Updated 28th August 2020
Are you worried or concerned about the child/children you are caring for returning to school in September? We hope that our back to school information for kinship carers in England will help. If you live in Wales please click here.
We know that for many kinship carers the thought of the child/children going back to school after months of being at home will be an extremely worrying time. We have been receiving a lot of enquiries from kinship carers worried about the children returning to school. On this page, we aim to answer some of the most frequently asked questions and provide you with advice and guidance regarding some of your concerns.
Please note that this information is the national guidance and may differ in some areas where, for example, if there is a local lockdown in place. Please check local information where this affects you.
As you may be aware, government guidance can change quite frequently and so we would strongly recommend you check guidance regularly for any changes.
Guidance for schools
The government has issued guidance for schools on opening for the Autumn term which you may find helpful in answering some of your questions or concerns.
You can find this at guidance for schools. To find out more please click on each question below to reveal the answer.
Do you have to send your child/children back to school in September?
Government guidance states that:
“All children and young people, in all year groups, will return to school and college full time from the beginning of the autumn term”.
Therefore, in accordance with government guidance, you should be looking to send your child/children back to school.
If you have any concerns about your child/children returning to school, please contact the school to discuss your concerns. It may be possible in some cases to arrange a phased return to school but this would need to be pre-arranged with the school.
If you have a child/children under the care of a specialist health professional, the government suggest you need to discuss their care with the professional before returning to school or college. This should usually be at their next planned clinical appointment.
The government state that, if child/children are not able to attend school because they are following clinical and/or public health advice, the guardian/parent will not be penalised.
There is further guidance which you may find helpful regarding getting your child/children back to school. This can be found here.
Will I be fined if I don’t send my child/children to school?
Government guidance states that:
“if child/children are not able to attend school because they are following clinical and/or public health advice, the Guardian/parent will not be penalised.”
The government states that it is vital that children and young people return to school and college, for their educational progress, for their wellbeing, and for their wider development. School attendance will be mandatory from the beginning of the new academic year.
This means that it is your legal duty as a parent to send your child/children (if they are of compulsory school age) to school regularly.
As before lockdown, local authorities and schools have a range of legal powers to enforce attendance if a child or young person misses school without a valid reason. These can be found here.
If your child/children have found lockdown exceptionally difficult, then their school or college may suggest a brief phased return. This will need to be agreed in advance with the school and only if it meets the needs of your child/children.
You should also check local guidance, for example where there are localised lockdowns. We advise you to always speak to the school if you have any concerns about sending your child to school.
What if your child/children or someone in your household is showing symptoms of COVID-19?
The government states that you should not send your child/children to their nursery, childminder, school, or college if:
- they are showing coronavirus (COVID-19) symptoms
- someone in their household is showing symptoms
You should arrange a test if you or your child or anyone in the household develops symptoms. Inform your nursery, childminder, school, or college of the results.
You can find an easy to read guide about COVID symptoms here.
You can also find further information that you may find helpful about staying at home if you have a possible COVID 19 infection here.
Can my child/children attend out of school activities and clubs?
The government have issued guidance about school activities and clubs which can be found here.
What about getting my child/children to and from school?
The government is encouraging child/children and their carers to walk to school as much as possible. You can find some helpful information about this using the links below:
Local authorities have a duty to provide free home to school transport for eligible children. You find more information about this in the home to school travel and transport guidance.
You can also find Safer Travel Guidance for passengers here.
How do we balance getting your child/children back to school with keeping safe?
There is guidance which the government has produced for households with grandparents, parents and children living together, where someone is at increased risk or has possible or confirmed COVID-19 infection, this can be found here.
What about my child/children’s mental health going back to school? How will they cope with going back to school after so long?
Although many families are excited about children going back to school, we understand that many children and their kinship carers may be feeling anxious or worried about the return. It is normal to feel a little anxious after the children being out of school for such a long time and you will certainly not be alone if you are feeling apprehensive.
You can find some information and resources you may find helpful below:
What if my child/children have fallen behind with schoolwork during lockdown?
Many kinship carers and children have found home schooling to be a real challenge. You may be concerned that your child/children may have fallen behind with their schoolwork during the COVID-19 lockdown.
The Government have announced “a package worth £1 billion” to ensure that schools have the resources they need to help all pupils make up for lost teaching time, with extra support for those who need it most. Whilst headteachers will decide how the money is spent, the Education Endowment Foundation has published guidance on effective interventions to support schools.
There has been guidance given to schools about additional support at different key stages, which you can find in section 3 here.
If you have concerns, please speak to your children’s school, and let them know of your concerns. Speak to them about what additional support could be put in place to support them to catch up.
What if I cannot afford to buy a school uniform for my child/children?
We understand that it can be an expensive time buying school uniforms for your child/children, but you may be able to get help with the cost.
You can find out what local support might be available to help with the cost of school uniforms by entering your postcode on this website.
If you are not able to get support from your local council, you may be able to get help through a charitable grant. We have a small grants team within our advice team who may be able to assist you with making an application.
Please contact our advice team to find out more about whether you might be eligible for a grant. You can contact us by completing a short form here. Please let us know what your income is as this can assist us with assessing whether you might be eligible for a grant.
For additional advice please see this useful article: Back to school after lockdown – tips from an NHS Psychologist.
If you can’t find the answer above or need further advice, please call our advice line on 0300 123 7015 or complete our advice submission here.