The voice of specialist further education

Latest Government Guidance

UK Government official guidance

There are four sets of government guidance relevant to specialist colleges in England:

  1. The guidance for Further Education, which provides general advice including actions to take relating to coronavirus in your college, funding and finance, safe working practices, face coverings, and exams /assessment.
  2. The guidance for Specialist Settings includes more detailed information
  3. Natspec colleges which also provide social care will also find it useful to refer to the full collection of DHSC documents for the social care sector
  4. Financial support for businesses provides details of a range of grants and government schemes that are available: use the support finder tool to see what your organisation might be eligible for


Local COVID-19 alert levels

Unless local restrictions advise otherwise, colleges are expected to remain open. You can find out the coronavirus restrictions in a local area and the guidance that accompany it.

In terms of actions regarding local outbreaks, the Contain Framework (Annex 3) provides details of 4 tiers, with Tier 1 where all schools and colleges open with slightly different rules regarding face covering in areas of local restrictions. For Tiers 2, 3, and 4, there are some differences between arrangements for “specialist settings” and “FE providers”. For FE, the guidance is that at Tier 2, colleges have discretion to limit numbers on site, and at Tiers 3 and 4 colleges “would allow full-time on-site provision only to vulnerable children, the children of critical workers and selected year groups”, with remote or home education for all other students.

We have sought clarification from DfE that for specialist colleges, the FE guidance applies, and that in the event of Tier 3 and 4 taking place, you will need to ensure on-site provision for those that are safer in college, as you did during national lockdown, but for others provide home and remote learning for the majority of students. The minister’s letter to the sector (see below) indicates that risk assessments will need to be used as they were before when you are limiting attendance.

Welsh Government

 Guidance has been published for those working in general further education colleges, work-based learning and adult learning sectors on safe operation from September 2020. No reference is made however to young people in specialist colleges.

 For young people with learning difficulties and disabilities in general further education colleges a recognition is made that social distancing will be difficult and Welsh Government advises the undertaking of individual risk assessments and liaison with parents and carers. They also point to guidance for vulnerable and disadvantaged learners in schools which, although for a different age group, provides information on managing social distancing and PPE in the context of people with additional learning needs.

 Additionally, Welsh Government guidance for the further education, work-based learning and adult learning sectors includes information on safeguarding vulnerable learners and staff.

In the absence of any guidance from Welsh Government for specialist colleges in Wales, we advise Welsh colleges to be guided, as far as they can by the guidance for schools and colleges that is available.

If you have specific areas of concern please contact Kirsten Jones our Policy Officer (Wales) at


Firebreak guidance. (This may need removing depending on when we launch the pages).

Schools: coronavirus firebreak guidance

Further education and apprenticeships: coronavirus firebreak guidance

A coronavirus firebreak British Sign Language summary is available.

Exam appeals

Ofqual has published guidance on appeals, malpractice and maladministration complaints for students who received their GCSE, AS and A level grades in England in summer 2020, summarising the information they have previously published and including contact details for additional help and support.

 Qualifications Wales have outlined their appeals processes for GCSE, AS, A Level and Skills Challenge Certificates


In England guidance on getting tested has been updated, and this includes information on referring your employees for testing. Employers can refer essential workers for testing if they are self-isolating because either they, or member(s) of their household, have coronavirus symptoms. You can do this by uploading the names and contact details of self-isolating essential workers to the secure employer referral portal (see below for details). Referred essential workers will then receive a text message with a unique invitation code to book a test for themselves (if symptomatic) or their symptomatic household member(s) at a regional testing site.

To get a login to the employer referral portal, you should email with the following information: organisation name / nature of the organisation’s business / region / names (where possible) and email addresses of the 2 users who will load essential worker contact details. Once your details have been verified, 2 login credentials will be provided for the employer referral portal.

All schools and FE providers in England should have been sent an initial supply of 10 coronavirus (COVID-19) test kits in September. You can order additional tests kits online. Kits will be supplied in boxes of 10, with one box provided per 1,000 pupils or students.

In Wales there is guidance on how care home residents and staff are tested as well as guidance intended to support schools, settings and FE Providers in offering home test kits. Staff, parents, carers, and FE students can order a home test kit for themselves or up to three members of their household.

Face coverings

 UK Government advice on face coverings in education remains that schools and colleges have discretion to require face coverings in indoor communal areas of education settings

Welsh Government face covering guidance for schools and FE colleges requires settings and local authorities to undertake risk assessments of their estates to determine if face coverings should be recommended for staff and young people in communal areas.


UK Government

Guidance has been updated to support the clinically extremely vulnerable in protecting themselves from exposure to coronavirus (COVID-19)

Welsh Government

The Chief Medical Officer for Wales has produced a letter addressed to those who were previously shielding.

Exemption cards

Print your own exemption cards.

Email Alerts

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UK Government:  email alerts about education and childcare

Welsh Government: coronavirus alerts and shielding alerts

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