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Return to school from 8 March

Schools have re-opened to all pupils from 8 March, as per the Government announcement on 22 February. Portsmouth teachers and head teachers have worked hard to make sure that schools are as safe as possible for all children.

All schools have reviewed their risk assessments and health and safety arrangements in the light of new developments and guidance. This includes increased access to testing and vaccination. The existing range of safety measures in place in education settings remains appropriate. We thank parents for their cooperation in following national, local and school guidance to protect Portsmouth.

Read the detailed government guidance.

The level of coronavirus infections in Portsmouth has fallen rapidly from the peak in early January. For the latest Portsmouth data see the coronavirus statistics page.

In schools, colleges and universities with adults and students in year 7 and above, staff and students are now required to wear face coverings in all indoor settings. This includes classrooms, as an extra temporary precaution. It is also important for parents and carers to continue wearing a face covering when dropping off or collecting their child from school. Please follow your school’s advice on social distancing and other protective measures at this time.

School attendance

School attendance is mandatory for all pupils. The usual rules on school attendance apply

Department for Education guidance on school attendance can be found here: School attendance guidance

Tips for settling in at school

Being in school is extremely important for the wellbeing of children and young people, as well as crucial to their education and future prospects. We saw last September how well children settled back in and enjoyed learning in class again. These tips are designed to help you and your children feel confident about being in school:

  • Talk to your child about what they enjoy about school. For example, seeing their friends, the playground, or their favourite subjects
  • Chat about what school is like now and what safety measures are in place. Some schools will have videos or pictures of the classrooms online that you could look at together
  • Listen to any concerns your children may have and let them know its ok to feel anxious. Address any misinformation they have and encourage them to ask questions
  • Let them know that teachers and staff are there to support them and answer their questions. Teachers are focusing on helping them feel settled, safe and happy above all else
  • Talk to your children when you feel calm as they’ll pick up on adults’ anxieties. It’s ok not to have all the answers yourself but remember local support and information is available if you want it.

Wraparound childcare

Out-of-school settings and wraparound childcare will be open to vulnerable learners and children of parents who need to access it in order to work, attend education or seek medical care.

Detailed guidance has been published by the government.

Catch Up programme

The government is committed to helping children and young people recover learning lost as a result of the pandemic.

Specific initiatives for summer schools and a Covid Premium to support catch up will be developed alongside a long-term plan to make sure children and young people have the chance to make up their learning.

Read more on the education recovery package.


Ensure any travel is in line with national travel guidance.

Holidays should be planned within school and college holidays as usual. Avoid seeking permission to take your children out of school or college during term time.

Safety measures in and around school

Schools and colleges have their own health and safety risk assessments, and keep them under review.

Please contact your child’s school for any questions or concerns about the safety measures they put in place.

Face coverings

In schools and colleges where pupils and students in year 7 and above are educated, face coverings should be worn by everyone (unless exempt) when moving around the premises and in classrooms and during activities, unless social distancing can be maintained. This will not apply in situations where a face covering would impact on the ability to take part in exercise or strenuous activity (for example – PE lessons). Pupils or students do not need to wear face coverings when outdoors on the premises.

Drop-off and pick-up arrangements

Some schools or colleges may need to stagger or adjust start and finish times. This helps keep groups apart as they arrive and leave the premises.

Your child’s school or college will be in touch to set out any changes they are making.

Please help schools and colleges manage these arrangements, for example by keeping your distance from others when dropping off and picking up your child and wearing a face covering.

Travelling to and from school

Most children and young people aged 11 and over are now required to wear a face covering on public transport. This does not apply to children and young people who are exempt from wearing face coverings.

If your child needs to share a car to school or college with someone outside of their support bubble or household, they should:

  • share with the same people each time
  • open the windows for ventilation
  • wear a face covering if they are aged 11 or over

Tips for helping to keep schools as safe as possible

  • Get to know the safety measures in place at your early years setting, school or college and talk about them with your child(ren).
  • Follow the school’s coronavirus safety procedures during drop off and pick up times.
  • Remember to wear a face covering if asked and don’t gather in groups at the school gates.
  • Keep 2m apart from other adults and children in and around school.
  • Some schools have staggered start and finishing times, so arrive on time if you are dropping off or picking up your child(ren) to ensure social distancing.
  • If you/your child is travelling to school by public transport make sure everyone over 11 is wearing a face covering.
  • Find out in advance what you need to do if your child or someone in your household has coronavirus symptoms (link to info on PCC website)
  • Encourage your family to follow national coronavirus safely measures at home and in the community e.g. regular handwashing, wearing face coverings when you need to, and social distancing.
  • Remember that even though children will be seeing each other at school, to keep everyone as safe as possible, play-dates, gathering for birthday parties and sleepovers are not yet allowed.
  • Speak to the school if you have any questions about their safety measures and what you and your family needs to do.

Managing cases in schools and colleges

Schools and colleges will take swift action when they become aware that someone who has attended has tested positive for coronavirus (COVID-19). They will contact their local health protection team if they:

  • have 2 or more confirmed cases of coronavirus (COVID-19) among pupils or staff within 14 days
  • see an overall rise in child or staff absence rates where coronavirus (COVID-19) is suspected

The local health protection team will advise what action should be taken. Closure will not usually be needed, but some groups may need to self-isolate.

If your child is self-isolating or shielding in line with government guidance, your child’s school or college will provide remote education.

If restrictions in schools or colleges are again needed to help contain the spread of the virus, there may be some changes to how they operate. Schools and colleges will be prepared for this, following contingency framework guidance published by the government.

Exams and assessments (2021)

Key stage 1 and key stage 2 assessments

The government announced in January that the national curriculum assessments due to be held in summer 2021 have been cancelled.

Read the 2021 key stage 1 assessment and reporting arrangements.

Read the 2021 key stage 2 assessment and reporting arrangements.

GCSE, AS and A level exams

Read the arrangements for GCSE, A and AS level exams in autumn 2021.

Vocational and technical qualifications (VTQs)

Read the autumn 2021 assessment opportunities for Vocational and Technical Qualifications (VTQs) and other general qualifications on the government website.

Remote learning

From 8 March, attendance is mandatory for all school-aged pupils. However, where a pupil cannot attend school on site because they are complying with government guidance or law relating to coronavirus (COVID-19), for example if they need to self-isolate or shield, state-funded schools have a duty to provide remote education for school-aged children.

Schools have worked hard to make sure that everyone can learn from home while they are unable to attend school in person. Some have provided devices and wi-fi vouchers for families without internet access. Please speak to your school if you need any support accessing the remote learning system they have set up.

Education is critical for the well-being and life chances of all children and young people. We thank parents for supporting their children while they are learning remotely from home.

Remote learning top tips

Here are some top tips to help your child to be ready to learn:

  • Help them find a suitable learning space at home
  • Start logging on and getting ready 5 minutes before lessons start
  • Support them to engage fully in their lessons
  • Acknowledge and praise their hard work
  • Encourage questions – show them how to virtually ‘raise their hand’
  • Take an interest in their progress and learning
  • Remind them to finish any tasks teachers set
  • Discuss any feedback they get from teachers
  • Listen to them and help them to manage their feelings. Young people can find mental health support on this page.
  • Stay in touch with the school about their learning and wellbeing, feedback what’s going well and what could be better
  • Be there: to listen, to talk and help manage their feelings
  • Have a good morning and bedtime routine: be ready for school after a good breakfast and a consistent bedtime to ensure good sleep pattern will benefit your child.
  • Stay active. Plan time outside if you can do so safely or visit Change4Life for ideas for indoor games and activities.
  • Look after yourself and know there is support available. As well as thinking about the children or young people in your care, it is important to take care of your own mental health and wellbeing.

This is a challenging time for everyone, so be patient with your child and with yourselves. Doing your best is all that anyone can ask!

Remote learning via your games console

If you are struggling to sign on to your remote learning using a laptop, did you know that your PlayStation or Xbox has a web browser that you can use?

Here’s how:

  • Open your internet browser on your console (Edge for Xbox, or WWW for PlayStation)
  • Navigate to your school’s remote learning page
  • Enter your username and password when asked
  • Use the browser as you would on a computer

Resources from the BBC:

The BBC is showing curriculum content on TV every weekday:

  • primary-school programming, including BBC Live Lessons and BBC Bitesize Daily, from 09:00 to 12:00 on CBBC
  • at least two hours of programming to support the GCSE curriculum on BBC Two
  • BBC Bitesize has lots of content divided into subject and age categories, with much new material added since March.

Free school meals

Families of children attending Portsmouth schools who are eligible for benefits related free school meals will receive a food voucher for £15 per school-age child to be used during the May half term.

Possible coronavirus symptoms

The Wessex Healthier Together website has useful information for parents if you are worried that your child has coronavirus or another illness and you are not sure what to do.

You must get a test if you or anyone in your household has:

  • a high temperature (chest or back hot to touch)
  • a new, continuous cough or
  • a loss or change to your sense of smell or taste

Find out more about getting a test in Portsmouth or use this handy guide for parents.

Find out more information about how to self-isolate, what you can and can’t do and what local support is available in our protect Portsmouth self-isolation guide.

You can find the latest NHS information and advice on the NHS website.

Helpful information and support

Here are some other helpful sources of information and places you can find support: