School and childcare updates: Coronavirus
Update - 26 June at 14:50
On 23 June the Prime Minister announced that formal childcare will reopen over the summer and that primary and secondary education would recommence in September with full attendance. Guidance will be published in due course. You can find the full statement here.
Helping schools give a safe welcome back for pupils and staff
Schools getting ready for pupils returning in greater numbers from June 8 have been given packs of PPE (personal protective equipment) to help reassure staff and families that this is available should it be needed.
National guidance states that in the majority of cases staff in schools do not need PPE, even where it is not always possible to maintain a distance of two metres from others.
It is needed in circumstances where pupils have additional care needs that normally requires the use of PPE so that they can continue to receive care in the same way.
It is also needed if a distance of two metres cannot be maintained from a pupil displaying coronavirus symptoms while they wait to be collected from school.
Schools will be sourcing their own supplies of PPE but the city council has made sure all schools have an initial stock. We’ll also support schools to help ensure that they have access to future supplies that they can buy as normal.
Help with children’s online learning
Young people across the city are starting to receive laptops and broadband routers to help them continue their learning at home this term and into next academic year.
Some of the equipment, which has been provided as part of a government scheme, has already been delivered to 56 homes across the city, supporting over 60 school age children to study online.
We will be delivering more and more digital equipment to those in need over the next few weeks.
All laptops are being set up with the necessary firewalls and security before they are handed out to help ensure children and young people remain safe online.
The government has issued guidance on staying safe online and you can read more about this here.
We are also working with a number of other partners, including North of Tyne Combined Authority and voluntary and community organisations, to provide computers to other school children who applied for help but are not eligible under the government scheme.
The aim is to ensure that all children in the city have access to ICT equipment that they can use for online learning at home.
In some cases this may mean that siblings in the same household will need to share access to a laptop, rather than having a laptop each.
Everyone who is to receive equipment will be contacted directly in due course.
Thanks to all families who have remained patient while we make the necessary arrangements and while we secure additional funding needed to provide equipment.
This does take time but we are working as quickly as possible and we would ask people to continue to bear with us while we get everything in place and then out to families.
Managing a safe return for children and staff
Newcastle City Council’s Director of Children, Education and Skills and Cabinet Member for Education and Skills have written to all parents and carers in Newcastle about the government’s plans for children in certain year groups to return to school. They have written in full support of the city’s school leaders being in the very best position to know what is best and safest for their children and their staff.
Newcastle schools have welcomed vulnerable children and the children of key workers since lockdown began and they continue to support these children . Some schools in Newcastle began welcoming other year groups back to school from Monday 8 June in a cautious and gradual manner. Individual schools will communicate their specific arrangements to parents and carers as soon as they can.
Exam results for GCSE, A-level and AS-level students
Students expecting GCSE, A-level and AS-level exam results have been assured that they will still get their results this summer. Schools and colleges are currently working hard to provide exam boards with details of the grades students would be expected to achieve and a list of student rankings for each grade in each subject.
This is in line with guidance issued by Ofqual, which also stated that the information provided to the exam boards must remain confidential and cannot be shared with students or their families.
We appreciate this is an anxious time for students but rest assured schools and colleges are doing everything they can to ensure their students get the qualifications they have worked so hard to achieve.
Schools and colleges were required to submit information to the exam boards after the Easter holidays and students can expect to receive their final results during the summer, no later than the original planned results days in August.
Students can choose to sit examinations later in the year if they feel the grades they are awarded do not reflect their achievement.
If you'd like more information about how qualifications will be awarded there is lots of useful information and FAQs on the government's website.
School and childcare places
In line with the government requirements on social distancing, schools will remain open for vulnerable children and those of key workers with no alternative childcare options. Go here for more info on the latest government advice.
The majority of schools in Newcastle continue to open their doors to provide support for vulnerable children and those of key workers who need to attend.
If you are a key worker in need of childcare and do not have a normal childcare provider or your normal provider is not open, you can find details of available places here.
Our special schools have carried out individual assessments of pupil’s health and wellbeing needs and have been working with parents and carers to decide whether their children would be safer at school or at home and are offering support as required.
School staff across the city are working extremely hard to ensure that children – whether they are in school or at home – are able to continue learning and we would like to thank them for their work at this incredibly challenging time.
To be clear, the government advice for key workers is that they should only send their children to school or childcare if it is not possible to keep them at home. If anyone has any questions they should contact their child’s school or childcare provider in the first instance.
As we move forward, depending on pupil numbers, staffing availability and other factors, we may need to make changes to the arrangements but parents, carers and staff can be assured that we will give as much notice as possible should this happen.