Support for vulnerable children and key worker children during the summer holiday period

Who will the summer provision be for?

Welsh Government has asked councils to prioritise support for vulnerable children over the summer holiday period. In addition the council has decided to offer some support as best it can to key worker families who used one of the childcare hubs before 10 June 2020.

How will I know if I qualify for the support for vulnerable children?

You will be contacted directly by Education or Social Care staff after 13 July. You do not need to contact the council.

We will provide you with all of the details you need to access the provision before your first week is due to begin.

How will I know if I qualify for key worker childcare?

You will be contacted directly in week commencing 6 July. You do not need to contact the council.

We will provide you with all of the details you need to access the provision before your first week is due to begin.

Why can’t all key workers apply for childcare support over the summer?

We would like to support everybody but we do not have the capacity to do so. For that reason we have to limit the numbers who can apply, and those who apply will only be able to ask for 3 weeks support over the 5 week period. Unfortunately we will not be able to make any exceptions to this.

Why is the summer provision only running for 5 weeks and not 6 weeks?

The summer provision will stop on Friday 21 August, after 5 weeks, so that the sites being used to host them can be readied for the start of the new school year.

What about support for pre-school age children?

Choosing childcare for your child/children is a huge step for you and your family, for childcare providers who are open during these times across Torfaen, Family Information Service are here for you.

For information on registered childminders, day nurseries, playgroups, cylchoedd meithrin, out of school clubs and financial help with the cost of childcare, search online at www.torfaenfis.org.uk

For further enquires please email fis@torfaen.gov.uk

Will food be provided over the summer?

Families with children who are eligible for Free School Meals will continue to get direct payments for the holiday period. No food will provided at any of our summertime provisions so children will need to bring a packed lunch and something to drink.

For Parents/Carers

Return to School

Are all schools and special needs resource bases (SNRBs) opening for learners on 29 June 2020?

Yes, all schools will re-open for check-in, catch-up and preparation for September. Your child's school will contact you with full details of their plans now the Welsh Government have published their guidance and the school have had time to plan accordingly.

Will the Pupil Referral Units (PRUs) be open for learners on 29 June 2020?

Yes. We anticipate the PRU will open, following the same Welsh Government guidance as other Torfaen schools. Risk assessments will be undertaken ahead of 29th June.

Will Year 11 pupils be returning to school?

There is no expectation for secondary schools to include Year 11 pupils in their provision. Individual schools may wish to ‘catch up’ regarding transition etc. but this is an individual school decision.

Will schools be open to Nursery and Reception children?

Schools will be making arrangements for Reception children to go into school but Nursery children will not be returning until after the summer (details to be announced at a later date).

When is the last day before the summer holidays?

The last day will be Friday 17 July with the summer holidays starting on Monday 20 July.

Will there be an extra week’s holiday in October?

Schools in Torfaen will not be adding a further week to the October half term holiday because they will not be open for an extra week this term.

How do I let my school know that my child/children will start back on 29 June 2020?

Schools will be contacting parents and carers directly to confirm the arrangements for individual children returning to school. Parents and carers will be asked if they intend to send their children back from 29 June and schools will use that information to plan for the re-opening.

Will I be fined if I don't send my child back to school before the summer?

During this time parents will not be fined for keeping their child / children at home. These children will continue to be supported by their schools in different ways. 

If I want to send my child to school and the school does not have enough staff, what can I do?

If a school does not have enough staff to operate safely, it may have to close because of health and safety reasons. Safety will be the school's first priority. Parents and carers will be contacted directly by their child’s school if this becomes necessary.

Where can I get more information before deciding if my child will return to school?

The latest Welsh Government guidance is available here.

Further information will be provided as and when it becomes available.

Will my child be with their own teacher?

This is possible but not guaranteed. Your child will have an assigned teacher from the available teaching staff who will also be fixed with the group and will not change other than in exceptional circumstances.

How will my child adjust back to learning in the more structured way of school after a more relaxed home timetable?

Due to the nature of children’s return in June (small groups, more focus on social emotional teaching etc.) the structure is likely to sit between home schooling and ‘normal school’ so will be a good mid-point for the children to get used to.

Will learners have to wear uniform?

