Coronavirus (COVID-19)


COVID-19 Learning, curriculum and assessment

COVID-19 Learning, curriculum and assessment

The government has produced a number of new guidance documents to help schools and teachers:

The Education Endowment Foundation has published A COVID-19 Support Guide for Schools. This guide is designed to help teachers and school leaders support their pupils effectively. It summarises support strategies that school leaders may consider including as part of their response to the pandemic.

COVID-19 Support Guide for Schools

What is the expectation on curriculum from 1st July?

In Actions for education and childcare settings to prepare for wider opening from 1 June 2020, the government state:

The Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) sets the standards that schools and childcare settings must meet for the learning, development and care of children from birth to 5 years old. Early years settings should use reasonable endeavours to deliver the learning and development requirements as far as possible in the current circumstances, as set out here.

Schools and colleges continue to be best placed to make decisions about how to support and educate all their pupils during this period, based on the local context and staff capacity.

Where year groups are returning to school, we would expect school leaders and teachers to:

  • consider their pupils’ mental health and wellbeing and identify any pupil who may need additional support so they are ready to learn.
  • assess where pupils are in their learning, and agree what adjustments may be needed to the school curriculum over the coming weeks.
  • identify and plan how best to support the education of high needs groups, including disadvantaged pupils, and SEND and vulnerable pupils.
  • support pupils in Year 6, who will need both their primary and secondary schools to work together to support their upcoming transition to Year 7.

Schools should use best endeavours to support pupils attending school as well as those remaining at home, making use of the available remote education support.

No school will be penalised if they are unable to offer a broad and balanced curriculum to their pupils during this period.

Staff breaks and lunchtimes

It will be important to ensure staff have breaks as it is expected that, where possible schools will be open for the normal, full school day.  Headteachers are encouraged to make a personalised decision based on the level of provision being offered.

Are there any changes to school reports this year?

The School reports on pupil performance: guide for headteachers has been updated to support teachers to prepare annual reports for parents following the cancellation of this year’s summer exam series and primary assessments, and partial school closures, due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak. The guidance confirms that regulations have been laid to remove the requirement to report on national curriculum assessments and attendance. It also explains the different requirements of school leaver reports.

Department for Education Case Studies

The Department for Education has been working with schools to develop guidance based on the current experiences and practices of teachers and school leaders.  It has published a number of case studies to support schools during this period, with examples of practice for remote education from schools and academies across England-  to see all of the case studies see: Remote education practice for schools during coronavirus (COVID-19)

The guidance outlines some approaches that have worked for schools and includes case studies and information about:

The schools that have informed this guidance are developing their practice in a variety of different circumstances.

School leaders have explained that the level of challenge and nature of provision will vary across schools, and that schools need the flexibility to plan and provide remote education that is suitable for their circumstances. This includes considering the age of pupils. Remote education for younger children will typically need more involvement from parents, and parents are facing a range of pressures at this time.

Awarding GCSEs, AS & A levels summer 2020

Ofqual have published details for schools, colleges, students, parents and carers on how GCSEs and A levels will be awarded following the cancellation of this year’s exams.

Since the Secretary of State for Education announced that the 2020 exam series in England would be cancelled to help fight the spread of Coronavirus (COVID-19), Ofqual have worked at speed to develop a process which fairly recognises students’ work and makes sure they get their grades in time to progress.

Information for schools, students and parents on how GCSE, AS, A level, vocational and technical qualifications will be graded and awarded in summer 2020 can be found in  Awarding qualifications in summer 2020 and How GCSEs, AS & A levels will be awarded in summer 2020 - GOV.UK

On the 5th May, Ofqual published initial decisions on GCSE and A level grading proposals for 2020.  This contains decisions on:

  • Calculated grades for Year 10s
  • Private candidates

The government have produced these FAQs for schools, pupils and parent with questions regarding the cancellation of this year’s exams:  Coronavirus (COVID-19): cancellation of GCSEs, AS and A levels in 2020 - GOV.UK

For information on Private Candidates, please see Ofqual Private Candidate Policy and Statement on Private Candidates

Guidance from the STA with regard to statutory testing within primary schools   

The Secretary of State for Education announced on Wednesday 18 March, that the 2019/20 national curriculum assessments will not take place due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

 This means the following assessments planned between April and July 2020 are cancelled:

  • end of Key Stage 1 and Key Stage 2 assessments (including tests and teacher assessment)
  • Phonics screening check
  • Multiplication tables check
  • Science sampling tests
  • All statutory trialling

Schools do not need to complete any further activities to prepare for these assessments. Primary school performance measures will not be published for the 2019/20 academic year.

Publishing of performance data

The government state, in the following guidance: Coronoavirus COVID-19 school and college performance measures:

We will not be publishing school, college or multi-academy trust (MAT) level performance data based on summer 2020 tests, assessments and exams at any phase.

We will not be publishing, or sharing, school, college or MAT level accountability measures, such as Progress 8 and level 3 value added, using the summer 2020 data.

The performance tables that were due to be released in October and December 2020, and in January and March 2021, will not go ahead.

We will also not publish any institution-level qualification achievement rates in the national achievement rate tables for the 2019 to 2020 academic year.

Ofsted inspections over this period

Ofsted have stated:

We have suspended all routine inspections of schools, further education, early years and social care providers. The Secretary of State has allowed Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector to do this.

Urgent inspections where specific concerns have been raised are still going ahead. This allows us to prioritise the immediate safety of children where necessary.

We are not publishing reports from our recent inspections of schools, further education and early years providers until they reopen as normal for all children/students.  We continue to publish a small number of reports from recent social care inspections.  We are writing to providers ahead of publishing their reports so that they can give a copy to all registered parents and pupils at that time. Providers can, if they wish, share the findings of their report once it has been finalised.  If they do this, they should make clear that Ofsted has not published the report.  Update from Ofsted on 30th April - We are now writing to all providers with reports in the pipeline to ask whether they would like their report published as soon as possible. If they say yes, we will publish their report shortly.

At a Parliamentary education committee on the 28th April, Amanda Spielman stated:

  1. Routine inspections are unlikely before the end of the summer term
  2. Schools won’t be inspected on their COVID-19 response – once inspections resume they will once again be focused on the quality of education
  3. When inspections resume they will need to incorporate social distancing and shielding

For more information see Coronavirus: Ofsted 'will not judge schools on response' | Tes and Coronavirus: routine inspections not likely before summer says spielman : Schools Week

Early years and childcare providers

We continue our important regulatory work regarding the registration of vital early years (EY) services.

We will only make on-site visits after we have considered evidence from off-site activity, for example if off-site activity has raised concerns and there is insufficient evidence that allows us to decide that children are safe.

Only inspectors who are not self-isolating will carry out urgent monitoring visits. They will plan the visit to ensure that they are on site for the minimum amount of time. In announced visits, they will agree in advance with the registered provider what activity they will carry out.

See the full guidance here: Ofsted: coronavirus (COVID-19) rolling update

Online learning and resources for schools      

There are a number of online options that schools may consider, ranging from merely setting homework or providing access to online resources through video tutorials and interactive video conferencing. Staff capability and the age of the children will determine the best approach.  See the (link to resources section) of the FAQs for more information.

Please see the (safeguarding section) for information from the Department for Education on how to ensure that you keep your pupils safe online over this period.

How secure are live streaming platforms (such as Zoom)?

Before using any new technology over this period, BC Data Protection team recommend conducting a Data Privacy Impact Assessment and a risk assessment. 

Each school should have access to their own Data Protection Officer and they should refer to them for assistance with this assessment process.

Please find below the National Cybercrime Security Centre (NCSC) guidance on using video conferencing:

NCSC video conferencing services security guidance organisations

What video conferencing facility should I use for meetings?

Please see advice document from the Buckinghamshire Council Public Service Network team

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