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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...