In this section

UK-wide education updates

In this article

Attendance, absence and remote learning

Attendance is mandatory for pupils of compulsory school age in all four UK nations. This includes children who were previously shielding due to being clinically extremely vulnerable (CEV). Pupils who live with someone who is CEV should continue to attend school as normal.

The only exception to this is a small number of children whose clinician or GP has advised them not to attend.

We know that many parents are worried about their child being in school. Talk to your child’s school about the measures they’re taking to keep children safe.

Schools should provide remote learning to pupils who can’t be in school, for example if they have tested positive for Covid-19 but are well enough to study.

Bubbles and self-isolation

In England, the use of bubbles and staggered start times has now ended. Pupils under the age of 18 will no longer have to self-isolate if they are contacted by NHS Test and Trace because they’ve been near someone with Covid-19. Instead, they will be expected to take a PCR test.

In Wales, children under 18, or anyone fully vaccinated, no longer needs to self-isolate if they have been contacted by the NHS Wales Test Trace Protect (TTP) as a contact of a positive case. The use of contact groups (bubbles) will end from the Autumn term, though schools should be prepared for their temporary return if necessary.

In Scotland, blanket isolation of whole classes has ended from the Autumn term. If you’re a close contact of a positive case and either: you’re a double-vaccinated adult; you cannot be vaccinated for medical reasons; or you’re under 18 years and 4 months, you can end self-isolation if you receive a negative PCR test result and you do not have, or develop, symptoms. Children under five are encouraged but not required to take a PCR test – as long as they remain asymptomatic, or test negatively, they can return to school. Find out more at

In Northern Ireland, the use of formal bubbles will end but schools should try to keep pupils in consistent groups as much as possible. Guidance on self-isolation is being prepared by the Public Health Agency in line with current guidance on close contacts.


Asymptomatic lateral flow testing will continue in England for secondary school and college pupils until the end of September. Pupils will receive two on-site tests at the start of the Autumn term.

In Scotland, all secondary pupils and staff were asked to take a lateral flow test before returning after the holidays and are now expected to take a test twice a week.

Lateral flow testing continues in Northern Ireland for pupils in Year 12, 13 and 14, and LAMP testing continues in special schools. Lateral flow testing continues in Wales for Year 7s upwards.

Face coverings and social distancing

Pupils in England are no longer legally required to wear face coverings in school or on in communal areas. However, the government does recommend and expect that face coverings still be worn in communal spaces where your child comes into contact with new people, such as on public or dedicated school transport.

In Scotland, pupils attending secondary school will be required to use face coverings in school for at least the first six weeks of the Autumn term. Pupils aged 12 and over are required to wear masks in classrooms, school corridors and on school transport.

In Wales, routine use of face coverings is no longer recommended for use in classrooms, though schools may decide to encourage their use in other communal areas. Face coverings should be worn school transport by pupils in year 7 and above.

And in Northern Ireland,  it is strongly recommended that face coverings be worn by post-primary pupils inside school buildings, including in classrooms. This will be reviewed on 8 October. Face coverings are mandatory for all post-primary pupils on public and school transport.

Further information

Read the latest government guidance for:


Enquire, the Scottish advice service for additional support for learning (ASL), has specific information on how coronavirus is affecting ASL in Scotland at this time including information on the Additional Support Needs Tribunal.

Mindroom is a charity dedicated to supporting those living with a learning difficulty. They have developed a back to school toolkit for children of different ages, including a printable workbook for them to fill in.

Contact in Scotland – If you have a query or would like to talk through any concerns you have about your child going back to school or need other information and support just now, then please don’t hesitate to email our enquiry line or call 07458 046071 (Monday to Wednesdays).


The Children’s Commissioner for Wales has a Coronavirus Information Hub for Families and Children including information & advice, support, activities.