DfE updates lockdown guidance for FE

With colleges closed for most face-to-face provision, the government has updated its guidance for FE
8th January 2021, 10:57am
Kate Parker


DfE updates lockdown guidance for FE

Coronavirus: The Dfe Has Updated Its Guidance For Fe Colleges

Further education providers should continue to roll out Covid testing for staff and students, the Department for Education has said. 

In guidance for the FE sector published today, providers are told to enable weekly tests for staff and daily close contact testing for staff and students still attending college.

The document also confirms that it is for providers to decide whether or not to host the January exam series, and says that the government is working with Ofqual to provide updated guidance on the vocational assessments due to take place from February. 

The guidance adds that: 

  • When it comes to monitoring attendance, providers do not need to currently complete the educational setting status form. The form is being updated and providers will be told when to resume completing the form. 
  • Face coverings should be worn by staff and students when moving around the premises, outside of classrooms, such as in corridors and communal areas where social distancing cannot easily be maintained. Providers should keep a small stash of masks for those at college without one. 
  • Providers should put in place an "advanced cleaning schedule", minimise contact between individuals and maintain social distancing wherever possible.
  • When it comes to managing groups of students, providers should keep students in bubbles that do not mix throughout the day. 
  • The guidance says that providers should minimise work placements, where it is not possible to complete the work placement from home, and follow the stay-at-home guidance

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  • Learners who are clinically extremely vulnerable are advised to not attend their FE provision.
  • Where possible, apprenticeship training and assessment should be delivered remotely. However, where it is essential for workers to attend their workplace, on-the-job and off-the-job training and assessment can continue in the workplace for apprentices.
  • Providers should continue to support students who are eligible for, and usually receive, free meals even if students are studying remotely due to the coronavirus. 
  • Supported internship placements should now happen remotely wherever possible, but young people can continue to attend covid-secure settings for work placements where the young person, the learning provider and the employer all agree this is necessary.

Expectations for online learning

The guidance sets out at length what the DfE expects on remote learning, and says there should be: 

  • Planned and well-sequenced remote education and training programmes to give students the best chance to build their knowledge and skills.
  • Systems in place for persistent non-attendance or lack of engagement.
  • Clarity on which digital platforms are to be used.
  • Training for staff and students to ensure they are confident in the use of digital platforms.
  • A named senior leader with overarching responsibility for quality and delivery of remote education.
  • Published information for students and parents on the remote education offer on the website by 18 January,
  • Clear expectations of students on their participation with remote learning.
  • Delivery of as many planned hours as possible. 
  • "As far as possible" live lessons,
  • Clarity for students on the different ways in which they will receive assessment and feedback, as well as individual assessment and feedback to support progress in their learning,
  • Frequent, clear explanations of new content, delivered by a teacher or through high-quality curriculum resources.
  • Opportunities for interactivity and intentional dialogue, including questioning, eliciting and reflective discussion enabling students to receive timely and frequent feedback on how to progress, using digitally facilitated or whole-class feedback where appropriate,
  • Assessment to ensure teaching is responsive to students' needs.

Support for those who cannot access digital education

The guidance says that providers should use the 16-19 bursary fund to provide financial support to help students overcome specific financial barriers to participation so that they can remain in education.

It adds that "schools with sixth forms, colleges and other FE institutions will be invited to order laptops and tablets during the spring term to further support disadvantaged learners to access remote education" and that providers will also be able to access support for connectivity for students where this is needed. The DfE says that further information will be released on this shortly. 

The guidance says that for adults aged 19 and over, providers can use learner support funds to purchase devices or internet access for disadvantaged students. 

The workforce

The guidance says that the DfE  "expect that most staff will be able to attend work."

Staff who are clinically extremely vulnerable are advised to work from home and where this is not possible, they are advised not to go into work. 

The guidance says that staff should talk to their employers about how they will be supported, and that providers should continue to pay clinically extremely vulnerable staff on their usual terms.

However, the guidance says that clinically vulnerable staff can attend work.

It adds: "While in the workplace, they should follow the system of controls to minimise the risks of transmission. People who live with those who are clinically vulnerable can attend the workplace. If clinically vulnerable staff have concerns around their individual circumstances, you should discuss those concerns and be flexible in seeking to address them."

When it comes to staff who are pregnant, employers should carry out a risk assessment to see whether or not they should go into work. 

Those who have particular characteristics may be at comparatively increased risk from the coronavirus and should work from home if possible. If not, staff can attend as long as the system of controls set out in the guidance is in place. 

Students with SEND

The guidance says that special post-16 settings should continue to welcome and encourage students to attend full-time (or as per their usual timetable) where the student wishes to attend. 

If these settings cannot provide their usual interventions and provision at adequate staffing ratios, or with staff with vital specialist training, they should seek to resume as close as possible to the student's specified provision as soon as possible.

Residential providers 

The guidance says that vulnerable students and the children of critical workers who have already travelled to their residential college should continue to receive face-to-face education. 

Where other students have already travelled, in anticipation of college starting next week, they can continue to receive remote education in their educational accommodation.

Vulnerable students and the children of critical workers who have not yet done so can return to their college to receive face-to-face education. Where other students have not yet returned to their college, they should not travel and should receive remote education at home. 


On funding, the guidance says:

16 to 19 tuition fund 

The DfE says it has provided extra funding for one year for 2020 to 2021. This is to mitigate the disruption to learning arising from the coronavirus. Opt-in to the fund is now closed. 

16 to 19 funding arrangements (grant-funded providers) 

Where appropriate, the DfE will use alternative data sources to calculate allocations for 2021 to 2022. This, it says, should reduce the impact on funding due to the lack of data for the 2019 to 2020 academic year because of the coronavirus.

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