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Coronavirus and additional support for learning


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

Most pupils are expected to now be attending school full time again, or to be back at nursery for their usual hours. Some pupils may be finding the transition difficult after many months away, and might be having a phased return back into school or nursery. Others may only be able to attend part-time because of their health needs, or might not be able to attend at all at the moment.

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 now been postponed so that local authorities can focus on responding to the current situation. There is not yet a new date when it will become the law for local authorities to increase the number of hours of early learning and childcare they provide, but we will update this page with any further information that becomes available.

Nurseries are expected to provide at least 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 whilst the nurseries build back up after the lockdown. Your nursery will keep you up to date with what they can offer your child.

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

If your child needs extra support with their return to school, including if they are not able to attend full time straight away, 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 the return to school will be you speaking to your child about any worries they have about going back. 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.

Some families may have been told by their child’s school or nursery that they do not feel they should attend full time straight away. Any decisions about this 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 on 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 your child was absent from school before the school closures, for example if they were struggling with their mental health and anxious about attending school, this may be a good opportunity to support them to start attending again. It will not be just them returning after a long time away, almost all pupils will be currently trying to adjust back to school life after many months of not attending. Pupils will all be at different stages of their learning, as everyone will have had different experiences of trying to learn at home. Your child will not be on their own in needing some extra support with their learning – lots of their peers will too. Also, some pupils may initially only return to school on a part-time basis if they need it. This may be less intense than trying to return to school full-time after a long absence.

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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