8:06 pm, Wednesday, 24th March 2021

Department for Education updates

Visit Gov.uk for more updates relating to education and Covid-19.

Changes to the Test and Trace support payment for parents

Parents and carers of children who have been advised to self-isolate by their education setting or by NHS Test and Trace are now able to apply for a Test and Trace Support Payment or discretionary payment of £500, if they meet the eligibility criteria. The extension of the Test and Trace Support Payment scheme, which is administered by district and unitary local authorities in England, ensures that parents receive the financial support they need if they are unable to attend work due to childcare responsibilities.

Parents and carers should apply to their local authority to receive a payment. Applications for the Test and Trace Support Payment scheme are made via the local authority in which the parent or carer resides, not the local authority where the setting is situated, if these are different.

To be eligible applicants must meet all of the criteria that:
they are the parent or guardian of a child or young person in the same household and need to take time off work to care for them while they self-isolate. This is limited to one parent or guardian per household for the child or young person’s self-isolation period they are employed or self-employed they cannot work from home while undertaking caring responsibilities and will lose income as a result they meet all the other means-tested eligibility criteria for a Test and Trace Support Payment or locally determined criteria for a discretionary payment.

That their child or young person:
is aged 15 or under (or 25 or under with an Education, Health and Care Plan (EHC)) and normally attends an education or childcare setting has been told to self-isolate by NHS Test and Trace or by their education or childcare setting because they have been identified as a close contact of someone who has tested positive for coronavirus (COVID-19).

Nurseries, schools, colleges and further education providers are required to provide a letter to all parents or carers of the children advised to self-isolate, to support their application to the Test and Trace Support Payment scheme. A template letter is available for early years and primary schools on the primary schools document sharing platform titled with the code RP81. A template letter is available for secondary schools and further education providers on the secondary schools and colleges document sharing platform titled with the code RP83. The letter must detail the child’s name and date of self-isolation. Parents or carers will then be able to provide this letter to their local authority as evidence that their child is required to self-isolate.

Once an application for a payment has been received, the local authority will be in touch with your setting to verify the details of the child provided on the application. This will include a check of the child’s name, age, address and days of self-isolation. This check is to minimise the event of fraudulent claims. It may be conducted before or after a payment is made, depending on the arrangements the individual local authority has chosen to put in place. The letter you give to parents and carers should explain to them that their local authority will conduct a check with their child’s setting if they apply for a payment.

National Tutoring Programme – subsidised tutoring available for state-maintained schools

All state-maintained schools can access tutoring subsidised by 75% through the National Tutoring Programme (NTP), to support pupils aged 5-16 who need extra help. The NTP aims to ensure that high quality tutoring is available in all parts of the country to disadvantaged pupils who need the most support.

Schools can search for approved NTP tuition partners and enquire directly with providers. This includes specialist provision for supporting students with SEND: 26 out of the 33 providers can support students with SEND, and 17 providers are able to support students in special school settings.

To see NTP in action, please see our latest school story.

The NTP is running information webinars for all state-maintained schools, where you can hear directly from tuition partner organisations and learn about the subsidy.

Join us for our national webinar on Tuesday 23 March at 4pm or see if one is running in your area.

National survey from the Children’s Commissioner

The new Children’s Commissioner for England, Dame Rachel de Souza, has begun a major review of the future of childhood, which will address the barriers holding children back in the 21st century. This review begins with ‘The Big Ask’: the largest ever survey of children in England, to gather children’s views on what the government should prioritise in planning the recovery from the pandemic.

The Big Ask will be launched on Monday 19 April in the form of a short online questionnaire. You will receive a link to the questionnaire shortly after it has launched. We encourage you to share it with as many students as possible.

Further targeted ransomware attacks on the education sector

The Department for Education and the National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) has been made aware of an increasing number of cyber-attacks involving ransomware infection affecting the education sector recently.

It is important that senior leaders in education settings understand the nature of the threat and the potential for ransomware to cause considerable damage to their institutions in terms of lost data and access to critical services.

The information below will support your ongoing cyber security preparedness and mitigation work.

What should I do if I am affected?
Enact your incident management plan.
Contact the NCSC.
Contact your local law enforcement and Action Fraud.
Inform the Department for Education by emailing: sector.securityenquiries@education.gov.uk

The Department for Education supports the National Crime Agency’s recommendations not to encourage, endorse, or condone the payment of ransom demands.

Payment of ransoms has no guarantee of restoring access or services and will likely result in repeat incidents to educational settings.

It is vital that you urgently review your existing defences and take the necessary steps to protect your networks from cyber-attacks.
Along with your defences, having the ability to restore the systems and recover data from backups is vital. You should ask your IT team or provider to confirm that:
they are backing up the right data the backups are held offline they have tested that they can restore services and recover data from the backups.

Further information and supporting material includes:
NCSC Alert on the current cases of ransomware
Ransomware advice and guidance for your IT teams to implement
Offline backups in an online world
Backing up your data
Practical resources to help improve your cyber security

The information below has not changed since our last update

Department for Education coronavirus (COVID-19) helpline

 The Department for Education coronavirus (COVID-19) helpline and the PHE Advice Service (option 1) is available to answer any questions you have about coronavirus (COVID-19) relating to education settings and children’s social care.  

Phone: 0800 046 8687

Opening hours: 
Monday to Friday from 8am to 6pm 
Saturday and Sunday from 10am to 6pm  

Please listen carefully to all of  the available options before selecting the most appropriate option for your nursery, school, college or university.  

Look up your unique organisation number (UON)

If you have not received your unique organisation number (UON) for ordering new coronavirus (COVID-19) test kits you can look it up using your unique reference number (URN) or your UK provider reference number (UKPRN) or by calling the Test and Trace helpdesk on 119.

Private, voluntary and independent nurseries do not need a UON.

Department for Education guidance 

 Our guidance to support education providers, local authorities and parents during the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak can be accessed using the links below:    
guidance for early years and childcare providers
guidance for schools
guidance for special schools and other specialist settings
guidance for further and higher education providers
guidance for local authority children’s services