Coronavirus: Tees Law answer your legal questions on education
In these difficult times many people will have questions and concerns around the effects of the outbreak of coronavirus on businesses and commercial relationships and what impact all this will have on our children's education.
In their latest Covid-19 Q&A, Tees' expert solicitors answer your legal questions regarding education...
When will schools and colleges reopen?
It is uncertain when restrictions, including the closure of schools and colleges, will be lifted, as it is not known how long it will take for the crisis to ease. The government will notify schools when they are allowed to reopen.
How do I know whether I qualify as a key worker and can my children still attend school?
While schools have data to help them distinguish 'vulnerable children', i.e. those with EHCPs or under the care of a social worker, it is more difficult to identify the children of key workers. This is because some uncertainty remains as to which professions are included within the key worker category under current Government guidelines.
It is likely that your child's school has already surveyed you to establish whether you are a key worker, in order to help you prepare for closures. You should therefore get in touch with your child's school as soon as possible if you believe you are a key worker but have not been contacted.
It should be noted that you are not required to send your child to school, even if they are eligible to continue attending. It is up to you to decide. To assist schools in keeping track of children's attendance, the Government has provided them with guidance and registers – however, the guidance is much less stringent than what schools are usually obliged to do in terms of recording attendance.
Staff ratios are being relaxed to ensure children can go to school in spite of a depleted workforce. Even so, schools are bound to ensure that they are providing a safe environment for the children in their care. As such, schools will need to have contingency plans in place for a situation whereby, for example, multiple staff members are forced to self-isolate and can no longer attend school.
If your child is not listed as vulnerable and you are not a key worker, then your child must remain at home.
Will registered childcare providers, schools and colleges be open over the Easter holidays to provide childcare for the children of key workers?
Yes, where possible the government is urging schools, colleges and childcare providers to keep services running over the school holidays for the children of key workers.
What is the government doing to ensure that Year 11 and Year 13 students will be graded "fairly" because they are unable to take their exams?
Ofqual and exam boards are likely to work together to agree a consistent approach to grading for the 2020 cohort. It is probable that they will be based on the students' predicted grades, as well as the results of assessments undertaken by students throughout the year to keep track of their progress.
Some students may wish to appeal their final grade (as is usually their right in ordinary circumstances, when they have sat exams under exam conditions), so an appeals process is likely to be put in place. It may be possible for them to sit their exams at a later date, but this has yet to be confirmed.
Will these predicted grades be accepted by the colleges, sixth forms or universities my child wishes to attend?
The government has announced that the predicted grades awarded to students will have the same status as formal grades awarded under normal circumstances.
University representatives have also spoken out, urging universities to be flexible and assist students as far as possible in progressing to higher education.
Polly Kerr is a senior associate with extensive experience in acting for and advising schools and parents in educational matters. Polly can be contacted on 01763 295854 or at email@example.com
Here at Tees, we are fully equipped to work from home and are ready to assist you throughout the COVID-19 situation. Our solicitors all have experience of flexible working and remain in regular contact through Skype, email, phone and regular conference calls. Likewise, we remain available for appointments via whichever contact method best suits you. We know our clients are worried and will have questions; we can provide the answers. Just call us on 0800 013 1165, or contact your usual Tees adviser either by phone or email.