The Department for Education (DfE) has issued full guidance to support schools to meet the aim for all pupils, in all year groups, to remain in school full-time.
A link to the latest guidance can be found here.
Whilst we note that the information contained in the DfE guidance is largely practical, there is some overlap, for those academies who occupy their premises under long-term leases from the local authority.
The DfE guidance advises academies and schools to work with families to secure regular school attendance as they believe this will be essential to help pupils catch up on missed education, make progress and promote their wellbeing and wider development. The measures set out in the guidance provide a framework for schools to put in place proportionate protective measures for both staff and children. These include prevention measures as well as how to respond to any cases of infection.
The guidance states that schools are not currently considered high risk settings compared to other workplace environments but it recommends schools implement the systems of controls outlined in the guidance, in line with their own workplace risk assessment. Class sizes are able to return to normal but it is recommended that if spaces are used by more than one class or group they are cleaned between use.
In general terms, this guidance reflects largely the terms of the DfE model lease, which requires academies to keep their sites clean and tidy and make good any damage caused to their site by the school, as well as any deterioration to the condition of the school site from when the lease completes. Like the DfE model lease, the guidance also requires the school to comply with health and safety legislation.
The guidance advises schools to try to maximise the use of their site and any associated available space, if feasible to do so. If any alterations to the site are required to comply with the new guidance (which the guidance suggests will not be the case) or to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 (such as the installation of screens, additional wash basins etc), academies should check the terms of their lease to ensure these are permitted, or if not, seek the appropriate consents under the terms of the lease.
Here at VWV, we have a property team specialising in advising academies and schools on property issues. The team can assist you with checking the terms of your lease or other property documents required in respect of any planned alterations or in terms of repair requirements.