Please click on the links below for advice about homeschooling, and the latest information about schools during the coronavirus outbreak:

This information was last updated on 10 March 2021.

Rapid Covid-19 testing

On Sunday 28 February the Government announced that rapid Covid-19 testing would be available for all households with children of school age.

Whole families and households with primary school, secondary school and college age children, including childcare and support bubbles, will be able to test themselves twice every week from home as schools return from 8 March. Read more here.

Who is eligible?

The following people in England will have access to regular rapid lateral flow testing made available to them as schools reopen: 

  • secondary school pupils 
  • primary and secondary school staff 
  • households, childcare and support bubbles of primary and secondary-age pupils 
  • households, childcare and support bubbles of primary and secondary staff 

Primary school pupils will not be asked to test at this time.

To find out how you can access rapid lateral flow testing click here.

Return to face-to-face education from Monday 8 March

Following the Government’s announcement on Monday 22 February schools in Northumberland will begin to welcome back all pupils from Monday 8 March for face-to-face learning. Your child's school will confirm with you their particular arrangements.


Awarding qualifications

The Department for Education have also announced how students will be assessed and awarded their GCSE, AS and A levels this year. Students will receive grades awarded and determined by teachers, with pupils only assessed on what they have been taught. Fairness and flexibility are at the heart of plans to ensure young people can progress to the next stage of education or career.
Further details on teacher-assessed grades can be found here.


Index of information on this page

Free School Meals entitlement will continue for eligible children who are now learning from home.

This information was last updated on 5 March 2021.

Children and young people eligible for free school meals will continue to receive support whilst learning at home. If you as a parent or carer are unsure what is in place for your child(ren) please contact their school directly. If you are not in receipt of free school meals already but think your child(ren) may be eligible, please apply for free school meals here

If you're not eligible and feeling financial pressures we're here to support, please contact Northumberland Communities Together.

Phone the Northumberland Communities Together Response Hub on 01670 620015 9am-6pm, 7 days a week
The latest information about schools in Northumberland affected by Coronavirus (COVID-19).

This information was last updated 25 March 2021.

Information about schools

Nursery and Early Years settings 

Attendance in nurseries, childminders and other early years providers remains optional, but we strongly encourage you to take up a place for your child. You can check if your child is eligible for any of the free childcare entitlements, worth on average £2,500 a year to parents of 2 year olds, and up to £5,000 a year to parents of 3 and 4 year-olds, on the Childcare Choices website.


All pupils in primary, first, middle, secondary, high schools and colleges are being welcomed back from Monday March 8. 
Some Secondary and High schools are staggering their returns in the first week. Parents and carers are encouraged to speak directly with schools for information. 

Clinically Extremely Vulnerable children

Children and young people whose GP's and/or consultants have confirmed they are still clinically extremely vulnerable are advised to continue following the guidance given to them. Schools will need to make appropriate arrangements to enable them to continue their education at home. Please speak to your school about this. 
Children who live with someone who is clinically extremely vulnerable, but who are not clinically extremely vulnerable themselves, can still attend education.

Self-isolating children and families

n line with public health advice those who are self-isolating and have had symptoms or a positive test result, or because they are a close contact of someone who has coronavirus (COVID-19) should not attend school.. We advise you speak directly with your school to ensure the right support is provided remotely.  
The Local Authority continues to work with headteachers across the county to support them in the implementation of appropriate health and safety measures based on their risk assessments, and in line with Government guidance.

School transport will be provided, but this is dependent on the number of pupils who wish to travel, the availability of drivers, and the start times schools may operate.

Parents should contact their child’s school to discuss arrangements.

You can find the full questions and answers document here
The scheme outlines that if a school catering service cannot provide meals or food parcels, they should offer pupils from families that are eligible for benefits-related free school meals an alternative.
We are continuing to accept free school meal applications at this time. If you think your child is eligible but you are not currently claiming, you can contact us on 0345 600 6400 (Monday-Thursday 8.30am-5pm, Fridays 8.30am-4.30pm), or apply by submitting this application form:

Please click here to view the free school meals application form.

You can find the full questions and answers document here
National Government guidance is changing as the situation evolves and we can all expect it to continue to do so.

This page was last updated on the 28 August 2020

The Department for Education (DfE) issued guidance entitled “Transport to school and other places of education: autumn term 2020”, click here to view, on 11 August 2020 covering guidance for the provision of dedicated home to school or college transport as schools return for full re-opening and also for managing the capacity of, and demand for, public transport from September.

In light of this guidance we have sent a letter to parents of children who attend mainstream schools via their child’s school, click here to view, and a letter to parents of children who attend special schools, click here to view. The letters provide guidance and information for parents and carers whose children will be using the Council's Home to School Transport Service when they return to school for the start of the 2020/21 academic year.  Accompanying the letter sent to parents of children attending mainstream schools is guidance for students travelling on home to school transport, click here to view.

We have also issued guidance and instructions to school transport operators, click here to view, regarding the steps they need to take to ensure safe travel for children and young people as well as their own staff.

You can find some frequently asked questions about school transport during the current COVID-19 situation in the drop-down box below.

Will school transport operate from the start of the new academic year?

Yes, our transport operators will be operating a full service for children and young people who travel on County Council provided transport (coach, minibus or taxi) to and from school from the start of the new academic year until further notice.

Normal pick up and drop off arrangements will apply unless you have been notified otherwise. 

Will social distancing be in place on school transport vehicles?

