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Coronavirus and additional support for learning

Should my child attend school or nursery for the same hours as before lockdown?

Learning will be online for most pupils until at least the middle of February.

If it is safe to do so, after the middle of February schools will reopen more fully. The longer-term plan is to get most pupils attending school full time again, or to be back at nursery for their usual hours. However, it is not yet clear when this will be able to happen or if there will initially be a phased return..  Your child’s school or nursery should update you with what is happening when they know more.

Some pupils may find being back at school or nursery difficult, and they may only be able to attend part-time. Others may not be able to attend school or nursery at all due to medical advice or coronavirus protective measures.

In this section we have answered some questions about attendance at school and nursery during coronavirus. If you have a question that we have not answered, please get in touch with our helpline.

All children aged three and four, and some children aged two, are entitled to 600 hours per year of free early learning and childcare. The Scottish Government had planned to make it the law for local authorities to increase this to 1140 hours from August 2020.

Due to the coronavirus, this deadline has been postponed so local authorities can focus on responding to the current situation. The Scottish Government intend to pass a law in early 2021 to change the date to August 2021. When this change becomes law we will update this page.

Nurseries are expected to provide the 600 hours a year of early learning and childcare for each eligible child this year. If your child used to attend nursery for more than 600 hours, they may not be able to attend for the same amount of time as usual while the nurseries build back up after the lockdown. Your nursery will keep you up to date with what they can offer your child.

If your child attends nursery in an area with a coronavirus protection level 4 (the highest level) this may result in your child not being able to attend nursery for their full normal hours for a while. Nurseries in these areas may need to put in place safety measures that will reduce the capacity of how many children can attend at any one time. If this becomes necessary, the nursery should contact you to explain what is happening.

Some local authorities in areas with a lower coronavirus protection level may already be offering children the 1140 hours of early learning and childcare. They are not legally required to do this yet. If your local authority is providing more funded hours to children, they need to do this fairly. Children with additional support needs should be offered the same number of minimum funded hours of early learning and childcare as their peers in the local area.

To find out more about additional support for learning in the early years, click on the link to our factsheet, below.

Once schools reopen more fully, if your child needs extra support with their return to school, including if they are not able to attend full time, it is important to speak with the school about what support they can offer. A plan should be put in place based on your child’s individual needs and you and your child should be involved in this.

The plan should include how to build up your child’s time at school so that they can attend full time when they are ready. Your child has a right to the support they need to fully benefit from their education and attend full time if they are able to. The school should also think about how they will support your child’s learning for the times they are not at school.

There are many things your child’s school or nursery can do to help them settle back in. This may include giving them extra support to understand and adjust to new school rules.

A big part of adjusting to school life during coronavirus will be you speaking to your child about any worries they have about being in school. Reach.scot, our website for children and young people, may be a helpful starting point for you to discuss returning to school with your child. You may also find Mindroom’s Back to School Toolkit helpful.

Your child's school or nursery may feel your child should not yet attend full time straightaway when they reopen, despite this not being based on current health guidance or advice from your child’s healthcare provider. Any decisions about your child not attending school full time should be based on what is in your child’s best interests, and you and your child should be involved in decisions.

There should be a clear plan in place for building up to your child attending full time, with agreed steps to make sure they will have the support they need to do this. Your child has a right to the support they need to fully benefit from their education and attend full time if they are able to. The school should also think about how they will support your child’s learning for the times they are not at school.

If you do not agree that your child needs to attend part-time and feel they should be back full time, it is important to speak with the school about this. You could try putting your concerns in writing and ask how they feel this plan best meets your child’s needs.

If you are not able to reach an agreement with the school about the best approach for your child, there are several steps you can take. You can find out more in our factsheet Avoiding and solving problems.

Some pupils cannot always attend school regularly. For example, if they are ill or are caring for a family member at home. These pupils have the same right to an education as other pupils. The school should support them to attend whenever they can, and to access their learning in another way when they are not able to physically be at school.

When a pupil has missed a lot of school, it can be difficult to return. For example, they might be worried about their peers asking why they have been off school, or concerned about whether they will be able to catch up with what they have missed.

If you feel your child needs extra support to help them with the return to school, speak to the school about your concerns. If your child is still not able to attend school, find more advice on our page ‘My child is not able to return to school’.

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Resources/Advice for Young People/

Our service Reach has bitesize, easy read advice to help you talk to your child about their learning and support during coronavirus.

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