Schools will remain closed for the majority of pupils for the rest of this school term. The Executive has confirmed that the new school term will begin on 24 August 2020 for Primary 7, Year 12 and Year 14 pupils and for vulnerable children across all year groups. All other pupils will return at normal start dates, which may vary depending on school.
The Department of Education has published new guidance setting out how schools should plan for the new school day and is available on the Department of Education website.
- Northern Ireland Re-opening School Guidance - New School Day
- Northern Ireland Re-opening School Guidance - Special Schools
A Frequently Asked Questions section (FAQs) has also been developed by the Department of Education to enable parents and educational settings to access the information they need about returning to school. The FAQs will be updated regularly and can be found at the following link:
Learning at home
As parents and carers continue to assist children with their learning at home until schools reopen, the Department of Education has published a list of resources that may be of use.
The resources that are available cover the following areas:
- Pre school
- Post Primary
- Irish medium and a range of other languages
- Advice and help specifically for parents
All of the above are available on the Department of Education website.
Advice and guidance for parents and carers on keeping children and young people safe as they spend more time online during COVID-19 is available below:
Summer 2020 examinations
GCSE, AS and A level exams will not take place in Northern Ireland this summer. The arrangements for students who were due to take summer examinations set by the Council for the Curriculum, Examinations & Assessment (CCEA) are available below:
Post primary transfer tests
The Association of Quality Education (AQE) tests will be held on 21 November, 28 November and 12 December 2020, while the Post-Primary Transfer Consortium (PPTC) GL tests will be held on 5 December. Further information is available below.
Vulnerable children and children of key workers
A small number of schools will continue to remain open for the educational supervision of vulnerable children and those of key workers up to Year 10 where alternative arrangements cannot be secured.
Specific guidance for parents and carers in relation to vulnerable children and young people attending school is available on the Department of Education website.
A list of schools that are remaining open is available at the link below.
If a child’s normal school is not open, a key worker can request supervised learning for their child in a school that is available from the list above. Further information and the relevant request form can be found on the Education Authority website.
The latest information in relation to the impact of COVID-19 (coronavirus) on education services is available on the Department of Education website.
Free school meals
Arrangements have been put in place to make sure families who normally receive free school meals do not suffer financial hardship while schools are closed. More information can be found at the following link:
There is guidance for pupils, students, staff and parents or carers regarding:
- coronavirus (COVID-19)
- how to help prevent spread of all respiratory infections including COVID-19
- what to do if someone confirmed or suspected to have COVID-19 has been in a school or other educational setting
- what advice to give to individuals who have travelled from specified countries or areas within the last 14 days, including school trips
For more information on this visit the Department of Education website.
Latest updates for Further Education Colleges in Northern Ireland
All six Further Education Colleges in Northern Ireland have suspended all face-to-face teaching activities and instead are delivering services through a virtual learning environment. If you would like advice on the impact of the COVID-19 crisis on your studies, including any support/funds which you are receiving, then you should, in the first instance, access your college’s website for help. For the latest coronavirus updates follow the links below:
- Belfast Metropolitan College
- Northern Regional College
- North West Regional College
- South Eastern Regional College
- Southern Regional College
- South West College
Essential skills and vocational qualifications – alternative awarding arrangements for Summer 2020
To make sure that learners are not disadvantaged, those due to undertake essential skills/vocational assessments during Summer 2020 will have, where possible, an assessment based on a calculated approach. CCEA has developed a framework and guidelines with Awarding Organisations to deliver fair and reliable outcomes for learners. The announcement on the new arrangements is available below:
A number of qualifications, particularly those in work-based learning, will require some form of practical assessment in order for learners to achieve their qualification. FE colleges have been liaising with vocational qualification awarding organisations to discuss and agree a way forward.
Following risk assessments and implementation of relevant safety measures, the colleges are now in a position to move forward with a partial and targeted re-opening to facilitate adapted assessments for curriculum areas where that sector has been given approval to return to work.
If you have any concerns or queries about your assessment, including what form it will take, you should make contact with your tutor or Student Support Manager. The contact details are available on your college website.
Latest updates for universities in Northern Ireland
All five higher education institutions in Northern Ireland are now closed for teaching activities. For the latest coronavirus updates follow the links below:
- Queen’s University Belfast
- Ulster University
- Stranmillis University College
- St Mary's University College Belfast
- The Open University
Student accommodation at the institutions remain fully operational for students who wish to remain there.
Queen's University students who wish to return home can terminate their university accommodation contracts from 27 March 2020 with no financial penalty.
Ulster University students can be released from their university accommodation contracts from 3 April 2020 without financial penalty.
If you are a student and suffering financial hardship due to rental payments you can now apply for Discretionary Support. You are also encouraged to contact your landlord or letting agent to discuss flexibility in terms of payments.
Advice for overseas students
For the latest advice for students currently studying or working on overseas or Erasmus+ placements or considering taking up overseas placements follow the links below: