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Updated and new GOV.UK COVID-19 Content

COVID-19 Legislation  9th April 2020

This note provides an update of the current position in relation to the legislative changes arising as a result of Coronavirus.

Coronavirus Act 2020

The Coronavirus Act (“the Act”) received Royal Assent on 25th March 2020. The majority of the Act came into force immediately, although there are some areas which require further statutory instruments to bring the provisions into force. This note focusses on the provisions of the Act that are particularly relevant to the education sector. Here is a link to the Act where the full provisions can be read: http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/2020/7/contents

s.37 Temporary closure of educational institutions and childcare premises

Provides for Part 1 of Schedule 16 which enables the Secretary of State and Welsh Ministers to give directions for restrictions of attendance at premises used for the provision of education or childcare.

Schedule 16 provides that the Secretary of State and Welsh Ministers may give temporary closure directions in relation to education establishments in England and Wales respectively. The provisions apply to schools (which includes academies), 16-19 academies and further and higher education providers.

The Secretary of State and Welsh Ministers may also give temporary closure directions to registered childcare providers in England and Wales respectively.

  1. 38 Temporary continuity: education, training and childcare

Provides for Part 1 of Schedule 17 which enables the Secretary of State or Welsh Ministers to give directions requiring the provision or continuing provision of education, training or childcare. Provisions also provide the power for the Secretary of State or Welsh Ministers to give notices disapplying or modifying other legislation.

Schedule 17 provides that the Secretary of State and Welsh Ministers may give a temporary continuity direction in relation to relevant institutions in England and Wales respectively. Relevant institutions include registered childcare providers, schools (including academies), 16-19 academies, FE and HE providers, providers of post 16 education and training and local authorities.

Schedule 17 also includes power for the Secretary of State, by notice, to disapply enactments relating to specified legislative provisions or similar Academy arrangements which provide for: the provision of school meals; attendance at school; the admission of children permanently excluded from two or more schools; which provide that a school is a childrens home in specified circumstances; inspections; the requirement for an academy to have a broad and balanced curriculum; the duty to admit to a school or other institution named in an EHC plan and reviews and reassessments.

In addition, Schedule 17 includes power for the Secretary of State, by notice, to make provision modifying for a specified period any enactments listed in the Schedule in the manner described in the Schedule or similar Academy Arrangements. The provisions of most significance are:

  • 44 Further and Higher Education Act 1992 (collective worship) – any duty imposed by s.44 is to be treated as discharged if a person has used reasonable endeavours to do so.
  • 3 Education Act 1996 (definition of “pupil”) – a person is not to be treated as a pupil at a school merely because education is being provided at the school on a temporary basis for reasons connected with coronavirus.
  • 14 Education Act 1996 (functions in respect of primary and secondary schools) – any duty imposed by s.14 is to be treated as discharged if a person has used reasonable endeavours to do so.
  • 512 to 512ZB Education Act 1996 (school meals) – any duty imposed by these sections is to be treated as discharged if a person has used reasonable endeavours to do so.
  • 70 School Standards and Framework Act 1998 (requirements relating to collective worship) – any duty imposed by s.70 is to be treated as discharged if a person has used reasonable endeavours to do so.
  • 88D School Standards and Framework Act 1998 (determination of admission arrangements) – to allow for changes to requirements about the determination of admission numbers.
  • 5 Education Act 2005 (duty of chief inspector to inspect certain schools) – the duty is to be treated as discharged if the Chief Inspector has used reasonable endeavours to discharge the duty.
  • 48 Education Act 2005 (inspection of religious education: England) – any duty imposed on a person by s.48(3) is to be treated as discharged if a person has used reasonable endeavours to do so.
  • 49 Education Act 2005 (procedure for inspection under s.48) – any duty imposed on a person by s.49(1) or (2) is to be treated as discharged if a person has used reasonable endeavours to do so.

Schedule 17 also includes power for Welsh Ministers, by notice, to disapply enactments relating to specified legislative provisions which provide for: special educational needs; review of education needs; provisions relating to attendance at school; the admission of children permanently excluded from two or more schools; basic curriculum for every maintained school; provisions relating to inspection; regulations relating to reports required under the Childcare Act 2006.

