Guidance Overview


Guidance Overview

Guidance overview / BSO inspections / DfE helpline / Fee disputes


This page was updated March 2021

  1. Government guidance has been updated. Operational guidance for schools for the reopening from 8th March can be found here.

  2. Separate guidance is available for early years and childcare settings and further education colleges and providers.


What changes:

  • The guidance on reopening schools is clear that pupils should attend school from 8th March and will be mandatory for all pupils unless they test positive or are shielding. It also advises that wraparound provision and extra-curricular activity can resume.
  • In addition to PCR tests for symptomatic people, secondary school staff and pupils are moving on to a home testing model.  Once pupils have been tested 3 times at school they can complete the regular testing with home test kits.  Testing is not compulsory but is strongly encouraged. Pupils should return to face to face education following their first negative test result and schools will have discretion on how to test students over that week as they return to the classroom.
  • Primary aged pupils will not be tested with LFDs.
  • Staff will continue to test with LFDs at home twice a week.
  • The guidance covers recording attendance and the codes to use for secondary pupils in the process of asymptomatic testing. See also School attendance.
  • Curriculum – schools should teach an ‘ambitious and broad curriculum in all subjects’.
  • Clear guidance is outlined on the recruitment of teachers, ITT placements, deployment of staff and performance management and appraisals.
  • Guidance on transport including school transport is provided. See also; Transport to school. This also includes the quarantine rules for anyone who has travelled into the UK from a ‘red list’ country.  Pupils who have travelled from a non-red list country will need to quarantine at their place of residence and must purchase a home testing package to take tests on days 2 and 8 after arrival. Those travelling from a red list country are not yet permitted to return to school unless they have a right to reside in which case they will need to quarantine. See: Quarantine arrangements for boarding school pupils from red list countries.
  • Remote education guidance is summarised for circumstances that will still require it, such as children and classes who are isolating. Whilst independent schools are not covered by the remote education temporary continuity direction, they are still expected to meet the Independent School Standards in full at all times including the education requirements in Part one.
  • Advice is outlined regarding meeting curriculum objectives including prioritising the most significant gaps in pupils’ knowledge, using assessment to address gaps; modifications to the curriculum may be required. Some subjects may be suspended in exceptional circumstances, but this should only be done in the best interests of children. The guidance is broken down by key stages and covers also RSHE, music, dance and drama as well as P.E.
  • At the end of the document a section about inspection confirms the DfE’s current intention of not re-introducing routine inspections for independent schools until the summer term.


What stays the same:

  • Risk assessment and system of controls– Extensive guidance is provided about the system of controls (minimise contact with symptomatic people; hand and respiratory hygiene; enhanced cleaning and ventilation; active engagement with track and trace; reduce contacts and maximise distancing in school; managing confirmed cases). See also: Safe working in education.
  • Also covers use of PPEFace coverings to be worn by adults in secondary schools and Year 7 up, when moving around premises and social distancing is not possible. In addition, face coverings should be worn in classrooms unless social distancing can be maintained. See also Face coverings in education.
  • Managing confirmed cases largely remains the same e.g., contacting Public Health England.
  • KCSIE– Schools must continue to have regard to the statutory safeguarding guidance (KCSIE) and should review their child protection policy to reflect the move to remote education for most pupils. Schools may wish to update their safeguarding policy to reflect the anticipated return to school for pupils. Workforce – advice for those who are clinically extremely vulnerable (advised not to attend the workplace, with pay and support from employers including to work from home). Includes advice for staff who are pregnant and the necessary risk assessments that should be undertaken.
  • Educational Visits– Strongly advised to avoid any educational visit at this time.


  1. DfE:Actions for early years and childcare providers during the coronavirus outbreak(last updated 22 February 2020)

  • This includes early years in independent schools.
  • There is a list of relevant changes on page 6 of the document from their previous version in January. It includes a reminder about the process for renewing paediatric first aid certificates, student placements and asymptomatic testing etc. Early years settings can contact the dedicated advice service introduced by Public Health England for support on the action they should take to respond to a positive case. The advice service can be reached by calling the DfE helpline on 0800 046 8687 and selection option 1.
  • Settings should continue to undertake risk assessments and implement the system of controls.

This guidance should be read in conjunction with the following guidance: infection prevention and control (updated 1st March 2021), guidance on funding and other relevant guidance.


  1. DfEProtective measures for holiday and after-school clubs, and other out-of-school settings during the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak(last updated 23 February 2021)

This document sets out national guidance to advise on practical steps they can take to minimise the risk of infection and transmission of the virus for children, staff and parents who attend their settings.

The section on home education has been updated with further information.


  1. BSO Inspections during the pandemic

Accreditation under the voluntary BSO scheme is through inspection by an inspectorate approved by the UK government. It usually lasts for 3 years at which point the school must be inspected again for re-accreditation.  Where it is not feasible for inspections to go ahead, for example, because they have been closed by their home government on account of the outbreak of Covid-19, BSOs should inform the Department for Education (DfE).

In circumstances where DfE have been made aware that the school have had their inspection postponed due to Covid-19, the DfE has indicated that it will ensure that their BSO accreditation is extended until the inspection has been rescheduled and carried out.

Therefore we would advise all BSOs whose inspections have been impacted, and would like to apply for an extension to their accreditation to contact the DfE at

For more information and guidance see here (external link).


  1. DfE helpline

The DfE coronavirus helpline is available to answer questions about COVID-19 relating to education and children’s social care. Staff, parents and young people can contact this helpline as follows:

  • Phone: 0800 046 8687
  • Opening hours: 8am to 6pm Monday to Friday and 10am to 4pm Saturday and Sunday
  • If you work in a school, please have your unique reference number (URN or UK PRN) available when calling the hotline.


  1. Fee disputes

Issues relating to school fees are not within the remit of ISI.  They are a contractual matter for discussion between parents and schools.  The following bodies may be able to assist: