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Find the answers to the questions we get asked the most by our members on popular advice topics. 

 

Schools in England and covid-19 – your questions answered

Covid-19 – the position from 1 April in England

Background and overriding principles

All legal covid-19 restrictions have now been lifted, including the legal requirement to self-isolate when infected. However, self-isolation is still strongly advised.

While legal restrictions have been lifted, this does not mean that schools can forget about covid. This will be a difficult period for all schools to navigate as covid cases remain high, but the centralised approach with legal backing has now been dropped. This means that schools will need to consider the guidance produced by the government, which is now extremely minimal, but also take independent steps to operate in an appropriate way given the ongoing prevalence of covid with support of their governors, trustees, trust or local authority.

Before moving on to read our FAQs in relation to the new information from the government, it will be important to remember some overriding principles when considering the ‘new approach’ to covid-19. The principles that we highlight below have always existed; they are fundamental in terms of ensuring health and safety in schools for both staff and pupils – the pandemic has just brought them into sharp relief.

As you know, it is the employer who is ultimately responsible for the safety of staff and pupils, and as such it will need to ensure that they have taken all appropriate steps, including reviewing their existing risk assessments, in light of the latest advice issued by the government to operate safely. If you are the head teacher, you will be involved in this role with the employer and may be tasked with discharging this duty – we strongly recommend that in doing so, you seek the support of your governors, trustees, trust or local authority so that any decisions made are supported by all.

In terms of discharging this duty, it is not possible to solely rely on the government guidance, as this would give rise to risk; you must assess your own setting and risks and decide how you should operate going forwards. In fact, the original government guidance itself (which is now withdrawn) stated that: “You must comply with health and safety law and put in place proportionate control measures. You must regularly review and update your risk assessments – treating them as ‘living documents’ – as the circumstances in your school and the public health advice changes. This includes having active arrangements in place to monitor whether the controls are effective and working as planned.”

This statement makes it clear that the onus sits with schools. It’s important to remember that, in some ways, this is normal practice in school – think of covid-19 as a new risk that sits within an existing framework for health and safety management. For example, what steps do you take in relation to other infectious diseases like norovirus or a measles outbreak? These aren’t just ignored, they’re managed.

The government’s guidance represents minimum requirements for schools, and these minimum requirements in relation to staff (not pupils) can be enhanced if individual schools believe it’s appropriate to do so following a risk assessment. We strongly recommend that the ‘new approach’ to covid-19 is agreed by all relevant parties, the governors, trustees, trust or local authority to ensure a strong basis for the approach taken, we would also recommend clear communication with parents about how the school will operate. A good example of going beyond the government guidance could be giving a clear message to staff that if they feel unwell with potential covid symptoms, they should not attend school. Not attending the workplace when unwell is general good practice in relation to infection control and not covid specific – it’s essentially an improved ‘business as usual’ practice. NAHT is continuing to press the Department for Education (DfE) to consider the approach to free testing in a school setting as a way to reduce transmission in school.

The FAQs below will be added to as members contact us with queries that we think may be of wider relevance, we will continue to review and update these over the coming months.

Schools in England and covid-19 – FAQs


Should people still go into school if they test positive for covid?

No. From 1 April, anyone with a positive covid-19 test result will be advised to try to stay at home and avoid contact with other people for five days, which is when they are most infectious. For children and young people aged 18 and under, the advice will be three days. Where staff or children remain ill, they should remain away from the school. This means that staff or children who are unwell and don’t have a covid test should also remain away from school as normal.

It is possible for schools, to request that staff remain away from the premises for longer than five days if risk assessments indicate that this is appropriate. Pupils should not be asked to stay away from school if they are well after three days unless you have alternative advice from your local public health team.

Schools that might want to recommend that staff remain off-site undertaking other duties (if they are well enough to do so) for longer than the timeframe recommended can do so. For example, your risk assessment might take into account the previous guidance from the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) in relation to a 10-day isolation period and set that as the minimum return time for staff that test positive.