In addition, Schedule 17 includes power for Welsh Ministers, by notice, to make provision modifying for a specified period any enactments listed in the Schedule in the manner described in the Schedule. The provisions of most significance are:

  • 44 Further and Higher Education Act 1992 (collective worship) – any duty imposed by s.44 is to be treated as discharged if a person has used reasonable endeavours to do so.
  • 3 Education Act 1996 (definition of “pupil”) – a person is not to be treated as a pupil at a school merely because education is being provided at the school on a temporary basis for reasons connected with coronavirus.
  • 14 Education Act 1996 (functions in respect of primary and secondary schools) – any duty imposed by s.14 is to be treated as discharged if a person has used reasonable endeavours to do so.
  • 512 to 512ZB Education Act 1996 (school meals) – any duty imposed by these sections is to be treated as discharged if a person has used reasonable endeavours to do so.
  • 70 School Standards and Framework Act 1998 (requirements relating to collective worship) – any duty imposed by s.70 is to be treated as discharged if a person has used reasonable endeavours to do so.
  • 89A School Standards and Framework Act 1998 (determination of admission arrangements) – to allow for changes to requirements about the determination of admission numbers.
  • 28 Education Act 2005 (duty to arrange regular inspections) – the duty is to be treated as discharged if the Chief Inspector has used reasonable endeavours to discharge the duty.
  • 50 Education Act 2005 (inspection of religious education: Wales) – any duty imposed on a person by s.50(4)) is to be treated as discharged if a person has used reasonable endeavours to do so.
  • 2(1) and (2) of Schedule 6 Education Act 2005 (procedure for inspections under s.50) – any duty imposed on a person by s.49(1) or (2) is to be treated as discharged if a person has used reasonable endeavours to do so.

s.39 Statutory sick pay: Funding of employers’ liabilities

This section makes provision that HMRC may make a payment to employers in respect of incapacity due to coronavirus which will be funded by HMRC.

s.40 Statutory sick pay: power to disapply waiting period limitation

This will allow for the government to temporarily suspend waiting days (that SSP is not paid until day 4) in the event of a severe outbreak/pandemic and lapse once the outbreak is over. This means that SSP may be paid from the first day.

s.51 Powers relating to potentially infectious persons

Provides for powers contained in Schedule 21 relating to potentially infectious persons and related provisions.

s.52 Power to issue directions relating to events, gatherings and premises

Provides for powers in Schedule 22 for the Secretary of State or Welsh Minsters to issue directions in relation to events, gatherings and premises. This includes powers to prohibit or otherwise restrict events or gatherings and the power to close premises or impose restrictions on persons entering or remaining in them.

s.55 Public participation in proceedings conducted by video or audio

Provides for Schedule 25 which contains temporary modifications of legislation relating to courts and tribunal proceedings. This includes modifications which allow for use of live video or audio links.

s.78 Local Authority Meetings

this section contains regulation making powers, which include in relation to the requirements to hold local authority meetings. The regulations make provision covering the timing, place and conduct of the meeting and specifically refer to attendance. The regulation making power relates to meetings to be held before 7th May 2021.

s.78(7) defines a local authority in England to include an appeal panel constituted under the School Admissions (Appeals Arrangements) England Regulations 2012.

s.78(8) defines a local authority in Wales to include an appeal panel constituted under the Education (Admission Appeals Arrangements) (Wales) Regulations 2005.

 

Please note updated and new content as set out below

Updated FAQs for parents

  • simple explanation of education closures

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/closure-of-educational-settings-information-for-parents-and-carers/closure-of-educational-settings-information-for-parents-and-carers

 

Updated travel advice

  • reflecting FCO travel ban, advising against all domestic and overseas trips, and advice for students and staff currently overseas

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-travel-advice-for-educational-settings/coronavirus-travel-guidance-for-educational-settings

 

New Q&A re exam cancellation

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-cancellation-of-gcses-as-and-a-levels-in-2020/coronavirus-covid-19-cancellation-of-gcses-as-and-a-levels-in-2020

 

Please see links below to the first iteration of the guidance for schools and guidance on vulnerable children which we understand will be regularly updated (potentially daily) to add further information and respond to the situation on the ground.  Please note that guidance is also expected on social distancing in education and childcare settings.

 

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/covid-19-school-closures

 

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-guidance-on-vulnerable-children-and-young-people

 

New GOV.UK collection page

  • all GOV.UK CoV content in one place

https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/coronavirus-covid-19-guidance-for-schools-and-other-educational-settings 

 

Thank you from Minister Keegan 

 

 

Covid-19 Updated guidance for Governors 26th March 2020

 COVID-19 Guidance on Governance

The DfE has now published Covid-19 Governance Update which provides the latest departmental and government advice on the spread of the CODID-19 virus and how this relates to the role of those on governing bodies, boards of academy companies and clerks and governance professionals. The advice note can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/school-governance-update/school-governance-update-march-2020?utm_source=GT&utm_medium=SH&utm_campaign=Mar


The legal team has been fielding questions about how those conducting schools might continue to do so at this time. Hopefully the advice from the DfE will assist. In addition, the NGA has issued guidance which you may well find useful and can be accessed here: https://www.nga.org.uk/Knowledge-Centre/Executive-leaders-and-the-governing-boards/The-Coronavirus-Information-for-governing-boards-M.aspx


Please ensure you are also liaising closely with local authorities in doing so. There is concern that local authorities may be struggling to cope with the administration of setting up hubs and it would be helpful if schools would work together to present proposals to them.

Thank you for all that you are doing together to support one another.

Marie