Changes to our services

Schools and learning

Updated 22 June 2020

Schools reopening

Some primary schools, special schools and early years settings in Essex have reopened to more children. Some secondary schools and colleges have also started to reopen to more pupils.

We're supporting education and childcare settings with phased wider reopening. Any return will be on a gradual basis, focusing on the health and safety of pupils, families and staff.

See our update on the wider opening of education settings in Essex and schools opening: guidance for parents and carers for more information.

See data on how Essex schools and childcare settings have responded to wider reopening.

School closures

On 20 March 2020, the government decided to close all schools to the vast majority of pupils. GOV.UK has more information.

Technology support for children and schools

The Department for Education (DfE) has announced they will provide laptops, tablets and internet access for some disadvantaged families, children and young people who do not currently have access to them.

Eligible people include:

  • care leavers
  • those with a social worker
  • disadvantaged year 10 students

GOV.UK has more on information.

We're working with schools and social workers to identify eligible people and distribute equipment.

Finding childcare

If you need help finding childcare, you can email us at

Free school meals

Voucher scheme for pupils staying at home

During the current closures, schools are being asked to make sure eligible pupils have continued access to free school meals. Eligible pupils are those eligible for benefits-related free school meals.

On Tuesday 31 March the Department for Education (DfE) announced a national voucher scheme to support schools with this process. See GOV.UK for more on COVID-19: free school meals guidance for schools.

Individual schools can choose other ways to provide free school meals including a local initiative or arranging meal deliveries and collections through their usual catering supplier. Please contact your child's school if you have any questions.

Free school meals for children in year 3 and above

If your child is already receiving free school meals and you have any questions, please contact your child’s school in the first instance.

If your child isn't receiving free school meals, see our free school meals page for the eligibility criteria and how to apply.

Universal infant free school meals (UIFSM)

If your child is in Key Stage 1 (Reception, year 1 and year 2), please discuss your circumstances with your child’s school.

You cannot apply to us for free school meals for children in Key Stage 1 as they all receive free school meals under the government's UIFSM scheme.

Beware of scams

There are a number of scam websites that offer families advice, guidance and eligibility checking but are also requesting financial and banking details. We advise families not to use any of these websites.

Talk to your child’s school or see GOV.UK for more information.

Home learning resources

Schools are making their own remote learning arrangements and recommendations to support their pupils.

There are lots of online resources, in addition to what your school has given, that you can use to support home learning too.

School admission and appeals

School admissions, offers and appeals are still operating during this time of school closures. See school admissions for more information.

If you've submitted an admissions appeal, we will contact you shortly about appeal hearings.

Essex Music Services

Essex Music Services has suspended all activities until further notice.

See our online resources for support with remote learning. These include a range of content for primary and secondary-age children and are updated regularly.

Adult Community Learning (ACL Essex)

ACL Essex has adapted a huge range of courses that are now available online or by distance learning.

Classroom-based learning at ACL Essex centres is currently not available. ACL Essex is reviewing this on a regular basis in line with government guidance, to make sure all health and safety measures are met.

New courses are added throughout the year. There are funding options available for specific courses, as well as free workshops and sessions.

ACL Essex Nurseries and pre-schools will stay open to support vulnerable children and meet key workers’ childcare needs.

Visit the ACL Essex website to see what courses are available.

Duke of Edinburgh’s Award

Duke of Edinburgh’s Award (DofE) sessions in Essex-led centres are suspended until further notice. Expedition preparation sessions will now take place online.

When normal business resumes, condensed training will be available to help participants get ready for expeditions.

Expeditions and training days are cancelled until 31 August 2020. Expeditions planned for September 2020 will be reviewed in the coming weeks.

We've launched virtual training sessions for all new participants and those who want to start the next level.

This programme could benefit pupils, in Year 9 and above, at this unsettling time. It's available at bronze, silver and gold award levels.

Youth service

Face to face youth club sessions are suspended until further notice. A timetable of online activities is published weekly on the Youth Service website.

We'll continue with home visits and small groups for our most vulnerable, and will review this in line with government advice.

Please check the Youth Service website for updates.

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