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What can I do if I believe a staff member has covid and hasn’t been tested?

As a starting point we would recommend discussing with all staff your expectations in relation to attending the workplace when unwell, so everyone is aware of your expectations in relation to this. We would also recommend making a plan with your HR advisors in relation to this, which would incorporate asking the staff member to work from home if they are well enough to do so, if you have reason to believe they are covid positive and for some reason unwilling to isolate immediately.

Agreeing a plan and approach with your HR provider, including what to do if a member of staff refused to work of site, is essential, and we recommend making sure the governors are also aware of this. Finally, as mentioned at above, we hope that appropriate early communication with staff about the school’s expectations here will reduce any issues arising.

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Face coverings – can people wear them if they’d like to?

The government now states that face coverings are no longer advised for pupils, staff and visitors in classrooms or communal areas. No pupil should be denied education on the grounds that they are, or are not, wearing a face covering. NAHT believes that, at the current time, where staff (or pupils) wish to continue to wear a face covering, they should be able to do so.

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What should we do about heating and ventilation?

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has stated that “employers must, by law, ensure an adequate supply of fresh air in the workplace”, and this has not changed. Good ventilation can help reduce the risk of spreading coronavirus, so focus on improving general ventilation, preferably through fresh air or mechanical systems.

The HSE has produced advice on air conditioning and ventilation during the pandemic, along with a very useful short video that can be viewed via YouTube. This is a very useful piece of guidance, and we would recommend reviewing its contents – this could also be shared with the local authority/trust and building manager.

Consideration should have been given to the ways you can best ventilate the school in the risk assessments you will have already completed.

Where possible, it is important to consider ways to maintain and increase the supply of fresh air, for example, by opening windows and doors (unless fire doors). Also, consider if you can improve the circulation of outside air and prevent pockets of stagnant air in occupied spaces. You can do this by using ceiling fans or desk fans, for example, provided good ventilation is maintained. The risk of transmission through the use of ceiling and desk fans is extremely low, providing there is good ventilation in the area it is being used, preferably provided by fresh air.

Clearly, depending on the season, some of the steps you may have taken to increase appropriate ventilation, such as opening windows, become more problematic. The regulations that govern temperatures in school, the School Premises (England) Regulations 2012, do not specify minimum temperatures for any parts of a school, however, the Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1992, which apply to all workplaces including schools set out requirements on minimum temperatures in workplaces. Regulation 7 requires that temperatures be “reasonable”, and the accompanying Approved Code of Practice defines this as "normally at least 16°C”. It is worth noting that this temperature recommendation is not an absolute legal requirement; the employer has a duty to determine what reasonable comfort will be in particular circumstances. On that basis, a balance will need to be struck between providing appropriate ventilation and providing a reasonable temperature for pupils and staff to work in. Schools may wish to use any carbon dioxide monitors they have been provided to help manage the balance between adequate ventilation and appropriate temperatures.

Again, the key to this will be to build the change in temperature into your risk assessment and determine how this will be approached. While there is no ‘easy answer’, planning in advance and speaking to staff about these plans will be key. There will be a range of questions you will want to work through including: will heating be turned on and windows remain open? Is your heating system one that recirculates air – if so, has this been serviced and are there any additional considerations you need to take into account? (We advise that schools make contact with health and safety or property management teams within their local authority/MAT to see if they have further advice or information about heating systems and how they operate.)

You will also want to consider if pupils and staff can be asked to wear extra layers to allow for temperatures to be slightly lower than normal so windows can be kept open for longer in the colder months. There are no ‘right’ answers here, and we recommend working with your local authority or trust to come up with an approach. We also recommend informing the governors of the decisions taken in relation to this, so you can agree on communication to parents to ensure a united front. Finally, and importantly, we recommend making staff aware of the approach before a communication is sent to the parents.

Furthermore, guidance from the Federation of European Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning Associations (REHVA) sets out a series of steps that schools can take to improve the number of air changes achieved within the school’s day, which includes actions before and after the school's day and during break periods between lessons. While improving ventilation is one control, schools should continue to ensure that the wider controls of social distancing, personal hygiene and enhanced cleaning are implemented and maintained. This guidance offers a series of factors that schools should consider.

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Risk assessments and ventilation – what do I need to do?

As mentioned above, health and safety regulations already state that all workplaces must be adequately ventilated and the HSE guidance emphasises this in terms of covid-19 and the potential for airborne transmission in workplaces that are not well ventilated.

If you haven’t already done so, you should urgently undertake a risk assessment of all rooms, which should include the levels of ventilation in order to identify poorly ventilated rooms. This can be achieved by a workplace ventilation audit. Don’t forget to keep copies of your ventilation audit to demonstrate that ventilation of the building has been considered in a careful and systematic way.

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Complaints about poor ventilation – a risk for school leaders?

If you are alerted to any issues with ventilation, no matter how trivial, from staff or parents, it’s very important this is investigated as a matter of urgency and that the investigation is thorough. It would be prudent to maintain records of any issues identified and details of your investigation and findings, including carbo dioxide levels as measured through monitors. You may wish, for example, to involve health and safety experts from the local authority whose services can be bought in and offer expert knowledge and support.

The work done in relation to your risk assessment and workplace ventilation audit can form the starting point for your investigation. If, after you have fully investigated the complaint, you find that additional steps need to be taken to better ventilate the building then these should be actioned quickly. Alternatively, if you deem the ventilation in place is sufficient then you should set out the reasons for your decision.

Investigating any complaint in relation to ventilation swiftly and thoroughly is particularly important because failure to do so could be deemed as a negligent act creating legal liability for the individual with ultimate responsibility for the school and/or vicarious liability for the employer. Vicarious liability can arise where an employer is deemed as liable for an employee’s actions – in this instance, a thorough investigation of a complaint about ventilation could reduce the likelihood of a finding of carelessness or fault which would normally constitute grounds for a claim for negligence or other conduct.

A short video that you might want to share with staff to give them a clear but simple explanation of the need for good intervention can be accessed at www.youtube.com/watch?v=sMwrxwFPJSg; a helpful news report about ventilation in schools from BBC Breakfast featuring Dr Matt Butler.

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How can I access air cleaning devices for my school?

Where ventilation is identified as being a concern, eg repeated high readings on a carbon dioxide monitor, schools should first try the measures outlined in the government advice and detailed above to increase airflow. Where that does not have the desired effect of improving ventilation, you may wish to consider using mechanical air filter/air cleaning devices

The DfE has started providing these to some special schools, and in January 2022 it announced that a further 7,000 would be made available to all types of schools where poor ventilation issues could not be solved through ‘quick fixes’. Schools that are experiencing this should contact the DfE helpline or visit the DfE website for more information.

The DfE has also set up a marketplace for ‘approved’ air cleaning units. The DfE states that “all air cleaning units available through this framework are HEPA (high-efficiency particulate air) filtration units that meet a suitable standard of specification for use in education settings”. It is worth noting that schools do not have to buy air cleaning units from this marketplace but should satisfy themselves that the unit they do purchase is suitable for their setting and classrooms. If you are unsure, we recommend contacting your local authority/MAT health and safety team. NAHT is unable to give technical advice on air cleaning units.

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What other considerations do I need to take into account in a SEND or alternative setting?

You should ensure that key contractors are aware of your settings control measures and ways of working.

Some pupils and students with SEND (whether with EHC plans or on SEN support) will need specific help and preparation for the changes to routine. Staff should plan to meet these needs, for example using social stories.

To make sure pupils and students with medical conditions are fully supported, work with:

  • local authorities
  • health professionals
  • regional schools commissioners
  • other services.

Use individual healthcare plans to help pupils and students receive an education in line with their peers. In some cases, the pupil’s and student’s medical needs will mean this is not possible, and educational support will require flexibility.

Consider whether you need any additional processes in place for pupils and students who regularly:

  • attend more than one site or different providers
  • move between a training provider and workplace as part of an apprenticeship, traineeship or supported internship.

NAHT notes that these changes will be particularly difficult in a SEND or alternative setting, and many members will be concerned about the impact on their medically vulnerable pupils. NAHT will continue to push the DfE to consider these pupils and their needs given that the case numbers of covid-19 remain high.

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Do I now have to update my risk assessment?

By design, risk assessments should be dynamic documents and so these will need to be reviewed in light of the latest government guidance and reflect any changes; they also need to consider your particular setting and its risks. We would also recommend proactively reviewing the risk assessments of any members of staff previously identified as extremely clinically vulnerable or clinically vulnerable

Further NAHT advice on risk assessments.

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What approach should I take in relation to staff members who were clinically vulnerable, extremely clinically vulnerable (CEV) or pregnant staff members?

People previously considered to be particularly vulnerable, CEV and high or higher risk are not being advised to shield again.

NAHT believe that it is appropriate for individual risk assessments to be undertaken for these members of staff and it is best practice to carry these out for any of these groups, and that individual staff member’s concerns should be taken seriously – and so it’s important to engage with staff and where simple steps can be taken to mitigate risk, such as allowing staff to continue to wear face coverings or allowing them to avoid certain high-risk areas such as assemblies, that this may be appropriate while cases remain high. Where there is any concern, we recommend engaging with your HR providers to discuss what support you can provide as an employer. We would also recommend asking your occupational health provider for support in relation to these staff if required.

Covid-19 Vaccination: A guide for women of childbearing age, pregnant or breastfeeding contains further advice on vaccination. NAHT recommends allowing all staff time off to access a vaccine if they have not done so already, and this would also apply to any staff member who is pregnant.

It’s worth noting that your workplace risk assessment should already consider any risks to members of staff who could be, or could become, pregnant and, in particular, risks to new and expectant member of your team.

As we noted at the start of these FAQs, much of the new approach is embedded in existing structures for dealing with health and safety in schools. As such, employers should be able to explain the measures they have in place to keep staff safe at work, all of which should be recorded in the workplace risk assessment.

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I have been asked to review a risk assessment for a member of staff who is deemed clinically vulnerable or clinically extremely vulnerable or who is pregnant in light of the changing circumstance. What should I do?

The first thing to point out is that all risk assessments should ideally be dynamic documents that you review as the context or situation changes. Given the current situation, it would be good practice for all covid-19 related risk assessments to be kept under regular review.

If a member of staff who is at particular risk feels that their personal circumstances or the wider context require a risk assessment to be reviewed, we would recommend that such a request is accommodated.

It is not possible to give very specific guidance on this because each school and individual will have a different set of circumstances that they will need to take into account. This is particularly important given that government advice has been revised in respect to workers previously identified as clinically extremely vulnerable and also for workers who are immunosuppressed. We continue to recommend that schools reach out to their local health and safety teams within local authorities who should be able to provide templates and advice on how best to complete and review such risk assessments. Furthermore, it is important to remember that risk assessments are not designed to completely eradicate all risk but to help reduce and control these risks.

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I’m not happy about the way the school is doing things, even after a risk assessment. What else can I do?

Preparing effective risk assessments that meet the needs of all staff and pupils can prove challenging as senior leaders seek to create positive working environments in which everyone feels confident working and being in school. When consulting with staff, it is important that school leaders consider current guidance from external specialist agencies, trade unions and the DfE to ensure that the risk assessments they put in place are as robust as possible.

It is important to recognise the challenges that covid-19 brings to all schools and that the strategies employed to manage these will be different across regions depending upon local circumstances and will also be different in different school settings. Members should continue to work with their school to find solutions before considering taking any action against the employer. In cases where discussions are exhausted members should contact NAHT to consider alternative ways of pursuing the issue. Members may at this point want to consider the provision of the Employments Right Act 1966 and details about this can be found here.

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What is NAHT’s advice if other unions provide me with a checklist for risk assessments?

