Returning to school after lockdown

Support and useful links for all schools

Last updated: Friday 25 September

1. Introduction

This webpage aims to support educational settings across Oxfordshire in accessing the latest local, national and international guidance, specialist support and good practice, as needed, to aid the transition back to school following the COVID-19 lockdown and the management of the recovery phase.

2. Latest government guidance

Coronavirus (COVID-19) guidance for schools and other educational settings

3. General support during/after lockdown

Oxfordshire All-In

  • A central hub for the community response to COVID-19 in Oxfordshire The Oxfordshire All-In website contains all available information about support being provided across the county in one place.  Resources, community support group resources and FAQs.

COVID-19 Mutual Aid UK

Community Support Groups

4. Specialist (themed) support

4.1 Health and safety

Protective measures in education and childcare settings

Testing kits

From 26 August, all schools and FE providers will receive an initial supply of 10 home test kits. Home test kits should only be offered to individuals in the exceptional circumstance that you believe an individual may have barriers to accessing testing elsewhere. The best and fastest way for students or staff to access a test is to visit a testing site.

Guidance on replenishment of kits will be published shortly. Once this is published, you will be able to re-order these kits. There will be a cap on how many and how frequently orders can be placed, based on pupil numbers for your education setting.

Local information about testing kits for COVID19 and educational settings (pdf format, 21Kb)

Use of PPE in schools

Deep cleaning

  • The government guidance  (updated 15 July) describes the cleaning required, the appropriate disposal of materials, the cleaning of equipment and hard surfaces, and the personal protective equipment (PPE) that should be worn in educational settings.

Protecting extremely vulnerable people

Risk assessment

Mental health and wellbeing

Schools will need to explore what options or services are available to them as per local arrangements. If the school has access to a dedicated Employee Assistance Programme or through school insurance services, we would encourage this is promoted to staff.

Refer to Staff wellbeing section

4.1.7. Alcohol gel

When introducing a new product onto site you must ensure compliance with current legislation. COSHH assessments are required. The producer of the product must supply a copy of the safety data sheet and from this you will be able to complete a recorded COSHH assessment.

For alcohol gel pay attention to

  • Delivery – ensure containers are in good order with fitted caps
  • Storage – Storage must be secure. Stored in a way to avoid heat, flames and away from other sources of ignition i.e. a Flam Store. These items are extremely flammable and need to be recorded as part of your fire risk assessment and added to your COSHH register
  • Usage – Normally you cannot use on broken skin, or on or near the face. For young children supervision is required. You may also wish to review the safety data sheets if you have children that have any skin sensitivity – involve your first aiders/ school nurse
  • Disposal – The containers even when empty have a residue and so are a potential fire risk, empty containers should be rinsed before safe disposal 

4.1.8. RIDDOR reporting of COVID-19

Under RIDDOR the Local Authority is required to report specified cases of COVID-19, these include when worker has been diagnosed as having COVID-19 and there is reasonable evidence that it was caused by exposure at work.  For more information, go to HSE website.

As the prevalence of COVID-19 increases in the general population, it is likely to be challenging to establish whether the individual contracted the disease as a direct result of their work beyond frontline staff or those undertaking high risk activities. The HSE in their reporting guidance have referred specifically to health care professionals who through their provision of care and treatment of an individual diagnosed with COVID-19 have subsequently developed the disease.  In these circumstances where there is a diagnosis this will satisfy the requirement of “reasonable evidence” that the exposure arose from the workplace.

Maintained schools can use the existing internal health and safety reporting system to report work related exposure of COVID-19. The H&S Team will review these reports and arrange with the school for the necessary RIDDOR report to be submitted to the HSE if it is deemed it satisfies the RIDDOR criteria.  Academies will need to consider and report as per their local arrangements.

4.1.9. Managing school premises and out of school provision guidelines

During partial or full closure, educational settings continue to be responsible for a range of health and safety measures and statutory compliance.  It is important that arrangements remain in place to ensure that children and staff are in safe buildings during reduced occupancy arrangements.