As per the Department for Education guidance, there is no requirement for children to socially distance on dedicated home to school transport in the way required on public transport. However, arrangements are being made for operators to allocate seating in separate areas of the vehicle according to year group, to minimise mixing between year groups and to ensure children sit with the same group of children each day.

Why isn’t social distancing being implemented in the same way on school transport as it is on public transport?

The guidance indicates that the arrangements for social distancing on public transport are not required on dedicated school transport because (i) the overall risk to children and young people of serious illness as a result of coronavirus (COVID-19) is very low (ii) they do not mix with the general public on those journeys (iii) dedicated school transport often carries the same group of children and young people on a regular basis, and they may also be together in school or college (iv) the predictability of dedicated school transport will allow for planning so that protective measures can be put in place

What is a face covering and should my child wear one?

A face covering is a covering of any type which covers the nose and mouth and fits securely around the side of the face.

It is now mandatory that children and young people aged 11 and over wear a face covering when travelling on dedicated home to school transport. This does not apply to people who are exempt from wearing a face covering under the rules for public transport. 

Children under 11 may wear a face covering if they are able to handle it as directed.  

Are there any other steps being taken to keep children sat apart from one another?

Yes. A considerable number of school transport routes transport children to different schools on the same vehicle.

Measures are being put in place so that wherever possible additional vehicles are utilised so that the children and young people from different schools are transported on separate vehicles. If there are any cases where this is not practically possible, children from different schools will be allocated seats in separate sections of the vehicle.  

What about students who use public transport?

Given that social distancing is required on public transport, work has been undertaken with the major bus operators (Arriva, Go North East, Stagecoach) and other smaller bus operators in Northumberland to identify likely overloading on those journeys that facilitate transport to educational establishments. 

On some services, larger vehicles are being deployed than those normally used that would otherwise be likely to be overloaded as a result of social distancing requirements.

On a number of other routes, arrangements are being progressed to provide additional capacity by introducing a duplicate dedicated scholar service on those busiest services operating around school opening and closing times. These services would run alongside the normal bus service but would be restricted to use by school and college students and pupils, thereby providing additional seating capacity overall but also separating school and college students from the wider travelling public. 

What instructions have been issued to my child’s transport provider?

Transport operators are being asked to:
  • where possible, deploy a larger vehicle than that normally deployed on their school transport route in order to allow increased separation of children and young people between year groups or individuals. 
  • consider systems for boarding, alighting and queuing of children and young people to minimise contact and mixing.
  • not use face to face seating to sit children and young people on board vehicles
  • deploy the same driver and passenger assistant (where applicable) for the operation of each contract on a continuous basis unless exceptional circumstances apply to reduce the risk of transmission.
  • keep vehicles well ventilated by opening windows and ceiling vents wherever possible and to not use re-circulation air conditioning (whilst being aware of the need to avoid the risk of children leaning out of windows etc). 
  • Remind drivers and (where deployed) passenger assistants to wash their hands before and after every journey
  • Report any concerns to the council about social distancing at bus stops or collection points
  • Arrange for children and young people to sit with other passengers in their own year group or where this is not possible to sit with other passengers attending the same school.
  • Use signage to indicate to children and young people where they should sit
  • Implement procedures for standard and deep cleaning of vehicles 
  • clean regularly touched objects and surfaces (like door handles and handrails) more often than usual using standard cleaning products
Further details of the control measures school transport providers are required to put in place can be found in the guidance and instructions to school transport operators by clicking here.
We know that parents and schools are finding it difficult to work out which symptoms warrant testing for COVID-19.

We acknowledge that this is not straightforward, and it is a really challenging time for parents and schools. It is common for colds and similar viral infections to circulate across communities at this time of year. 

In many cases, children will be well enough to attend school and continue their learning with little or no interruption to their education. It is important to ensure that children are not unnecessarily kept away from school and exposed to inappropriate testing for COVID-19.

COVID-19 symptoms

If your child (or anyone in the household) has any of the main coronavirus symptoms listed below they need to self-isolate and get a test.

Only children with any of these symptoms need a COVID-19 test: 
  • New continuous cough 
Your child needs tested if they have a cough that has lasted for more than an hour, if they have had three or more coughing episodes in 24 hours, or if they are coughing more than usual. The cough is usually dry.
  • Fever/high temperature
A high temperature is feeling hot to the touch on your chest or back. If a thermometer is available take the temperature – a high temperature is 37.8C or higher. Your child may feel warm, cold or shivery.
  • Loss of, or change in, sense of smell or taste
This means your child has noticed they cannot smell or taste anything, or things smell or taste different to normal.

Common cold symptoms

Children with simple cold symptoms such as a runny nose or sore throat or a mild cough without a fever who would normally have attended school in other times should go to school and do not be tested for COVID 19.

A quick guide for parents/carers about COIVD-19 (ccoronavirus) absence.
Please see our resource below for useful websites and guides for students, parents/carers, and professionals who work with young people:

Please click here for more information about the DfE COVID-19 Device Scheme
The latest advice and tips about homeschooling during the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak.

We understand that it may be hard to explain to your children what exactly coronavirus is, and how it will affect our daily lives for the time being.


Learning about coronavirus

The following resources will help children to learn more about the virus:


Homeschooling resources

Made with Padlet

The following resources, for both parents and teachers, will help you to teach children during school closures in Northumberland:
'What's on in February?' - Find out what's happening in February
'What's on in March?' - Find out what's happening in March


Early Years resources

While your child is not able to access their education at nursery, school, or with their childminder, we want to support you to continue the school readiness journey with some ideas for simple, play-based activities to try together at home. The Early Years Team will update the resources each week:

Early Years Home Learning

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