Coronavirus: council service information and advice

Information about changes to council services as a result of coronavirus  

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Keeping safe

Domestic abuse

For advice and support for anyone experiencing domestic abuse:

  • Email:  portsmouthreferral@stopdomesticabuse.uk.
  • Call: 02392 065494 (available Monday to Friday, 9am – 9pm).
  • For more information, visit the Stop Domestic Abuse website.
  • If you or someone else is in immediate danger please call the police on 999.
  • If you are 19 or under, you can contact Childline about anything you are concerned about - no problem is too big or small. You can speak to a counsellor straight away on 0800 1111 (freephone).


Out of hours social work

The out of hour's team support professionals and the public outside of normal working hours with any social care issues:

  • You can call them on 0300 555 1373 (available Monday to Thursday, 5pm - 8.30am and Friday to Monday, 4.30pm - 8.30am.
  • If you are hard of hearing or deaf, please call 07465 205 102.

Talking to children and young people who are anxious about coronavirus

With the current and changing situation and media coverage, it is likely that some children and young people may become concerned and anxious. This is reasonable, as they will never have experienced something like this before and do not have the experience to know what may happen.

Parents, carers and adults who work with children and young people play a very important role in providing a familiar and secure environment where they can answer any questions and worries.

Find helpful advice and guidance from the government about listening, providing information and developing new routines for children, including those with special educational needs or disabilities.

School, nursery and pre-school - closures

Find the latest Public Health England advice for schools, including posters for use in schools.

There is a Department of Education helpline to answer education queries about coronavirus. Staff, parents and young people can contact the helpline by email: DfE.coronavirushelpline@education.gov.uk or telephone: 0800 046 8687 (open Monday to Friday - 8am to 6pm).

The Government took the decision to close all schools and early years settings such as nurseries and pre-schools from Friday 20 March. They will remain closed until further notice, except for some vulnerable children and children of parents or carers who are critical workers and who absolutely need to send their child to school or to an early years setting. This is a key part of the Government's measures to reduce the spread of coronavirus.

Government's advice is that if children can stay safely at home, they should, to limit the chance of the virus spreading. They have set out the following key principles:

  • If it is at all possible for children to be at home, then they should be.
  • If a child needs specialist support, is vulnerable or has a parent or carer who is a critical worker who cannot look after their child in any other way, then educational provision will be available for them.
  • Parents should not rely for childcare upon those who are advised to be in the stringent social distancing category such as grandparents, friends, or family members with underlying conditions.
  • Parents should also do everything they can to ensure children are not mixing socially in a way which can continue to spread the virus. They should observe the same social distancing principles as adults.
  • Residential special schools, boarding schools and special settings continue to care for children wherever possible.

Children are being encouraged to keep learning, to keep healthy and to fill their time productively. Schools and early years settings will inform parents of arrangements made to enable learning to continue while closed.

Schools and early years settings are being encouraged to remain open over the Easter holidays for children of critical workers and vulnerable children, again where this is necessary.

Advice and guidance:

School closures for children of parents or carers who are critical workers

If you are a parent classed as a critical worker and have no other possible childcare arrangements such as by a partner who is not a critical worker, and need to send your child to school or early years setting such as pre-school or nursery, you are advised to act responsibly and follow the key principles set out by government

You should only request a place for your child on days you are working, if you are part time. Schools and early years settings are being encouraged to remain open during Easter holidays for eligible children.

Once a decision is taken that a child will be attending, please can you let your school or nursery know as soon as possible as they need to be aware of how many children will be attending each day.

Schools and nurseries will be asking for appropriate confirmation from parents and carers about their position as critical workers, which may include forms of identification or letters from employers, confirming that their specific role is necessary to the day-to-day running of a public service. They will also be checking if you can make alternative care arrangements.

Find information on who is classed as a critical worker.

There may be circumstances when the school or early years setting is unable to provide a place to eligible children due to staff shortages, or other reasons, in which case, the school or setting will work with the council to resolve the issue quickly and inform you of the outcome.

School closures for vulnerable children

View Government advice for parents of vulnerable children.

Once a decision is taken that a child will be attending, please can you let your school or early years setting know as soon as possible as they need to be aware of how many children will be attending each day.

Schools and early years settings are being encouraged to remain open during Easter holidays for eligible children.

There may be circumstances when the school or early years setting is unable to provide a place to eligible children due to staff shortages, or other reasons, in which case, the school or early years setting will work with the council to resolve the issue quickly.

School closures for children with an Education Health and Care Plan

Many children and young people with Education Health and Care Plans (EHCPs) can safely remain at home. School and colleges will remain open for some children and young people with an EHCP who are not able to remain safely at home. Your child's school or setting will be in contact to let you know what support will be available. 

There may be circumstances when the school or setting is unable to provide a place to eligible children due to staff shortages, or other reasons, in which case, the school or setting will work with the council to resolve the issue quickly.

Find helpful information and resources on the Portsmouth Local Offer website.

Portsmouth Parent Voice (PPV) have set up a closed online support group for families with children or young people with special educational needs and disabilities, and a Sharing is Caring group to help with essentials.  PPV can be contacted by email on ppvmanager@p-d-f.org.uk or 07712 439159.

Homestart are also offer parenting advice. This can be delivered remotely over the phone or over a video call. Please call 023 9273 4400 Monday-Friday 9am – 5pm.  There is also a limited doorstep drop-off service for crafts and equipment, as well as a Facebook page full of helpful parenting tips.

School admissions

Starting School and Junior Transfer Allocation

National offer day remains unchanged. Parents are advised of allocation via email (if applied online) or by letter sent on Thursday 16 April 2020. Allocations cannot be notified by telephone.

Full information about admission is available on the school admissions booklet page.

In-year applications

In-year applications are currently not being processed due to the closure of schools. This service will resume once schools re-open.

If you are new to the area, the Portsmouth Education Partnership website has resources to assist you with home schooling.

If you are a key worker or your child has a particular vulnerability and you are unable to make suitable arrangements for your child, please do contact admissions@portsmouthcc.gov.uk.

Free school meals

Free school meals are being provided for all eligible children who are not attending schools. Most schools are currently doing this by providing a free daily meal on a "grab and go" basis. Some schools are now providing food parcels or food vouchers. Your child's school will confirm details of how meals are being provided at the school.

The Government have announced plans to establish a national scheme to provide food vouchers for parents of children eligible for free school meals. This scheme has not yet been set up, but when it is, details will be published on this page.

Home to school transport

From 4.30pm on 24 March, the home to school transport will be suspended. Parents of vulnerable children and children of critical staff that have been identified by the school as needing transport have been contacted and alternative arrangements are in place.

If you have any queries please e-mail transport@portsmouthcc.gov.uk.

Exam cancellations

Primary assessments, including SATs, and exams including GCSEs, AS levels and A levels will not go ahead this summer.

Government has announced further details regarding exams. Ofqual, the exam regulator has today (20 March 2020) released information on how exam boards will work with teachers to provide grades to students whose exams have been cancelled. 

Universities will take a ‘flexible’ approach when supporting students and do everything possible to help those entering higher education. 

How will this work? 

  • Schools will be asked to submit their judgment about the grade they think their student would have received if the exams had gone ahead
  • Teachers will review a range of mock exams and non-exam assessments to decide on a grade.
  • Exam boards will then combine this information with other relevant data to calculate a grade for each student. Students will be provided with a grade by the end of July 2020.
  • If the student believes their grade does not reflect their performance, they will have an opportunity to sit an exam at the earliest reasonable time, once schools are re-opened. 
  • Students who have had their exams cancelled will have the option to sit an exam in summer 2021 (please note: this will not impact those moving onto higher education this year).
     

Find out more information about exams and grades for this academic year.

School admissions - national offer day

National offer day remains unchanged. Parents are advised of allocation via email (if applied online) or by letter sent on Thursday 16 April 2020. Allocations cannot be notified by telephone.

Full information about admission is available on the school admissions booklet page.

Advice for pregnant women

If you're pregnant and living with a person with symptons of coronavirus, you should try to find somewhere else to live for 14 days. If this isn't possible, try to keep away from each other as much as possible.

For more information, read advice given by the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists.

Advice for parents with young children

For parents with children less than 5 years, please contact the Duty Health Visitor on 0300 123 6629

Solent Pulse is a text messaging service that is also available for parents to text any questions to:

  • a Health Visitor on 07491 163275, or
  • a School Nurse on 07491 163276

    Websites with early years activities
  • ABC Does - a collection of activities/ideas to help parents and carers find fun things to do when home with younger children.
  • BBC's Tiny Happy People - helps parents and carers develop their child's language and communication skills so they get the best start in life.
  • Hungry Little Minds - a catalogue of simple, fun activities for kids, from newborn to five years old.
  • Words for life - shares many fun ideas, games and printable activity sheets for children of all ages to enjoy. 
  • Small talk - provides ideas for talking, playing and reading with your child from newborn to five years old.
  • Cbeebies -  website full of online games to play, quizzes and ideas of things to do an make.
  • Change 4 life - shares fun 10 minute shake up games and healthy recipes to make together.
  • What do we do all day? - offers a giant list of indoor activities for children.
  • You, baby and I - shares 100 indoor activity ideas for children.
  • Net mums - 100 activities for a rainy day