The Local Authority has strongly advised schools that they should relax the requirement to wear uniform for the 3 week period.  This is because people are being advised to change and wash clothes daily, and because of the extra burden it might put on some parents whose children may have outgrown this year’s uniform. Schools will be informing their parents and carers directly on this issue.

What will the structure of the school day look like?

The school day is likely to be structured slightly differently to usual – to accommodate smaller groups of children and support children who have had an extended period out of education.

Will the “Hub” schools be stay open from 29 June and for the summer holidays for children of key workers?

As operations increase over the summer term, children currently attending the key worker childcare provision will move back to their own school for that support alongside the other provision they are putting in place. Families who have not needed to access the childcare provision since it was put in place in March 2020 and up to Welsh Government’s announcement on Wednesday 10 June 2020 will need to make alternative arrangements for childcare if they plan to return to work. There will be an exception during term time only applied for parents who are school based staff (e.g. teaching assistants and teachers) and are returning to school, on the basis we need them to return to work or we would not be able to re-open the schools.

Those schools which have been providing key worker childcare since March 2020 may not be able to open until the 30th June or 1st July, to allow for setting up and cleaning. Schools will advise parents where this is the case.

From 29 June key worker childcare provision in individual schools will only be available for their normal school hours i.e. not 8am to 6pm.

We will confirm our plans for the summer holiday period in due course. There is no expectation that schools continue hubs provision during the summer holidays. Local authorities may make alternative provision but it is not expected that this will be managed by school staff.

Health & Safety

Will staff and pupils all need to wear PPE to attend?

It is important to remember that physical distancing, hand hygiene and respiratory hygiene (catching a cough or sneeze in a tissue or covering the mouth and nose with an elbow or sleeve) remain strongly evidenced to be the most effective ways to prevent the spread of coronavirus.

Hand hygiene is critical before and after all direct contact with a child or young person, and after cleaning equipment and the environment.

There is therefore no need to use personal protective equipment (PPE) when undertaking routine educational activities in classroom/school settings.

The use of PPE by staff within education settings should be based on a clear assessment of risk, taking into account each individual setting and the needs of the individual learners and staff. Schools, settings and local authorities already have risk assessments processes in place which should be used to identify the need for the use of PPE. Following any risk assessment, where the need for PPE has been identified, it should be readily available and provided.

Should children wear PPE to school?

Every school has a thorough risk assessment in place and new measures to reduce the risk to everyone on site. The key to reducing risk to pupils and staff in school is to have good social distancing, frequent hand washing and effective cleaning processes in place. Although masks can be useful in other contexts we have no advice that they will be helpful in schools. Pupils do not need to wear a mask to school at this time.

What is the acceptable number of pupils and staff on site?

Every school will be different due to numbers on roll, attendance and timetable, however the maximum on any school site will be one third of the pupils.

How many pupils can a class have and maintain social distancing?

In each school there will be a phased approach. Year groups will be split into cohorts with staggered starts and breaks. It is expected that this will mean, at most, a third of pupils present at any one time, though schools may need time to reach this level of operation.

There will be much smaller classes, providing secure dedicated time with teachers and classmates. This time will include online and personalised classroom experience and getting children and teachers ready for a similar experience in September.

Will all schools have hand sanitizers in place?

There will be hand gel in reception areas but soap and water still remains the best way to wash our hands and this will be available for all pupils and staff.

How will you support pupils and staff with underlying health issues (or if they have family members) that increase their vulnerability?

Children and teachers who are shielding or at more risk, including some pregnant staff, are not expected to return this term. This also applies for pupils and teachers who live with relatives who are shielding.

What is the procedure if a member of my household begins to show symptoms – can I send my child to school?

If you live with others and you are the first in the household to have symptoms of coronavirus (COVID-19), then you must stay at home for at least 7 days, but all other household members who remain well must stay at home and not leave the house for 14 days.

The 14-day period starts from the day when the first person in the house became ill.

For anyone else in the household who starts displaying symptoms, they need to stay at home for at least 7 days from when the symptoms appeared, regardless of what day they are on in the original 14 day isolation period.

What will happen if a pupil goes home from school feeling ill and the illness is subsequently diagnosed as Coronavirus – how will parents be advised of this and what actions will follow?

