Government unveils secondary school guidance


The Department for Education has released detailed guidance to support the reopening of secondary schools from mid-June.

Some pupils in year 10 and year 12 are expected to return first, as the government seeks to limit the potential impact on the learning of those starting GCSEs and A-levels.

The guidance focuses on how schools can minimise risks and details the rationale behind the advice being provided.

Limiting those at the school site

It states that a quarter of pupils in both year groups (if the school has a sixth form) should be in school at any one time.

Remote education should continue to play a key role for remaining pupils, with teachers expected to deliver high-quality resources in line with the curriculum.

Vulnerable pupils and children of key workers are still encouraged to attend school full-time, as has been the case throughout the coronavirus pandemic, while those in that category from other year groups will also continue to attend.

Flexibility at the core of guidance

Flexibility forms a key part of the guidance, with the Department for Education telling schools that they can implement face-to-face support in a “way that best suits their circumstances”.

This is to address potential shortages in staff availability and to limit pressure on the workloads of secondary teachers as they try to balance both classroom and remote teaching needs.

If certain pupils require more support in school or would benefit from it – if they are disadvantaged or struggle with home education for example – they will be able to spend more time in the classroom, as long as only a quarter of the year group is ever in attendance at once.

Processes under continuous review

The guidance recognises the need for all measures to be kept under constant review and states that updates will be provided when necessary.

Limiting pupil numbers is designed to minimise the number of people that will need to use public transport to get to school, with pupils encouraged to walk or cycle if possible.

Different approaches to primary settings

Secondary schools have not been told to avoid rota systems, although they should not include split days in their planning – if a pupil is to be at school on a particular day, they are to be there for the whole day, not just a morning or afternoon.

That is different from primary schools which were explicitly told not to use the rota approach as it would not provide the education and care needed for the youngest children.

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