A number of teaching and support staff unions have previously published checklists for their members. This may take place again.

We expect that, as with previous versions, there will be a number of helpful points raised that schools will consider as part of their ongoing, dynamic risk assessments, if they haven’t already done so.

We need to point out that the checklist items are not binding on schools or school leaders. The checklist represents advice to members of the unions listed. It is not guidance that schools are obliged to follow.

While schools should continue to engage with all their staff fully, and with union representatives when it comes to risk assessments, they are not under any obligation to demonstrate they have met all the items outlined in a particular checklist provided to them. Your responsibilities are to discharge your duties appropriately.

Ultimately, any checklist produced is for the members of those unions to use, and individual members of staff will make their decisions about what they choose to do as a result of that. We will continue to support and advise our members based on the individual circumstances they face in their school.

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Does NAHT have any advice on cover and supply teaching during covid-19?

During these unprecedented times, it is important to review your policy on cover and pose questions about how you will manage should staff fall ill or have to self-isolate. 

The School Teachers’ Pay and Conditions Document (STPCD) states the following about cover:

"52.7. Teachers should be required to provide cover in accordance with paragraph 50.7 only rarely, and only in circumstances that are not foreseeable (this does not apply to teachers who are employed wholly or mainly for the purpose of providing such cover)."

Both NASUWT and NEU refer to ‘rarely cover’ in their guidance and expect schools to stick rigidly to that principle. This applies to members of the leadership team as much as it does to any other teacher.

The STPCD goes on to state the following about planning and preparation time:

"52.5. All teachers who participate in the teaching of pupils are entitled to reasonable periods of Planning, Preparation and Assessment (PPA) time as part of the 1265 hours referred to in paragraph 51.5 or pro-rata equivalent (as the case may be) to enable the discharge of the professional responsibilities of teaching and assessment. PPA time must be provided in units of not less than half an hour during the school’s timetabled teaching week and must amount to not less than 10% of the teacher’s timetabled teaching time. A teacher must not be required to carry out any other duties during the teacher’s PPA time."

School budgets are being stretched to the limit (and beyond), and the government has said it would not refund additional costs incurred as a result of the coronavirus outbreak in the autumn term. So, what options do you have available to you?

  • Discuss the possible approaches for your school to take regarding cover. Acknowledge and discuss the very unusual times schools are working in and how that might mean some changes to usual practice. Reaffirm your commitment to staff continuing to get the release and non-contact time they are entitled to. Look for agreement and consensus from the staff who might be concerned. You will need to continue to aim to get supply staff in when an absence is known about in advance. You might ask for some flexibility from staff regarding PPA, guaranteeing it but asking that, if necessary, it might be moved to another time in the week to ensure the continuation of classes.
  • Discuss with your leadership team (if you have one) the role they might play in cover arrangements, especially in ‘emergency’ situations. Discuss what management activities might have to be put on hold to ensure this can happen. Consider what risk factors might be associated with certain (perhaps vulnerable) staff covering across bubbles.
  • Consider reaching out to your usual supply teachers/agencies to discuss in advance what their availability might be like and their ability to respond to short-notice requests.
  • Proactively plan for what actions schools will take if individual members of staff or groups of staff are forced to self-isolate at short notice.
  • Consider using the DfE and Crown Commercial Service's agency supply deal to secure supply staff as per the government’s advice. Consider the long-term placement of a supply teacher to preserve, as much as possible, the integrity of individual classes. Is there merit in employing on a six-month contract a cover supervisor whose primary role is to cover lessons for absent colleagues but whose contract stipulates other (mainly administrative) roles, should cover not be necessary?
  • Finally, if the possible five options explained above still aren’t enough, you should contact your local authority or MAT.

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I’m concerned about the school-based vaccination programme in relation to letters from pressure groups or parents about their objections to vaccination: where do I stand?

