As you will know, the changes in law to protect people in Scotland during the coronavirus outbreak have already very significantly affected how your child is educated.
The Scottish Government guidance is clear that to prevent the spread of coronavirus and keep us all safe, children who can stay at home should do so. This is why the Scottish Government has asked local authorities to close schools to most of their pupils, except for making ‘critical provision’ for children and young people in some key groups.
Critical provision may include keeping some schools or childcare settings open so that certain pupils can attend. Local authorities may also make other arrangements like opening new childcare hubs.
The key groups are:
– Children of some key workers, for example NHS and social care staff. The local authority should make sure these children can still get learning and childcare if their parents absolutely must go to work.
– Children who need more help to stay safe and well (sometimes referred to as ‘vulnerable children’). This may include some children with complex additional support needs, and some children who are ‘looked after’ by the local authority or on the child protection register. Local authorities will be expected to identify which children in their area may need critical childcare provision. They should make decisions based on the advice of people who work most closely with these children and their families.
Whilst the schools are closed, parents’ duties to educate their children and send their children to school are effectively suspended.
This means you cannot be prosecuted for failing to send your child to school if their school has closed due to the coronavirus outbreak.
Although you do not legally have to educate your child during this period, there are many ways you can help your child continue to learn at home. There is lots of information and support available for you to do this. See our section 'Where can I find resources to help me educate and support my child?' on our coronavirus homepage for links to some of the main resources.
However, it is really important to remember you are not expected to become your child's teacher. This is a difficult time for everyone, for many different reasons, so do not put yourself under too much pressure and ask for help when you need it. The most important thing of all is that you and your family stay safe and well.
You and your child may find it helpful to visit our website for children and young people, reach.scot, where you will find advice and information for your child on how to cope with learning while the schools are closed.
Whilst schools are closed, local authorities effectively no longer have a duty to provide ‘adequate and efficient’ school education to pupils in their area.
However, schools and local authorities are working hard to find ways of providing some learning for their pupils. Each local authority is taking their own approach to helping children continue to learn when they are out of school. You can find out more about your local authority's plans from our section 'What is happening with schools and nurseries in my area?' on our coronavirus homepage.
Local authorities should have made arrangements to educate children of ‘key workers’ and some children who may need more help to stay safe and well. See ‘Is my child entitled to attend school or nursery during the coronavirus outbreak?’ below.
To protect public health and prevent the spread of coronavirus, you should keep your child at home if you can safely care for them there. However, local authorities should make arrangements to provide critical provision for some children.
Your child may be entitled to emergency childcare if:
1) You are a ‘key worker’, such as NHS and social care staff, and there is no-one available at home to take care of your child while you are working, your local authority should provide childcare for your child.
2) Your local authority thinks your child needs childcare to help them stay safe and well (sometimes referred to a 'vulnerable child'). For example:
- If your child has complex additional support needs, and requires a high level of support that you cannot provide at home
- If your child is 'looked after' by the local authority
- If the local authority has other concerns about your child's safety or wellbeing (like if they are currently on the child protection register)
Your local authority will talk to you and the people who work most closely with your child and your family to work out whether they should offer them childcare and support.
Each local authority is making their own arrangements for critical childcare provision. This might mean if your child is entitled to critical provision they will attend a school, nursery or local hub. It could also mean the local authority may make other arrangements to help keep your child safe and well.
To find out what arrangements your local authority is making, see our section on ‘What is happening with schools and nurseries in my area?’ on our coronavirus homepage.
Local authorities must decide which children in their area may need critical childcare provision. If you feel your child should be receiving childcare, you can contact your local authority to discuss this with them.
At the moment it is not possible to say how long schools will be closed for.
Scottish Ministers will review the school closures every 21 days to decide whether it is safe to re-open. Your child's school or local authority will keep you informed of any changes.
We will continue to update this page with any more information we have on timescales.