A letter to secondary school and college parents in England on continuing regular Covid-19 testing from Gavin Williamson, Secretary of State for Education 

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Education Secretary Gavin Williamson has today written to secondary school and college parents and guardians in England to talk about the importance of regular testing when it comes to keeping covid out of the classroom. 


The Prime Minister announced on 14 June that step 4 of the roadmap would have to be paused for up to four weeks because of the spread of the new variant.

With the increase in cases with variants of concern, it is important to continue regular testing in order to detect cases of coronavirus, stay ahead of the virus and keep covid out of the classroom.

This means that regular asymptomatic testing for all will continue, and we need you and your children who are in secondary school or college to carry on testing at home, twice a week.

As you know, testing has been playing a vital role in our response to the virus. It is helping to break chains of transmission by identifying asymptomatic positive cases quickly. This means those who test positive can self-isolate, keeping other pupils and students in face-to-face education. Reporting all test results, positive or negative, helps the health experts have a clearer picture of any potential outbreaks in different parts of the country.     

I want to thank you all for your efforts so far. I know that this has been an enormously challenging time for families, who have faced many pressures over the past 18 months. Your continued support in helping us fight the virus has been vital.

Secondary pupils and college students, households and their bubbles, along with school and college staff have now completed more than 50 million tests since these were introduced back in January. That really is an incredible number and we need you to continue your efforts. 

It is wonderful to see so many children back in school and through your actions we can work together to keep everyone safe ensuring we can also keep your children in school with their friends.

Rt Hon Gavin Williamson CBE MP Secretary of State for Education


A message from the Department for Education:

Supporting your children's remote education during coronavirus (COVID-19)

Information and support for parents and carers of children who are learning at home.



What you should expect for your child’s remote education

Schools have been working hard to deliver high quality remote education. They are now expected to publish information about their remote education offer on their websites. This will help you to understand:

  • what your child will be studying at home
  • how you can support your child to engage with their remote curriculum

The remote education that schools provide should be equivalent in length to the teaching your child would normally get in school. You should expect this to include a mixture of:

  • recorded or live direct teaching time
  • time for pupils to complete activities independently, such as working through assignments, PE or reading in a comfortable space

Remote education should be suitably tailored if your child has special educational needs and disabilities (SEND).

The amount of remote education should be a minimum of:

  • key stage 1 to 3 hours a day, on average across the cohort, with fewer hours for younger children
  • key stage 2 to 4 hours a day
  • key stages 3 and 4 to 5 hours a day

Schools should also have a system in place to check pupils’ engagement with work on a daily basis. Schools can decide how this will take place. It could include:

  • monitoring pupils’ attendance at live or recorded lessons
  • checking that pupils have understood and completed their work
  • direct contact with pupils

If you do have concerns about the remote education being provided by your child’s school, please discuss these first with the classroom teacher and if necessary, the headteacher or senior leader. If, having done so, you remain concerned, you can approach Ofsted.

More information on what parents and carers need to know about early years providers, schools and colleges is available.

Supporting your child during remote education

Parents and carers should not feel that they need to set work for their child.

However, the resources below can help you plan your child’s days during this period. These resources may also be useful for pupils and students to use alongside the work provided by their school or college.

If you need further support, we encourage you to speak to your child’s school about their remote education offer.

Engaging children at home

Watch Dr Elizabeth Kilbey’s top tips or read the video transcript (PDF167KB3 pages).

Watch Dr Elizabeth Kilbey’s top tips

The Education Endowment Fund has produced support resources for parents. These include:

  • ways to support your child’s reading at home
  • advice on how to establish a routine with your child

Mental health and wellbeing

You can read guidance for parents and carers on supporting children and young people’s mental health and wellbeing during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

Guidance for the public on the mental health and wellbeing aspects of coronavirus (COVID-19) is also available.

The following organisations offer information and support on mental health and wellbeing:

Your local library can also provide access to Reading Well: books on prescription, a collection of carefully curated titles for adults, children and young people to support common mental health conditions, or deal with difficult feelings and experiences. Find your local library to join up and borrow them.

Young people can get free, confidential support at any time from government-backed voluntary and community sector organisations by:

  • texting SHOUT to 85258
  • calling Childline on 0800 1111
  • calling the Mix on 0808 808 4994

Resources for parents of children with SEND

We have worked with a range of other organisations to create extra resources for parents of children with SEND:

Curriculum materials are also available:

Additional educational resources

Your child’s school may suggest resources on their website.

The following examples are used by many schools and teachers, but parents may find them useful too:

Resources and activities from your local library

Your local library can provide access not only to hundreds of books and ebooks to borrow for free, but many also offer online reading groups for children, borrow bags made up of librarian-chosen books, activity ideas and other resources. Find your local library to explore what is available and to join up.

Online safety

It is important to have regular conversations about staying safe online, which amongst other things, include conversations about the importance of keeping any log-in credentials and passwords safe.

Encourage children to speak to you if they come across something worrying online. Support for parents and carers to keep children and young people safe from online harm is available. This includes resources to help you to talk to your child about a range of online safety issues, support to set up home filtering in a child-friendly way and support to set up age-appropriate parental controls on digital devices.


Barnsley Food Bank

Barnsley Food Bank would like you to know that they are working throughout the coronavirus pandemic to provide food parcels to families who may be struggling.

To access these food parcels, please follow these instructions:

  1. Go to the Barnsley Council website: barnsley.gov.uk
  2. Search for 'Local Welfare Assistance Scheme'
  3. Read the information, then click 'Apply' at the bottom of the page
  4. Fill out the form, then send it.
  5. You will then be contacted with a voucher code and where you can pick up your parcel. Keep the voucher code, as you need this to collect the food parcel

Please contact the school if you have any issues with the application process and we will be happy to help.