School arrangements and transitioning
On Monday 22 February, the Prime Minister announced that all primary schools, secondary schools, special and alternative provision schools, colleges and further education settings will be opening to all pupils from Monday 8 March as part of the Government's plans to lift the restrictions imposed on society due to COVID-19.
Safety is of utmost priority as face-to-face teaching resumes for everyone, and existing COVID-19 measures have been strengthened to keep children and staff safe including:
- the bubble system will remain in place
- school streets will resume from Monday 8 March
- enhanced cleaning, particularly in areas used by different groups and frequently touched surfaces
- face coverings are advised for staff and students in secondary schools and colleges in all areas, where social distancing cannot be maintained and as a temporary extra measure
- two rapid symptom-free tests will be offered to secondary school and college students each week to use at home
To find out about the measures in place, please visit westminster.gov.uk/back-to-school or contact your child's school directly.
Who is eligible to attend before Monday 8 March?
- All children in early years settings. Parents/carers with children in school-based nursery classes should contact their school to confirm arrangements.
- all vulnerable children (children with a social worker) across all year groups in primary, secondary and special schools, alternative provision and colleges
- children with at least one parent or carer who is a critical worker can go to school or college if required, but parents and carers should keep their children at home if they can.
- all children who may have difficulty engaging with remote education at home (for example due to a lack of devices or quiet space to study)
All schools have had remote learning in place since September for those children unable to attend and this will continue. Your school will be in contact directly with further details.
For detailed information on eligibility for schooling during lockdown please visit the GOV.UK site.
Why are Early Years settings open?
The earliest years are the most crucial point of child development and attending early education lays the foundation for lifelong learning and supports children’s social and emotional development. The Government continue to prioritise keeping early years settings open in full because of the clear benefits to children’s education and wellbeing and to support working parents. Caring for the youngest age group is not something that can be done remotely.
The wider restrictions in place as part of the national lockdown enable us to prioritise keeping nurseries and childminders open, supporting parents, and delivering the crucial care and education needed for our youngest children. Early years settings remain low risk environments for children and staff.
- Public Health England advice remains that the risk of transmission and infection is low if early years settings follow the system of controls, which reduce risks and create inherently safer environments
- 0-5 year olds continue to have the lowest confirmed rates of coronavirus of all age groups, and there is no evidence that the new variant of coronavirus disproportionately affects young children
- evidence shows that pre-school children are less susceptible to infection and are not playing a driving role in transmission - there is no evidence the new strain of the virus causes more serious illness in either children or adults and there continues to be strong evidence that children are much less susceptible to severe clinical disease than older people
Early years settings have been open to all children since 1 June and there is no evidence that the early years sector has contributed to a rise in virus cases within the community. Early evidence from SAGE showed that early years provision had a smaller relative impact on transmission rate than primary schools, which in turn had a smaller relative impact than secondary schools. Public Health England will continue to monitor the data.
We appreciate that this is a challenging time for families and that some parents and guardians have understandable concerns about education. We encourage parents and guardians to have a conversation with their child’s school where a member of staff will be able to discuss their approach and address any specific concerns.
To access guidance and service information relating to Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND), please visit our SEND Local Offer webpage.
During lockdown, motivation, emotions and feelings of resilience will vary from day to day for all of us, including our children. It is important when things are feeling difficult that we are kind to ourselves as parents and remember that we are not trying to recreate the school at home, neither have we taken over as our children’s teacher. Find advice from the council on supporting your child's emotional wellbeing during school closure here.
Temporary ‘School Streets’ are now in place in the city. This involves localised improvements to increase pedestrian space at schools across Westminster, as an emergency measure from the 1 June 2020 until March 2021. Read more about 'School Streets' here.
Free school meals
If you have queries about how to access free school meals provision, please contact your school directly.
If your school is providing you with Free School Meals via the national voucher scheme, please find some FAQs and tips on how to claim and use the voucher in local supermarkets.
Laptops and connectivity for children
There are a number of programmes in place to help children and young people to continue with online education while schools are generally closed. If your child does not have access to suitable kit to work at home and communicate with their schools, contact your child’s school to see if he or she could access any of the schemes that are currently running.
Last Updated 26/02/2021