Coronavirus (Covid-19) FAQ’s

Where can I access the latest government advice and information?


Education FAQ’s

Will parents be fined if they do not send their children into school when schools re-open after June 1st? 

The guidance states that parents will not be fined for non-attendance at this time, and schools and colleges will not be held to account for attendance levels.

Which year groups are going back first when schools re-open after June 1st? 

From the week commencing 1 June 2020 at the earliest, the government will be asking primary schools to welcome back children in Nursery, Reception, year 1 and year 6, alongside priority groups. The government will ask secondary schools, sixth form and further education colleges to offer some face-to-face support to supplement the remote education of year 10 and year 12 students who are due to take key exams next year, alongside the full time provision they are offering to priority groups.

Will pupils still gain GCSE and a-level qualifications now that the examinations have been cancelled? 

The Education secretary, Gavin Williamson, has said that whilst no GCSE  and a-level examinations will take place due to school closures, the aim will be for students to receive their results in August, as would normally be the case. 

Ofqual will develop and set out a process that will provide a calculated grade to each student which reflects their performance as fairly as possible, and will work with the exam boards to ensure this is consistently applied for all students. The exam boards will be asking teachers, who know their students well, to submit their judgement about the grade that they believe the student would have received if exams had gone ahead.

To produce this, teachers will take into account a range of evidence and data including performance on mock exams and non-exam assessment – clear guidance on how to do this fairly and robustly will be provided to schools and colleges. The exam boards will then combine this information with other relevant data, including prior attainment, and use this information to produce a calculated grade for each student, which will be a best assessment of the work they have put in.

Guidance can be accessed here.

Ofqual have released an update on the 3rd April which can be found here

What duty does the LA have to children with EHC plans? 

The Coronavirus Act 2020 has temporarily amended the absolute duty to make the provision in an EHC plan (section 42 of the Children and Families Act 2014) to a ‘reasonable endeavours’ duty.  This means that during the specified period the LA needs to do whatever it reasonably can to put provision in place. 

Family law FAQ’s

Are the family courts closed? 

Current guidance can be accessed here for all court and tribunal users. 

The President of the Family Court has published guidance saying it will be moving to remote hearings with immediate effect.

What impact does coronavirus have in terms of adherence to child arrangements orders which regulate contact/residence arrangements? 

If a parent or the child is ill and self-isolating, it is sensible to contact the other parent and explain the situation to discuss practical solutions. The welfare of the child should be the most important consideration at all times and this includes consideration of the child’s health needs. 

Parties to child arrangements orders are entitled to depart from the terms of a child arrangements order if agreement can be reached. We would recommend documenting this interim agreement in writing. 

However, if a dispute cannot be resolved informally and a breach of the child arrangements order occurs, there is the option of applying to the court to have the order enforced. The Court is unlikely to make an order for enforcement if it is satisfied that the resident parent had a reasonable excuse to not adhere to the child arrangements order. For example, if the parent in breach followed government guidance to the letter. However, as an example, if the resident parent did not make the child available for contact to the non-resident parent in accordance with the child arrangements order because they said that the child was self-isolating and then the non-resident parent saw the child at a local park playing with friends – the court could be persuaded that the resident parent is using the current climate to frustrate the arrangements and therefore a sanction could be issued. 

There is of course the option of applying to vary the child arrangements order in light of the current situation but it must be considered that there is a tremendous strain on services at this current time and therefore there may be capacity issues and delays. 

Recent Rules have been published by the government on staying at home and away from others. In these Rules, it does state under staying home, bullet point 3 footnote 1 that children can be moved between parents where applicable.

The President of the Family Division has released guidance on the 24th March with respect to Child Arrangements Orders. 

Can children move between parents’ homes in line with the new stay at home rules? 

The stay at home guidance released on the 23rd March states the following:

“Where parents do not live in the same household, children under 18 can be moved between their parents’ homes.”

This establishes an exception to the mandatory ‘stay at home’ requirement; it does not, however, mean that children must be moved between homes. The decision whether a child is to move between parental homes is for the child’s parents to make after a sensible assessment of the circumstances, including the child’s present health, the risk of infection and the presence of any recognised vulnerable individuals in one household or the other. 

We have published two individual information pages which go into more detail on domestic abuse and remote hearings in the context of the coronavirus crisis.