It is vital that children and young people return to school and college, for their educational progress, for their wellbeing, and for their wider development. School attendance is mandatory from the beginning of the new academic year. This means that it is your legal duty as a parent to send your child (if they are of compulsory school age) to school regularly.

Local authorities and schools have a range of legal powers to enforce attendance if a child or young person misses school without a valid reason.  If children and young people have found lockdown exceptionally difficult, then their school may suggest a brief phased return. This will only be if it suits the needs of your child, and is agreed with you in advance. Your child will be supported to return to full time attendance as soon as they can.

If you have concerns about your child returning to school or college because you consider they may have other risk factors, you should discuss these with your school. They should be able to explain ways they are changing things to reduce risks. 
Self-isolation and shielding
A small number of children and young people may be unable to attend in line with public health advice because they:
  • are self-isolating
  • have had symptoms or a positive test result themselves
  • are a close contact of someone who has coronavirus (COVID-19)
If your child is unable to attend school or college for these reasons, ask your school or college what support they can provide for remote education.

Shielding advice for all adults and children was paused from 1 August. This means that children and young people can return to school or college if they:
  • are on the shielded patient list
  • have family members who are shielding

See the guidance on shielding and protecting people defined on medical grounds as extremely vulnerable for the current advice.  Children and young people under the care of a specialist health professional may need to discuss their care with their health professional before returning to school or college. This should usually be at their next planned clinical appointment.  If children are not able to attend school because they are following clinical and/or public health advice, you will not be penalised.