National lockdown: Stay at Home

National lockdown rules apply in England

Latest guidance and information on COVID-19

COVID-19 Schools and Education

Schools and education

Return to Education settings in January 2021 

(updated 14 January 2021)

As announced by the Prime Minister  on 4 January new national lockdown restrictions came into force from 6 January. 

During the period of national lockdown, schools (provision from  Reception upwards) , alternative provision, special schools, and colleges will remain open to vulnerable pupils and those of critical workers only. All other children and students will learn remotely until February half term (subject to review). All early years providers - School Nursery Classes, Day Nurseries, Preschools and Childminders can remain open during this period of national lockdown.

Schools and education settings will confirm arrangements directly with parents. 

The Government will be updating its webpage “What parents and carers need to know about early years providers, schools and colleges” with the latest guidance and information for parents as soon as possible.

Schools will be communicating with parents directly about the changes, however, parents are advised to contact their education setting for specific details of each setting’s arrangements if they are unclear.

Early Years Settings (under 5’s)  

All Early Years education settings during the period of national restrictions should be open as normal  for all children. 

Primary Schools

Schools must remain closed from 4 January to all pupils other than those that are vulnerable pupils and those of critical workers. All other children and students will learn remotely until February half term (subject to Government review).

Secondary Schools / Colleges

Schools must remain closed from 4th January to all pupils other than those that are vulnerable pupils and those of critical workers. All other children and students will learn remotely until February half term (subject to Government review).

Special Schools / opportunity bases in mainstream schools  

All pupils in special schools/opportunity bases are deemed vulnerable because they have EHCP plans. Whilst special schools will try to make provision to as many pupils as possible, they will only be able to make the provision that their individual circumstances allow (based on risk assessment and staffing capacity). Parents should contact their individual schools to discuss their plans.

Alternative Provision 

The majority of pupils in Alternate Provision are likely to be considered vulnerable based on the current definition. Whilst AP providers will try to make provision to as many pupils as possible, they will only be able to make the provision that their individual circumstances allow (based on risk assessment and staffing capacity). Parents should contact their individual schools to discuss their plans.

Remote learning

This should be available for pupils not able to attend their education setting from the start of term.

Out of school settings and wraparound childcare for children over five

This can open from 4 January for vulnerable children and children of critical workers only.


Links to Government guidance are below (some will be subject to further updates).


COVID-19 safe schools

Parents can find out about the systems of controls that schools and early years settings will have in place to ensure that pupils, staff and parents are safe when in school or early years settings. There is also guidance for parents which sets out some of the changes and protective measures the government is asking schools and colleges to put in place. It will also look at what parents, carers, children and young people will need to do to help ensure schools and colleges are as safe as possible for everyone. This guidance remains relevant to schools from the start of 2021.

Parents of children with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) should also refer to the separate guidance for full opening of special schools and other specialist settings 

The Government has announced asymptomatic testing can take place on secondary school and college sites for staff and pupils who are in attendance. This will continue as planned and will help schools to prepare for a full return after the February half term (subject to Government review). Schools will contact parents directly in relation to these plans in due course. All schools will continue to have rigorous risk assessments in place that are regularly updated based on the latest context and Government guidance.

What should I do if I am concerned about my child attending school?

For the vast majority of issues or concerns relating to children returning to education, parents should contact their education setting.  However, for issues relating to education support services parents should contact the relevant departments below:

Although some parents of vulnerable pupils / pupils of critical workers may have concerns about attending school, it is really important for their educational progress, wellbeing and wider development that children and young people do attend early years provision, school and college. For all other pupils high quality remote learning should be provided.

Pupils that are extremely clinically vulnerable (shielding)

If pupils or staff are clinically extremely vulnerable they should follow resumed shielding guidance and should not attend work, school, college or university. You should limit the time you spend outside the home. You should only go out for medical appointments, exercise or if it is essential.

Travelling to school, early years setting or college

Transport for London have confirmed that Public Transport will continue to be affected by COVID-19 with a reduction in capacity on buses and the train network. Schools, Local Authorities and parents are being asked to ensure that as many pupils walk or cycle to school as possible.  

Schools are also being encouraged to stagger their start times (many schools do this anyway in Sutton) in order to reduce demand on peak services.

The Council is also undertaking a number of initiatives to promote safe walking and cycling in the Borough - more information can be found on the COVID-19 Safer, Active, Greener Streets section. TfL have also produced guidance and advice for young people on how to travel safely as well as a journey planning tool in light of current Covid restrictions. If at all possible children and young people should be walking or cycling to school from the start of the Autumn term onwards.

Designated Transport (SEND Transport)

Dedicated transport is used to take pupils to and from school where there is a statutory requirement to do so; this is primarily for children and young people with special education needs and disabilities (SEND). These are routes/vehicles that are not accessible to the general public. The policy for the period from 1 September 2020 replaces previous guidance issued on 1 June 2020. FAQs and the letter sent to parents of pupils eligible for travel assistance is included for reference. This policy remains subject to review.

If you have any questions about SEND transport please contact SEN.Transport@cognus.org.uk.

Free School Meals 

Free School Meals (term time)

During the lockdown and during term time, Schools will be providing free school meals for all eligible pupils. Where pupils are not able to attend school due to self isolation or national restrictions, schools will provide either food parcels or food vouchers. Please contact your school directly for details.

Free School Meals (in school holidays - Winter Support Grant)

During the school holidays, Sutton Council is providing a food support package for families in the borough that are most in need to ensure children don’t go hungry over the winter months - we provided vouchers over the Christmas break and will be doing so again during the February 2021 Half Term. 

Food Vouchers for the Christmas holidays are now closed. February food vouchers will be issued by schools before the end of term 12th February. For any eligible families who will not receive vouchers directly from their school will be able to apply for food vouchers from 8 February - see details below.

Please take a few minutes to read through the FAQs to check if you are eligible for a food voucher. Most young people will receive vouchers directly from their school but there may be some young people that are eligible that won’t. Having read the FAQ, if you think you are eligible please complete this Food Voucher Application Form.

If you are finding it difficult to understand this document or are finding it hard to complete, please contact either:

 and they will be happy to help you complete it.

Starting Primary School in September 2021

If your child was born between 1 September 2016 and 31 August 2017, you don’t have long left to make an application for primary school.

Despite the ongoing uncertainty around COVID and associated measures, national closing dates and offer dates for children starting primary school in September 2021 remain unchanged. Find out more about making your application.