Educational settings should review their arrangements for all building-related systems but in particular

  • Hot and cold-water systems
  • Gas safety
  • Fire safety
  • Kitchen equipment
  • Security including access control and intruder alarm systems
  • Ventilation

There are increased risks related to safety concerns around water hygiene, building and occupancy safety and building hygiene due to reduced occupancy.  To manage these risks, follow the government guidance. - updated 7 July

Protective measures for out-of-school settings during the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak - updated 10 July

Planning for the wider opening of Out of School Provision (docx format, 118Kb) - updated 5 July

4.1.10. Updated guidance on provision of paediatric first aid

The DfE have updated guidance for the Early Years Foundation Stage and within it has clarified the position regarding the requirements for Paediatric First Aid as follows

  • Paediatric First Aid requirements will remain unchanged where children aged 0-24 months are on site, and for childminders
  • where children aged 2-5 are on site, settings (except childminders) will be required to use best endeavours to have someone with full Paediatric First Aid (PFA) certification on site at all times, and where this is not possible they must ensure someone with First Aid at Work or emergency PFA is on site and carry out a written risk assessment. The risk assessment should look to reducing risks in terms of physical activities and ensuring that information relating to children’s health needs/ allergies are up to date. It should be shared with all staff working with these children.

Read the full guidance document.

In circumstances of an emergency, staff should as always dial 999 whenever someone is seriously ill or injured and their life is at risk.

4.2 Staffing and governance

4.2.1. Strategic planning

ESFA Coronavirus (COVID-19) Schools Fund

The ESFA has provided a scheme for schools to receive additional funding for exceptional costs associated with coronavirus (COVID-19). The first claims window for this funding closed on Tuesday 21 July, and funding for this window will be passed onto those maintained schools who successfully applied in this window in early September.

There will be a second claims window which will run in the autumn for which the government will publish further details nearer the time. Schools can familiarise themselves with details of the categories and the limits as set out in the funding guidance.

We encourage schools to apply for funding they believe they are eligible for through this scheme when the second window opens.

Thinking pieces


Union FAQs

4.2.2. Staff Wellbeing and Morale

4.2.3 Performance Management and Recruitment

Headteacher appraisal

NQT induction

Will appraisal cycles continue as normal?

Refer to the latest union guidance for more on performance management of teaching staff - see Strategic planning section


Recruitment can still take place while schools are observing social distancing and closure observing all the usual safeguarding checks.

4.3 Attendance / non-attendance

4.4 School transport

Requests for exceptional home to school transport

It is anticipated that some students will find returning to school more difficult than others.  This may be because they have suffered some trauma while at home, for example a family bereavement due to COVID-19, dealing with mental health issues resulting from lockdown and in some extreme cases, domestic abuse.

In these instances, you may feel a staggered return to school, or reduced timetable, might be necessary.  If the student normally travels on school transport provided by Oxfordshire County Council, consideration will be given to this request and, if approved, transport will be tailored to fit the requested changes.

In order to decide whether exceptional transport can be made available you will need to email the School Transport Eligibility Team at to ask for the “Request Form for Exceptional Home to School Transport due to the impact of COVID-19”. This form will then need to be completed and returned to the School Transport Eligibility Team

If exceptional transport is agreed the Supported Transport Team will then expedite setting up the necessary transport arrangements. However, this might not always meet the requested start date.

4.5 Safeguarding and child welfare

4.5.1. Safeguarding and welfare concerns

Standard safeguarding response applies to managing disclosures but schools should be prepared for potential increase in disclosure.  Remind your staff what to do if a child raises a concern TED - tell me, explain, describe.  TED ensures a consistent, appropriate and open response to a child.  Do not make any promises to a child about what happens next and think carefully about your response which should encourage a child that they are safe to share to this adult in school.

All disclosures should be recorded and shared with Designated Safeguarding Lead (DSL) in a timely way.  DSL’s need to report immediate safeguarding concerns directly to MASH and seek any advice from LCSS.  It will be important to understand current risk and whether concern is associated with difficulties during lockdown.  Schools should use available local tools to obtain the child’s voice, e.g. Three Houses.

For more on safeguarding during COVID-19 and recovery phase, click on the latest OSCB Safeguarding in Education Bulletin (pdf format, 422Kb) and go to the LADO and ESAT update

4.5.2. Changes to family circumstances

Schools should encourage parents to share any challenges that have affected their children or them. Particular risks could include relapse around addiction, increased anxiety, isolation and mental health concerns, pressure on relationships and domestic abuse, loss of employment and financial hardship.  If you become aware of significant changes to family circumstances, the most appropriate member of staff whom the family will engage with should take time to understand from child/family any change in their circumstances and understand their experiences during lockdown.  Families can be directed by you to LCSS or MASH to directly discuss their support needs.

