School and early learning centre closures
To help slow the spread of coronavirus, we have decided that:
- all schools; and
- all local authority early learning and childcare settings
should close to children and young people with effect from 20 March 2020, with the exception of any critical provision to protect some key groups or activities.
Critical provision criteria for school and early learning
- Key workers: to ensure that children of key workers, for example NHS and social care staff, can still get learning and childcare if their parents absolutely must go to work.
- Vulnerable children: to ensure that protection and support is still available for a range of children who may benefit from continuing to attend school or early learning and childcare in the current circumstances, for example those on the child protection register, those who are looked after, and those on the edge of care; those in receipt of free school meals who cannot be provided with meals at home; those who have complex additional support needs; and those affected by poverty and deprivation.
It is recognised that those working with children and young people will be best placed to identify those who would be considered in need of support in order to secure their wellbeing, as a result of school and ELC closures.
Some schools and local authority ELC settings may open for these purposes, but that will depend on the arrangements for critical childcare and learning provision that local authorities make for their local areas.
For the vast majority of children and young people, learning and teaching should continue remotely.
Exams and coursework
No school or education setting should be open for the purpose of young people completing coursework for SQA national qualifications or undertaking ‘prelim’ style practice exams.
The Chief Examining Officer confirmed on 24 March that schools and colleges are not required to submit learner coursework for marking for Higher and Advanced Higher courses and that National 5 coursework, due to be uplifted in April and May, will not be submitted for marking. The SQA will be providing further details of its approach to certification this year as soon as possible. Please see the SQA website for further information.
Private and voluntary sector childcare settings including childminders
Private and third sector childcare providers can stay open, provided they:
(i) support only the children of key workers and vulnerable children; and
(ii) wherever possible, work with local authorities in their areas to do this.
As of 25 March 2020, registered childminders are strongly advised to cease all provision apart from critical childcare provision for key worker families and vulnerable children until further notice. Where possible, critical provision should be delivered as part of a coordinated local authority-led emergency response.
If providing childcare for key worker families and/or vulnerable children, childminders are strongly advised to limit the number of households for whom they provide childcare to a maximum of two, other than their own, at any one time. This measure is intended to reduce the risk of transmission between households.
We have strongly encouraged local authorities to involve private and third sector childcare providers in delivering critical provision. This may mean that these providers are involved in local arrangements for school-aged children as well as younger children.
Independent schools and boarding schools
Independent schools and boarding schools were also asked to close on 20 March. As with local authority schools, they may exceptionally remain open for critical childcare and learning provision for the children of key workers and vulnerable children.
Parents who have children at independent day or boarding schools can contact their individual school in the first instance. We are also working with the Scottish Council of Independent Schools to ensure the best flow of information.
We are aware that there may be unique circumstances in some independent boarding schools which will lead to continuing care for children, for example where parents are working abroad and currently unable to return home due to travel restrictions.
Keeping settings safe for staff and children attending
Schools, colleges, other educational establishments and childcare services that are open for critical childcare and learning provision must remain safe places for children and staff.
All childcare and educational settings providing critical childcare have been provided with guidance on managing covid-19 and operational public health advice on social distancing, and local authorities are expected to work closely with their local health protection teams when putting in place critical childcare and learning provision.
- Guidance on managing Covid-19 in non-healthcare settings
- Social distancing in education and childcare settings
Please contact your local authority for information about the arrangements they are putting in place. Read the contact details for your local authority.