On 15 June, the DfE updated its planning guide for primary schools, setting out ways in which primary schools with the capacity to do so can bring more pupils into school in the summer term.
We know that most primary schools don’t have the capacity to bring back any pupils beyond those already eligible, i.e. the children of critical workers, vulnerable children, and children in nursery, Reception, Year 1, and Year 6. Indeed, many schools are unable to offer places to all children in these groups while following the protective measures guidance.
However, there are some schools which do have some capacity to bring back additional pupils. The changes to the primary guidance allow you to do this as long as the following criteria are met:
- you have already made provision available for children currently eligible for places
- you can accommodate more children while still following the protective measures guidance and your own risk assessment
- you do not require additional funding, staff, or classrooms to do so
If your school meets these criteria, you can choose to offer places to other children if you wish. There is no expectation that you should do so, and it is up to you to decide which children would most benefit from time in school. While the guidance doesn’t say this explicitly, the implication is that any places offered to additional children should be on the same basis as those offered to currently eligible children, i.e. full-time provision.
In addition to the above, primary schools can also invite in any pupils who aren’t returning to school this term for a face-to-face meeting – presumably with a parent or carer, although this isn’t explicitly mentioned. The idea is that this time could be used to discuss how children have found remote learning, to check on their wellbeing, and to help teachers to plan further learning.
These face-to-face meetings are entirely optional. If they take place, they should do so in line with the protective measures guidance.
If schools feel that check-in meetings along these lines would be beneficial, but don’t have the capacity to hold these on site, they could choose to do so virtually.