Where your local School Age Immunisation Service (SAIS) is delivering vaccinations (of any sort) on site, they will work with the school to rollout the programme and the SAIS provider will be contractually responsible for the service, as they are for all school vaccination programmes. SAIS will use school premises, which are a public building, and may ask you to assist in sending out some of the paperwork involved in the process and liaise with them to agree logistics for the use of school premises. However, the school will not be involved in the consent process, whether relating to parental consent or Gillick competency assessed consent.

The DfE has secured in the guidance from the UK Health Security Agency for the covid-19-specific vaccination programme after NAHT pushed hard for this via its policy team, that “[l]egal accountability for offering covid-19 vaccines to children and young people sits with the SAIS and not with the school” and that “[t]he SAIS will be the primary provider of the vaccination programme for healthy 12- to 15-year-olds and will be legally responsible for the delivery of the vaccine”. This wording is clear and unambiguous. Schools should take comfort from this clear statement.

Given the above, if you receive complaints from pressure group you can confirm that the school is not running the vaccination programme, and as such is not able to respond to communications in relation to this and that any concerns should be directed to SAIS. If parents contact you about this with questions or concerns, it is also appropriate to direct them to SAIS, as the school is not involved in the rollout other than providing paperwork to parents to review and opening the school, which is a public building, for the service to operate from. As such, any questions in relation to this should be directed to SAIS, as it is SAIS who will be able to answer these; the school cannot. In addition to this, we have been advised that members should provide copies of any letters threatening legal action or containing threats to their SAIS contact, as they will take these seriously and are very familiar with dealing with this sort of activity.

The complaints process will also be available, and parents can raise a complaint in the usual way via this. However, we note that many complaint policies will state that where complaints are about services provided by other providers who may use school premises or facilities, then a complaint should be raised directly with the provider (in this case SAIS), and where this approach is set out in the complaints policy, then the complainant can be directed to SAIS. Schools may wish to review their complaints procedures and add this provision where it is not currently included – please note, this wording is suggested in the DfE’s model policy for maintained schools; the model complaints procedure for academies does not contain equivalent wording. If the complaint cannot be excluded under the terms of your policy, then it will need to follow the usual process. However, given the minimal involvement of the school that is based upon the long-running approach taken to school-based vaccinations, we find it hard to see that a complaint would have merit unless something unusual in terms of school involvement has taken place.

We recommend reading the UK Health Security Agency’s guidance: Covid-19 vaccination programme for children and young people: guidance for schools in full as it explains what schools should do if there are misinformation campaigns or concerns about running the programme securely. In this instance, for example, schools are advised to get in touch with the SAIS team at the first opportunity to understand what security planning they have in place, and what, if any, actions they recommend are carried out ahead of vaccinations in school. In addition, the guidance is clear that, in the event of a protest or disruptive activity outside a school, or if schools know a protest is planned, they should alert the SAIS provider, local authority and police contacts to discuss the best way to manage the situation.

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The non-urgent offer of vaccines to children without underlying health conditions – where will these be delivered?

The NHS is preparing to extend this non-urgent offer to all children during April 2022 so parents can, if they want, take up the offer to protect their children. The DfE has confirmed that community pharmacy-led local vaccination services and vaccination centres should be the primary delivery models for this cohort.

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What about Ofsted?

Ofsted has resumed its programme of routine inspections and will aim to inspect every state-funded school within the next five academic years. The timing of an individual school’s inspection depends on its previous inspection grade and the time that has elapsed since its last inspection. The impact of the pandemic means that the planned inspections of some schools have been delayed beyond their normal maximum permitted interval. Following discussion with Ofsted, NAHT has published guidance to indicate when schools can expect to be inspected.

Broadly speaking, Ofsted will continue to prioritise schools most in need of inspection, particularly those beyond their maximum permitted inspection interval, and those with the lowest Ofsted grades. It will also prioritise outstanding schools that were previously exempt from routine inspection that have gone the longest without a visit (there is more detail about this in our guidance).

For independent schools, both Ofsted and the Independent Schools Inspectorate (ISI) have resumed their programme of routine inspections and they will complete the current cycle of standard inspections – which was delayed by the pandemic – in 2022.

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Has NAHT developed advice on Ofsted inspections?

Yes – read our guidance Ofsted inspections from September 2021 – July 2022.

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Does NAHT have guidance on challenging Ofsted inspections?

Yes, we have developed joint guidance with Browne Jacobson, which can be accessed from our guidance on inspections Ofsted inspections from September 2021 – July 2022 (see section five).

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What is happening about performance data in 2022?

On 19 July 2021, the DfE published an update, Coronavirus (COVID-19): School and college accountability 2021/22, which set out the way school and college accountability will operate for the 2021/22 academic year. Members should read the update, but a brief summary of the key points is below.

For the 2021/22 academic year, the DfE will publish national, regional, and local authority level educational performance data for key stage two (KS2), key stage four (KS4) and 16-18, and it intends to also publish this information by pupil characteristic and school or college type.

Primary

Data from primary school tests and assessments will not be published in KS2 performance tables in academic year 2021/22.

The normal suite of KS2 accountability measures at school level will be calculated and shared securely with primary schools, academy trusts, local authorities and Ofsted for school improvement purposes and to help identify schools most in need of support. DfE will ensure that clear messages are placed alongside any data shared, to advise caution in its interpretation. This will include strongly discouraging users of the data from drawing comparisons with performance data from previous years.

Secondary

KS4 and 16-18 performance measures will be published on school and college performance tables, using the normal suite of accountability measures, as far as that is possible.

The DfE recognises the uneven impact on schools and colleges of the pandemic and will ensure clear messages are placed on the performance tables to advise caution when considering the 2021/22 data. This will include strongly discouraging users of the data from drawing comparisons with performance data from previous years.

The calculation of some performance measures will need to be adjusted to take account of the fact that results of qualifications achieved in 2019/20 and 2020/21 will not be included. The DfE has published the KS4 and 16-18 technical updates for 2021/22 performance measures, confirming which measures will be calculated and how.

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Do I need to sustain remote learning?

Schools should support those who are self-isolating because they have tested positive or are suspected to have covid-19 and are waiting for a test, to work or learn from home if they are well enough to do so.

Schools subject to the remote education temporary continuity direction are required to provide remote education to pupils covered by the direction where their attendance would be contrary to government guidance or legislation around covid-19. This is just a continuation of what you have already been providing.

The guidance states that you should maintain your capacity to deliver high-quality remote education across this academic year.

NAHT is currently in active discussions with the DfE to review what should be required of schools when it comes to remote learning provision going forward.

Independent schools are only covered by the remote education temporary continuity direction in relation to state-funded pupils in their schools. However, they are still expected to meet the Independent School Standards in full at all times.

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What about vulnerable children who are away from school – I am very concerned about keeping contact with these children?

The guidance is clear that where pupils who are self-isolating are within their definition of vulnerable, it is very important that you put systems in place to keep in contact with them, particularly if they have a social worker. NAHT strongly supports this.

Importantly, the guidance also notes that some children may be vulnerable who are not officially in statutory systems and schools should seek to support any children who they believe may have challenging circumstances at home. NAHT also supports this and recommends that staff consider which children might meet these criteria as a matter of urgency, and that there is a process implemented to ensure that any pupils joining the school are assessed for inclusion within this group.

When a vulnerable pupil is self-isolating, you should:

  • notify their social worker (if they have one) and, for looked-after children, the local authority virtual school head
  • agree with the social worker the best way to maintain contact and offer support.

You should have procedures in place to:

  • check if a vulnerable pupil is able to access remote education support
  • support them to access it (as far as possible)
  • regularly check if they are accessing remote education
  • keep in contact with them to check their well-being and refer to other services if additional support is needed.

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Any views, opinions and guidance provided represent the views of NAHT and are for information purposes only. The information provided does not purport to be legal and/or professional advice or a definitive interpretation of any law for the purposes of specific individual circumstances.

First published 13 April 2022