children over the age of five are able to continue to open for both indoor and outdoor provision. They should only allow vulnerable children and children of critical workers to attend.

Measures in place Click to get info

Protective measures in place to support staff and pupils include:

  • Grouping children together in consistent groups as far as possible
  • Limiting contact between groups
  • Promoting good hygiene practices, such as regular hand washing

Remote learning Click to get info

We have been working with schools throughout the year to ensure that they have the right technology available for remote education. This includes ensuring the provision of laptops and tablets to schools for some disadvantaged children to access remote education.

Non-attendance Click to get info

If a parent wishes for their child to be absent from school, the parent should discuss this with the school and let the school know in advance that the pupil will not be attending - this will be marked as a leave of absence.

Travelling to school Click to get info

Transport services to education settings should continue to be provided as normal. Children, young people and staff can continue to use public transport where necessary.

We encourage everyone to walk, cycle or scoot wherever possible and safe. This will help to reduce pressure on the public transport network so there is capacity for those who need it most.

School Meals Click to get info

Schools will provide information on the meal options for all pupils who are in school and meals should be available free to pupils who meet the free school meals eligibility criteria.

Schools should also continue to provide free school meals or food parcels for eligible pupils who are not attending school where they:

  • are self-isolating
  • have had symptoms or a positive test result themselves
  • are a close contact of someone who has coronavirus (COVID-19)
  • are not attending as a result of implementation of local restrictions advised by government

Schools may work with suppliers to prepare meals or food parcels to be collected by, or delivered to, these eligible children during their time at home.

Early years settings

This includes:

  • all providers on the early years register
  • all early years provision in schools

Out-of-school settings and wraparound childcare

This includes:

  • breakfast clubs
  • after-school or holiday clubs
  • other out-of-school settings (including providers of wraparound childcare for children over the age of five)

As has been the case throughout the Covid-19 pandemic, The Council’s position with regards to the delivery of early years and out-of-school provision remains unchanged.

Early years and out-of-school providers that remain open are been required to undertake regular risk assessments and comply with the Government’s requirements in order to reduce the spread of infection, operate safely and take the appropriate action in the event of a suspected of confirmed case of Covid19 at their setting. This remains to be the case.

The rates of infection amongst children under four’s are still very low, however if as part of an early years or out-of-school settings ongoing risk assessment, or as a result of the impact of action taken in response to a suspected or confirmed Covid-19 cases, it is deemed by the registered individual/organisation legally responsible for running the early years or out-of-school provision that they can no longer operate safely and/or in line with statutory requirements, then they should make the decision to fully or partially close and move to remote learning. Where this decision is made the Council would not oppose this and will offer advice information and support as appropriate.

Where an early years setting has partially or fully closed to support the remote learning offer, schools and settings are able to access a range of remote learning resources on the Hub website which have been developed by the teachers in the Early Years and Childcare Team which they can share with their parents/carers.

Free Early Education and Childcare

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

  • providing free early education places
  • providing full daycare places
  • 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 finding suitable childcare for your child 

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

Financial support Click to get info

For information and advice relating to financial assistance, Citizens Advice Waltham Forest have Help to Claim advisers who can assist in the early stages of applying for Universal Credit.

There is also information on our Community Support Services webpage including our main food bank partners and health and wellbeing services.