Essex preparing for phased school reopening

Essex preparing for phased school reopening

Latest update

28 May 2020

Today, the government announced that primary schools, nurseries and early years settings can begin to open to more pupils from Monday 1 June. Secondary schools and colleges will be able to open to more students from 15 June. This is possible because the government’s 5 tests have been met.

In Essex, we have been supporting schools and settings to develop their plans for wider opening. Each school and setting has made their own decision on how they will respond based on the completion of a thorough health and safety risk assessment.

This means that not all schools and settings will open full time to all pupils who are now eligible to return from 1 June. We do not yet have a full picture, but our current indications are that between 75 and 80 per cent of Essex primary schools will open to more pupils in some form from 1 June, while 20 per cent are indicating they will not.

Schools and settings are responsible for communicating with parents and their setting’s wider community about their individual decisions. All schools and settings will continue to remain open for the children of critical workers and vulnerable pupils.

For more information, visit our page on Schools opening: guidance for parents and carers.

26 May 2020

On 24 May, the Prime Minister announced that primary schools, nurseries and early years settings are still expected to start reopening to more pupils from 1 June. He reiterated that any increased provision will only be possible if the government’s 5 tests are met by Thursday 28 May. These include the new infection rate continuing to fall.

It was also announced that secondary schools should now plan to provide face to face contact with some students from 15 June at the earliest, subject to the 5 tests being met. Previously, this date had been 1 June.

Secondary schools are being asked to supplement the remote education of year 10 and 12 pupils (years 10 and 11 for alternative provision schools) with face to face support where possible.

Schools, colleges and early years settings will share local arrangements with parents and carers in the coming weeks. Parents should speak to their school or setting if they have any questions or concerns.

GOV.UK has more about the government’s 5 tests.

Previous updates

15 May 2020

Following the Government’s announcement earlier this week regarding the reopening of education and childcare settings, Essex County Council wants to update parents, school communities, and the wider Essex population on the work taking place to support reopening in the safest possible way.

In Essex, building on the Government’s plans, the return will take place on a gradual, phased and small-scale basis, allowing for local flexibility within schools in terms of class size, staffing, and the constraints of school buildings.

Teams across the Council have been working with Essex schools and early years settings, and partners such the Department for Education, Ofsted, education professional associations, unions and other local authorities to prepare for reopening. Resources, experiences, and approaches are being shared across all education settings, giving school leaders a wealth of information and support, which will help them to make the best decisions to support their school community.

The safety of everyone in the school community will be paramount in our planning. A thorough Health and Safety Risk Assessment will be undertaken by every setting, contact will be minimised through smaller class sizes and mixing between groups will be reduced through timetable changes.

Cllr Ray Gooding, Cabinet Member for Education, said: “I understand how uncertain this time is for parents and carers, and that following the Government’s announcement about reopening of education and childcare settings, parents will still have a lot of questions and concerns.

“I want to reassure parents, carers and communities that our primary concern is the safety of all children, their families and staff. The support and guidance we are giving to all settings puts safety at the forefront.

“Reopening is a complicated exercise and we are helping settings to come up with their own solutions. This means that settings will have their own approaches that work best for them, their children and their local communities.

“We are clear that each setting’s health and safety risk assessment should drive their decision making. This will mean that not all settings will be able to offer a full-time service initially. Some may re-open later in June. Things will be gradual, phased, and small scale to begin with, and potentially until the end of term.

"Schools, colleges and early years settings will be contacting parents and carers with details of their arrangements in the coming weeks. Parents and carers should speak to their school following this if they have further questions or concerns.

"Finally, I want to pay tribute to the fantastic and tireless work of all education and childcare staff over the last few months, preparing for closure, supporting children with home learning, keeping settings open for those that needed it most, and now, working towards re-opening. The dedication and commitment they have shown during this time is inspiring and my thanks goes to each and every one of them.”

Earlier this week, the Government announced it may soon be feasible for early years children to return to settings and for children in Reception, Year 1 and Year 6 to return to schools in smaller group sizes from 1 June.

Secondary school pupils in Years 10 and 12 due to be taking exams next year (Years 10 and 11 for alternative provision settings as they have no Year 12) may be able to receive some face-to-face contact with teachers, and special schools may be able to gradually increase the number of children and young people on site, again from June 1.

Any return for children and young people to settings is contingent on the five key tests set by government justifying the changes at the time. This includes that the rate of infection continuing to decrease.

Last updated 28 May 2020