4.5.3. Bereavement

4.5.4. Financial hardship

Current arrangements to support families with practical assistance locally

Refer to 3.1 for support from local community groups.

4.5.5. Domestic abuse / impacted by crime

  • For more information on local help and support available for families experiencing domestic abuse or unprecedented stress at this time, click on the below links
  • Domestic abuse support during the Covid-19 outbreak.pdf
  • SAFE! provides support to children and families around the Thames Valley who have been affected by crime through one-to-one and group sessions.  If young people have been the direct victim, for example, of theft, robbery, assault, sexual assault, domestic abuse, harassment, hate crime (racial, homophobic etc.), bullying, etc. or the crime may have happened at home, perhaps to someone close to the young person, SAFE! may be able to offer support.

4.5.6. Child to Adult Violence

  • SAFE! is now accepting referrals for families experiencing Child on Parent Violence through their Building Respectful Families programme.  For more information, go to 

4.6 Mental health and wellbeing

Extra mental health support for pupils and teachers  (updated 10 June) link to GOV UK - online resources and charity grants to help schools and colleges respond to the impact of coronavirus on mental health and wellbeing.

4.6.1. Belonging and connectedness

4.6.2. Child wellbeing

Thinking pieces for consideration

4.6.3. Staff wellbeing

4.6.4. Parent wellbeing

4.7 Vulnerable groups

4.7.1. Traveller families

4.7.2. Asylum seekers / refugees

Support for migrants living in the UK

Asylum Welcome (Oxford)

  • While the reception desk is currently closed, you can leave an answerphone message on 01865 722082. Staff remain available by email throughout the week and can reach our services through the general email Staff have mobiles but want to keep these free for calls from clients as far as possible. 
  • For EU citizens - Face-to-face appointments to help EU citizens to apply for Settled Status are postponed.  However, advice is still available by email and mobile phone 07719 128054
  • For more information, visit

4.7.3. LGBTQI+

4.8 Remote learners

General guidance

4.9 Recovery curriculum and addressing lost learning

We are aware that lost learning will be a key concern to schools as children return.  Please see updates on the OPL website and on Schools News regarding CPD opportunities. We’ll also update you as and when we receive advice and guidance from the DfE.

In addition, these blogs may be helpful in guiding your thinking about what learning recovery might look like

These are also included in this ‘things to think about’ document that may help you plan your return to school.

See below for additional think pieces and DfE publications that relate to the curriculum

4.10 Promoting positive transitions for all learners

For the pupils identified as requiring enhanced support it may be helpful to agree an Action Plan to consider and clarify the support available through discussions between staff, parents and where possible the young person themselves:

  • Emotionally-based school avoidance (EBSA) – COVID-19 intervention timeline from EPS:
  • School staff may wish to consider the following ideas in terms of developing a healing context in which children can begin to recover (Source: Dr Tina Rae's soon to be published ‘The essential tool kit for well-being – key tools and strategies for children, teens and their carers and teachers’):

4.11 Endings and lost transitions

4.12 Supporting specific learners at an important time of transition

4.12.1. New starters / early years

This transition pack includes examples of completed transition plans and a communication chart (p.27) - which can be used to record ways in which a child attempts to express themselves and what their attempts mean - to give schools a feel for how they can be helpful. The transition plan format includes a list of prompts for transition planning meetings.

4.12.2. Year 6 to 7

Guidance and information for the transition of vulnerable learners in Year 6 from EPS (adapted for COVID-19)

4.12.3. Year 11 / school leavers

An action plan from EPS to support students moving on to Year 12 and 13

4.13 Supporting children with SEND and/or additional needs in returning to school post COVID-19

4.13.1. Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND) Communication and interaction needs

ReachOut ASC free online training and resources Sensory, physical and complex needs

Hearing impaired

TRANSITION 2020-05-12 Transition Booklet for yr 6s summer 2020 during Covid19 closures.pdf

Information on creating good listening environments (environmental audit):

Challenges posed by PPE for children with HI

If school staff end up using PPE, children who are deaf will be unable to understand effectively what is being said as masks prevent the listener seeing the speaker’s lips in order to lipread.  There is such a thing as a modified face masks so that deaf people can see lip patterns but these are not widely available and are very expensive. An alternative solution, albeit imperfect, is a talk to text process whereby technology is used to convert speech into text using a device (phone, tablet etc.).  This could be used but relies on children having good reading ability and language levels, especially since the text produced is often not entirely accurate.

