July 02, 2020
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No Limit On Class Sizes As Back-To-School Plans Confirmed
Limits on class sizes will be scrapped from September and exams may be delayed but schools will have to deliver a “full curriculum”, the government has confirmed. 
New back-to-school guidance from the Department for Education also says caps on group sizes in nurseries, childminders, and other early years settings in England will be lifted from July 20 – meaning a pre-summer break return for younger children. 
Children should be kept in “class or year group sized ‘bubbles’” and schools should “encourage older children to keep their distance from each other and staff where possible”.
Where cases are confirmed, Public Health England teams will step in to offer advice but it does not necessarily mean the closure of the school. 
Instead, some young people and staff may be asked to self-isolate for up to 14 days and a mobile testing unit may be sent to the area to test and trace contacts.
Testing will focus on the person’s class, followed by their year group, then the whole school if necessary, the guidance says.
Schools will be expected to carry out risk assessments but will not need to expand their building capacity, the guidance adds. 
Plans should also be put in place to offer remote education to pupils who are self-isolating, the government says.
GCSE exams could be delayed next year and more optional questions could also be used in test papers, under proposals unveiled by England’s exams regulator.
The Association of School and College Leaders (ASCL) has warned that it will be “enormously challenging” for schools to keep children apart in year-group-sized “bubbles” in September.
Geoff Barton, general secretary, said: “The logistics of keeping apart many different ‘bubbles’ of children in a full school, including whole-year groups comprising hundreds of pupils, is mind boggling.” 
The union is calling on the government to have in place a “Plan B” in case it becomes clear that a full return to school in September is “just too risky”.
 Paul Whiteman, general secretary of school leaders’ union NAHT, said: “Significant time will now need to be spent implementing the new measures government is asking schools to take.”The logistics of keeping apart many different ‘bubbles’ of children in a full school, including whole-year groups comprising hundreds of pupils, is mind boggling.Geoff Barton, Association of School and College LeadersHe added: “The situation seen in Leicester this week has demonstrated that this crisis is far from over, and there will be further disruption ahead.
“It is therefore essential that government continues to monitor the data when it comes to school return and that it also has a credible Plan B in place should it be required.”
Exams regulator Ofqual, meanwhile, has launched a two-week consultation on their plans for the GCSE and A-level exam series in 2021 after students have faced months of school and college closures due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
The watchdog is considering how next year’s exam timetable could be changed to allow more time for teaching – and one of the proposals being looked at is postponing starting GCSE exams until June 7.
Parents can also be fined from the autumn term for failing to send their child to school, the guidance says. 
Routine Ofsted inspections will not return until 2021. Education secretary Gavin Williamson, who has been heavily criticised for delaying back-to-school plans, said: “Nothing can replace being in the classroom, so ever since schools, colleges and nurseries closed to most children, we have been working hard to ensure they can reopen as soon as possible. We have already seen more than 1.5 million children and young people return, but we must make sure all pupils can go back to school in September, giving them the opportunity to thrive and fulfil their potential.“I want to reassure parents and families that we are doing everything we can to make sure schools, nurseries, colleges and other providers are as safe as possible for children and staff, and will continue to work closely with the country’s best scientific and medical experts to ensure that is the case.”
Deputy chief medical officer, Jenny Harries, who has worked with Williamson on preparing the guidance, added: “A child’s education is essential to their healthy development - we know that missing too much school can have a negative impact on children’s mental and physical wellbeing.
“Everybody wants children to be safe and thankfully as we have learned more about Covid-19, the evidence has shown that the risk of severe disease in children is low. However, although the number of Covid-19 cases has declined, it is still in general circulation - so it important we ensure schools implement sensible precaution to reduce potential transmission of Covid-19 and minimise any risk to teachers and their pupils.”Related... Are Schools Safe To Open If They're Closing Again in Leicester? Is Boris Johnson Serious Enough To Stem The Jobless Tide?
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