The Confederation of School Trusts (CST) - Rapid overview of Full reopening guidance

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Following the issue of of guidance for the full reopening of schools from September, The Confederation of School Trusts (CST) has produced a rapid overview of the guidance, this presentation can be found here.

Below is a rapid review of possible steps to take put together following an online review of the guidance by CST yesterday.   Please note: this is not a substitute for reading the full guidance so please do make sure you refer to the full guidance for the opening of schools.  Links to this can be found below.

The structure of the guidance is difficult to see because of its length. It is divided into 5 sections.  The first section is the most important – this sets out the system of 9 controls. This is Public Health advice to minimise risks.  The remaining four sections set out DfE expectations.

  1. Part one: Public Health Advice to minimise risks. 
  2. Part two: School operations
  3. Part three: Curriculum, behaviour and pastoral support
  4. Part four: Assessment and accountability
  5. Part five: Contingency planning for outbreaks   

The system of controls replaces the hierarchy of controls and is a more sophisticated version of that. The system of controls is divided into two parts:  

  • Prevention (controls 1-6); and  
  • Response to infection (controls 7-9)  

In the prevention controls,  

  • Numbers 1 to 4 must be in place in all schools, all the time.  
  • Number 5 must be properly considered and schools must put in place measures that suit their particular circumstances. Number 6 applies in specific circumstances.  

This is an exercise in the balance of risk – how to balance and minimise any risks from the coronavirus with providing the curriculum. So, number 5 is pivotal – we must make our best endeavours to minimise contact and create distancing wherever possible, while delivering the curriculum.    

We are being asked to implement sensible and proportionate control measures which follow the system of controls to reduce the risk to the lowest reasonably practicable level.  

Key issues arising from the meeting:  

  1. Workforce: the guidance on clinically extremely vulnerable, clinically vulnerable and the position on pregnant women is not clear enough – colleagues on the call had interpreted this in different and inconsistent ways and there is  general concern about who can come back and who cannot. We need further clarity on this urgently. CST will seek further clarity from our legal and HR partners on some aspects of this.
  1. Risk assessments: CST is seeking further advice from Browne Jacobson on the HSE duty to consult in a meaningful and timely way, when there is probably insufficient time to review all risk assessments and consult meaningfully before the summer holidays. We will also seek a DfE view on this.  
  1. Transport: the issues around transport seem very significant and we would welcome greater clarify on this.  
  1. Accountability: we are disappointed that there is no statement about performance tables in 2020-21 and urge the government to provide this clarity.  
  1. Curriculum: colleagues felt more guidance is needed on some quite specific aspects of provision – science labs, design technology, PE changing rooms, swimming and also elements of the curriculum – dance, drama and music.  
  1. Minimising contact: questions were raised about ‘bubbles’ and how to maintain them in school and out of school. Questions were also raised about assemblies. A clarification on this point: the guidance says groups should be kept apart, meaning that schools should avoid large gatherings such as assemblies or collective worship with more than one group.  
  1. Financial burdens:  Colleagues are concerned that there is no recognition of the financial burdens COVID-19 has placed on schools and trusts, outside of those identified in the exception costs guidance. CST advises that you keep a careful account of these burdens so that we can make the case for additional funding.     
  1. Remote education: Questions were raised about digital poverty and whether we can expect more Wi-Fi enabled devices to ensure access to remote education during potential periods of local lockdown.  

Guidance on the full opening of schools  

Here are the links to the full suite of guidance that was published yesterday:  

Guidance for parents and carers  

In addition, guidance for parents has also been published: What parents and carers need to know about early years providers, schools and colleges in the autumn term.  

Ofqual consultation on the 2021 examination series  

Ofqual has also published its consultation on the 2021 examination series. Ofqual has also published a position paper on vocational and technical qualifications and assessments 2020/21. The consultation will be open for two weeks starting on 2 July 2020 and ending on 16 July 2020. Online responses can be submitted here.  

The consultation on general qualifications includes proposals and questions on the following areas:  

  • adaptations to exams and assessments that could free up teaching time  
  • adaptations to exams and assessments to address obstacles that could be created by any public health safeguards  
  • sampling of subject content  
  • the use of more optional questions in exams  
  • changing the length of exams  
  • changing the exam timetable