Visually Impaired

Physical Disability (PD)

There has been a lot of concern in considering return to school regarding Health & Safety for children whose PD means that they are more vulnerable to infection than other children.

For children in Special Schools or in mainstream (including resource bases) who have serious medical conditions, there will be consideration needed to when they can safely return to school due their increased vulnerabilities. In addition, these same children often need personal care and so social distancing from the adults who help care for these children cannot be in place. Appropriate processes together with the appropriate PPE needs to be in place for school staff to be safe on returning to the workplace.

Clear communication and joined up planning between all those involved with children (child, parents, education, health and care), will be needed to allay anxiety and support people planning as effectively as they can. 

SENSS PD Team ideas (pdf format, 155Kb) to support planning for Children and Young People with Physical Disabilities to return to school following coronavirus outbreak and school closures.

4.13.2. Children We Care For (previously referred to as Looked After Children)

4.13.3. Children with medical conditions

4.13.4. Children with EAL

  • Case study - Adapting teaching design from an urban community secondary school with a high level of pupils who speak English as an additional language (EAL), as well as a high proportion of pupils on free school meals:
  • Case study - Insights from a large urban primary school which is part of a small multi-academy trust of primary schools with a high level of pupils who speak English as an additional language (EAL):

4.14 Reintegration of pupils with behaviours that challenge

4.15 Out of school provision

Below is updated guidance (August 2020) for out of school provision for the autumn term.

This guidance will be relevant for:

  • providers which fall within the government’s definition of an out-of-school setting (OOSS)
  • providers caring for children aged 5 and over and registered with Ofsted on either the compulsory or voluntary childcare register
  • schools or colleges which offer extra-curricular activities or provision for children before and after school

Registered early years providers caring for children under the age of 5 should refer to the guidance for early years and childcare providers during the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak.

Many providers will be offering a range of services and activities to young people (including those up to the age of 25). Providers of youth services and activities should also refer to the National Youth Agency’s guidance for managing youth sector spaces and activities during COVID-19 as well as their accompanying tools and resources to support safe service provision.

Protective measures for holiday or after-school clubs and other out-of-school settings for children during the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak

Protective measures for providers of community activities, holiday or after-school clubs, tuition and other out-of-school settings offering provision to children during the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak. Changes made: Protective measures update for autumn
term, making clear the position on group sizes and how providers can minimise the risk of children mixing outside their school bubbles, as well as additional content on music and performing arts, educational visits and shared resources.

Guidance for parents and carers of children attending out-of-school settings during the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak

Guidance for parents and carers of children attending community activities, holiday or after-school clubs, tuition and other out-of-school settings. Changes made: Coronavirus (COVID 19) update for autumn term including new section on live performances.

PHE have also provided COVID-19: reducing transmission – what you can do to help which has advice on how you can help reduce the transmission of coronavirus (COVID-19). This document now has a link to a simple visual guide.

5. Directory of support for Oxfordshire schools

  • For more information on all support available to Oxfordshire Schools see the Oxfordshire Strategic Schools Partnership (OSSP) Directory of Support
  • Oxfordshire County Council – Practitioner Toolkit
    The Practitioner Toolkit contains information and tools for issues arising in work with children, young people and families.
    This page contains resources on concerns which might arise while helping a child or family, organised by topics, linked to searches for local organisations which can support work around that topic. Links to national services, helplines and information resources are also included.

6. Acknowledgements

The following agencies contributed to this co-produced guidance

  • Oxfordshire Secondary School Headteachers’ Association
  • Oxfordshire Primary School Headteachers’ Association
  • Oxfordshire Special School Headteachers’ Association
  • Oxfordshire Virtual School
  • Early Years Advisory Team
  • Early Years SEND Team
  • SEND Team
  • Special Education Needs Support Service (SENSS)
  • School Improvement Team
  • Locality and Community Support Service (LCSS)
  • Educational Psychology Service (EPS)
  • Preparation for Adulthood Team
  • School Admissions and Transport Service
  • School Health and Safety Team
  • Oxfordshire School Inclusion Team (OXSIT)
  • Learner Engagement Service
    • County Attendance Team
    • Elective Home Education Team
    • Children Missing Education Team
    • Exclusion and Reintegration Team 
    • Lead for Learner Engagement

Contact details

If there is anything we haven’t considered and you would appreciate support with, contact and we will do what we can to respond to your needs.