We ask all parents and carers to keep the school informed of any changes to your family’s medical state. If someone in your household has a confirmed case and they may have been in contact with others in school, those in their class / group and whoever they may have come into contact with will be sent home and asked to self-isolate for 14 days. The other household members of that class or group do not need to self-isolate unless the child or staff member develops symptoms.

How will social distancing work with young children?

The schools will be operating on reduced numbers (maximum of a third of all pupils). Children will be grouped in small groups with play/learning zones being established. Whilst every effort will be made to ensure social distancing is maintained it cannot be guaranteed.

How will social distancing work with my child who receives one-to-one support?

Schools will have risk assessed all of the children who currently receive 1:1, and part of this will have involved a conversation with home.  Each child is different and the actions school takes will be personalised.

How will schools manage the end of the school day? Will all children leave at once? How will social distancing be encouraged on the journey home?

Every school is different, some have many entrances and exits to enable this to be done quite easily, whilst others may have only one or two entrances and exits.

On their risk assessments schools will have determined one-way systems, staggered starts and ends to the school day to ensure social distancing. Parents should seek the advice of school staff about what arrangements are in place in their school.

How will schools discourage parents and carers from congregating at the beginning and end of the school day?

Schools will ensure that parents/carers will know the arrival and departure times and expectations of which gates and routes to use. Many schools will have one-way systems where this is possible. Parents/carers will be reminded not to congregate but should also be aware of the social distancing requirements for the general public as well.

How often will frequently-used equipment/sites be cleaned?

Buildings must be cleaned regularly. Hard surfaces should be cleaned with warm soapy water or the normal cleaning products used. Particular attention should be given to clean ‘high-touch’ areas and surfaces. These areas should be cleaned at least once a day and more frequently in high use areas based on local assessment, including bathrooms, railings, tables, toys, equipment door handles, push pads, taps and hand sanitiser dispensers.

Rooms should be cleaned before different groups use a room.

Cleaning staff should maintain social distancing from each other and from staff and learners at all times.

Tissues should be placed in a separate waste bin and disposed of safely. All rubbish should be removed daily.

Early Years

What registered and/or funded childcare is available?

Further information on what is available in Torfaen is available as follows:

Family Information Service

The Torfaen Family Information Service (FIS) provides free, quality, impartial information on a wide range of Childcare, Children's, Family Support and Family related issues and where relevant a signposting service. For information about funded childcare, and information about open registered childcare provision across Torfaen visit: www.torfaenfis.org.uk  or email: fis@torfaen.gov.uk   contact telephone number: Freephone 0800 0196 330.

Home to School Transport

Will transport be provided? What about pupils who travel on public transport?

We consulted with parents/carers regarding transport (closed Wednesday 17th June) and are now making the necessary arrangements for those who need transport. Parents/carers will be contacted in due course with the details for their child(ren).

Are ALN/vulnerable learners who normally are provided with transport expected to find their own way to school or will transport be provided?

Current planning involves provision of transport for identified individuals on a case by case basis, unless there is a safe alternative means of travel available.

Welsh medium schools and schools with identified ALN learners will be sent a list to enable individual schools to assess which pupils cannot get to school without LA transport.

Well Being and Behaviour

What will happen if learners break social distancing rules, does this become a behavioural issue?

The operation of a school or setting will have an important impact on learners’ physical, mental and emotional and social well-being. When planning to increase operations, schools and staff will consider how this has an impact on well-being.

For example, staff should positively reinforce behaviours around social distancing and hygiene as opposed to stigmatising mistakes. Likewise, the timetable and layout should ensure that there are appropriate opportunities for breaks and time outdoors.

Schools and settings will be alert to identify and support learners who exhibit signs of distress. Pastoral care and bereavement support should be planned for and put in place.

My child wants to go back to school but feels anxious, what help will the school give?

Staff in schools and settings will be very much aware of the needs of their colleagues, their learners and families who may be under additional emotional, financial and psychological pressure at this time. Learners are more likely to be anxious and their health and well-being more likely to be impacted by changes of routine and the implications of lockdown. Over time, learners and staff are also more likely to encounter instances of serious illness and bereavement.

Local authorities are already working with schools and settings to consider how best to support the ongoing well-being needs of all learners at this time.

For the safety and well-being of all those involved, it is also crucial that services are delivered in a way that is consistent with the expert scientific advice provided.

