School Re-opening (June)

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Latest Update 03-Jun-2020

The Government guidance page here

NOTE: I would like to apologise for the lack of certainty regarding the current legal situation. However, Government guidance has changed several times since the initial announcement on May 10th and on at least two occasions on the 15th May alone. We expect it to change again over the coming weeks. Therefore we recommend that you take note of the following:

    1. Government guidance is not necessarily the same as the law. The government may offer guidance on what they believe parents should do in accordance with government policy, but this does not always correspond with what the law says you must do. In particular statements made by ministers and other politicians may be actually contrary to law. You must therefore take care when making decissions to ensure they are legally correct.
    2. Different families facing different circumstances will have different legal issues to confront. So, just because your neighbours are free to take a particular set of decissions, does not mean you will be.
    3. Because guidance is changing so regularly, as are which parts of the Coronavirus act are in operation at any one time, please ensure you are making decissions on the latest and best information applicable to your circumstances.
    4. Government guidance is being challenged by unions and other groups, such as IPSEA. It's important therefore that you take into account that, what is legally required one day, may not be the next.
    5. While we are endeavouring to keep this page legally correct and up to date, you must appreciate the difficulty in analysing such a complex fast moving situation which can become out of date at any time. Therefore, it is advisable that you take legal advice when taking decissions which could have legal implications.

1 Government announcement

Boris Johnson made an announcement on Sunday, May 10th, 2020 regarding the re-opening of schools in June following the half term. His announcement only applies to England.

The measures outlined in this announcement have been modified on several occasions since then. The new measures are now implemented.

2 Some LAs are not opening schools.

It should be noted that some local authorities have taken the decision not to open schools. However, Academy schools within those areas may open despite this since they are not under the control of their local authority.

It is important, therefore, when making your decision whether or not to send your child to school, that you contact your school to see exactly what is happening.

3 School Health and Safety Arrangements

Prior to opening, schools should have undertaken risk assessments and should have a report on exactly what arrangements are being made. If you would like to know the contents, you should be able to ask for them. It should be signed by a senior member of staff.

You could use the Freedom of Information Act to force the school to hand over such a document.

4 Who is expected to attend and when?

Children of critical workers, Vulnerable and EHCP continue full time (see below).

From June 1st schools open to:

  • Nursery
  • Reception
  • Yrs 1, 6

It is expected that at any one time 1/4 of years 10 and 12 will attend for 'some face to face support' from June 15th onwards.

Attendance of any child is subject to an assessment of their mental health and well being.

5 Children NOT in the above categories

It appears that there are no plans to expect children generally to attend school in June. The BBC reported on 3 June 2020 that there is likely to be disruption into November 2020

6 Vulnerable Children

Conditional on a risk assessment the government want ALL vulnerable children to attend from Monday 1st of June, unless they are ill, shielding or someone in their home is symptomatic. In which case it is wise to contact the school giving reasons for your child's none attendance.

Those with EHCPs who meet criteria for risk assessment and can attend school, wont be fined if they choose not to attend.

However those with social workers will be strongly coerced to attend. However, IPSEA make it clear the criminal penalty for non attendance has been disapplied and have said

"parents can be sure they will not be exposed to prosecution or conviction if they decide not to return their child to school"

This ONLY applies up to the end of this term 30th June. We don't yet know what will happen from that date onwards.

The government have said that any child identified as vulnerable who does not attend school will be reported to Child Protection teams.

This does not necessarily mean you will be forced to return your child to school, you may for example have a reason not to do so (shielding a family member) but there is a presumption that you will.

7 What if my child is shielding

There is no expectation that a child shielding either themselves or another member of the family living with them should attend. However, if they fall into one or other category of child now expected to return, the parents should notify the school including evidence of shielding in case this is challenged.

8 What if my child has 'symptoms'?

You should NOT send your child to school if your child is showing symptoms of the virus. But you should notify the school that this is the case.

9 Special circumstances.

Those families facing 'special circumstances' are NOT expected to send their children to school. However should this advice change. then the following should apply anyway.

Circumstances such as:

  • if the child has a condition which requires social isolation
  • if the child has a condition which requires shielding

Legislation, (s175 of the Education act 2002) obligates the local authority and school to act in all circumstances in the best interests of the child's welfare.

10 Children with EHCPs?

Children with EHCP's, regardless of year group, are expected to attend unless shielding or risk assessments say otherwise. Even those who have not been attending previously.

ALL children with an EHCP who fit the criteria for attending should have a NEW risk assessment before the child is invited to return to school.

The coronavirus Act 2020 has temporary amended s.42 of The Children and Family's Act 2014.

The absolute duty to make provision in an EHC Plan (s42) has been amended to a reasonable endeavour duty now runs to 30th June.

There is NO change to regulations concerning home-school transport.

If a failure to make a particular provision or intervention could place a child or YP's health, well-being or safety at risk then raise this with the school and LA without delay.

S.43 of the Children and Families Act 2014 places a duty upon the LA to admit a child to the school named in an EHCP has NOT been disapplied.

Schools do not have to allow children with EHCPs to attend. Attendance depends on whether a child has been assessed to be safer at home or school.

11 Does the LA need to do EHCP needs assessments?

Yes, however the deadlines for assessments are relaxed (up to the 25th September 2020.) Unless the assessment commenced before May 2020, in which case deadlines still apply.

12 Can I be prosecuted if I decide not to send my child to school?

The Covid 19 Act disapplies sections 437-444 of the Education Act 1996. s444 is pivotal to any prosecution for truancy. So while your child is expected to attend, we can see no legal rout to prosecute parents for their child's non attendance.

13 Notifying the school

We have prepared an example letter (word docx) you may wish to use if you are intending not to send your child to school.

If you use this letter and have any issues or negative reactions please let us know so we can monitor it's effectiveness and improve upon it.


Deregistration process

Some parents have expressed an interest in deregistration.

I have therefore included this link to where parents can find advice on how deregistration is works.

We recommend advice is taken prior to notifying the school. In particular we suggest parents seriously considering this option should join both a local and national dedicated Elective, Home Education support forum. It is these forums which provide independent support to EHE parents.

You only need to formally deregister a child of compulsory School Age (CSA) that is from the start of the term following their 5th birthday to the last friday of June following their 16th birthday. If your child is younger than this, a simple letter notifying the school or nursery is sufficient.

Assuming you live in England or Wales, your child does NOT attend a special needs school and does not have an ESO or SAO in force, the deregistration process is a relatively simple process which can be performed on the day you intend to withdraw your child.

It is not necessary to give the school prior warning or have any contact with the local authority and you do not need permission, home education is a right in law.

Therefore, there is no reason to act before you feel absolutely need to. You can leave it until September for example.

Guidance on how to deregister your child can be found here, please read carefully before acting.

Where can I go for support?

The Home Education community is providing support to those with children temporarily at home for free via a Face book group
 
(IF YOU APPLY TO JOIN- please answer all 3 questions and agree to the group rules.)

DfE Corona Virus Help line
0800 046 8687

(8-6, Monday to Friday & 10-4 weekends)

If you are in crisis, I have additional links to organisations who may be able to help

DfE support Corona Virus (Email)

Further Information

Government guidance page
Corona Virus act 2020
HE UK
IPSEA
ACAS
Public Health England (PHE)
Public Health Wales

The TES

SNJ

SNJ video of barrister explaining the rules WRT SEND children

Further links will be added as we locate useful, reliable, information.

Petition

We have a Government petition to allow parents to flexischool their children one day a week for the coming school year. The intention is to help those children who have difficulty returning full time to school after such a long break

We have more on this here.

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