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Guidance is produced by the UK Government (for England) and by the devolved governments for Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. The advice on this page covers:

General considerations

Teaching in England

Update 29 November 2021

The Government is now advising that face coverings should be worn in communal areas in all settings by staff, visitors and pupils or students in year 7 and above, unless they are exempt. This includes out-of-school settings and private teaching. We take “communal settings” to mean hallways, shared spaces and so on, not teaching spaces. The Government has stated that it will review these requirements in three weeks’ time.

Schools

Schools and colleges in England are open. Government guidance for schools states that peripatetic teachers can move between settings and teach pupils individually or in groups.

Face coverings are no longer recommended for pupils, staff and visitors, both in classrooms and communal areas in all schools. Although there is now no legal requirement to wear a mask, the Government expects and recommends that masks be worn in enclosed and crowded spaces where you may come into contact with people you do not normally meet, such as public transport and dedicated transport to school or college.

If you teach in a school or college, request a copy of the setting’s or your employer’s risk assessment, and discuss any concerns with your employer. If you are self-employed you should create your own risk assessment, which you may need to use alongside the setting’s risk assessment. Some Covid measures should remain in place in schools, and teachers may wish to familiarise themselves with the Department for Education’s contingency framework, which describes how Covid outbreaks should be managed.

Members who would like to continue wearing face coverings should discuss this with their employer. Self-employed teachers should be able to stipulate their own policy on face coverings.

Government guidance for schools states that education settings will no longer be expected to undertake contact tracing, and since 16 August children under the age of 18 have no longer been required to self-isolate if they are contacted by NHS Test and Trace. Individuals are not required to self-isolate if they live in the same household as someone with Covid-19, or are a close contact of someone with Covid-19, if any of the following apply:

  • they are fully vaccinated
  • they are below the age of 18 years and 6 months
  • they have taken part in or are currently part of an approved Covid-19 vaccine trial
  • they are not able to get vaccinated for medical reasons

Instead, they will be contacted by NHS Test and Trace, informed they have been in close contact with a positive case and advised to take a PCR test.

All secondary school pupils should receive two on-site lateral flow tests as they begin the autumn term. Secondary school pupils should then continue to test at home, as well as all teachers, until the end of September, when this guidance will be reviewed.

The following guidance remains:

  • Ensure good hygiene: avoid sharing instruments and equipment where possible, and ensure that cleaning and good hygiene are practised where sharing cannot be avoided.
  • Cleaning schedules and regimes should be maintained for workspaces, surfaces and equipment.
  • Workspaces should be well ventilated.
  • Pupils, staff and visitors should stay at home if they have symptoms, have had a positive Covid-19 test, or if they need to quarantine.
  • Schools and employers should support teachers who need to self-isolate to work from home if they are well enough to do so.

Clinically extremely vulnerable people are no longer advised to shield, but they may wish to take extra precautions to protect themselves. Members who are shielding and would like any advice or assistance should contact their MU Regional Office.

Performances in schools can take place in front of live audiences, subject to Covid-secure measures being in place. See the Government’s guidance on performing arts for more advice.

From the autumn term, there are no restrictions on in-person teaching at FE colleges, universities or adult education settings.

Private teaching

The Government's guidance for out-of-school settings (covering music tuition) states that face-to-face activities can be offered to all children. Teachers should ensure that their studios and activities are risked-assessed and Covid-secure, following the Government’s contingency framework and guidance on working in other people’s homes where necessary.

Face coverings are no longer recommended in teaching situations, for both teachers and pupils. Self-employed teachers should be able to stipulate their own policy on face coverings. Private teachers who wish to continue using face coverings should discuss this with parents and pupils.

There is no limit on group size, either indoors or outdoors. However, Covid-secure measures, such as good hygiene and ventilation, are still required.

The Government's guidance for FE colleges (covering independent training providers) states that students of all ages can participate in face-to-face learning. We understand this to include adult learners in private tuition where activities are appropriately risk-assessed and Covid-secure. Education settings will no longer be required to undertake contact tracing.

Because of the increased risk of Covid to older adults, we advise members to take extra care when working with adult learners, and to refer to the Government’s performing arts guidance for additional safety measures.

Performances can take place in front of live audiences subject to Covid-secure measures being in place. See the Government’s guidance on performing arts for more advice.

Teaching in Scotland

Schools (updated 1 December)

The Scottish Government publishes advice on reducing risk in schools, and there are several other supporting documents that are periodically updated, including guidance on face masks and distancing, guidance on PE, music and drama, and Education Scotland’s music guidelines. The following advice combines information taken from these various documents.

Children and young people can continue to engage in all music activity in schools and outdoors, including group learning and performances. Face coverings should continue to be worn but can be removed when necessary.

Risk assessments should remain in place, and distancing, hygiene, and good ventilation remain important measures to adhere to, particularly for singing and wind instruments. For sharing instruments and equipment, hands should be washed before and after touching surfaces, and teaching and performance spaces should be sanitised carefully after use, with a delay between learners.

Check the Scottish Government website for the latest information on levels.

If you teach in a school, request a copy of the setting’s or your employer’s risk assessment, and discuss any concerns with your employer. If you are self-employed you should create your own risk assessment, which you may need to use alongside the setting’s risk assessment.

Private teaching

In accordance with the Scottish Government’s guidance on organised activities for children, private tuition can take place in homes, with relevant mitigations, in levels 0-3.

Levels may change if infection numbers increase, which could affect what is permitted. For the latest information, please see the Scottish Government’s website.

Teachers should ensure that their studios and activities are risked-assessed and Covid-secure. All instruments, including woodwind, brass and singing, are permitted with appropriate measures in place. Teachers should keep records to support contact tracing.

Refer to Government’s COVID-19 guidance on small and micro businesses for further advice that is applicable to teaching from homes or any other setting.

Teaching in Wales

Schools

Schools in Wales are open to all pupils.

Instrumental lessons and group sessions can take place in schools, subject to following the relevant guidance on the Welsh Government’s website in their pages on performing arts and education. Face coverings should be worn by all staff and visitors, unless they are exempt, in all indoor areas of all settings where distancing cannot be maintained.

If you teach in a school, request a copy of the setting’s or your employer’s risk assessment, and discuss any concerns with your employer. If you are self-employed you should create your own risk assessment, which you may need to use alongside the setting’s risk assessment. In either case, the school (or college, nursery, or university) may be able offer you lateral flow tests.

Private teaching

Music lessons are now permitted to take place in:

  • A workplace or business space that is permitted to be open (e.g. a studio or private building), subject to following the relevant guidance (see below), as well as completing a risk assessment and putting in place any necessary mitigations.
  • People’s homes, as long as it is managed in a safe way (through following the relevant guidance, completing a risk assessment, and putting in place any necessary mitigations) and nobody in either household involved has symptoms of Covid-19.
  • The Welsh Government schools guidance says that ‘Under the current measures, face-to-face tutoring is allowed to take place in your own home or someone else’s home, with mitigations. We would expect a risk assessment to be undertaken and measures to protect to be in place such as face coverings, ventilation and social distancing.’

Organised musical activities (such as rehearsals) are now permitted to take place outdoors (for up to 30 people of any age) and indoors (for up to 15 people aged 11 and over) as part of ‘organised activities’. This includes leisure-time music, and is subject to following the relevant guidance, carrying out a risk assessment and putting any necessary mitigations in place. However, it’s unclear if live performances with an audience are permitted. We will add updated information on this as soon as possible.

Relevant Welsh Government information and guidance includes:

Teaching in Northern Ireland

Schools

Schools in Northern Ireland are open to all pupils.

Following advice from the Public Health Agency, Northern Ireland's EA Music Service has confirmed that woodwind and brass tuition can recommence in schools, along with strings, percussion and keyboard. Tutors who teach singing can resume face-to-face tuition only to support pupils who are taking a practical music assessment for GCSE, AS and A level qualifications.

If you teach in a school, request a copy of the setting’s or your employer’s risk assessment, and discuss any concerns with your employer. If you are self-employed you should create your own risk assessment, which you may need to use alongside the setting’s risk assessment.

Private teaching

The current Northern Ireland guidance states that education is a permitted reason for meeting indoors. We interpret this to mean that in-person music lessons and private tutoring are permitted, as has been the case for some time in Northern Ireland. Members should ensure that private teaching takes place with appropriate Covid-secure measures and risk assessments in place.

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