Where can I access the latest government advice and information?
- Coronavirus: UK government response
- COVID-19: guidance for households with possible coronavirus infection
- New Rules on Staying at Home and Away from others
- Coronavirus (COVID-19): courts and tribunals planning and preparation
- COVID-19 guidance for children and families (CAFCASS)
- COVID 19: National Guidance for the Family Court (Message from the President of the Family Division
- Coronavirus Crisis: Guidance on Compliance with Family Court Child Arrangement Orders
- Family courts: making C100 applications – 3 April 2020
- Closure of educational settings: information for parents and carers
- Guidance for schools, childcare providers, colleges and local authorities in England on maintaining educational provision
- Coronavirus (COVID-19): guidance on vulnerable children and young people
- Isolation guidance for residential educational settings
- Coronavirus (COVID-19): cancellation of GCSEs, AS and A levels in 2020
- Further details on GCSE and a-level examinations and grades have been released on the 3rd April by the Department for Education.
- The President of the Family Division has released a notice on the 3rd April with respect to C100 applications.
- The President of the Family Division has released guidance on the 24th March with respect to child arrangements orders.
- Rules have been set on Staying at Home and Away from Others. Under Staying Home, bullet point 3 clarifies the position in terms of under 18’s moving between the homes of separated parents.
- Guidance has been issued by the President of the Family Division which discusses the operation of the family courts.
- Guidance has been published which outlines who falls into the categories of ‘key workers‘ and ‘vulnerable children‘.
- Schools will be closing from Friday 21st March until further notice for all pupils except the vulnerable and those with key worker parents. The government has asked nurseries, independent schools and sixth form colleges to follow suit and close their doors.
- GCSE and A-Level examinations have been cancelled for this academic year.
Will absences from school be authorised from Friday 20th March?
Absences will be authorised from Friday due to the fact that the government has told schools to close.
Will an absence be authorised if a parent decided to keep their child out of school when schools were still open?
The headteacher has discretion whether to authorise or unauthorise an absence.
A Department for Education spokesman said the following when the schools were still open:
“It is for headteachers to decide whether an individual absence is authorised, but where schools are open and pupils are not unwell and have not been asked to self-isolate by PHE, we would expect them to attend school as normal.”
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.
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?
This is an unprecedented pandemic and guidelines have not been released from the government/judiciary regarding the impact of coronavirus on child arrangements orders.
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.