While staff, learners and parents/carers may feel apprehensive about the risks, it is important to remember that provision will be made far safer through adherence to guidelines. Social distancing, hygiene and self-isolation of those showing symptoms, or living with someone showing symptoms, will minimise the risk of transmission of infection. The ‘Test, Trace, Protect’ strategy is critical to supporting this.

What about pupils with complex needs?

Risk assessments should already exist for learners with more complex needs, including those with emotional and behavioural needs. These risk assessments will require to be updated as a matter of priority in light of changes to provision such as environment and staffing, while also remaining mindful of the additional distress learners may be experiencing due to COVID-19. If risk assessments are not in place, then they must be undertaken in accordance with this guidance and local risk assessment guidance.

What is happening about Statutory Assessments?

The LA is considering all new requests for initial statutory assessments and formal statutory assessments on an individual basis.  Schools have been encouraged to continue with the annual review process, where this can be carried out over the phone or through a virtual meeting with parental agreement.  This process has been positive with many reviews being managed in this way. During the Summer school holidays, the assessment process is paused and the process commences at the end of August.  Should you require any further information regarding this process, please contact the ALN team on 01495 766998.

School Meals and Free School Meals

Will school meals be provided in schools?

School meals will not be provided. Children will need to bring a packed lunch, including a drink, which they will have at their desk or outside of the weather is good and it can be safely arranged.

Will pupils eligible for free school meals be provided with lunch?

Parents and carers of children who receive free school meals will continue to receive direct payments and will need to send their child(ren) to school with a packed lunch, including a drink.

For Pupils/Students

What can I do to keep safe?

The most important things all of us can do is to keep good hygiene. During the day you need to wash your hands regularly and your school will have plenty of soap for this. Also trap any coughs and sneezes in a tissue or your elbow.

Will I have to keep 2m away from other children?

Everyone is doing a great job of keeping 2m apart at the moment. This may be difficult to start with when you return to school but as you practise and get used to it, it will get easier. Teachers won’t tell you off if you get too close to other pupils but they will remind you about social distancing.

What can I bring to school?

Please don’t bring anything apart from your lunchbox. Don’t bring a pencil case, toys, mobile phones or books. If you have school reading books at home leave them at home for now. Don’t bring work you have done at home during lockdown until your school asks you. Don’t bring anything to share with other children like birthday cakes or snacks.

Do I need to wear school uniform?

This will vary from school to school, but we guess you have grown a lot over the last 12 weeks and it will be difficult for your parents to buy new uniform because some shops are closed. Your school will let your parents know what you can wear to school.

Do I need to wear a mask to school?

You do not need to wear a mask to school. What really matters is that you wash your hands frequently during the day, and that you follow what your teachers say about social distancing. We will also make sure that that your school is kept really clean every day.

Will we be doing school work?

You will be doing some school work but teachers will also spend time catching up with pupils and making sure everyone is o.k. There will also be lessons on good hygiene and other things you will all do differently in school now because of coronavirus.

What will the class look like?

Tables will be spaced apart to help us keep 2m away from others. There may be arrows on the floor to show a safe path around the classroom and there lines by the doors that are 2m apart. Some of you might have seen this at the supermarket.

Equipment that is difficult to clean quickly will be taken out of class or moved away from your desks – things like soft toys, cushions and costumes.

Pupils won’t be able to work in groups so will be completing more tasks on their own.

There will be fewer children in your class. Every year will be spilt into smaller groups.

What will break times be like?

Classes are likely to have break at different times. This will mean more space on the yard and field. It is unlikely that games where pupils are in contact like tag, football or rugby will be allowed in the normal way but schools will come up with clever ways to ensure you can still have fun. Pupils may be able to have some play equipment out, as long as they are things that can clean easily before the next person uses them.

What will happen at lunchtime?

Pupils will be eating in class, or outside if the weather is warm and dry.

What should I do if I feel sick?

It is really important you tell an adult straight away if you feel ill. This is to help keep you and your friends safe.

Will we be able to play at break time with our friends? Can we play outside?

Every class will have break time separately. Pupils will be able to go outside but there will be some games like tag and rugby that can’t be played. You may not be able to play with some of your friends, especially if they are in a different group to you.